Bacterial bloom help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-08-2016, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Been having a white cloudy bloom for about a week now. When first noticed I removed some fish, cleaned substrate and always been doing 20% water changes every Sunday. been dosing dry ferts as per Ei. Stopped dosing for 3 days. 72 gal heavy planted tank. Tank has been established for about 6 months. New tank syndrome? How long and what can I do to get water clear? I know I have fixed issue. Over feeding, dirty substrate, and to much bio load. Been about 3 days and no change. Thanks.

72 gal, ei dry ferts, pressure co2, nitrate level about 5-10 ppm. 6.5 ph, 0 nitrite, 0 ammonia, 340 tds.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-10-2016 at 05:03 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-08-2016, 05:16 PM
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Cloudy water can be from other factors, too. Are you adding an pH adjusting materials?

Ammonia looks good. Rising ammonia can cloud the water. You might keep your eye on it, just to be sure.

Bacteria like this that cloud the water are usually heterotrophic bacteria. These bacteria are feeding on fallen food and other wastes.
I would continue cleaning the tank with special attention to cleaning up the fallen wastes, and clean the filter. Remove these wastes from the whole system. Just once, then do not disturb the system.
Heterotrophic bacteria may grow again (just the act of removing the waste can actually stir up more) but it should be short lived, and the growth ought to slow down and more or less die out in a week.

20% water change once a week is not enough if you are adding the full EI dose of ferts to the tank. But your NO3 level looks good. Are you fertilizing with a reduced dosing? I have not known these ferts to cause cloudy water.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-08-2016, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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I was doing the full amount of ferts. Then used a calculator and cut back on one and more of Another. Not sure what ones. I will do a bigger water change Sunday as I did the deep gravel clean yesterday. I will try to do a 40-50% change. Can I just cut back dosing by 1/2 using ei and not have to do such big changes? Thanks.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-08-2016, 06:04 PM
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Yes, you can adjust ferts and water changes to whatever works for you.
I have cut way back, almost to PPS-Pro levels, meaning few and far between water changes.
If you have just done a thorough cleaning of the substrate then do not disturb the system again. Have you cleaned the filter? Remember, whatever gunk the filter has trapped is still in the system.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-08-2016, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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I did clean canister filter and my emperor 400b. Old filter in front of new for 24 hours. Then discarded did all this first prolly 2 weeks ago. I'm almost certain I have cleaned and corrected my problem. Just a little impatient on water getting clear I suppose. Been reading it should only take couple days to filter out. I will rinse filters on Sunday before water change.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if it's just the plants or if this issue is more of a algae bloom?
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 05:16 AM
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Keep checking your ammonia levels. As mentioned, it might be a bacterial bloom of heterotrophic bacteria. Heterotrophic bacteria feed off the organics in the water, but the problem is they convert that into ammonia. And they do multiply/reproduce and convert faster than nitrifying bacteria can keep up with, so elevated ammonia levels are usually present. Pretty much a mini cycle, just got to give the filters time to grow more and convert it all. But again, the elevated ammonia levels are present.

Keep a eye on the fish. Are they showing any signs of ammonia poisoning? (flashing, red gill tissue, deaths, overall look in bad shape, etc). If they are, then you definitely need to do something to reduce ammonia levels (water changes, Prime, ammo-lock, add Tetra SafeStart, etc)

That is assuming it is indeed a bacterial bloom.

Some substrates can be dusty and kick up the debris when disturbed (but don't create heterotrophic bacteria) and just takes some time for the light particles to settle to the bottom again. However your gravel is not one that is "dusty", so that is ruled out.

I have heard of some other precipitation causing cloudy water (harmless), but I do not know much in that area. Maybe that is it if you aren't having issues with ammonia, nitrite levels.

If it is just light particles being suspended in the water, a well circulated tank, with micron (or use cheap polyfil) in the filter can filter out the little particles from the water column.

After cleaning a dirty filter, it can dislodge a bunch of little particles and they would recollect within hours-day.
Just to make sure, did you clean the biological filter media with dechlorinated/aged tank water? Or did you use water straight from the tap? If you used tap water, you may have killed off too much beneficial bacteria which could lead to ammonia spikes (cloudy water as well). Also a tip, don't clean or replace more than 1/2 of your filter material at once (you never know what may be containing a important amount of necessary beneficial bacteria).
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 06:02 AM
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Do you have a break in surface tension, IE, bubbles? I turned off my filter and air pump (with airstones) two nights in a row when I first moved the tank into the bed room. I woke up with a huge bacteria bloom and fish gasping at the surface.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Fish all seem fine. Actually a little more active since I cut feeding way back. No air bubbles since I run pressurized co2. I do only wash filters and media with tank water as I do my water changes. Nothing as of ammonia showing up. The next 24 hours I'm going to leave light off and co2 in hopes of riding of greenish hue. I live on a community well system that is ranked #3 in nation for quality. Get test results every year and test myself. Always have 0 chlorine. And have never had a issue with my tanks.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 02:28 PM
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I did clean canister filter and my emperor 400b. Old filter* in front of new for 24 hours. Then discarded did all this first prolly 2 weeks ago.
Is this right:
You had an established (cycled) filter.
You ran a new filter for 24 hours.
Then removed the cycled filter.
Did you move any cycled media to the new filter? This is where the beneficial bacteria are living.

