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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy. New here. Please forgive if I am not posting properly.
I have a 3 year plus 20 gallon live plant tank in my classroom. It has presented challenges over the years.
Here is the recent battle that I am loosing big time: (Pict as attachment since I am unaware of how to place in line.)

Stats:
Weekly regular 30% water changes.
GH = 180 (too high I know) I have to use city water.
KH = 100
pH = 7.5
NO2 = 0 - 0.5
NO3 = 20
Fluval Light is 8 hrs on / day.

Plants are declining in health.
Snail population is gone.
API Algaefix won't touch this stuff.
2 ml of API CO2 Booster added daily (except weekends when I'm not here).
Fish are fed small amounts Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.
Population = 6 fish
There is a 4 inch air stone in the back, believe it or not.
Water temp is in range.

I've spent too much time trying to investigate online. I often find conflicting advice.
So, I needed to go to a forum where the real knowledge is.

I feel like I should add frogs and lily pads to this swamp water.
Thankfully it doesn't stink at all.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This is interesting. Apparently I have been messing with the tank too much because what I had been reading online (not this forum) suggested doing frequent water changes and replacing filter carts often. I had been doing that and getting nowhere fast.

The links provide were very insightful. Thanks for including them. I did a lot of reading and learning this evening.

I thought finding a good forum would provide better information. Glad I found this one!

I'll just leave the tank alone for a while as it appears that a few weeks time is needed for a cycle. And, I'll stop changing the filter so often and pick up some pot scrubbies to add to the filter. Good stuff.

Thanks for the reply, Somefishguy!
 

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I just wanted to add from my own experience, that sponge filters work wonders! When i first tried it, i was very skeptical. But now i dont think i will ever go back LOL! Anyways, sponge filters help trap beneficial bacteria in the sponge itself. When the water is filtered through it, the bacteria will literally clean the water for you while the sponge traps large particles. You can also help cycle the tank quicker by kick-starting it with some beneficial bacteria that can be found at a fish store. Also, throw some more plants in there as well. Search up some low-tech plants as well as floaters. Floaters will really help kick back ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. You want absolutely 0 nitrites and ammonia. 20 ppm for nitrate is usually fine as long as you have live plants. i always loved nerite snails as well. They arent they quickest clean up, but they do the job behind the scenes and wont eat plants. Anyways, hope this was helpful and sorry if i repeated anything you already knew!
PS plecos help with algae but they have a higher bio-load and poop like crazy!
 

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Hi!

What kind of fluval light is that and can you set the intensity? Suspect 8 hrs is just too much without real co2 and/or nutrient dosing.

You may find forums to be equally fraught with conflicting viewpoints. :).

Mine is that you’ll want to spend some time here if you want solid practical info on planted tanks in particular

https://www.2hraquarist.com/pages/the-2hr-way

Planted tanks are all about the right balance between co2, lights, nutrients, maintenance. Give up or lack one, and you’ll have to adjust the others to compensate.
 

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My recent experience with green water is that a UV sterilizer is the way to go. It will kill the green water algae quickly (but you still need to do water changes/keep your actual filter going in order to remove the dead GW algae). I left my UV pump going to 2 weeks, then removed it, and all is well.
But that only solves half your problem. You also will want to figure out what led to that algae bloom in the first place, so that another algae doesn't take its place.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all for your comments and suggestions. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

Here is my plan based upon what I have read: (Feel free to comment if you feel I should adjust.)

Stop water changes for a few weeks.
Feed very lightly.
I ordered an external canister filter for the 20 gallon tank. It should arrive tomorrow. It will be used in addition to the HOB filter in use.
Continue to add daily CO2: 1 ml / 10 gallons.
Light: 8 hrs / day.

I am not going to go the way of the UV light. Only if it is the very last option.

I need to up my plant count. I am thinking I should wait until the water clears?
 

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I am not going to go the way of the UV light. Only if it is the very last option.
To be honest, a UV light/pump will be the fastest way (days) to clear green water. Then work on all the other stuff that needs to be done. Here is one that will work just fine.

https://www.amazon.com/COODIA-Inter...&sprefix=uv+light+for+aquarium,aps,248&sr=8-2

Set it on the lowest flow rate to keep the water in contact with the light. Otherwise you may be looking at weeks again of green water.
 

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I didnt see this mentioned but dont actually replace the filter carts too often or at all. I See a small HOB filter, If you change the whole cart you are effectively having to re-cycle your tank. When you want to clean it, when you do a water change, rinse it off in the old tank water to get the larger debris off of it. Or if it gets too ratty. Put the new filter pad behind or infront of the old one for a week then pull the old one out. This will make the tank more stable.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It is my understanding from the input previously received is that the tank has a bacteria imbalance (desirable vs nondesirable).

I have no experience with a UV lite. Won't it kill off all the bacteria - including the beneficial bacteria base that I am trying to reestablish?
 

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It is my understanding from the input previously received is that the tank has a bacteria imbalance (desirable vs nondesirable).

I have no experience with a UV lite. Won't it kill off all the bacteria - including the beneficial bacteria base that I am trying to reestablish?
No since there is no beneficial bacteria in the water column. A lot of folks run these 24x7 all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, I have learned that the cartridge filter does not need to be replaced as often as I had been doing so. Apparently, in my desire to keep things neat and tidy I have been competing against this with frequent replacement.

