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Ok, I have a (very) cloudy, fairly newly established tank (56gallon, the 24" deep one) that I am trying to diagnose. First time ever trying a planted tank, and definitely a bit more complex...

I believe it is an algae bloom, but not 100% certain. The tank is somewhat heavily planted (3 water wisteria, about 9 stems of bacopa, and a healthy and growing sword) so things have a greenish cast anyway, so makes it hard to tell. With all lights off it does seem green when looking through, so I am leaning toward algae.

The thing that is odd is there is no significant new algae accumulating on surfaces (and it has been 5+ days of the bloom) beyond the typical very, very slow deposits. Also, I tried Fulval polish pads, and it isn't helping -- I would expect that with bacteria, but wouldn't they filter floating algae? (not quite the size of free floating algae) Would I be seeing green film on surfaces if it is algae?

Bloom showed up 5 days ago, immediately following a water change and first "intense" gravel vac. I did disturb one root tab, but would have thought extra nutrients would have been gone by now? Also did the weekly flourish (not excel, I don't add any CO2 right now). I also have flourish tabs (about 8 in the tank) under the plants (I now know the wisteria is a pure column feeder, but they are already there) No additional ferts or treatment in the 5 days.

Lighting is dual coralife Aquilight-S LED. Were running 10 hours, cut back to 6, and that does seem to help (it's perhaps worse at end of the day?), but maybe it's too much?

Tank has been set up for 6 weeks. It has been cycled (used SafeStart+, then single fish-in cycle for 2 weeks, a few more now over last 4 weeks (5 neons, 5 small peppered cory, and 4 shrimp), but obviously is still "new". 56 gallons, Fluval 306.

Chemistry is good -- 0 ammonia and nitrite, 20 nitrate, and has been for last 4 weeks (daily tests). pH is 7.0, with GH and KH still moderately hard -- I am slowly moving to RO water to reduce hardness and pH as this will be a tetra tank. 77 degrees.

I've done daily 30% changes with RO since the cloudiness started, which improves things, but it's quickly back. I'm hesitant to do blackout with plants, especially if there is an underlying condition I'm not fixing.

Algae or bacteria? Advice on how to get things back into equilibrium?
 

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It is almost certain to be "green water", which is an algae. That type algae does not colonize leaves, glass, etc., just the water. It often shows up when you disturb the substrate, especially if you let a root tab get above the substrate, and especially if that root tab was not made to be used in an aquarium.

Your tank is lightly planted. A heavily planted tank will have about one plant per square inch of substrate, or many big, fast growing stem plants or rosette plants.

The cheap way to get rid of it is to wrap the tank with black garbage bags, leaving no chance of any light getting into the tank. Leave that in place, with no peeking, for 3 days, no fish feeding, no fertilizing, no lights on, etc. When you remove the bags the water should be clear. More expensive is to use a UV sterilizer made for aquarium use until the water is clear. Sometimes you can borrow one, if you don't have one.
 
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