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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
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need help with bacteria bloom

I have done some reading and it appears that i have an Heterotrophic bacteria bloom in my tank, i had recently set up the tank on 8/15 and have had white cloudy water for about a week now, i am using colonize by dr fosters and smith to help start my tank up. my question is how long does a bacteria bloom last and is their any way i can help clear up my water? i started the tank with ro water and am using tahitian moon sand as substrate.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by generalpetres View Post
I have done some reading and it appears that i have an Heterotrophic bacteria bloom in my tank, i had recently set up the tank on 8/15 and have had white cloudy water for about a week now, i am using colonize by dr fosters and smith to help start my tank up. my question is how long does a bacteria bloom last and is their any way i can help clear up my water? i started the tank with ro water and am using tahitian moon sand as substrate.
I have a question for you to help me figure this out.

- What method are you using to cycle the tank?

Normally, a bacterial bloom should take about three days to run its course. It might take longer if there is a source of food that it can use and keep on blooming. These bacteria reproduce very fast and consume dissolved food and keep on reproducing until it's gone, and then the population goes down to a normal level.

You may have to cut back some on feeding the tank if you're using fish food or raw shrimp, but not completely because the nitrifying bacteria need their food, and look for anything dead in the tank.

Definitely say what your cycling method is.

As for using RO water, it doesn't have enough minerals for fish and plants. it's important to either get some tap water in there (partial water changes) or use something like Seachem Equilibrium or a similar product to get minerals into the water.

Oh, check the ammonia level in the tank and post it here.

Last edited by Django; 08-27-2012 at 10:55 AM. Reason: Another question
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 10:59 AM
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Bacteria Bloom

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Originally Posted by generalpetres View Post
I have done some reading and it appears that i have an Heterotrophic bacteria bloom in my tank, i had recently set up the tank on 8/15 and have had white cloudy water for about a week now, i am using colonize by dr fosters and smith to help start my tank up. my question is how long does a bacteria bloom last and is their any way i can help clear up my water? i started the tank with ro water and am using tahitian moon sand as substrate.
Hello gen...

This happens with newly set up tanks and is part of the process as the water chemistry settles. I don't know much more than that, but weekly water changes of 25 to 30 percent of the tank volume will remove the floating particles of plant and fish materials that tends to cloud the tank water.

I would suggest adding some polyfiber pads to your filter. HBH has a good product. The padding is dense and will help filter the water and clear it.

Also, I would stop feeding the fish for a couple of days and if you're adding any fertilizers, stop that too. Fish and plant food contain phosphates and those dissolved in the tank water can add to the problem.

Just a couple of thoughts to consider or not.

B

"Fear not my child, just change the tank water."
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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as my tank sits, i am doing a fishless cycle, i have no plants in the tank. just sand, wood, and water. i havent been using any fish food or anything in the tank, i do have a bottle of ro supplements that i can add to the tank.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2012, 02:14 AM
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You are not doing the fishless cycle unless you are feeding the bacteria.
What you are doing is allowing the plants to root, or running a very long test on the equipment. But not growing bacteria.

Feed the bacteria ammonia.

Read the label on the bacterial additive you have used. Does it include nitrospira? If not it is the wrong species of bacteria, and could be some of the heterotrophic bacteria that are clouding the tank.

You can do water changes to remove the cloudy water, but if there is still food for the bacteria they will just grow back. Eventually their food supply is greatly reduced (they have eaten it all) so the population goes down. Nothing you really need to do about it. Just wait it out.

The other possibility is a problem with mineral levels. Pure RO water has no minerals. Any minerals from any source (decorative rock, substrate, pH altering products) can cloud the water.

Here is what I would do:
Test the GH and KH, bring them both up to a minimum of 3 German degrees of hardness, higher is better. Nitrifying bacteria need some minerals and carbonate. They will not live in pure RO water.
Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
Start feeding the tank ammonia. Make sure there is 3 ppm of ammonia.
Then test the next day, then the next. Same tests.
If the additive you used is the right bacteria, and they have not died (being in a tank with no food and no minerals) then you will see ammonia going down, nitrite and nitrate rising. By about the third day the nitrite will also drop and all you ought to see is nitrate.

If there is not a significant population of the right species of bacteria then the ammonia will remain at 3 ppm or drop very slowly, and little or no nitrite or nitrate will show up.

Option A) Go get the right species of bacteria (look for nitrospira)
Option B) Continue with the fishless cycle.
Option C) Combine A and B.

Here is the fishless cycle.

Fishless Cycle
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia, which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.

Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.

The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.

Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.

The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.

Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.

How to cycle a tank the fishless way:

1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank. These bacteria require a few minerals, so make sure the GH and KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness. They grow best when the pH is in the 7s. Good water movement, fairly warm (mid to upper 70sF), no antibiotics or other toxins.

2) (Optional)Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospiros spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. (This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them). Live plants may bring in these bacteria on their leaves and stems.

3) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This is the non-sudsing, no surfactants, no-fragrance-added ammonia that is often found in a hardware store, discount stores, and sometimes in a grocery store. The concentration of ammonia may not be the same in all bottles. Try adding 5 drops per 10 gallons, then allowing the filter to circulate for about an hour, then test. If the reading isn't up to 5 ppm, add a few more drops and test again. (Example, if your test reads only 2 ppm, then add another 5 drops) Some ammonia is such a weak dilution you may need to add several ounces to get a reading.

4) Test for ammonia daily, and add enough to keep the reading at 5 ppm. You probably will not have to add much, if any, in the first few days, unless you added a good amount of bacteria to jump start the cycle.

5) Several days after you start, begin testing for nitrites. When the nitrites show up, reduce the amount of ammonia you add so the test shows 3ppm. (Add only half as much ammonia as you were adding in part 4) Add this reduced amount daily from now until the tank is cycled.
If the nitrites get too high (over 5 ppm), do a water change. The bacteria growth is slowed because of the high nitrites. Reducing the level of ammonia to 3 ppm should prevent the nitrite from getting over 5 ppm.

6) Continue testing, and adding ammonia daily. The nitrates will likely show up about 2 weeks after you started. Keep monitoring, and watch for 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and rising nitrates.

7) Once the 0 ppm ammonia and nitrites shows up it may bounce around a little bit for a day or two. Be patient. Keep adding the ammonia; keep testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
When it seems done you can challenge the system by adding more than a regular dose of ammonia, and the bacteria should be able to remove the ammonia and nitrite by the next day.
If you will not be adding fish right away continue to add the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.

8) When you are ready to add the fish, do at least one water change, and it may take a couple of them, to reduce the nitrate to safe levels (as low as possible, certainly below 10 ppm) I have seen nitrate approaching 200 ppm by the end of this fishless cycle in a non-planted tank.

9) You can plant a tank that is being cycled this way at any point during the process. If you plant early, the plants will be well rooted, and better able to handle the disruption of the water change.
Yes, the plants will use some of the ammonia and the nitrates. They are part of the nitrogen handling system, part of the biofilter, they are working for you. Some plants do not like high ammonia, though. If a certain plant dies, remove it, and only replace it after the cycle is done.

10) The fishless cycle can also be used when you are still working out the details of lighting, plants and other things. If you change the filter, make sure you keep the old media for several weeks or a month. Most of the bacteria have been growing in this media (sponges, floss etc).
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2012, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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i foregot to mention that the substate i put in the tank is instant aquariuim substrate. Tahitian moon sand. the bottle of colonize doesn't list what bacteria it has in the bottle, i added 16 tbl spoons of kent marine ro right and some fish food to start doing a fishless cycle correctly. ill check my water parameters in the morning.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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which brand of ammonia do you guys recommend? i have been adding fishfood but all it seems to be doing atm is just sitting on the bottom of the tank and the ammonia levels havent been going higher than .5ppm the nitrite levels are still at 0ppm as well as the nitrate. adding the minerals has moved my ph up top 7.6ish from 6.8-7. the water has cleared up considerably still a bit cloudy and now im getting algea every where.

would this ammonia be good? ammonia

as for the algea problem i am using high lighting 2 54watt t5ho 18" off the surface of the sand, but i have not hooked up my co2 system to the tank yet as im waiting on a new bubble counter and drop checker. is their any way to deal with the algea while im cycling the tank?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 03:57 AM
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It probably is the right one.
Look for no surfactants (sudsing ammonia is bad)
No perfumes (Lemon Scent or other is bad)

Pure ammonia.

You are not the first to post that adding fish food does not raise the ammonia very fast. There are 2 reasons for this. First, it has to decompose. In the beginning a tank has no decomposer fungi or bacteria. Second, there is not that much nitrogen (protein) in fish food to get turned into ammonia. To grow the bacteria faster add more ammonia.

There are several bottled products that do contain decomposers and all sorts of other bacteria. I do not waste my money on them, though, these organisms will find the tank pretty fast if you do nothing.

To deal with algae while cycling...
If there are no plants yet (per post #4), then turn off the light. If the tank is still growing algae, then black it out. Cover it so no light gets in from the room or windows.
If there are plants:
Have you put any fertilizer tablets under the sand? If the plants can get the nutrients they need they will be better at removing the things in the water that are growing the algae.

Until you get the CO2 going, I would turn down the lights. Can you turn them on with just one bulb?
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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no, i can only turn both on or off, ill keep the lights off and just leave my moon light leds on their timer, the bottle of ammonia does have surfactants in it. so im guessing i need to shop around for some different ammonia.

just read online that ace hardware brand ammonia is good to go for aquarium use none of the bad stuff in it so ill return this bottle tomorrow and get the ace brand stuff. then ill gravel vac out all the dead food etc and start with ammonia.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 08:37 AM
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Didn't read every post, so I don't quite know what is going on with your cycle, but bacteria blooms do happen to new tanks quite frequently. If it lasts a long time it could be an issue but 2-4 days is pretty standard. I can't remember exactly, but I think have cleared up a bloom with a DE (diatomaceous earth) filter.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-05-2012, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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well i added some ammonia but i think i added a bit to much, its readying at around 8ppm after waiting an hour, ill do a 10 gallon water change tomorrow and redo the testing till i get around 5ppm.
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