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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dear group,

After trying everything I found in Diana's book, on this site and others, I come to you for help. My 45gal aquarium has developed a persistent white cloudiness. It doesn't seem to harm my fish, but it's not pretty and it does have me worried. The cloudiness directly increases after a wc (normally 50%, but I did some naive 80%wc as well) After about 6 hours the aquarium is very cloudy (see images below taken 1 hr and 6hrs after 80% wc). The sponges of the uv-filter(s) collect a brownish drab, which under the microscope looks like tiny wood fragments and some green-brown mucus. It does seem to be an algae, as I *think* I can see those under a 1200x enlargement, but I'm not sure (and sure am no expert on determining algae). The water values have all been fine since initial setup in April this year and the fish are happy. There is a self-balancing snail population and reproducing shrimps. No fish have died in this tank. Plants are growing steadily. What did happen was that the filter for preventing fast flow during refill came loose and that created a massive upheaval of soil. It seems the problems started after that, but I'm not entirely sure. This is about 6 weeks ago, the tank has been running since April this year. Here's the rundown of my setup and what I've tried:




setup:

250Liter (65 gal) tank
4cm (1,5") of low-fertilizer potting soil
2cm (0,5-1,0") coarse gravel (~2mm)
26 deg Celcius (79 F)
CO2 injection
LED lighting 54W 7000K ~3200lumen

watervalues:

NO3- <10 ml/l
NO2- 0 ml/l
GH 8*d
KH 6*d
PH 6.8
CL2 0mg/l

livestock:

8 otocinclus
14 corydora pygmea
50+ ghost, cherry, amano shrimps (from 5 introduced)
14 neon cardinals
~20 snails Melanoides tuberculata (from 0 introduced ;)
~20 nerite snails "
~10 ramshorn "

plants:

echinodorus bleheri
echinodorus tenellus
cryptocoryne walkeri
cryptocoryne becketii
egeria densa
anubia barteri/nana
echinodorus amazonicus
anumanis gracilis
cladophora aegagroplia
pogostemon quadrofolius

what I tried:

  • regular waterchanges (50%)
  • sometimes naively 80%
  • cleaning sponge-filters of uvfilters every time
  • vacuumed
  • tried 2wks regular light regime (2x6hrs)
  • tried 2wks of less light (2x5hrs)
  • tried 2wks of more light (2x7hrs)
  • added in an extra uv filter (7 watt each)
  • added extra plants to outcompete if it's algae
  • removed one piece of driftwood that came in later, ~2wks before the white cloudiness started

None of these things did anything at all to reduce or change the speed with which the cloud appeared. As you can imagine, I'm at wits' end, and any help is very much appreciated!

thanks,

Jonathan
 

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I'm going to guess that your accidental boring of a hole into the soil half of the substrate is the problem. That allowed the very fine particles of the soil to float around in the water and settle on everything. Now, any disturbance, such as a water change will shake them loose again so they spread around again. This also releases the bacteria in the dirt into the water, where it may be reproducing and making the cloud.
 

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Also could be nutrients in the tap water

* CO2 - more common in the winter, where tap water can bring in quite a bit of CO2
* Ammonia / Nitrates from agriculture runoff
* Ammonia if you use an old style water conditioner that doesn't bind the Ammonia from the chloramines (used instead of chlorine to treat water)

Unless you have a specific issue it is more common to do smaller (<= 25%) water changes for low tech tanks. The CO2 alone can cause algae issues.
 

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I sometimes see long term water haziness in my no filter, no CO2 NPTs (new setups). Its not the usual new setup haze that comes and goes relatively quickly. It can persists months and months. Water is not extremely hazy, but quite annoying.

My guess is, that for whatever reason, the conditions are right for a long term bacteria bloom in the water column. Bacteria blooms are somewhat normal with new setups, but usually it should be gone relatively quickly.

My observations, which may or may not help on the condition (I did not have enough occasions to really test this yet):

- Water changes do not help
- Fish and plants are OK, no gasping whatsoever
- If I add a filter, no matter how small, the haze tends to go away after a while. I have seen this long term haze in no filter tanks.
- Normally there is absolutely no need to add micro ferts in this stage to the tank, but when I added a particular K + micro liquid fertilizer, haziness seems to be reduced
- Few times I added some root tabs that are used for terrestrial plants (it contains N in ammonia form, so super dangerous to fish), and then haze was gone

Again, these observations above can be totally random and nothing to do with the hazy water.

