Pulling my hair out.

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flyin-lowe

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Here's the scoop. I set up a 120 gallon tank on March 15. Seeded media and it cycled in about a week. It has two medium size swords, 2 annubias nana, water wisteria, moneywort, annacharis, java ferns and maybe a few more things I'm forgetting. Anyway I have two 96 watt cfl bulbs (less then 2 watts per gallon). I am trying to stay low tech and the only ferts I have used are root tabs for the swords. The plants all look really good but for about the last two weeks I have been fighting green water. I kept the lights off for three days and began daily water changes. I have an RO unit now and am transitioning to RO water. I was changing 15 gallons each day. The GH of my water is very low (1-3). The TDS of my tap water is about 250, the RO water is about 15, and right now the tank water is at about 150. My plan was to use a mix of RO and tap water to (75%RO 25% tap) to provide some nutrients and avoid having to add additives.
Right now there are about 12 corries in the tank and 4 BN plecos. I plan on stocking with Angels and I have been spending a lot of time on an angel forum and those guys are high tech and over my head. They all seem to think that I have too much lighting and need to start ferts for all the plants. The plants I chose (I thought) were low light/low tech type plants. I used to leave the lights on for 12 hours and have cut that back to nine. The 3 day dark period helped a little but not much. I plan on doing a major (60% or more) water change today to see what happens. I was thinking that if it is a lighting issue maybe I could get some floating plants to control some of the light getting in. If you think the floating plants are a good idea I am open to suggestions as to a good type.
I have read most of the links in the cloudy water section so I don't need a link to that. I am just trying to figure out what I need to do to get my lights and plants balanced. I am not seeing any algae on the driftwood or glass just the murky water.
Thanks
Here are a few pics, the cloudy one was taken about a week ago and it is a little better now. The other pic should give you an idea of how many plants are in the tank.
 

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michael68

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I have never seen water like that,maybe its your mix of tap and ro,NO CLUE!!
 
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flyin-lowe

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The water was going green before I started mixing the RO. The frequent water changes with the RO have cleared it up a bit. I think I will do a massive water change this evening and then turn the lights off for several days. At least this way I will know if it is algae or something else. If it is algae does anybody know how long it takes it to start to die off?
I also notice if I look closely at the water it looks like there is "stuff" in it as apposed to it just being green in color. Its hard to explain but I can see the cloudiness churning around across from the filter outlet. The pea gravel I used was rinsed pretty good, if I had something in the water from the gravel wouldn't it have settled by now?
 

michael68

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Maybe just keep doing water changes and hope that it clears up,possiblly rinse your filter media while doing those changes.This sounds like a question maybe Nutter can answer when he comes back on line.
 

TFA101

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Is that a window your tank is in front of? If the tank is getting direct sunlight, algae blooms like this are bound to happen. Reducing the sunlight and making more frequent water changes should help subside the problem. If this doesn't work, the aquarium may need to be relocated. If you don't want to move the aquarium, then a UV sterilizer can be purchased. This device is like a filter, it runs the water through a tube and kills the algae sells that are free floating (your green water). If i'm missing anything, I'm sure other members will be able to help you out as well. Hope this helps
 

mathas

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flyin-lowe said:
I think I will do a massive water change this evening and then turn the lights off for several days. At least this way I will know if it is algae or something else.
Green water is caused by a large colony of singe-celled organisms called euglena (or euglæna). Whether they are an algae or not depends on which source you get your information from, but I guess that's sort of an academic point if all you really want is to clear your water up.

flyin-lowe said:
If it is algae does anybody know how long it takes it to start to die off?
If you're going to try a blackout I'd go at least 5 days, but I've read more than one source indicating that some types of euglena can reproduce heterotrophically when insufficient light exists to reproduce photosynthetically. If they have enough bioavailable nitrogen and organic carbon, I'm not sure a blackout would cure it.

The introduction of a UV sterilizer, as TFA101 suggested, or even a willow branch are two of the more effective methods I've seen of dealing with green water. See this thread for further information:
 

Nutter

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What are your test results? What is the KH & PH? How long do you have the lights on each day & what is your fertilizing shedule?

This sort of thing is usually caused by excess light (especially sunlight) & excess nutrients, usually from over feeding fish & poor tank maintenance.

Usually the best way to deal with this is to get the water quality pristine & reduce the amount of available light. Frequently cleaning the finer material in the filter is going to help alot. If you don't clean the mechanical filtration the build up of dying algae will cause more problems & probably result inanother bout of green water.

Here's a couple of links that hopefully will help you understand this prolem a little better:
https://www.fishlore.com/CloudyWater.htm
 
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flyin-lowe

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The water should be as good as it can get. I am only feeding the fish every other day and not much at all. The only ferts I am using are flourish tabs under the two swords. My ammonia, nitrites, are zero and the nitrates are close to zero. I am assuming this is do to the low stock of fish, the high number of plants, and the daily water changes I have been doing during the transition to RO water. As for the window behind the tank there is a small amount of light that gets in but it is not much. There is a row of trees outside that window that the light must get through. The blinds never open and I have a background on the tank so the light must pass through those three barriers, so it does not get any direct sunlight.
I am not sure what terminology to use but if this is an algae bloom does the water itself actually turn green or are there small green particles in the water. Its hard to explain but it looks to me like there is something in the water that I can physically see. It is a murky substance that I can see churning against the front of the glass as the water comes out of the filter. I know that might not make sense but the best way I can put it is that it doesn't look like my water is green it looks like there is green stuff in my water. Also if it makes any difference there is little to no algae growing on any surfaces(glass, rocks, driftwood, plants). Are all these signs typical of an algae bloom or something else?
 

