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Old 11-25-2011, 03:39 PM   #1
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Getting Frustrated

Ok, on September 09, 2011, I got a 40 gallon tank and then bought a whole bunch of "trimmings".

Brought it home, rinsed the tank, rinsed the gravel, (yes, really well), put the gravel in the tank, put the heater in, put the thermometer in, put the rinsed decorations in, put in some of the plants, (five to start), put in the air stone, hung the filter, (Aqua Clear 200), and started it up.

Obviously the water was nice and clear for about two weeks.

On week two, the water clouded up. Great! I'm going through the cycling! Fabulous!

Waited.

Eventually added in a piece of driftwood and some more plants.

Waited.

Waited.

Waited.

Turned off the air stone for a few weeks. Water got even worse cloudy.

Towards the beginning or middle of November, turned the air stone back on. Water cleared up a lot.

In the meantime, I ran tests. I ran tests at all different times of the day, different days of the week, just random test running.

I then started adding fish. Had a bit of a fiasco in the beginning, me being stupid, but have calmed down and the fish are surviving.

I have three panda platys, 4 danios and a pleco. I also have a snail that hitched a ride on one of the plants.

It is now November 25th. That is 11 weeks of having this tank up. While turning the airstone back on about 3-4 weeks ago did clear up the water quite a bit, since week 2, I have never again seen crystal clear water.

What is going on? I'm 11 weeks in and I still do not have crystal clear water, the cloudiness has never fully disappeared.

I do not overfeed the fish. I turn the lights off at 8 hours or sometimes if I'm working longer, no more than 12 hours. (I have to have some light, I have about 10 plants now.)

My test readings always come out the same:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 5ppm
PH: 7.4-7.6 (hard to tell with the different shades of blue)
Temp: 74-76 F

Again, fish are doing well, the plants are THRIVING but the water is still cloudy. It's not horribly cloudy like it was but it is still a little cloudy.

I do water changes every single week, 25%. I thought it might be my water so I started using reserve water from a fish store. Nope, even though readings are the same, (even the PH, unbelievably), the water is still a little cloudy.

When the heck am I ever going to have crystal clear water?

I keep being told it's a bacterial bloom. Well? For 9 weeks I have a bacterial bloom? If all tests come back as they should...what is going on?

Would one of those UV light things work? Those small ones you put in the tank to "kill" bacteria?

I keep reading other people getting cloudy water and then it clearing up in a few days. Mine has been cloudy for 9 weeks. This is frustrating.
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:09 PM   #2
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AC 200 (now "50") is rated for "up to" 40 gallon so you are definately not over filtering, are you running activated charcoal (not normally necessary unless you are trying to remove things from the water.. I am a big fan of BIG water changes when there is a problem, I put some driftwood in my 26 BF after boiling it 3 times and it still made the water into "tea" for the next 5 90% water changes. I dont personally do plants but is there substrate under them for them to grow (I know you said they were thriving Im just asking)I am sure there are those versed in the plant aspect with more information than me..My 2 cents are carbon and Big PWC's.. hope it helps
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26G BF, fish-in cycling,(Aqueon 30)(Soon to be AC70) 3 GloFish, 2 Peppered Corys
90G,fishless cycle, (AquaClear 110 & Aqueon 75) (my MTS flared)
Both Tanks: Prime,API Kits,Not Planted
Don't remember the question, the answer is large PWC's, Prime, and OVERfiltering...
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:43 PM   #3
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Before you added the fish, were you adding a source of ammonia? The cycle would not have really started with no ammonia to feed the biobugs. Were you testing the water during the first few weeks, as well?

A cloudiness is not necessarily a sign that the cycle has started.