I think what triggered this was my thorough cleaning of the filer as it was looking a bit grungy. I know now that was a mistake.

Once I install the external canister filter I plan on leaving that alone and change out the filter cart monthly on the HOB.

Bump: I've read some conflicting information regarding the water changes.

Most of what I read indicated that I should not do them until this green swamp water thing has been corrected.

So, if that is correct, once this water problem has been corrected, should changes be done weekly, biweekly, monthly?

I had been doing 30% weekly and it seemed to be OK until this green water situation appeared a few weeks ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
OK. I think I am beginning to understand this a bit better now.

I may change my previously posted comment regarding the use of the UV lite as the last resort.

Thanks for the education.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
My thinking was to leave the canister totally alone for the beneficial bacteria source - not mess with it at all and replace the HOB filter to help eliminate debris from the system through one of the media.

You are saying that I should leave both alone?

I agree that I messed this up with the frequent filter changes.

I'm Ok with the hands off approach. I'm just trying to figure out the best system.
 

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My thinking was to leave the canister totally alone for the beneficial bacteria source - not mess with it at all and replace the HOB filter to help eliminate debris from the system through one of the media.

You are saying that I should leave both alone?

I agree that I messed this up with the frequent filter changes.

I'm Ok with the hands off approach. I'm just trying to figure out the best system.
If you read the sections on Filter Media it will become apparent.
 

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My thinking was to leave the canister totally alone for the beneficial bacteria source - not mess with it at all and replace the HOB filter to help eliminate debris from the system through one of the media.

You are saying that I should leave both alone?

I agree that I messed this up with the frequent filter changes.

I'm Ok with the hands off approach. I'm just trying to figure out the best system.
Your filter media/bacteria is the only thing that keeps your tank long term healthy. It takes weeks/months to colonize or seed your filter material the first time. So what you want to do is put the new floss media in with the old for a while and then after a week or 2 you can remove the old pad as the newer one should be plenty seeded. If you skip this and just replace the media you are effectively restarting the whole cycle so your ammonia wont be properly converted to nitrates/nitrites.

I think you should do some reading on the nitrogen cycle. Also having a canister doesnt make it hands off. Its going to be massively more effective at filtering than the little HOB filter you have. You will need to clean it just the same as you would your hob filter.

There isnt really a hands off approach to an aquarium. the key to success is stability. Keep your cleaning routine. Water changes are fine, ive done plenty of 90% waterchanges, you just need to know the water your putting in is the same temp (+-1/2 Degrees) and that its from the same source.

Green water bacteria blooms arent too uncommon in newer tank. read a bunch of the newbie facts/threads on the forums it will lead you in the right direction. You obviously want to take care of the fish as you are doing the right things like water changes and maintenence but a good understanding of what those are actually going to do to your aquarium is a must.

If you have specific questions feel free to ask but know that the forum stickies are filled with a wealth of information and are a good read.
 

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One thing I did in my canister that might help is I put in some bio media (pot scrubbers in my case) and never changed them. This preserves the bacteria colony. I always place the bio media behind the mechanical filter (floss) so it won't get clogged up, and if it does get too much buildup I just swish it around in some aquarium water in a bucket to shake loose the debris. The chemical filter media, like carbon, gets changed regularly to do it's job.

If a filter gets so gunky that you really need to clean it, don't change the media at that time (set it aside in a bucket of water from the aquarium while you scrub, then put it back in the filter).

Also, as mentioned above, you can add a small sponge filter to the back that acts as the dedicated biological filtration while still using the HOB or a canister as a mechanical/chemical filter. I do that in my 30g, which actually has no chemical filter at all (just the sponge filter and a mechanical filter) and runs fine, though it did have a few hiccups during the first 6 months I ran it that way, so I don't recommend skipping the carbon unless you really want to spend time tweaking the system balance.

The thing is, there is more than one way to solve your problem. Different methods will require different effort or timelines, but ultimately all of them rely on balancing the nitrogen cycle and keeping it steady to prevent future problems.

BTW: if you know someone who has a CLEAN, established tank, that you are absolutely sure is disease/parasite free, you can get some of their used filter media to seed yours. Only do this if you are absolutely confident their tank is not going to introduce pathogens, but if the option is there it can speed the process dramatically (not to be confused with instantly). Many aquarists do this when setting up new tanks to help accelerate the cycle, though they usually get seed media from their own tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Good stuff again. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I do appreciate the suggestions.

My "hands off" comment was in regards to waiting with water changes until the bacterial things works itself out - not long term. That was because I read that is what should be done in this circumstance. Others have commented that I should keep up with the weekly 30% water changes.

I did install the canister a few days ago and will be patient as it does its thing. I will have "hands off" on messing with the filters for quite a long while. That part I do understand and it makes total sense.

I've run out of electrical receptacles so the UV device isn't an option at this time. That's OK. I can wait this out and hope the fish can too.

Funny that this is happening in the 3rd year of operation. I know things can and do change.

I'll keep poking around in the forum here and there for more information while I wrestle with this green water issue.

Thanks again!
 
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