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Old 11-22-2013, 06:44 AM   #1
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Death of bacteria harmful to fish?

So a friend of mine came to me the other day with a problem. Her water was hazy white. Well simple simple. I finally got her to dive into real plants and as we all did or do she went from 0-10plants in less then a week so i explained to her its an imbalance of bacteria. Her tank is a 55g fully established with a large bio-load of fish.

Well i explained to her the plant feed on the nitrogen that the bacteria did and adding all the plants like that was taking away from her established bacteria and it had to balance out again in turn bacteria was dying....well that brought me to a question! I was told that digging your gravel kills the BB and can harm bottom feeders cuz the dead bacteria releases toxins up through the gravel.

Does that mean what happened to her tank her fish could have died?????

Can you stock a tank too fast with plants just the same as stocking to fast with fish?
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:47 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Blos85 View Post
So a friend of mine came to me the other day with a problem. Her water was hazy white. Well simple simple. I finally got her to dive into real plants and as we all did or do she went from 0-10plants in less then a week so i explained to her its an imbalance of bacteria. Her tank is a 55g fully established with a large bio-load of fish.

Well i explained to her the plant feed on the nitrogen that the bacteria did and adding all the plants like that was taking away from her established bacteria and it had to balance out again in turn bacteria was dying....well that brought me to a question! I was told that digging your gravel kills the BB and can harm bottom feeders cuz the dead bacteria releases toxins up through the gravel.

Does that mean what happened to her tank her fish could have died?????

Can you stock a tank too fast with plants just the same as stocking to fast with fish?
I see where you are going with this but I think the premise is a bit off. The plants will absorb ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates from the water. This action could starve some of the bacteria. However any dying bacteria would just release more ammonia which in turn would feed the rest of the surviving bacteria.

The only time when you really have to worry about stirring up substrate and that causing an ammonia spike is when you have a deep sand bed (5"+) giving you anaerobic pockets for a different type of bacteria to grow. This bacteria will consume nitrates for oxygen but will die when exposed to oxygen rich water which will cause an ammonia spike. This isn't something you have to worry about with gravel as there aren't anaerobic pockets forming.

The best bet is to have your friend check her ph, ammonia, and nitrite. A low pH could slow down biological activity of the BB in the tank causing a build up of either ammonia or nitrite which in turn could cause the cloudy water. Something could have also cause a crash of the bacterial colony such as improper dechlorination or some other cause so it's still a good idea to check parameters.

If the parameters are in check then some additional mechanical filtration such as filter floss should clear it up.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:05 PM   #3
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The bacteria in the filter that process ammonia into nitrate are chemoautotrophic bacteria. The ones in the tank itself that cloud the water are heterotrophic bacteria. They are different species of bacteria. What I think probably happened is a new type of bacteria was introduced, not unlike the cloudy phase that many new tanks go through independent of cycle.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mebbid View Post

I see where you are going with this but I think the premise is a bit off. The plants will absorb ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates from the water. This action could starve some of the bacteria. However any dying bacteria would just release more ammonia which in turn would feed the rest of the surviving bacteria.

The only time when you really have to worry about stirring up substrate and that causing an ammonia spike is when you have a deep sand bed (5"+) giving you anaerobic pockets for a different type of bacteria to grow. This bacteria will consume nitrates for oxygen but will die when exposed to oxygen rich water which will cause an ammonia spike. This isn't something you have to worry about with gravel as there aren't anaerobic pockets forming.

The best bet is to have your friend check her ph, ammonia, and nitrite. A low pH could slow down biological activity of the BB in the tank causing a build up of either ammonia or nitrite which in turn could cause the cloudy water. Something could have also cause a crash of the bacterial colony such as improper dechlorination or some other cause so it's still a good idea to check parameters.

If the parameters are in check then some additional mechanical filtration such as filter floss should clear it up.
First of all thanks a million because i never knew what the "TOXINS" were that dying bacteria let off so that would have change the whole question if not eliminated it! Maybe should have googled it but asking you guys is a lot better personally.

