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How To Remove Silica From Aquarium Water | Factors And Preventions

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To own an aquarium is the best thing to do for a home. Aquarium not only increases the show of the house but also provides huge health benefits to a person. It is well known for reducing stress, blood pressure, and helps you provide a good sleep at night. And it’s no mystery, that the productivity of a person is highly enhanced if the mind is kept stress free and clear.

Now if you already own an aquarium and are looking for the methods to remove silica from it, then you are on the right page. Silica, also known as brown algae can accumulate and spread all over the tank in just no time. One day your fish tank is all clear and suddenly, the other day, it’s all brown fish tank water. Several methods like change in lighting, wiping the surfaces, adding algae eaters, and many more can be used to get rid of it. We will discuss these methods of how to remove silica from aquarium water down below in detail.

What is Brown Algae and How to Identify It?

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Brown Algae is made up of thousands of little single-celled organisms called diatoms. These diatoms start getting interlocked and then get accumulated together. When billions of these diatoms combine together and start making their colonies, then it becomes visible to you. These silica algae are not able to float in the water and get stuck to any hard surface, like the glass or water plants or at the base of the aquarium. Point to consider is, brown algae in fish tank good or bad?

The best way to identify silica in the aquarium is by its color. The color of the aquarium water will change to rusty brown if the silica is present in it. So if you find brown fish tank water in your aquarium, it may be due to silica algae. The other way you can check it is by rubbing the glass with your fingertip on which you find the brown substance. You’d be able to tell if it is silica by its touch, it will be a little gritty.

What are the factors that lead to the development of Silica?

Before we find several ways of removing silica from aquarium water, we should find the cause of the development of the silica. Multiple factors can lead to the growth of silica such as:

1. Silicates

The most common cause of the development of silica is the excess of silicates in the water.  Diatoms like to feed on silicates and grows more and more if a high amount of silicate is found in the water.

Some of the sources of the silicates in the fish tank are:

  • Live Rocks

  • Live Sands

  • Marine Salt Mix

  • Tap water

2. High Nitrate Levels

Nitrates are usually used in the nitrogen cycle. Apart from silicates, silica can also feed on nitrates.

The potential sources of nitrates are:

  • Fish Food.

  • Plant Fertilizers.

  • Tap Water.

  • The decay of Plants.

  • Fish Feces.

Poor exposure of Light

It is observed that a tank with dim light is found with more silica than the tank with good bright light. Although it’s still a debate because diatoms are not considered to be algae. But the observations seem to look this way only.

High Level of Phosphates

Growth of phosphates generally comes from the decaying organic matter like food particles, waste materials, and dead plant materials.

These are the few sources which have phosphates present:

  • Plant Decay.

  • Uneaten Fish Food.

  • Dead Fish
    .
  • pH Buffers.

Did You Know?


Live Rocks and Live Sand constitutes the most ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​amount of brown algae in the water.

How to Remove Silica from Aquarium?

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Now that we know the root cause of the silica in the tank, we can further go and find how to get rid of brown algae. Different techniques and methods are used to remove the silica from different parts of the fish tank

1. To Remove Silica from the Glass of the Tank

It is the easiest of all places to clear the silica from the glass of the tank. You can take a simple cloth or scrubbing pad to start the wiping of the glass. Hold the scrubbing pad and wipe the glass in a single stroke from top to bottom. Do the same for all of the glass to remove silica from aquarium water and the glass.

2. Remove Silica from Gravel

One way of removing silica from the gravel is with the help of a vacuum. Push the tip of the hose of the vacuum tightly into the bottom of the substrate. The gravel then tumbles and the silica can be sucked right through the hose.

Another way to know how to get rid of brown algae from gravel is by firstly removing the pebbles from the tank. Large pebbles can be easily cleaned with a cloth or water. For the gravel or smaller pebbles, a siphon vac can be used or simply wash them with water.  For some good options of siphon vac, you can follow the below link.

Durable and simple - high quality product
  • allows user customization depending on your need
  • has easy to push hose
  • Assembled in the USA

3. Removing the Silica from the Sand

To remove the brown algae from the sand can be a little trickier. Follow the below steps to do it

  • Most of the silica is at the top surface of the sand. So wave the gravel just above the surface to get the fish waste.

