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Old 07-15-2003, 11:13 AM   #1
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Cloudy water - way past frustrated now!

Hi all,
For the past 6 weeks I've been battling cloudy water.
The history is that 6 weeks ago I went on vacation. Before I went on vacation I had a pretty bad hair algae problem - but clear water.
During my vacation the fish were fed hardly at all and, when I came back, I could hardly see into the tank for algae all over the glass - the water was also a bit 'murky'.
I cleaned the glass as best I could, did water changes etc., but, since then the water has got steadily worse.
Strangeley the hair algae has now almost gone and, even stranger, the fish seem totally oblivious to the terrible water - they feed well, are growing and generally look well.
Water params. are:
PH:8.4. Amm:0, Nitrite:0, Nitrate: 2.5 (that right? - the lowest reading on the scale), Calc:410.
The tank is a 90 AGA with a prizm skimmer, 135lbs LR, 2" sand and 3 perculas, 1 yellow tang, a green brittle star and assorted clean up crew.
The 'engineer' in me says 'get a filter!'. I've seen many a diatom filter advertised to 'quickly clear cloudy water'. I look at my swimming pool water with that's crystal clear with one of these, then I look at my tank and think 'hmmmm.....'.
For the record the 'cloudiness' doesn't seem like 'swirling smoke' but just looks, well, baasically like dirty water. I feed the fish twice a day with a variety of things (frozen, flakes, pellets) but only enough that gets eaten (well, 'annhialated' would be a better word!) in about a minute or so.
What gives? Surely many people have faced this issue???
Help!!!

Andy.
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Old 07-15-2003, 11:20 AM   #2
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If you feel it is not bacterial in nature (which is the direction I am inclined to lean), then a diatom filter will indeed polish the water up, I do not know how effective the diatom filter will be if it is a bacterial bloom. Since you have done water changes and the water is still cloudy, I think we're dealing with a bactera bloom, possibly fed by the decay of the dieing hair algae. I would continue to do water changes, siphoning off detritus and as much of the decaying algae as possible. Without removing the food source of the bacteria, it won't clear up any time soon. You can, if possible, use a UV sterilizer and it should clear it up in a couple of days, but it does nothing to remove the source of the problem.
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Old 07-15-2003, 11:27 AM   #3
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Sorry if you've posted on this before, and I'm not completely up-to-date on the situation.

Have you tried running GAC? That should "clean" the water.

How much water have you changed?

What color is the cloudiness? Is it grayish-brownish-dirty-like, or more of a green tint (micro-algae bloom)?

Maybe try some Chemi-pure? Never used it personally, but I believe it's just a combination of activated carbons & filter resins ... I've heard good things about it.

Gotta run out for a bit. Sorry for all the questions, but I hope someone can come up with an answer for you.
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Old 07-15-2003, 03:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reefrunner69
If you feel it is not bacterial in nature (which is the direction I am inclined to lean), ..... Since you have done water changes and the water is still cloudy, I think we're dealing with a bactera bloom, .....
Not sure I understand, reefrunner. Are you saying you think it IS a bacterial bloom or you think it's not??

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefrunner69
You can, if possible, use a UV sterilizer and it should clear it up in a couple of days, but it does nothing to remove the source of the problem.
Really? Will a UV sterilizer really clear this up? Since they are not too cheap (and a lot of you guys seem to be against their use) I have not tried this. I guess my deeper question is : is this idea of operating without any kind of mechanical filtration really viable? How many of you guys really have no mechanical filtration at all?
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Old 07-15-2003, 03:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReefLady
Sorry if you've posted on this before, and I'm not completely up-to-date on the situation.

Have you tried running GAC? That should "clean" the water.
Well, I've tried GAC both in my skimmer media box and in an aquaclear powerhead 'quickfilter'. May be my imagination but, if anything, this seemed to make it worse....


Quote:
Originally Posted by ReefLady
How much water have you changed?