Although then back to the cloudiness then your saying my theory wasnt correct then or may not be? You made mention of improper dechlorinating in which i can see her doing cuz i do know (which we argue all the time about) when she does a 25-30% change.....i am assuming cuz shes scared to do more. She will not dechlorinate the water if the change isnt large enough or its just a top off. Honestly and you may cringe but she doesnt change water as often as she should but she tops it off a lot due to high evaporation rate. She hasnt lost any fish and definitely can spot a stressed fish cuz shes taught me a lot when i got my first tank. so im sure thats why she runs with that idea that its ok. I personally dont work that way i always carbon filter tap water with my planted tanks as the exception but i do dechlorinate.... Although her fish are all hardy fish also and shes never have the cloudy issue until the plants been added. Its kinda weird and that was the only thing i could think of cuz she hasnt done anything differently and the tank has been running for maybe a year and half or more.....ill head over today and check the parameters to see where they are and let you know as soon as possible. Thanks again! You all are the greatest!
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by aqua_chem View Post
The bacteria in the filter that process ammonia into nitrate are chemoautotrophic bacteria. The ones in the tank itself that cloud the water are heterotrophic bacteria. They are different species of bacteria. What I think probably happened is a new type of bacteria was introduced, not unlike the cloudy phase that many new tanks go through independent of cycle.
Is it a simple explanation of the difference or should i research them? I wasnt aware there was really a difference cuz i really didnt know there was bacteria in the water itself. I assumed there would be although water changes dont ever effect the cycle to my knowledge? Ive always heard including on this forum (in which ive learned about 90% of this obsession) that the bacteria grows on surfaces such as highly oxygenated gravel(top surface) and in your filter media. But it basically needed a medium to grow on? Am i misguided?
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mebbid View Post

I see where you are going with this but I think the premise is a bit off. The plants will absorb ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates from the water. This action could starve some of the bacteria. However any dying bacteria would just release more ammonia which in turn would feed the rest of the surviving bacteria.

The only time when you really have to worry about stirring up substrate and that causing an ammonia spike is when you have a deep sand bed (5"+) giving you anaerobic pockets for a different type of bacteria to grow. This bacteria will consume nitrates for oxygen but will die when exposed to oxygen rich water which will cause an ammonia spike. This isn't something you have to worry about with gravel as there aren't anaerobic pockets forming.

The best bet is to have your friend check her ph, ammonia, and nitrite. A low pH could slow down biological activity of the BB in the tank causing a build up of either ammonia or nitrite which in turn could cause the cloudy water. Something could have also cause a crash of the bacterial colony such as improper dechlorination or some other cause so it's still a good idea to check parameters.

If the parameters are in check then some additional mechanical filtration such as filter floss should clear it up.
So....parameters are

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 80ppm

Any theory as to what went wrong?
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mebbid View Post

I see where you are going with this but I think the premise is a bit off. The plants will absorb ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates from the water. This action could starve some of the bacteria. However any dying bacteria would just release more ammonia which in turn would feed the rest of the surviving bacteria.

The only time when you really have to worry about stirring up substrate and that causing an ammonia spike is when you have a deep sand bed (5"+) giving you anaerobic pockets for a different type of bacteria to grow. This bacteria will consume nitrates for oxygen but will die when exposed to oxygen rich water which will cause an ammonia spike. This isn't something you have to worry about with gravel as there aren't anaerobic pockets forming.

The best bet is to have your friend check her ph, ammonia, and nitrite. A low pH could slow down biological activity of the BB in the tank causing a build up of either ammonia or nitrite which in turn could cause the cloudy water. Something could have also cause a crash of the bacterial colony such as improper dechlorination or some other cause so it's still a good idea to check parameters.

If the parameters are in check then some additional mechanical filtration such as filter floss should clear it up.
So parameters read

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 80ppm

I am clueless as to why that is
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:23 PM   #8
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As far as I know, that nitrate is way too high. It will encourage algae & bacteria, and will be irritating and slowly unhealthy for most fish species.

Definitely going to want to dechlorinate for a WC - even 25%. Otherwise, just potentially causes the fish to get sick, which would spread disease to the other fish, etc.
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:17 PM   #9
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As far as I know, that nitrate is way too high. It will encourage algae & bacteria, and will be irritating and slowly unhealthy for most fish species.

Definitely going to want to dechlorinate for a WC - even 25%. Otherwise, just potentially causes the fish to get sick, which would spread disease to the other fish, etc.
Oh yea im aware its way too high...i just wish i new why...i know it ain't my tank but I've tested her tank many times before the live plants and its always been low like 10ppm low or lower. She SWEARS she didn't do anything different and didn't do a PWC without the use of START-RIGHT.....theres evidently an bacteria issue just with so many plants i wasn't expecting such a rise in nitrates.....
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:24 PM   #10
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She needs to do at least a 50% change to get those nitrates down to around 20ppm.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:59 PM   #11
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Unless the plants are dying and rotting en masse in the tank then the problem isn't the plants. It's likely old tank syndrome or just an overall lack of sizable water changes. It's going to take 2 50% water changes to get nitrates down to healthy levels and that should assist in taking care of the cloudiness. It will also absolutely need to be dechlorinated.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:24 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone!
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