  • Minimize the suction pressure by pinching off the hose.

  • Then stir the sand well so that the silica can be broken down into simpler form.

  • Now simply just pick up the gravel, and collect as much silica as possible by un-pinching the hose. 

  • Repeat the process if required.

4. Removing Silica from Live Plants

The plants are a living object and need care while doing any activity which involves them. To remove silica from the corals, take a water pipe and put a small hose on it. Now simply pour the water on the corals to remove the silica. The removed substance will be picked up by the filter.

If the plant from which you want to remove the silica is a little strong, then you can gently wipe it with a cloth.

5. To Remove Silica from Fake Plants

The best and the most efficient way of removing silica from artificial plants is by taking out the plants out of the aquarium. Take them out of the box and then gently use a cloth to wipe the brown algae of them.   In a few cases, you might have to use bleach to get rid of them.  You can even find the best silicate absorbing resin in the market or online.

6. Add Things that eat up the Silica

The silica present in the water can also be removed by adding new aquatic life in the aquarium. One can add a few new species to the fish tank that love to make brown algae as their food.

  1. Amano Shrimp

    They have a love for algae and will eat all types of algae in your tank. The only issue is that they won’t be able to clear the silica from the tank’s glass. 

  2. Nerite Snails

    They are the best to clear off the silica. They are big eaters and will eat up the entire chunk of the silica, without causing any trouble to the live plants. Also, they are not able to breed in the water, so no worries about multiplying them.

  3. Mexican Turbo Snail

    These are highly efficient at eating the brown algae. They will eat them up from the live rock, substrate and even from the walls of the tank.

Did You Know?


Changing the water of the fish tank with RO water once a week will automatically reduce the amount of Silica in the aquarium.

How to Prevent the Growth of Silica?

So after this much of time-consuming hard work of cleaning the fish tank, you will not want to get the silica to grow again. Various things can be done to prevent the growth of silica and are mentioned below:

  1. Appropriate filtration of the tank

    It doesn’t sound that problematic, but most of the time silica is because of the inadequate filter. Check that your filter is up to the capacity of the tank. Also, frequently check that it is properly working or not. The filter needs to be cleaned regularly, so make sure that you don’t skip this step at all. How to remove silica from aquarium water does not remain a question anymore if the filter is properly cared for.

  2. Change the water once a week

    The water is the source of living for fishes and as you like to breathe fresh air, they too want clean and good water for them. Also, if the water will be regularly changed, the chances of developing silica will be minimized. So you should change the water of the aquarium at least once a week. Remember not to use tap water for it. It would be best if you can use RO water to fill the tank. It will help to remove silica from aquarium water.

  3. never overfeed the fishes

    As we discussed earlier, organic waste or leftover food is one of the causes of the growth of brown algae. So make sure to give food to the fishes in the interval and not feed all the food at once.

  4. Avoid Silicates

    The increase in silicates is directly proportional to the growth of the silica. So before adding anything for your fishes to eat, check the ingredients of the food added. An abundance of silicates is bad for the tank. Also, silica sand and live sand are the two major contributors to the silicates in the aquarium. So to remove silica from aquarium water make sure that silicates are present in the least amount.

  5. The flow of the water

  6. Silica loves to grow in the stagnant water. So if you will increase the rate of flow of water, you will find amazing results that you are looking for. With the speed in the water, the growth of silica would be hampered they would not be able to grow enough to be noticed.

Pro Tip


Maintaining the food quantity and not feeding excessive food to the fishes will reduce the development of silica to a great extent.

Video Introduction

Conclusion

After reading all of the above information, you should now be an expert on how to remove silica from aquarium water. Also, you know removing the brown algae is not that big task. If dealt carefully with the problem, then you might not have to encounter this problem again in the future. So, maintain a regular check on the points discussed above and never again find a problem with the silica in the aquarium. Stay stress-free and enjoy the beauty of sleep with the pleasant sound of the aquarium.

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