@jochemspek, does your tank have any filter?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I'm going to guess that your accidental boring of a hole into the soil half of the substrate is the problem. ...where it may be reproducing and making the cloud.
I was afraid that might have caused a problem. However, the water itself does not seem to carry largish pieces of debris, so it seems reasonable that it's indeed the bacteria producing the cloud. Is there a way to stop the cloud from forming?

Also could be nutrients in the tap water
I can vouch for the tapwater here, I'm in Amsterdam, where the water is filtered through the dunes and is extremely clean, without added chemicals. It's soft and PH neutral.

The CO2 alone can cause algae issues.
I'm not injecting much, about 1ml every half minute. To be honest I haven't tried stopping the CO2 injection as I was afraid it'll reduce plantgrowth and give the algae even more of an upper hand. I'll read up on the effects of CO2 injection and perhaps reduce/stop it for awhile to see if it does anything.

@jochemspek, does your tank have any filter?
Only internal, the ones that come with the UV filter. No external filter.

Thanks for all your quick replies!!

Jonathan
 

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The El Natural method doesn't include CO2 being added to the water. And, it works best if you don't have a lot more light than the slow growing plants need. A 54 watt T5HO light would be too bright, so I suspect a 54 watt LED light would be even brighter.

A good suggestion would be to follow the instructions in Ms Walstad's book. Some of the instructions are there for reasons not immediately obvious unless you thoroughly understand the method. I have read her book several times and I'm still learning about it.
 

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Sorry didn't realize you are injecting - in that case CO2 from tap should not be an issue.

You can easily test your treated tap for nitrate & ammonia to exclude that.

Are you also running a medium or high light?

I think mixing high tech + walstad is possible, but really then you may need to treat it more like a high tech dirtied tank.

Dennis Wong (https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/) for example uses a dirt soil layer in his tanks (plus aquasoil).

I would not expect such a tank to work well w/o good mechanical + bio filtration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The El Natural method doesn't include CO2 being added to the water. And, it works best if you don't have a lot more light than the slow growing plants need. A 54 watt T5HO light would be too bright, so I suspect a 54 watt LED light would be even brighter.

A good suggestion would be to follow the instructions in Ms Walstad's book. Some of the instructions are there for reasons not immediately obvious unless you thoroughly understand the method. I have read her book several times and I'm still learning about it.
It's true I started injection earlier to give the plants a head start, and planned to stop after a couple of weeks, but since the tank seemed to do well, I never really thought about it anymore, but you're right. I'll go through the book again and see where I drifted off, thanks for the suggestion.

Jonathan
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry didn't realize you are injecting - in that case CO2 from tap should not be an issue.

You can easily test your treated tap for nitrate & ammonia to exclude that.

Are you also running a medium or high light?

I think mixing high tech + walstad is possible, but really then you may need to treat it more like a high tech dirtied tank.

Dennis Wong (https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/) for example uses a dirt soil layer in his tanks (plus aquasoil).

I would not expect such a tank to work well w/o good mechanical + bio filtration.
Yeah, as per @hoppycalif suggestion as well, I guess I have to be much more strict in what I do, I'll dive back into the book and see where I can correct my setup, thanks.

Jonathan
 

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That looks to me like it's a a bcterial bloom. If it is it will go away on its own. A UV sterilizer helped when I had this happen.


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That looks to me like it's a a bcterial bloom. If it is it will go away on its own. A UV sterilizer helped when I had this happen.
Thanks, GadgetGirl! I have two, so that should work :) I hope you're right, meanwhile I'll revisit the books as well. How long did it take it for your little buddies to disappear?
 

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This isn't normally a part of an NPT process but I've used a diatom filter to clear things up after initial planting of the tank. It just sped up the clearing of the water but didn't add anything to the tank.

You use one of these (mine is a System One--had problems with another brand and returned it) for an hour perhaps, not continuously and only for a one-time use. It might even remove some bacteria since the diatoms form a very fine filter bed.

