Two Month Bacterial Bloom? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Two Month Bacterial Bloom?

Hello all,

I've got something going on in my tank that I think is a bacterial bloom, but it has gone on for 2 months or longer at this point.

When it first showed up I had just got another canister filter to go on my 55 gallon. At first I thought it was normal because of the new space in the filter to occupy.
After 3 weeks of it being a thick smoke cloud I started wondering if my eyes were lying to me and if it was green water, I couldn't really tell because I was getting rid of GDA on the glass at this time so I put on a UV sterilizer for a week to make sure it wasn't green water. The UV sterilizer cleared it out, but the week following after taking out the pump the cloud came back and worse this time and has been going through this cycle of being clear when I do a 50% water change once a week to fully clouded up by the end of the week ever since.

Stock is just 2 nerite snails, and some mini ramshorn snails. Before I started treating the tank with the UV sterilizer I took out the fish in case the tank crashed for whatever reason during treatment.

Fertilization is EI daily which is full EI dosage split up over 7 days.
Co2 is at least a 1 point PH drop using a Cerges reactor.
Filters are full of sponges and some bio-rings I had lying around.
Maintenance is a 50% water change once a week and clean out the filters in old tank water every 2 weeks.
Fish stock was 8 tiny lemon tetras and 4 pencilfish fed once a day with a small pinch of flake food.
Tank has been setup since January 25th 2020 with nothing being changed about the tank between then and July.

Tests are hard for me to tell the specific color on some of them:
Ammonia = 0-0.25ppm
Nitrite = 0ppm
Nitrate = 5-10ppm
PH with Co2 on = 6.0 lowest the test kit will go; PH after 48 hours sitting with an airstone = 6.8-7.0; PH out of tap = 7.0
KH increased from 0-1 to 1-2 using baking soda
GH = 8-9

To explain it as best I can it's a smoke cloud. Under the lighting I can see the cloud moving as if it's literally wisps of smoke or steam.

Thanks for any insight on what is going on.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 12:37 AM
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Could be green water. Take a clear glass container with aquarium water in it, and place something white behind the glass to see if the water has a green tint. This will help confirm/deny the green water question.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
Could be green water. Take a clear glass container with aquarium water in it, and place something white behind the glass to see if the water has a green tint. This will help confirm/deny the green water question.
Thanks for the suggestion, I just checked, and the water is fairly clear without color.

I'm going to be keeping an eye on my ammonia though, I just did another test using the same method of the white background (I can't really tell the difference in the API test kit colors very well) because some information I've looking up on bacterial blooms suggest it's a mini cycle.
The test looked like it was more a yellow-green with the lit white background which means 0.50-1ppm of ammonia somewhere and not the 0-0.25ppm that I had previously thought.

Ammonia spikes could be the reason why I've been battling GDA and random tiny waves of green algae's and also the bacterial bloom. Only thing is where is it coming from? Nothing is decaying in the tank at least that I can see, and I don't use osmocote. The worrying part is that my plants are growing extremely fast so they're probably uptaking a lot of the ammonia that's in the water column and the levels could be higher from whatever it is and the levels are still yellow-green.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 07:55 PM
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I would start by easing up on the filter cleaning. The bacteria live in the gunk, so even though you're rinsing in tank water, you're still removing a lot of bacteria. That can cause enough of a spike to keep an algae/bacteria bloom going. Try only cleaning part of the filter media at a time, and only once a month.

You might also want to try some floating plants to help soak up whatever the problem is.

Do you have sand? Is it possible something is getting stirred up by the filter flow?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fishly View Post
I would start by easing up on the filter cleaning. The bacteria live in the gunk, so even though you're rinsing in tank water, you're still removing a lot of bacteria. That can cause enough of a spike to keep an algae/bacteria bloom going. Try only cleaning part of the filter media at a time, and only once a month.

You might also want to try some floating plants to help soak up whatever the problem is.

Do you have sand? Is it possible something is getting stirred up by the filter flow?
I do have sand, but I'm not 100% sure that it's getting stirred up I guess anything is possible though.

I agree the filter "cleaning" was probably too excessive, I heard in a video George Farmer doesn't clean his actual filter for very long amounts of time, just the pre-filter. I don't have that luxury with my filters, but I'll just start toning back the cleaning of them and see if the bacteria stabilizes.

I did pick up some activated carbon and purigen to help out based on this article by Dennis Wong. At least for the time being whatever is hanging out in the water, whether that's organic compounds that refuse to be removed or what the carbon + purigen can take care of it. I assume the tank is full on cycling again with there being traceable ammonia levels in the water with no apparent source. I'm also going to be adding matrix to one of the filters that isn't packed with sponges to add some more surface area for bacteria to live.

Thinking back at the timeline, I think this started because I removed some filter floss pads from my filter that clogged and prevented the filter from running very well. The removal of the floss pads + over cleaning probably wiped out the bacteria in the system.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Update on this issue.

Yesterday the water was somewhat clear but with the lights off I shined a powerful flashlight through the end of the tank and I could see what looked like literal metallic smoke in the water.

Today however, the lights came on and the color had changed from clear/white to noticeably more green than white so it has 100% been a green water issue.
I don't know if the issue is simply a bacterial bloom and now I have green water on top of that, or just a green water bloom that took its sweet time turning green. Can anyone weigh-in where the green water was a clear/white cloud in their tank for an extended period before turning green?

The mystery is if it's a Heterotrophic Bacteria bloom, what are they eating that would allow them to sustain themselves as much as it has for months now. I don't feed the tank and there are no plants decaying in tank. I don't know what's under the sand though and this could be the issue.
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