How to Remove Silicates from Aquarium Water?

If you’re an aquarium enthusiast like us, then you defiantly want your fish to live in the best environment possible.

Part of maintaining a healthy aquarium is to keep it free from silicates.

Silica is also known as “brown algae”, which spreads rapidly and pollutes your aquarium tank.

There are several ways that you can get rid of silicates from your aquarium water. In this article, we are going to explore each of these methods in detail.

Keep reading to learn more!

How to Identify Silicates in Your Aquarium?

The easiest way to identify the presence of silicates in your aquarium water is by the change in color.

When silica pollutes your tank water, it turns rusty brown (hence, the name “brown algae”).

Therefore, if you ever notice that the water in your aquarium looks rusty or brownish, the chances are that it contains silica algae.

You can also check for silicates by rubbing your fingertips on the aquarium walls.

If it feels gritty to the touch or your fingertips turn brownish, then it’s a sure sign of silicates.

Ways of Removing Silicates from Aquarium Water

Now that you understand how to identify silicates in your aquarium tank let’s learn how to remove them.

There are several methods that you can employ to eliminate silica from your tank.

Let’s learn each of them in further detail below!

Removing silicates from the glass of your tank

Removing silica from the glass of your tank is the easiest task. All you need is a piece of cloth or scrubbing pad to wipe the glass.

Using your scrub, start from the top and wipe the glass clean till the bottom. Make sure you scrub it clean in one stroke.

Do the same for all the glass walls and surfaces of your aquarium.

Removing silicates from the gravel

Gravel is another component of an aquarium that gets stuck with silicates. You can remove silica from the surface of the gravel with a vacuum.

Take the hose of the vacuum and push it tightly on the bottom of the substrate. The vacuum will suck the silica from the gravel through its hose.

If you don’t want to use a vacuum inside your aquarium, then there’s also a way of removing the silicates by taking the gravel out of the tank.

Take a pebble and clean its surface with cloth and water.

If the pebbles are small, then simply washing them with fresh water thoroughly will do the trick (but remember that this will also remove some beneficial bacteria from the gravel).

Removing silica from sand

Removing silicates from the sand can be a little complicated (as you can’t vacuum it).

However, if you carefully follow the steps mentioned below, you’ll be able to remove silica:

  • Silica is mostly present at the surface of the sand. You just need to shake the gravel present on the surface of the sand to get the fish waste.
  • Now pinch and lower the suction pressure of the hose.
  •  Stir the sand thoroughly so the silica can break into simpler pieces.
  • Now take out the gravel and remove silica from its surface by un-pinching the hose.
  • Repeat the process until the sand is clean.

Removing silica from aquarium plants

In order to keep your aquarium water free from silicates, you’ll also have to remove silica from the aquarium plants.

Take a water pipe with a hose and pour the water on the corals and other plants inside your aquarium.

The silica will wash away and get collected in the filter.

If you think that the silica isn’t going away from just water, then you use a cloth to gently wipe it off from the surface of your aquarium plants.

Removing silicates from artificial plants

If you want to completely eliminate silicates from the surface of your artificial plants in the aquarium, then it’s best to take them out from the tank.

Use a cleaning cloth to gently wipe the brown algae off the surface of your artificial plants.

If the silica is too persistent, you can also consider using bleach to wash the plants.

There’s also silicate absorbing resin available that you can find in the market or online.

Again, know that plants have some beneficial bacterial that will be lost when you wipe/wash these.

This should be fine as there is a lot of beneficial bacteria in the filter and other surfaces in the aquarium.

Adding organisms that feed on silica

Another efficient method of eliminating silicates from your aquarium water is by adding silica-eating organisms.

You can choose from a number of aquatic species that love feeding on brown algae. Here are some of the options for your consideration:

Nerite snails

These snails are one of the best at eliminating silica from your aquarium water.

Nerite snails love feeding on silica in huge quantities, and they’ll clean your aquarium water without harming any other organisms or plants.

Plus, they don’t breed in water, so you don’t have to worry about their increasing population in your aquarium.

Just make sure you don’t have the kind of fish that eat snails.

Amano shrimp

Amano shrimp love eating all kinds of algae, including the silica-producing brown algae.

The only limitation of amino shrimp is that they don’t consume the silica on the glass of your tank so you’ll have to take it on yourself to clean it.

Mexican turbo snail

This snail will be your best choice for getting rid of silicates from your aquarium water.

They not only feed on the silica present in water, but also wipe them off the substrate, rocks, and even the glass walls of your aquarium.

Also read: How to Tell if Snail is Dead or Sleeping in the Aquarium?

What causes the growth of silicates in your aquarium?

Now that you know how to get rid of silicates from aquarium water, let’s learn what causes silica to grow in your aquarium in the first place.

There are several factors that contribute to this growth.

Common sources of silicates in aquarium water include the following:

  • Live Rocks
  • Marine Salt Mix
  • Tap water
  • Live Sands

Another cause of silica growth in an aquarium tank is the lack of exposure to light. Tanks that only have access to dim or poor light become a breeding ground for different types of algae.

Although it’s not a proven fact yet, most aquarium enthusiasts believe that their tanks had lesser silica production due to adequate exposure to bright light.

The high concentration of phosphates is also believed to be a contributing cause in the formation of silicates in your aquarium water.

So, make sure you keep your tank clean and remove the waste material and dead plants as soon as possible.

Tips for Preventing Growth of Silica in Aquarium Water

After going through all the trouble of cleaning your aquarium, you don’t want it to get polluted with the brown algae again.

That is why we are recommending a few effective tips to prevent the formation of silicates in your aquarium.

Take a look below!

Proper Filtration

Most often than not, a poorly functioning filtration system is the cause of silicates in aquarium water.

So, make sure that your filter has the capacity to meet the needs of your aquarium. Always check if it is working properly or not.

It’s essential to keep the filter well-maintained by cleaning it regularly.

If you make sure that your filtration system is working at its highest efficiency, you will not have a silicate problem in your aquarium water again.

Also read: How Often Should You Change an Aquarium Filter?

Change the Aquarium Water Regularly

Make sure you change the aquarium water at least once a week.

It will not only keep the water fresh and healthy for the fish, but it will also minimize the growth of silicates in the water.

Make it a point to never use tap water. Instead, use RO water to fill your aquarium tank. This will ensure that silica is removed from the aquarium water.

Don’t Overfeed the Fish

Food crumbs and organic waste contributes to the growth of brown algae in the aquarium.

So, make sure you don’t feed your fish all at once. Divide their food intake into intervals, so they leave nothing behind in the water.

Again, make sure you clean the tank regularly, so there’s no organic residue that allows brown algae to grow and multiply.

Avoid Food with Silicates

To prevent the growth of silicates in your aquarium water, you’ll have to make sure that you’re not adding to it.

Before feeding your fish, always check the ingredients of the food. Do not feed them anything with high silicate concentration.

Keep the Water Flowing

Stagnant water is the breeding ground for silicates.

You can prevent silicate accumulation in aquarium water by increasing the water flow. At the very least, it will minimize the concentration of silicate in your aquarium water.

Final Words

Removing brown algae from your aquarium is not a big hassle. By following the methods that we mentioned above, you can easily get rid of silicates from aquarium water.

Moreover, you can ensure that they don’t start accumulating again by adopting preventive tips.

We hope this guide helps you keep your aquarium clean, fresh, and healthy!

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