By Ben Johnson
One reality I have learned to live with as a professional aquascaper is brown diatoms. Whether $1,000 or $10,000 is spent on a saltwater aquarium system, an initial but short-lived bloom of golden-brown algae in the beginning stages of the aquarium’s cycle is almost assured to occur. These are known as brown diatoms. In an overly simplistic explanation, these brown diatoms take advantage of the availability of certain nutrients that are abundant before beneficial bacteria grow into the system. The beneficial bacteria eventually out-compete the diatoms for these nutrients as their numbers increase and the tank’s cycle is complete. This is why there is usually a sudden collapse of the diatoms as the populations of good bacteria gain the upper hand.
As you can see in my March 2012 “Adventures in Aquascaping” column, there is one way to combat this pesky growth–a diatomaceous earth filter, or DE filter for short. The DE filter polishes the water, and can lead to a beautiful, crystal clear aquarium for life.