Aquarist

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One more link for you on Green, yellow and white water:

https://www.fishlore.com/CloudyWater.htm

If you have access to a Magnum HOT Filter with a micron cartridge, it should filter out within 24 hours or so. Maybe a little longer. Also a vortex diatom filter with diatom powder will remove it in just a few hours. This may not be an expense you want to consider though.

Vortex:


HOT Filter:


Best of luck. Hopefully your tank will be clear before you know it!

Ken
 
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flyin-lowe

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I also forgot to mention that I am running two AC 110's. About two weeks ago I removed the carbon because it had been in for about a month. I ended up adding another layer of sponge so I didn't have to replace the activated carbon all the time. Should I add a layer of activated carbon back in for the time being or will that not help. Also with this problem how often should I be rinsing out my filter media? I didn't want to overdue it and hurt the bacteria.

I know the AC 110's can do the job because the 75 gallon I have set up and my grandparents house has 1 AC 110 set up the same way and their water is crystal clear. They have more fish and only a few plants. There tank runs on city water.

Also someone asked earlier and I don't think I responded. The pH in the tank was running about 8.4. I checked it last week after I had began my round of RO water changes and it was slowly dropping. It was about 8.2 maybe. I tested my RO water straight from the tap and it was about 6.6, I then let it sit for 24 hours and agitated it and tested it again and it was closer to 8.

How long can I leave the lights off on the tank before the plants start to suffer??
 

Nutter

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When I have seen green water it always looks like a green dust cloud circulating through the tank, so I THINK I understand what your describing. PH shouldn't have any effect on this problem. Carbon might help but it is doubtfull. Clean the filter material when it the clogging starts to reduce the filter flow or when you can see it's full of the green stuff. Removing one of the sponges & replacing it with floss would be a better way to help filter this out of the water. How long are your lights on for & do you know if there are high phosphate levels in your tapwater? Does the RO unit you have remove phosphates? Long light hours & an excess of any one nutrient can cause this sort of thing.

Your plants should be fine for about 3 days without light but even then they won't like that very much. If it is possible it would be best to remove the plants to another tank while you do the blackout. Give the plants a good wash before putting them in the other tank if you do move them.
 

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Are you using a water softener that uses salt or an actual Ro/DI unit? If you are using the salt type of unit these remove the calcium from the water and replace it with Sodium. NOT a good thing for a planted tank. You would be much better off using your regular water not softened. Adding Seachem Equilibrium to your regular tap if you need to would increase Magnesium, Calcium, and add some potassium and iron as well.

As far as the green water goes your light may still be on too long. 2 watts per gallon cfl lighting is pretty high. I would follow Mathas' advice above and blackout for 5 days. Move the plants if you can. For the blackout, black garbage bags taped around the outside works well. No peeking during the blackout! After 5 days, start out at 8 hours per day, OR a UV sterilizer as suggested would also rid you of the problem.
 
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flyin-lowe

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The water source at my house is a well that runs through a water softener. I have a 4 stage 100gpd RO unit in my kitchen that I have been using. So the well water is softened and then it goes through the RO unit and then into my tank.
Not to get particular but doing the math I am 1.6 watts per gallon and for a tank this deep and wide I didn't think that would be too much when I bought them.
I did about a 60 gallon water change last night and this morning it looked a lot better. I went to town and bought another pack of activated carbon for one of the AC 110's and I bought some filter floss for the other. One of them has sponge, filter floss and ceramic rings, and the other has sponge, carbon, and ceramic rings. Hopefully after a few days with the lights off it will start to clear up. I also plan on getting some floating plants to add to the surface to slow some of the light that is getting into the tank.
Any recommendations for floating plants for this tank?
 

Nutter

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I would probably go with some Frogbit (Limnobium Laevigatum)
 
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flyin-lowe

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Ive been jumping from site to site reading and reading and reading. Anyway some people have recommended I use straight RO water and add crushed coral to my filters and some have recommended I just add Equilibrium. If I go with the crushed coral to add some minerals and buffering how much is needed and how long does it last. Is this a one time thing where I put a bag in the filter and leave it or does it lose it's buffering ability and need to be replaced every so often.
I now chemicals for pH are a no no but I have never read anything about equilibrium. Is it ok? I am assuming you just dose for the amount of water you are adding to the tank, and not for the entire amount of the tank. I would go broke buying that stuff if I had to dose for 120 gallon every week. I assume if I am doing a 20 gallon water change I just add to my 20 gallons of RO water and then add the water.
 

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I've never used Equlibrium so I can't comment about it at all. If you add crushed coral to the filter it will last for an indefinite period depending on how soft the water is, filter flow rate & how much coral you add. It might last a month or it could last a couple of years. You can add crushed coral to the substrate & that will have the same effect but probably last for much longer. Coral & limestone will only add calcium to the water though, not any other minerals. If you go down the RO water only path you might want to consider adding Epsom Salts for other minerals. It might be easier to use the Equilibrium but I just don't have the experience with it to say yes or no.
 

Nate McFin

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Crushed coral is not going to give you the same thing Equilibrium will. Equil. has Magnesium,Calcium,iron, and potassium. These are needed for plant growth. Straight RO strips the water of all of those things. Not good.
I use equilibrium weekly with my water changes at 1/8 recommended dosing. It doesn't affect my PH but it does keep the Ph from dropping. The Ph will drop when plants consume minerals. This helps stabilize the Ph if anything. I started off with 1/8 dose to acclimate the fish and found that it was perfect to maintain things.
Equilibrium will last a very long time when used as I suggest.
 

Nate McFin

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Nice Ninja Nutter! LOL
 
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