Suspended Particles Snowstorm Freshwater Planted Tank

  • #1
This is my very first time posting in an aquarium forum. I have come here today because I'm desperate for help. Desperate is putting it mildly. I have been researching and trying everything under the sun for about 1.5 months, to fix my issue. As of today I am at a loss because nothing has worked or even changed things a little. I hope I'm posting correctly. If not, please let me know as I'm brand new to the forum thing.

I have a Fluval Edge 12 gal that has been established for almost 2 years. I am anal about tank maintenance. I have never had any issues and my water has always been pristine.

I currently have 4 panda corys and a total of 12 Rasboras (chili, phoenix, dwarf pygmy). I have a large driftwood BonsaI tree with a weeping moss canopy that is currently super thick, lush and green. It took me 1 year to get it where it is today. It is my pride! As for other plants I have a few Anubias and a tiny Rosette Sword. The only other things in my tank are Dragon Rock.

Around the time the issue started I removed a small bunch of Cardinalis (maybe 12 stems) that was way too tall (about 10") and leggy. At first I thought my issue was bacterial and due to the plant removal but the stuff in my tank is particles that seem crystal-like, not swirly/foggy water. In fact, if you look at my tank from a few feet away it appears absolutely pristine. Get up on it and the particles are clearly noticeable. So, crystal clear water with millions of suspended particles.

My substrate is Carib Sea Super Naturals Sand. I use the stock AquaClear 20 Fluval Edge filter packed with the usual...bottom to top...coarse sponge, floss pads, bag of Seachem Matrix and 2 100 micron polishing pads at the top. I only use the stock lighting which is 6.6W made of 42 LED lights. I also have a Nicrew light that sits atop the glass that's 18W but I only use it when I'm cleaning the tank because it's way too close to my weeping moss and at one time caused an outrageous case of hair algae to grow on the moss that took me forever to fix.

The ferts I use are all Seachem...Flourish, Advance, Trace and Potassium. I also dose with Excel every day. I never over dose ferts. I use an eyedropper, not the cap, and follow Seachem's dosing chart to the letter. At first I always used RO water from my lfs but, interestingly, when this snow situation started I had stopped getting RO water from the lfs and started using distilled and/or purified from the grocery store. I treated this water exactly like I treated the lfs water. I remineralized it with 3/4 tsp Seachem Equilibrium per 5 gal jug. I also add Stablility, Pristine and Prime to the new water. Never had any issues and I always have done the same thing.

As for these particles, over the course of 1.5 months I have become very familiar with it and how it reacts to different things. For example; It's the worst in the morning when the particles are so bad they actually do cause a sort of fog, a grainy fog. Once I take the lid off the particles very slowly start to thin out. By mid afternoon it looks like 75% less particles. Whatever it is reacts to oxygen? Also, after removing a stack of floss pads I noticed that you can clearly see white particles stuck to them (I have a photo of this too). This was after adding Seachem Clarity. So some of it was filtered but not enough to change anything and I didn’t want to keep pouring Clarity in. I also tried Aqueon Water Clarifier which freaked out my Rasboras.

I have done many water changes during the 1.5 months ranging from 3-6 gallons. As the water lowers the particles are clearly visible stuck to the glass, crystal-like, so they are solid. When the filter is off 75% of this stuff will rise to the surface and create a complete layer of snow (my photos are a must see). The remaining 25% stay suspended in the water. After adding the new water there's a vast improvement but after a few hours it all starts to come back and by 48 hours it's a nightmare again. I can see this stuff on my plant leaves, my rocks AND my Corys!

My very first thought was some sort of precipitate but the more I researched I couldn't find anything about precipitate in fresh water aquariums it was all about reefs. My first thought was it's calcium. I researched calcium-magnes.. Even tried Wonder Shells thinking it’s an imbalance of the two causing precipitate.

My water parameters as of this morning are as follows...PH 7.4, KH 2 (which dropped from being 3 yesterday and 4 on March 3), GH 4 (was 5 yesterday), NO2-0, NO3-5.0, NH3-0 (but I had a spike yesterday to 0.25-0.50. Did the test 6x and kept getting both readings), TDS-176 and temperature stays at a steady 74.