What color is the cloudiness? Is it grayish-brownish-dirty-like, or more of a green tint (micro-algae bloom)?
I change around 10-15% each week with RO/DI.
The color of the cloudiness is kind of difficult to judge. I guess it's more like the 'grayish-brownish-dirty' color. It just basically looks like dirty water....
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Old 07-15-2003, 03:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Not sure I understand, reefrunner. Are you saying you think it IS a bacterial bloom or you think it's not??
I think it is a bacteria bloom.

Quote:
Really? Will a UV sterilizer really clear this up?
Yep, but as noted, it will not cure the cause.

Quote:
is this idea of operating without any kind of mechanical filtration really viable? How many of you guys really have no mechanical filtration at all?
I have some mechanical filtration on my current system, but that is only so I can ru the carbon in it. I have in the past run larger tanks with 0 mechanical filtration and not had a problem. Mechanical filtration can be an option, you just need to remember to clean it often, so the stuff it traps doesn't sit there and rot. Mechanical filtration also traps plankton out of the water columnn which deprives your corals of a meal.
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Old 07-15-2003, 03:35 PM   #7
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We have zilch for mechanical filtration on our tank, unless you count a Protein Skimmer as mechanical filtration. Other than that, just LR, DSB, & a large refugium (70g). Also, LR in the sump.
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:40 PM   #8
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Well, have to say guys, I'm about ready to give up completely...
Today I came home to find the water basically green and you cannot actually see the back of the aquarium it's so dirty.
I've just done a 20% water change (all the SW I could muster) but tomorrow I'm going away on business for two days and I just don't want to know what the water will look like when I get home... My wife is simply in despair at me asking her on the phone 'what's my tank like?'
I haven't actually fed the fish at all today and yet it's got very much worse during today... what gives?

Don't know what else to try but I fear that I'll have a tank full of dead fish and muck come friday....
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:57 PM   #9
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Bacteria blooms and/or micro-algae blooms have got to be one of the most frustrating situations in the SW hobby.

I'd definitely try the UV sterilizer if you can get your hands on one, and I'd continue to run GAC (changing it out for fresh at least every-other day). I'd also try to run some sort of filter floss. At this point, if you can, I'd try a few successive 50% - 70% water changes. A little extreme, I know, but so is your situation.

With the water turning a greenish color, I'm still suspecting a micro-algae/plankton bloom. How much indirect lighting does the tank get? Sliding glass door, windows, etc.?

I hate to refer you to another forum, but this is a rare and frustrating situation. Take a peek at this thread, and see if anything rings familiar:

Tank of Skank!!!!! The s*** has realy been deep lately

I hope you can pull through this ~ best of luck.
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Old 07-15-2003, 10:53 PM   #10
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Reeflady,
Thanks very much for your words of encouragement and advice!
(I'm feeling a little better now after taking out my frustrations on about 100 lengths of my swimming pool! [that, at least, is clear!]).

Is there any clue in the fact that, two days ago I put in a large chunk of GAC in my aquaclear PH 'quickfilter' cartridge and, without any shadow of doubt, the water went from cloudy white to cloudy VERY green???
I do admit that I had never heard of the need to change GAC every day or every other day - if I didn't do this, would the GAC actually make it worse?

I really like the idea of trying the uv sterilizer but, since I have no external piping just now (no sump yet), adding a uv would be a major upheaval in itself. I do plan in the near future to put in a 25 gallon sump and a bigger skimmer in that sump (my current prizm HOT unit is a bit undersized I think). What advice is there for the best arrangement to make sure this problem doesn't happen again?

Also, I only actually got my RO/DI unit last weekend (an airwaterice.com 5 stage typhoon unit). Up till then I'd been using one of those di tap water filter units. I have long suspected that my water supply here is pretty poor (private water company). AFter only about 50 gallons of RO/Di processing the initial pre-filter is already turning yellow. Any more clues in here??

Thanks again for the help and advice. I guess I'm still stunned that the fish etc. in the tank seem totally oblivious to all the 'stuff' in the tank. The clowns are 'playing' in the PH water streams as they usually do in the evening like nothing's wrong!

Andy.
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