Also, what are you using for filter material? The pads that came with it? Is there any way to add some fine filter floss, maybe in a mesh bag?
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:14 PM   #4
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Hm, if you didn't add a source of ammonia through the waiting period the tank couldn't have cycled properly, sorry to say. Your fish are now the ammonia source. You have some nitrates which tends to lean toward a cycled tank but I'd test some of your tap water to see if that's where the nitrates are coming from. The plants may have helped though. Just keep testing the water daily to ensure there aren't any ammonia and/or nitrite spikes.

As for the cloudiness I'm not sure. You may want to try a larger water change and see if that helps. What kind of cloudy is it? Milky white? Green?
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:41 PM   #5
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If it was my tank, I would remove as much of the water as possible (leave enough to cover the fish), and refill. At that point it it got cloudy again, I would be concerned. I have done this size of water change many times without any ill effects. Small water changes, of 20% aren't big enough to make any real difference to the appearance of the water.
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:42 PM   #6
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If it was my tank, I would remove as much of the water as possible (leave enough to cover the fish), and refill. At that point it it got cloudy again, I would be concerned. I have done this size of water change many times without any ill effects. Small water changes, of 20% aren't big enough to make any real difference to the appearance of the water.
Maybe that's the problem. I've been so afraid of "over cleaning" that I didn't do a huge water change. I think the most I've ever done is 30%.

As for the ammonia questions, yes I did have a source of ammonia. Yes my tank cycled. As I said, I did all those tests, (yes using the API Master Test Kit), and the tests did exactly what they are supposed to do during the cycling. They are now down to the results I gave.

Also for the carbon filter, yes I have one. One came with the filter and I have replacements as well. I have changed it out since the beginning after, yes, doing a good ol' rinsing in old aquarium water.

Maybe it's just a matter of me not taking out enough water. I will try that this weekend and see what happens.

It's not massively cloudy, we are past that. It's a little cloudy meaning, it's ALMOST crystal clear but I still see a very slight haze.
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:52 PM   #7
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I would suggest first of all taking the carbon out of your filter. It removes important nutrients that live plants need.

What kind of live plants do you have? If you don't have fully acquatic plants, then some plant decay could be causing cloudy water., Also live plants adapting to your tank can cause the water to be cloudy for a while till they adapt and start growing. Thirdly, how much lighting do you have on the tank with the live plants and is it sufficient for the type of plants that you have? My guess is that the live plants may possibly be terrestria or semi-acquatic and are rotting in your tank.

Do you have a picture of your tank with the plants so we can get an idea of what it looks like and what the plants look like?????

I agree, massive water changes can never hurt. Sometimes I change around 80 percent of my water if I am concerned a problem may be developing. Freshwater can never hurt.
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Old 11-26-2011, 04:45 PM   #8
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I would suggest first of all taking the carbon out of your filter. It removes important nutrients that live plants need.

What kind of live plants do you have? If you don't have fully acquatic plants, then some plant decay could be causing cloudy water., Also live plants adapting to your tank can cause the water to be cloudy for a while till they adapt and start growing. Thirdly, how much lighting do you have on the tank with the live plants and is it sufficient for the type of plants that you have? My guess is that the live plants may possibly be terrestria or semi-acquatic and are rotting in your tank.

Do you have a picture of your tank with the plants so we can get an idea of what it looks like and what the plants look like?????

I agree, massive water changes can never hurt. Sometimes I change around 80 percent of my water if I am concerned a problem may be developing. Freshwater can never hurt.
So taking the carbon filter out won't harm the fish? I thought they needed that filter. If it doesn't hurt them, I'm all for getting rid of it, one less thing to maintain and keep buying.

My plants are not rotting, they are thriving. I can't even stress enough how much they are thriving. I've had two of them grow 3-4" in a week! I think I have to prune them before they take over. All other plants are doing extremely well like the 3 Java moss balls....lush!!!!! Even the one that the fish store guy said, "I don't know if it's going to last..." and I said, "I'll take the gamble". That was back in September and that plant has turned a beautiful green and is gorgeous. I just got a sword, (forgot what kind), last week and also have...I think it's called anubis. One of the plants that is out of control growing is Singapore moss and I'm not sure what the other one is that is growing like a weed. I have two more that I also don't know the name of...one is growing from a "wood ring" with a stone on the bottom. It was grown that way for decoration.

