Chalky water with protein film - bacteria issue? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Chalky water with protein film - bacteria issue?

I originally thought this was related to the GH Booster I coincidentally added just before the chalky/milky appearance issue began, but I've since virtually drained the tank and replaced the tapwater with DI remineralized with Salty Shrimp GH/KH+. Despite that, I can see the chalkiness and protein film reappearing, leading me to believe it's a bacteria issue, rather than chemical.

It's a rock, sand, and moss 7.5g open top tank with two snails, awaiting shrimp. NO2 reading is zero.

What's the best way to deal with this?

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-19-2019, 01:05 AM
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Try adding some almond leaves to tank or small bag peat in filter. If cloud goes away in about 3-4 days it would point to complete lack of humic and fulvic acid in water.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-19-2019, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure I understand, Dave. Those are tannic acids suitable for maintaining CRS and Bee environments, aren't they? This was a neo tank when I used tap and now it's set up for tiger parameters.

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-20-2019, 12:01 AM
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Humic and fulvic acids are naturally found in any freshwater environment on the face of the planet in some quantity. There is no downside to having them your aquarium at some level regardless of what your keeping.

Hereís some reading for you on it.

https://tanninaquatics.com/blogs/the...ater-aquariums

Going geeky on this, humic and fulvic acids will bond with inorganic elements like Ca, Mg, Fe etc forming long chain organic compounds which most Chemoheterotrophic bacteria (ones causing your cloud) cannot access, they lack the ability to process organic compounds. Only higher plants/algae and phototrophic/chemoautotrophic bacteria can make use of them. Basically you will lock those bacteria causing your cloud out of their food source.

Once your aquarium ages and humic acids etc naturally build up because of organic decomposition in substrate etc this will become a thing of the past, but currently your loading your tank with those bacteriaís preferred foods via the oxidation of Mg your adding with GH booster.
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 10-21-2019 at 03:44 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-21-2019, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for elaborating on this, @DaveKS. I'd missed it at first but I think you solved the mystery. I have some fulvic and humic on order.

Bump: Thanks for elaborating on this, @daveks. I'd missed it at first but I think you solved the mystery. I have some fulvic and humic on order.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 01:55 AM
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Thanks for elaborating on this, @DaveKS. I'd missed it at first but I think you solved the mystery. I have some fulvic and humic on order.

Bump: Thanks for elaborating on this, @daveks. I'd missed it at first but I think you solved the mystery. I have some fulvic and humic on order.
Don't ask me how much to dose cause I have no idea. I just use leaves and Sera Super Peat.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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Lol, yeah, I was going to get the leaves instead, but they're out of those, along with almost half of whatever I want to order. The entire industry is very, um, aspirational when it comes to their stocklists.

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 08:23 AM
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Oak courtesy of neighbors front yard.


Last edited by DaveKS; 10-22-2019 at 07:50 PM. Reason: Pic
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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If there's nothing magical about IAL over oak leaves, then we have enough to supply most of the continent. The city hauls them off by the truckload.


Sounds like I need to dry a few on low heat for several hours to kill any fungus, then add one to the tank as needed.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 09:09 PM
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If you look for fresh fallen branches or leaves that havenít started breaking down there wonít be any fungus. I just bring those branches in spray them with hot water to clean them and hang up like that to cure. That branch was good one, it had obviously gotten broken off up in tree but had been hanging up in tree curing in sun for a while. Most ones I find are only about 1/4 of that size.

I donít bake them, fungus is a major part of the process as described in above article of forest floor which actually turns raw organic leaves into humus which in turn gets leached back into water every time it rains.

Plant roots in your aquarium are actually covered in bacteria and fungi, they are actually part of the CEC process. Other fungus are part of conversion of organic phosphate into inorganic, which is what plants use.

Below,mycorrhizal fungi/spores inhabiting root hairs. Without them cation exchange doesnít happen at prolific rate and plants have to work harder/expend more energy to perform cation exchange at roots.

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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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@DaveKS, should I wait until the water clears before adding more snails and the shrimp colonies (neos and OEBT)?

Any idea how long it should take to clear?

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 08:38 PM
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Yes wait. Those bacteria use the hardness in your water as energy source and consume dead or living organisms as there carbon source.

Being as tank is brand new and you donít mention any wood or other organic matter in tank their only carbon source are going to be from any moss that has died or other lower bacteria on food chain, this includes the bacteria you are trying to foster by cycling tank.

If you add humic/fulvic acids you will lock them out of their energy source (itís like you not taking in any carbs in your diet, you are also a Chemoheterotroph) and probably around 4-7 days cloud will wane and the other bacteria/archaea in tank will then have upper hand again and can respond to increased bio load as they should.

A few more snails should be no problem, snail poop is good stuff. But I would wait a week after cloud goes away before trying shrimp. 4-5 shrimp probably not a problem but Iíd rather be safe/patient.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Not exactly brand new* but there's no wood other than the oak leaf I added yesterday, which I went with instead of ordering the acid (shop had half my cart on backorder). There are occasional gnats and crushed pest snails that feed the bacteria too.

* set up in July, dosed ammonia for 2-3 weeks, snails have been there 6-7 weeks, current ammonia and nitrite = zero

If the tank isn't cycling, where does that leave us?

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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-24-2019, 01:32 AM
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Not exactly brand new* but there's no wood other than the oak leaf I added yesterday, which I went with instead of ordering the acid (shop had half my cart on backorder). There are occasional gnats and crushed pest snails that feed the bacteria too.

* set up in July, dosed ammonia for 2-3 weeks, snails have been there 6-7 weeks, current ammonia and nitrite = zero

If the tank isn't cycling, where does that leave us?
I didnít say tank wasnít cycled. BB just might not be able increase at rate needed to prevent ammonia and nitrite spikes if you increase bio load to much.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-29-2019, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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A week has passed and the tank has transitioned from chalky to green. Time, I think, for a blackout, WC, and to order the neos and snails.

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