Chalky water with protein film - bacteria issue? - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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The saga continues, @DaveKS: the tank went green, did a 72 hr blackout, completely changed the water down to the substrate last week, and everything seemed fine. The new inhabitants arrived today and when the lights came on, the water was noticeably chalky again. I'd pared the oak leaf down to the size of an IAL over the weekend, but it's been in there since 10/22.

Is this just a really slow cycle or some other sort of bacterial issue?

I added three alder cones today but assume it will take days before they'll have any effect.

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post #17 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 09:33 PM
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Well good news is it worked on bacteria cloud.

Bad news is now their is no top tier bacteria in the food chain to keep phototrophic bacteria and algae in check, they use light as energy source and either A: use free co2 as carbon source (photoautotrophs) or B: use organic carbon sources, living or dead as carbon source (photoheterotrophs).

My 1st choice for green water is installing floating plants (anything but duckweed), they cut light reaching water column and also process excess nutrients from water column at higher rate than any submerged plant.

Also sounds like you initially went with some pretty strong light to try to grow some carpet plant but failed and then you went with moss etc. Did you dim light and/or shorten photoperiod after MC fail or is it still blazingly bright?

Sounds like thereís to much salty shrimp elements in floating in water column. Probably if you had went with prepared soil ball type substrate that has binding properties instead of inert substrate these problems might not have appeared to begin with.

Give your alder cones time to kick in and work on adjusting lighting.
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post #18 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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1. It's a Finnex Planted light, 32 mMol @ substrate, IIRC, for the Monte Carlo and mini-pellia. Monte Carlo never took off (thread algae) but I now have some impulse purchase Mayaca in there now that's holding its own.
2. Photoperiod is 6-7 hrs.
3. I would love to have added some RRF...
4. ...but assumed they would court disaster as I'm not dosing and there's no data on the Salty Shrimp packaging. Bad assumption on my part, I guess, but I thought it was just a fancy version of GH booster, which always struck me as kind of an afterthought of EI dosing.



If you think the Salty Shrimp will support a RRF canopy, I'll order some and a Sera nitrate test kit.


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post #19 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-07-2019, 07:44 AM
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Well best I could find on SS is this from a Reddit post.

17.88% Calcium
6.76% Magnesium
2, 11% Potassium
0.69% Hydrogen Carbonate
41.50% Chloride
16.91% Sulfate
0.35492% Trace Elements

Very light on trace, green water would probably use that up in a day. Also wonít supply NP but you could get enough of that from feeding.

Why are you opposed to doing light dosing to help your plants outcompete algae? Algae can can thrive with very limited nutrients, higher plants cannot. But RRF are a very easy plant once it gets acclimated to your water/tank conditions. If your changing a bit of water regularly SS might be able to keep up. A phosphate test would also be handy. I prefer using phosphate test as a gauge of wether feedings are keeping up with NP levels. Have you started feeding shrimp yet?

Also I have no idea how mMol converts to par. ???
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post #20 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-07-2019, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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I actually had been doing limited dosing but stopped based on a misunderstanding. One concern however is TDS @ 235, which is already above the OEBT vendor's limit of 220. I can cut the SS concentration and work in KNO3 and KH2PO4 as needed, i guess. Haven't added the OEBT yet.

Feeding: I'm not feeding anything aside from the oak leaf and three boiled alder cones in the tank, plus moss detritus. There are 18 shrimp and 6 snails.

mMol is the measurement of PAR, I thought. I'll verify the number later and edit this post with my finding.

ETA: PAR for the Finnex Stingray is 28-30 units at the substrate, which should be at the upper end of low. According to the PAR charts I consulted at the time, this should allow decent growth without requiring liquid or gaseous CO2 supplementation.
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Last edited by Rainer; 11-08-2019 at 01:42 AM. Reason: update
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post #21 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 09:14 PM
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Is planting density in tank of mayaca large enough to actually make a dent in nutrient uptake? Know mosses uptake rate is negligible.

But yes I would do light dosing of a full spectrum fert on a daily or every other day schedule, probably 1/4-1/3 recommend rate then use SS to to make up the rest to hit your TDS target and do just enough water changes to keep it there.

Also I am confused. Above you say “haven’t add OEBT yet” but later in text above you talk about feeding and 18 shrimp/6 snails. Do you mean your currently planning on adding OEBT but as of now have some other shrimp and snails in there?

To me a light daily or every other day supplemental feeding will help in aging your tank past this new tank syndrome your currently in.

When you mix up change water shoot for low side on TDS range and also pull leaf and cone from tank and let them set in your change water overnight so acids have chance to bind to elements you add and also stabilize PH. When you change water TDS will drop slightly and then over coarse of week as you lightly dose TDS will slowly creep up, you change water, lather/rinse/repeat. You need to zero in on dosing and rates and maintenance schedule that works for your tank. Don’t change anymore water than is absolutely necessary to maintain your levels. Just know that as tank matures this formula will slightly change, usually slight increase in water change amount.