Lighting I have two F39T5 bulbs. When I had a blue and a 10,000k white, the algae was out of control so I switched out the white. I bought another blue and I bought a white 6,500k. Right now I'm using two blues and the plants are loving it.

Today I did a 50% water change. I'm anxious about that because it's drilled in to our heads never to over clean but I took the advice and went for it. Have to wait for things to settle down since I also rearranged some things due to two of those plants growing like crazy.

I'm hoping for the best!

When everything settles, I'll get a photo so you can see the plants.
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Old 11-26-2011, 04:54 PM   #9
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I would suggest first of all taking the carbon out of your filter. It removes important nutrients that live plants need.

What kind of live plants do you have? If you don't have fully acquatic plants, then some plant decay could be causing cloudy water., Also live plants adapting to your tank can cause the water to be cloudy for a while till they adapt and start growing. Thirdly, how much lighting do you have on the tank with the live plants and is it sufficient for the type of plants that you have? My guess is that the live plants may possibly be terrestria or semi-acquatic and are rotting in your tank.

Do you have a picture of your tank with the plants so we can get an idea of what it looks like and what the plants look like?????

I agree, massive water changes can never hurt. Sometimes I change around 80 percent of my water if I am concerned a problem may be developing. Freshwater can never hurt.
Just re-read your post and bolded one part. That is true! A few weeks ago when I added one of the plants that is growing like crazy, my water started to get really cloudy again. I did a water change a few days after that and it went back to how it has always been which is, almost crystal clear but still a slight haze.

Anyway, the point was, you are absolutely right about that and wanted to really point that out in case anyone else comes by with an "established" planted tank that gets cloudy after adding plants and was wondering why.
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Old 11-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #10
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Why is it drilled into your head not to overclean? Yeah don't bleach or use detergents, and rinse filter media in old tank water or dechlorinated water, but other than that clean away .

I can't see anything bolded on the app so not sure what your saying, but if you don't know what kind of plants they are then you should make it a point to find out.

Also, no the fish do not need carbon and carbon is contraindicated in a planted tank. The carbon can help polish the water in a tank with no live plants, but it is only active for about 14 days and needs to be changed out often. In a planted tank it can remove important nutrients.
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Old 11-26-2011, 07:15 PM   #11
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Why is it drilled into your head not to overclean? Yeah don't bleach or use detergents, and rinse filter media in old tank water or dechlorinated water, but other than that clean away .

I can't see anything bolded on the app so not sure what your saying, but if you don't know what kind of plants they are then you should make it a point to find out.

Also, no the fish do not need carbon and carbon is contraindicated in a planted tank. The carbon can help polish the water in a tank with no live plants, but it is only active for about 14 days and needs to be changed out often. In a planted tank it can remove important nutrients.
"If you over clean the tank, you will get rid of all of the beneficial bacteria thus you would restart the cycle." Have been told this over and over and over and over.

This is what I bolded: "Also live plants adapting to your tank can cause the water to be cloudy for a while till they adapt and start growing."

For the plants, only three of the 10 I don't know names for. I don't think I was ever told the names of these plants.

As for the carbon, I have read another poster on here...forget where in the forum...that also said something about getting rid of the carbon. I will try it and see what happens. That will leave me with that sponge media and the bio media, (little rocks in a bag). I purchased a cloth like media, (not sure PRECISE name), that you get in a sheet, cut it to size and lightly wrap around the sponge media to help get the smallest of particles.

I'm anxious about doing this carbon removal thing but.....here goes!
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:14 PM   #12
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Ok, so I took the carbon filter out four hours ago and now my water seems cloudier!