To me, this means you have thrown away about 50% of the beneficial organisms that were growing in the system (system = tanks and filter) by removing the cycled filter. I am surprised you did not see ammonia in the first few days of doing this (maybe you did not test in those few days?), but by now (after 2 weeks) the bacteria remaining in the tank have grown enough to keep the ammonia and nitrite under control.

This does not explain the cloudy water, though. Keep on testing, keep on doing water changes. Add fine media (polyester floss is good) to the filter.

*Or did you mean filter media? As in, removed old media, rinsed it, then put it back in the filter with new media, left it there for 24 hours.
This would still not transfer much bacteria to the new media. Better to simply rinse and reuse the same media, not throw it away while it is still doing a good job of filtering the water. If you need new media, throw away no more than 25% of the old media at a time.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 02:52 PM
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I've seen this happen before in some of my new tanks OR when I've overdone the bio load on an established tank. Although it was not green at all, only a little murky. It's taken up to 2-3 weeks to get a full bacteria bloom to clear up. During that time I just kept my eye on ammonia and changing the water normally every week. The first three days I did 2 water changes a day because I was freaking out. It didn't help.

This bacteria will reproduce so fast you can't stop it. It's not harmful to your fish as long as there isn't ammonia and nitrite in there. They double the population within a few hours, sometimes minutes, unlike the other kind which takes 24 hours to double in population. Excuse my lack of memory in remembering the bacteria name but with a quick search you can find that information.

I wouldn't worry and I'd just keep an eye on the parameters. You should see clear water soon enough.

But then you say your water is a green hue...which doesn't make sense. That light doesn't look bright enough to make that kind of algae. What kind of lighting is that? Size, Kelvin rating, lumens? If you don't have lumens, I guess just give wattage and I can get an idea based on the kind of light.

Things that will help:
- Not overfeeding
- Do not clean or mess with filter
- UV light could help

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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I rinsed media in canister with tank water, I then did replace replaceable filters in hob but put the old ones in front of new ones to catch some good bacteria then pitched very dirty old filters after 24hrs.

I'm leaning towards I cleaned to much good bacteria out of cycled tank and my bio load was too much. And after my last 40% change. 40% because of buckets, I ordered a 50 ft faucet water changer to really change water.

My light is a fluval full spectrum aquatic life led. I forget specs but I did a lot of research when I purchased. Which is the reason I added pressurized co2.

I've also been noticing a little black spot algae possibly, not enough to be concerned I don't think at this point.
Thanks all for input. New to planted tanks so all this info is really good for me.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 08:49 PM
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You need to calibrate your nitrate test. There is a sticky at the top of this section that tells how but until you do you have no idea what nitrates you really have. If you were dosing EI and only doing small water changes every week I would expect a much higher nitrate number. That is not your current problem though.

If your water is slightly green tinged then it is most likely an algae bloom rather than a bacteria bloom. If so then getting your nutrients in balance and limiting lights to 8 hours will probably take care of it. If the tank gets a lot of natural sunlight it can also cause this.

My last question is about your PH. Is the 6.5 PH before you add co2? The reason I ask is that co2 lowers PH even further and bacteria can be slowed or even stalled when PH is too low. Also, do you know your GH and KH? With your low PH and relatively low TDS it would appear that you have fairly soft water. If so then you may need to boost the GH a little to get the proper mineral balance. If you can post a copy of your water report someone can check for what mineral balance it has and at least eliminate that for a concern.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-12-2016, 08:57 PM
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a quick fix would be to add a UV filter.
a better fix would be to add a canister filter too.
and do daily small water changes.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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I do have a Canister filter aswell as a hob. I will do the calibration tonight when I test again. I did test last night and still small if any trace of ammonia and no nitrites. My ph is 7.5~ before co2 6.5 with co2. I do not have any way to check my hardness. My tds is down with 254 now since I stopped dosing. I added some poly floss last night and a couple hours later I think te water quality is improving just not at a fast pace. We should be getting another print out of water tests soon not sure where last one went. I am also going to be adding a sponge filter to run at nighttime when co2 and lights are off. My ph and tds testers are both digital.
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