Cloudy planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2018, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Cloudy planted tank

I have had a 55 gallon planted tank since September last year. Like with all my tanks, I dirted it with soil with sand on top. I’ve been doing that for years. A month ago, somehow a bunch of soil leached through the sand and I couldn’t get it clean so I tore apart the tank. It was really bad. I stuck my fish temporarily into my 20g sick tank and began rebuilding. I got ADA Amazonia aquarium soil. This would be my very first time using soil actually made for planted tanks. I kept most of my old plants, composted some and bought some knew ones. I had an old piece of drift wood I wanted to utilize and basically started from scratch. I also went and bought a new canister filter since I was using an old aqua clear HOB filter, which I think I broke in this process. So I got an Eheim classic 350. I took the old bio balls from the aqua clear and the small sponge and surrrounded the new bio media around them. I got it dirted, planted, water filled and the tank running. Added in seachem flourish, seachem carbon, iron and of course conditioner. In the tank I have a corse sponge, two poly pads, bio balls and bio rings, including the old media mentioned. I have added all the fish because let’s face it, the 20 gallon they were in was way too small for my fish. Figuring I had the old wood, old media and some of the old plants (which were kept in a cycled 38g I have), I figured I had enough good bacteria to avoid the cloudy bacterial bloom. Since then, I have tested the water, 0.2 ammonia, 0-0.25 nitrates, 10-20 nitrates. 7.0 pH which is lower then my 8.2 tap water. I kind of expected these readings, and this test was done on Sunday. I technically didn’t let it cycle so it no surprise, but I keeping a close eye and the fish seem lively and healthy. I used the API water testing kit. At first I was doing 30% water changes twice a week but for the last two weeks I’ve been doing 30% changes once a week. The cloudiness hasn’t really changed, after a water change it clears a bit but the next day it’s back to its milky self. I’ve never actually experienced a bacterial bloom if that’s what this is. I don’t know if it’s the soil...? How long will this last and is it safe for my fish? Should I go back to doing two water changes a week?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2018, 04:23 PM
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Brooke...

I feel for you. I kept dirted tanks for years and understand the messiness. The problem with dirted tanks is the bottom material loses nutrients in a few months, and you have to find another means of feeding the plants. I've never heard of a nutrient based substrate that will last long term. Anyway, your post sounds like you have some experience in the water keeping hobby. I've seen cloudy tanks that aren't cycled. This is what I call a bad bacteria bloom. The bacteria that clouds the water isn't good for the water, so it's not good for the fish. You've set up the old fashioned "Fish-In" cycle. This isn't a bad thing, unless you slack off testing the tank water. For this means of establishing a tank, you feed the fish a little variety every day or two to get a steady source of ammonia. Test the water daily for traces of ammonia or nitrite. If you have a positive test for either, remove a third of the water and replace it with treated tap water. This will get the water chemistry back into the "Safe Zone" for the fish and leave some nitrogen to grow the good bacteria colony. Just test daily and remove and replace the water when needed. In a month or so, you'll get several daily tests with no traces of ammonia or nitrite. At this point, the tank is cycled. Then, change half the water weekly for the life of the tank to keep the water livable for the fish. Maybe you already know this, but I hope this is helpful.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2018, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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I know about the fish in cycle which I used to do with white cloud minnows. I haven’t done this in a long time, 3 years maybe. I’ve kept fish in variety of gallon sizes for somewhere around 16 years. 5 years ago I started doing the whole planted thing which is way more enjoyable to me. I have a 72 gallon dirted tank which was my first plant set up, I replaced the dirt two years ago and still have no issues with it (knock on wood).

If you say it’ll take another month then I will wait a while longer before i start getting too worried. It’s definitely not what I would have originally done but I really didn’t want to regime my fish to cycle this tank again, also I didn’t think this would have become a huge issue seeing as I had objects that were already in a cycles tank. A hobby that’s always a learning curve.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2018, 06:10 PM
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"This is what I call a bad bacteria bloom. The bacteria that clouds the water isn't good for the water, so it's not good for the fish." ....to quote @MultiTankGuy

Stop it. This is wildly inaccurate.

The cloudy water in a newly setup tank is caused by heterotrophic bacteria which are a vital part of the cycling process. The bacterial bloom isn't "bad for your water" or bad for your livestock either, it is quite the opposite. It will calm down as things get cycled and the bacteria colonizes the substrate and everything else in the tank.

With the ADA Aquasoil, it requires large daily water changes for the first week or so due to the fact it leaches a tremendous amount of ammonia, and very frequent water changes thereafter for several weeks. If you didn't go through the process of allowing the aquasoil to leach for several weeks before adding fish, that's going to be rough on them.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2018, 08:13 PM
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mg...

I appreciate you checking my answers. But, you're getting a little too critical. What I should possibly have said by my bad bacteria statement, was that the reason the water is cloudy is there's too much food and minerals (high pH) in the water and the bacteria is using it. I just called it bad bacteria because there's too much of it. Is this okay with you? I'd call too much bacteria bad for the tank, because it looks like pea soup. I'd rather have things crystal clear.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2018, 08:55 PM
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I don't think I'm being too critical, you said it isn't good for the water and therefore isn't good for the fish. This isn't accurate. It isn't a bad thing at all in a cycling tank. Again, this is a good sign that your bacteria is establishing itself. If you have an ESTABLISHED tank that suddenly has a bacterial bloom, you need to probably take a closer look at things. If my two year old planted tank suddenly turned white, that would tell me that I've been slacking on my husbandry or that I've REALLY screwed something up. But again, in a new tank, which is what we're dealing with here, this is not a problem at all. We're also dealing with a nutrient rich substrate leaching ammonia as things get established.

If it persists for longer than a couple weeks, then it may not be a bad idea to add carbon to your filter @Brooke Janine Carter. Totally up to you though. I would highly recommend you do daily water changes until you stop seeing ammonia since you have fish in the tank already. This is something Multitankguy and I can agree on at least...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2018, 02:12 AM
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I dont use soil any longer, but as mentioned it's just a bacterial bloom. Actually had a huge bloom in a recently set up 20 long. It literally looked like milk at one point. I was just going g to let it run its course but it persisted. Did a 90% water change. Next day there was an incredible film on the surface. Total sludge. I did another large water change and sucked out all the gunk and moved the filter output to create more surface agitation. It's been crystal clear since and no more film.
Dont mess with the substrate or any of that. Change out some water and dont disturb the cycle. Especially with soil or aquasoil. Just let it do its thing and cycle. I certainly wouldn't add fish. Between the AS and some media from an established filter you should be good. Just be patient with it.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2018, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. It’s all cleared up now. Did a water change on Friday and it hasn’t come back. I really don’t think it was the soil, just because when I first filled the tank the soil leeched brown but this cloudiness was milky. The fish seem healthy and happy and tested the water this morning and there was 0 ammonia this time. Still some nitrites and nitrates were a bit higher too.

The only issue now it the plants are starting to melt. Some of them have holes but this happened a few weeks ago right after the change so I’m assuming it has to do with the cycling of the tank.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2018, 04:42 PM
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Many plants will melt when exposed to vastly different parameters. Nitrites would certainly qualify. Remove any dead or dying leaves asap. Leave roots and new growth undisturbed. Some plants are worse than others. Anytime I even move crypts within the same tank half of them melt. I have 3 high tech tanks. Same tap, inert substrate, C02 levels, EI dosing... but any time I move bolbitus I have to trim off all of the fronds and wait for new fronds to grow. These crazy dense grown in tanks are either just freshly packed with new plants or years old. It takes a really long time to see the great algae free growth and have all of the plants happy and healthy.

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