Seriously, should I put it back in?
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:08 AM   #13
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Why don't you give it a couple of days and see what happens? As long as the fish aren't showing any signs of stress or disease and your water tests are reading O.K..... Then just let it be for 2 days. If its still cloudy then, do a 50% water change and wait another 24-48 hours. This hobby required patience.

And you won't remove beneficial bacteria with large water changes. Most of the bacteria live in the filter. Other places are on the surfaces inside the tank. As long as you are using a good water dechlorinator like prime, you can change out as much water as you want.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:06 AM   #14
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I use TLC when I do a water change.

TLC Super Water Conditioner

I'll wait the two days...it's just really cloudy right now. Lights are off but I see fish swimming around so I guess they're ok for now.

Will see how things look tomorrow.

Oh and I'm fine with patience as long as it doesn't negatively affect my fish. I've grown a little fond of them.
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:38 AM   #15
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So how does it look today? I wish someone else could chip in any ideas if I am wrong. It would really help if you could post a picture too!
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:44 AM   #16
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What kind of cloudy? Milky white? Green? Brown?

I agree removing the carbon is fine; my filter came with a carbon insert and instead I added another sponge filter in its place.

If you're impatient about the cloudiness I'd try a couple more larger water changes. They won't hurt.

Also if you can post a pic and/or describe the cloudiness it might help identify the source. Is the tank getting direct sunlight? How long do you leave your tank lights on?
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:56 AM   #17
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So how does it look today? I wish someone else could chip in any ideas if I am wrong. It would really help if you could post a picture too!
It looks a little better today...from the front. But when you go to the side and look in, still darn cloudy.

Here's a photo:

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Old 11-27-2011, 01:01 PM   #18
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It doesn't look too bad, and you say your ammonia and nitrite readings are consistently zero? I agree that some large volume water changes might clear it up incase its some sort of algae bloom in the water.

Edit- I've never heard if tlc but there is a possibility that the water conditioner could be contributing to cloudiness. If you can get your hands on some seachem prime and do some large volume changes with the prime and see of that helps too.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:28 PM   #19
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It doesn't look too bad, and you say your ammonia and nitrite readings are consistently zero? I agree that some large volume water changes might clear it up incase its some sort of algae bloom in the water.

Edit- I've never heard if tlc but there is a possibility that the water conditioner could be contributing to cloudiness. If you can get your hands on some seachem prime and do some large volume changes with the prime and see of that helps too.
Yes, the ammonia and nitrite are always zero.

This is what I've been trying to say...it's not horribly cloudy, it's hazy a little...a little tiny bit cloudy...but I want crystal clear water and it's been 11 weeks. Hence why I started this post wondering why on earth, after 11 weeks, I would not have crystal clear water.

Anyway, I'll wait another day to see how the water does without the carbon filter. Frankly, not having to bother with that filter would be very nice so I'm for it, just a new aquarium hobbyist who has made mistakes and really, really doesn't want the fish to suffer.

It's not about impatience, it's about making sure my fish are going to be healthy and happy. That is really what matters to me.

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Super Water Conditioner. Chemical-based, removes chlorine and chloramine, promotes essential slime coat to protect gills, detoxifies heavy metals, and reduces long-term nitrate build-up. Available in 4 oz., 12 oz., and Gallon bottles (125 ml, 350 ml, and 4 liter bottles).

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Old 11-27-2011, 02:38 PM   #20
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What kind of cloudy? Milky white? Green? Brown?

I agree removing the carbon is fine; my filter came with a carbon insert and instead I added another sponge filter in its place.

If you're impatient about the cloudiness I'd try a couple more larger water changes. They won't hurt.

Also if you can post a pic and/or describe the cloudiness it might help identify the source. Is the tank getting direct sunlight? How long do you leave your tank lights on?
By the way, this might be a good idea, adding another sponge filter? I have extras and now have room...

So I would have two sponge filters, a bio media, (little rocks in a bag), that fine something media, (the cloth stuff that looks like it came from a fabric store)...would that be good or is that overkill?
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