Also think a small colony of RRF is good idea, just be sure to tie or corral it up so it doesn’t overshade your mayaca. You’ve seen that you can lock chemotrophs out of there energy source by binding up oxidized minerals they use, now you have to limit the phototrophs energy source which is light. RRF are very easy to maintain, just take your tongs and remove some every week to keep density where it’s needed.
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post #22 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-09-2019, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the detailed reply, @DaveKS. Yes, that's correct: I have 18 neos and babaulti in there now, along with 6-7 snails, and plan to add the OEBT once the parameters are fully under control.

I've only rarely seen them on the oak leaf or the cones, so I have doubts about the need for feeding, but I'll try some blanched spinach tonight. Below is a pic of the tank after yesterday's maintenance. The LFS was out of RRF and had only a small amount of Frogbit.

The mass of moss in the center is hookeriaceae, fairly fast growing. There's that much again behind the large rock to the left. The other mosses (MP, mini-taiwan, and fissidens) are pretty low growth, almost non-existent.

I added several cyperus helferi last night; the moonscape tank has really changed. Also picked up some Flourish in addition to the EI dry ferts I already had, so I'll have a nice little biotope going once these issues are settled and all the inhabitants are in place.
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Last edited by Rainer; 11-10-2019 at 02:39 PM. Reason: cyperus and everything after
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post #23 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-11-2019, 09:05 PM
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What kind of media is in that internal filter? If just coarse foam you might add some densely packed filter floss to it. But watch it, it could clog pretty quickly. Shame you donít have a seasoned fine foam bubble filter, it could probably clear up that water in a day or 2.

Mayaca looks a little anemic but that could be trick of photo, but low dose of fert daily or every other day should fix that. .5ml fluorish, add to 1/2 gal jug of RO water and just use that to top of for evaporation throughout week. In a low uptake tank, especially one thatís currently limited by a light blocking cloud you donít want any element in excess in water column but you also need to make sure that no element that plants need is ever in complete depletion for any extended period of time. Start low and as tank settles work your dosing up if needed. As water clears if you start see excess fuzz algae etc that shrimp and snails canít handle, back off.

I myself personally would also spread those mayaca stems out on 3/4-1Ē spacing so lower leaves are not shaded out.

Also donít not do a 100% water change ever, when you did that and removed most of leaf you took 5 steps backwards in the aging process in this tank. Finer filtration, minimal water changes (1-2 gal week max) and patience are what will help you break through this new tank syndrome your in.
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post #24 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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First, thanks for all your help with this, @DaveKS.

Second, correct, it's only coarse filter foam inside; same as the material surrounding the intakes. I guess you're right about the NTS, but there's been a lot of surface area in the tank and on the foam for beneficial bacteria in relation to the light load until pretty recently. My unquestioned assumption was that it would be enough. Heh.

I'll see about adding some filter floss and will space out the mayaca. I've found some more frogbit and the tank seems to be clearer today.

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post #25 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 11:34 AM
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Think youíll get along great with frogbit. Now that Iíve seen your tank, keep it about 1/3 of tank on left end over mosses. Mayaca nice plant, keep it high light over that area. Think to maintain this tank youíll need frogbit as main high metabolism plant. They are supercharged water cleaners and your just starting to see cleaning effect of them. Their roots are also loaded with beneficial bacteria and fungi which will help age/season your tank. Predict in about 7-10day youíll probably be ready to order OEBT.

Boiling your cones? Donít. When you go to mix up some change water drop a fresh cone and a fresh oak leaf in there and leave them long enough to get a slight pale yellow tint to water, then pull them out set them out on a small towel and let them dry. I use a white 5 gal bucket so I can see my waters color. Then add your SS to spec, wait couple/few hours for humic/fulvic compounds to bind and waters ready. Reuse those same leaf/cones to prep your change water 3-5 times, then they go in tank and get fresh pair to prep your change water.

Basically use them for 3-5wks for water prep and theyíll be ready to add to tank. You have no wood to add organic compounds to tank so just leave them there to breakdown, donít take them out. Get a phosphate test, only if you see phosphate levels rising will you need to remove organic matter from tank. Your Mayaca and frogbit along with 20% (+-???) water changes should take care of any excess phosphate or DOC.

People get carried away with fear of organic decomposition in aquariums when in fact itís #1 carbon and nutrient source for plants in a low tech aquarium like your trying to setup. Healthy plant metabolism, healthy substrate/bacteria metabolism via proper circulation flow/patterns in tank and nutrient management/tank husbandry builds a big picture where everything just falls into place. If you donít know how to prep your change water that 75% water change is actually going to do more harm than good for your tank.

Hereís what my change water for my Betta and Neon/Ember Tetra looks like.



In my 7 gal with big betta and 11 tetra Iíve only changed 2 gal of water in last 5 months, these fish actually like old water, I also since last April have only cleaned glass once. No brush algae, no fuzz algae, no hair algae.