Water changes will also help. As someone else mentioned, if you're using tap water, make sure your dechlorinator will also remove ammonia in chloramine if your municipality uses it in the water instead of chlorine. Most treatments will work with either of those treatments your city uses. Mine uses straight chlorine still but I use a treatment that works with either in case they suddenly change. This is cheap and will last a long time for most people:

https://smile.amazon.com/Tetra-Aqua...d_r=XFDT2DG0N8GPBA6C00WZ&psc=1&qid=1569457702

(I tried to shorten the link but it broke when I tried)

Donald
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You use one of these (mine is a System One--had problems with another brand and returned it) for an hour perhaps, not continuously and only for a one-time use. It might even remove some bacteria since the diatoms form a very fine filter bed.
Thanks, I'll definitely look into that!
 

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Thanks, I'll definitely look into that!
Do follow the directions. With some DE filters, it's all too easy to get the DE into the water, which you definitely don't want to do.

You can try it out first, after you think you have it assembled correctly, in a dark bucket or clear small aquarium. I think the one I had that leaked was the Vortex, which many love but I've also read some horror stories about. The System One is great, but I can't find it sold anywhere now even used on ebay. It was popular among saltwater enthusiasts.

There is a pic of the System One in this thread at the top:
https://www.cichlid-forum.com/reviews/view_product_details.php?id=1076

This next one gets 4 out of 5 stars for overall reviews on Amazon and appears to be cheapest there, too. It might be a reasonable substitute for the System One filter.

https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=diatomaceous+earth+aquarium+filter&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Reviews are here:

https://smile.amazon.com/Marineland...+filter&qid=1569614412&sr=8-3#customerReviews

At least a few people answered the question on whether you can use diatomaceous earth (DE) with it and you can. Type DE into the search where the questions are asked and wait; you will see several replies with one giving pretty clear directions on how to use DE with it. You MUST use the micron sleeve, not the filter sleeve/carbon combo. I believe they also include directions with it on how to use DE with this filter. DE will make your tank look extra bright and clean. It's not a regular part of maintenance for an NPT tank but it can help out sometimes.

I don't know if that's optional or not, but you'll need it if you're going to "polish" your water. It does remove some bacteria if not all. The micron filter may be all you need though as it filters out particles down to a really tiny size without DE.

One person reviewed that it got DE all over his tank. There's a seal of some sort that you need to treat tenderly, and he may have tore it and not noticed. Another reviewer said it initially will blow SOME DE into the tank but in a few minutes it will clean all of that up. If you run it in another container first, like a bucket, you should get that taken care of before moving it to the aquarium (or at least diminish the mount it will put into the tank).

Read all of the reviews first. It's $41 on Amazon. You can try just using the micron filter and see if that clears things up for you before buying some DE (don't use food grade DE, but the type you buy at the aquarium store).

If this is a bacterial bloom and it's temporary, the cleanup might be all you need. If it's not such, you will want to find out the root cause if it keeps coming back, like too much food or you're adding fertilizer, or you used potting soil instead of straight topsoil without nutrients.

While you decide on whether to get one of these, you can still do water changes to help reduce the cloudiness. Once your tank is established, you shouldn't need to do many changes nor use filtration. It should become an almost closed ecosystem in itself. We did water changes in ours about every 6 months, topping up with RO (similar to distilled) water.

Donald
 

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Thanks, GadgetGirl! I have two, so that should work :) I hope you're right, meanwhile I'll revisit the books as well. How long did it take it for your little buddies to disappear?
Sorry for the delay in replying! I honestly don't remember how long it took after I started using the sterilizer. It was about 5 years ago. I don't remember it being very long though.

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Dear all,

The problem has been solved!


https://ibb.co/B6jPHvD

It was the CO2 injection (!) I kick myself for not trying to reduce/stop injection, and Big Thanks to @hoppycalif for the reminder that "The El Natural method doesn't include CO2 being added to the water".

It still eludes me what exactly happens though. The disturbance of the soil I mentioned before combined with the CO2 injection must've triggered a bacterial bloom of sorts, but I don't know what or how yet. If I ever find out I'll report back but for now, thanks for all the input and advice!!

Jonathan
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I *think* the problem was this: The water here in Amsterdam is harder than I assumed it to be (assumptions are the mother of all f*kups), around 8-10deg. Combined with the CO2 which was probably much higher than it should be (I dosed using a bubble counter, not by measuring) the compound that formed visibly was perhaps calcium bicarbonate as per the following process:

Ca(HCO3)2(aq) → CO2(g) + H2O(l) + CaCO3(s).

Does this make sense? can anyone confirm or debunk this hypothesis?

tanks!

J

ps the image intended in the previous post:
 
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