Ok, first of all, what are they? Well, diatoms are a brown algae that typically appear in a reef tank that has just completed its cycle but they can also appear in an established reef tank. They can cover sand, rock, pumps, glass, you name it. Diatoms look ugly but in most cases they are harmless so the key is to not panic when they appear.
Diatoms feed mainly off of silicates but also consume dissolved organic compounds, phosphate and nitrates. Unfiltered tap water can contain silicates and is a good way to jump start a bloom if you use it to mix salt or to replace water that evaporated from the tank. The best way to prevent this from happening is to filter water through a RODI unit MORE