2 plants, RRF and R. Rotundifolia and a Marimo Ball. Plants grow so fast I can hardly keep up with them. Nice colony of pink pearl ramshorns. Fish are vibrant and super healthy.



And to shock you, here is what bottom of this aquarium looks like, big layer of mulm and organic material I actually installed on setup, was no cycling to this tank, it was functional 4 days after setup, zero ammonia, zero nitrites and 8ppm nitrates. This pic was at 2 weeks and I already had to thin rotala out because it was taking over whole tank. Note huge roots drilling down into subtrate. Filthiest looking tank Iíve every kept but absolutely the lowest maintenance tank ever.



The whole point of showing you this is not that you need to take your tank there but to show you there are all kinds shades of grey in keeping a aquarium, itís all about finding a equilibrium that works for your special snowflake of a tank, no 2 tanks are exactly same unless you purposefully set them up that way. But you have to truly understand biological processes and how to control and implement them to make it work.

Iím really kind of disappointed with myself for not seeing your solution all along. You basically had a excess of nutrients in water column, green cloud was forming but white cloud came in and was feeding on green cloud and using excess oxidized Ca/Mg/etc in water as fuel. If we had hit it with a 1-2 punch of adding humic/fulvic acids and also installing a colony of floaters at same time weíd be about week to 10 days ahead of where your at now. In a bright shiny new tank redox potentials are high so that added fuel to white cloud energy uptake via higher oxidation of hardnesses in water. When we added organic acids white cloud ran out of fuel via lockout and green cloud came forward. Now floaters are starting to limit green cloud by sucking up water nutrients and blocking photons hitting water column.
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post #26 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Not ignoring your reply above, @DaveKS - just a quick note: sera kits arrived and took readings in natural daylight this morning as directed:
NO3 = ~5ppm
PO4 = 1ppm
TDS = 253
GH = 9 dGH
KH = 3 dKH

TDS are too high but GH is very, very wrong - should be 6 dGH. I can't think of anything but that at least one of the rocks isn't inert after all. Other ideas?

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post #27 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 09:57 PM
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I see one lava rock which shouldnít be a problem.

Are other ones petrified wood? They can leach hardness back into water, some more than others. Once covered with biofilm leaching should slow down, moss should grow like crazy on them.

I myself would just adjust hardness of change water to low side, monitor GH/TDS in tank right after water change and then 5 days later.

In theory the hardness rocks provide could totally negate use of SS. Could be all you need to do is change out 1 gal tank water a week with straight RO water to keep it inline. Your shrimp/snails couldnít care less if Ca, Mg, K etc is coming from a boutique jar or a piece of rock.
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post #28 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-15-2019, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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They're all supposed to be neutral ohko, dragonstone. The one on the far right in the picture is darker, more vertically oriented, and more scalloped than the others; I suspect it could be misplaced dark limestone. I'll pull it this weekend for testing.

The target parameters with the OEBT in mind are:
120-220TDS
5-7 dGH
0-4 dKH

Obviously I'm going to come in at the upper end of that range once the GH issue has been resolved.

I replaced a section of the coarse filter material with fine floss and am leaving the coarse section in the tank for a week while the floss is colonized. Also spread out the mayaca as you suggested, @DaveKS.

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post #29 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-18-2019, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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You were spot on, @DaveKS: the tank has rapidly cleared since yesterday; it's almost normal with only a chalky haze remaining. The frogbit and mayaca have really done the trick; it will be interesting to see what happens as the frogbit dies back (the light bar is narrow and only a couple inches above the water) though. I'm getting some RRF which can circulate better than the AF and I've replaced that rock with a confirmed piece of dragon stone, so GH should be static again.

Winter's coming, making shipping shrimp risky again, so the next question is how quickly I can lower the water parameters without setting off another white or green cloud. I've been thinking of aging some half-strength Salty Shrimp DI water with the oak leaf and alder cone you suggested and changing out a gallon twice a week, plus PO4 and NO3 testing the day after. Btw, do we just assume we have enough K until we see pinholes?

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post #30 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-18-2019, 09:05 PM
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Take 6oz tank water, add 1oz RO water to it, let it set 30min and test GH. That will tell you roughly what doing a 1 gal water change with straight RO will do in your tank.

Iíd probably do it 1/2gal a day and Iíd set up with my slow siphon using airline tubing to slowly put water back in tank. You want to avoid inducing osmotic shock by a rapid hardness change. Just like doing drip acclimating of shrimp when you get them in just no IV clamp, with pump still circulating in tank GH should slowly creep down over coarse of 30min or so it takes water to siphon into tank. Lowering hardness Iíll only help get rid of cloud. Dropping 1 GH point or less a day would be optimal.

K deficiency, doubt that will show up in your tank with amount of K in SS. With planting density youíve got currently not going to happen. Maybe if you let frogbit populate whole surface of tank.

Iíd tie up a floater ring on left end to corral floater under light if needed but doubt youíll have that problem. Your problem will probably be corralling it up so it doesnít overshadow cyperus or mayaca to much.
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