Greenish Reddish Brownish Water? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-13-2014, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Greenish Reddish Brownish Water?

Hi all-getting back into the hobby after a couple years out of it. I've had several tanks before, and I've never run into this issue before.

I recently bought a 36G Bowfront kit from Petsmart on sale and set it up with two bags of Floramax as the substrate and some rock from a local stream. I thoroughly scrubbed and soaked the rocks in bleach before I put them in the tank.

Immediately I had issues since I forgot to rinse the Floramax (oops) before I put it in. Anyway, I set it up using the included HOB filter while I had an Aquatop DF200 on order.

Once the sediment cleared, the water was reasonably clear for about 2 days, the immediately turned a cloudy white. At this point, I can't see more than 4-6" into the tank.

After awhile, the white turned brown, then reddish, then day before yesterday, I installed the DF 200 canister filter (bottom up: Coarse Sponge>Medium Sponge>Fine Sponge>Polyfill>Ceramic Rings and BioBalls). Within a couple hours of filling the tank (I did a 25% change) the water turned reddish green.

I took some photos today before I did about a 75% change...what am I looking at? Algal bloom? Sediment? Something else?

Currently the tank has 6 Tiger Barbs, 2 Serape Tetras, and 1 Platy. I've only had one death (platy) since I started the tank. The surviving platy and 2 serapes have been in the tank about a week and a half now, and the tiger barbs have been in since last friday.

Before change:

After Change:

Any idea what I'm dealing with here?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-13-2014, 04:42 AM
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I had the same thing in my heavily planted 50 gallon with Flourite. Here's what I tried.
1. 20% daily water changes. No help.
2. Seachem Clarity, worked but the cloudiness comes right back.
3. Seachem Purigen, worked but the cloudiness came back as soon as it was depleted.
4. Then I thought maybe my tank wasn't cycled so I added Seachem Stability. Nothing.
5. I broke down and bought a UV filter. I left it on for a month and my water has been clear ever since.

Personally I think it was bacterial bloom or more likely green water but I could never pin point the real cause since aside from the things I tried above, my parameters were the same from beginning to end (CO2 concentration, fertilizer, feeding, etc.). I was also told that there was something weird going on with my tap that month but no fish died.

Bottom line is, if nothing works, give the UV filter a shot. If there's something alive in the water to cause this, it'll take care of it. Just make sure to do water changes and clean out your filter regularly since it'll be full of sludge from the whatever is dying in the water.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-13-2014, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting. I was looking at inline UV filters last night...I might try one of those. I tried water clarifier twice, but had absolutely no effect whatsoever. Whatever it is is obviously alive...guess it's time to pick up a UV filter.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-13-2014, 06:51 PM
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I had roughly the same thing when I forgot to rinse my Flourite/Eco Complete. I drained the tank and added water to it while churning the substrate by hand then draining it again. Repeated that about 4 times and then finally just filled it, scaped & planted it. Ended up with brownish water after a couple of weeks but a 70% change and all was good.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-14-2014, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Its actually begun to turn a milky white cloudy again... Gonna try another big water change and if it doesn't stay clear, I'll pull the trigger on a uv filter.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-14-2014, 03:04 PM
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Reddish brown would appear to be sediment related.
White cloudy water = bacteria bloom.
Would maybe pull substrate and place it in old pillow case and run garden hose through it till the water run's clear or clearer.Would not do this over kitchen sink or bathtub lest residue clog the sink trap or tub.
Bacteria bloom's are a good thing,and will go away with time.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-14-2014, 08:22 PM
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Looks like a combination of things.
The redder cloudiness is more likely dust from the substrate.
Solution: When you refill the tank make sure the incoming water does not blast into the substrate. A big water change might require that you fill slowly and put a plate or plastic bag over the substrate so the water flows in over the plate.
A smaller water change might mean that you add the water slowly and allow it to sheet across the top rather than plunging down into the tank.

After a few days, white cloudy is heterotrophic bacteria. These are not the nitrogen cycle bacteria, but are beneficial. They are feeding off organic matter in the tank. At first there are oils from your skin when you were handling the rocks and equipment during set up. Then there are fallen fish foods, fish waste, and even household dust. The heterotrophic bacteria settle down, usually within a week or so.

Another reason for cloudy water would be something related to the minerals or pH. Are you adding any pH altering products to the tank?

How did you cycle this tank?
What are current water parameters? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, GH, KH, pH, TDS and any other tests you have.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-14-2014, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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Ok heres what the tank looks like now. Looks like a bacterial bloom, which makes sense with a new canister filter. I'll keep am eye out for a few days to see what's happening. I added no chemicals besides the water conditioner and have not had the water tested.

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