So that's my story. If I had a million dollars I would seriously give it to anyone who can help me solve this issue. It has literally kept me up at night while I have searched and searched for an answer. I hope I'm able to post my videos and photos.

Update: Not allowing me to add my video. Something about it not having an allowed extension? The video is most important. As of now I have added photo of floss pads (the brown color is from Seachem Clarity which also didn’t work!), a still from my video of the particles gathered at surface when filter is off and particles stuck to glass as water level lowers.

Update: still unable to load my video which is the most important thing I need to post. I would appreciate any assistance. The particles are at their best (least) right now as I took photos of the full aquarium. You almost can’t even tell there’s a problem until you look at the close up stills. The side view of the tank appears flawless as the particles aren't visible from that side due to lighting. You can see this stuff litters the Anubis’s leaves where it appears tan in color. Its 4pm. In the morning these particles will be a million times worse.

My apologies. I’ve done a dozen edits as I think of more info to post. This stuff also forms a whitish, soft, hazy film on the glass. It comes off super easy. I want to add as much detail as I can in hopes of getting an answer.


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  • #2
Welcome to the forum. I've seen something similar, but it's usually in new tanks, and goes away on it's own after a few days or weeks. Since this is new behavior in an established tank I'm at a loss, but there are people here that are a lot smarter than I am and have been keeping fish a lot longer. I'm sure someone will be able to help.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Welcome to the forum. I've seen something similar, but it's usually in new tanks, and goes away on it's own after a few days or weeks. Since this is new behavior in an established tank I'm at a loss, but there are people here that are a lot smarter than I am and have been keeping fish a lot longer. I'm sure someone will be able to help.

Hello. Thank you for the welcome! After obsessively researching for 1.5 months I’m feeling completely defeated and near tears. This particular aquarium, the Fluval Edge, has challenged me to my core from the get go. Everything must be done via the tiny 5x7 porthole at the top. So when there’s an issue, it’s a major issue especially now due to the tree which has become enormous.

Whatever this stuff is it certainly hasn’t affected my weeping moss! LOL. (Adding a photo of the tree). Thank you again!
  • #4
Not necessarily your issue but I had dragon rock and the same issue pulled the rock. Later went to try it again and found the culprit cleaning them after sitting. At least in my situation it worked.

I soaked them a while I don't know how long anymore but a few days at least and when I went to start scrubbing to make sure they were good I found soft spots in the bottom of some of the holes turned out they weren't solid at the bottom just full of really convincing sediments.... I poked and prodded and jammed with dowels and toothpicks and anything I could for a few days until I didn't find anymore soft spots to clean and I didn't have the floaties when I used them the second go around. Ended up really fascinating passages through the stone as many actually went all the way through!

It was either coincidence or the cause I don't know but its worth looking at. Your the first person I've ever seen that had something like what I had but your situation is more pronounced it seems.
  • #5
Wow, seachem must love you, all those chemicals are not necesarry, I could understand if you had a medium to heavy planted tank with co2 and super high lighting to make use of them all but you do not. I think its a reaction between them all and your getting precipitation forming due to excess of something. I would stop adding anything at all for at least week and see what happens not even a water change. If needed to topoff fir evaporation just use strait RO or distilled water as minerals don't evaporate.
  • #6
I agree with the above, in particular there should be no need to be adding Stability and Pristine with every water change. Just a little Equilibrium and ferts since you're using distilled water, but perhaps even with those you may be overdoing it.

Also can you advise why you are not using tap water? It's not as if your current pH & GH is particularly low.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Thank you so much for the responses I appreciate it more than you know!

As for the dragon rock suggestion, the rocks have been in the tank for over a year and before I put them in I cleaned them thoroughly with a kebob stick which took about 3 hours before the water ran clear. I busted thru every nook and cranny and tunnel! Also, since this started I have removed all 3 rocks and rinsed them pretty good. The sediment that may come off of them is brown and it sinks. Thank you again for the thought!

As for the ferts, I used to have way more plants, so much so, the tank became overcrowded and was way too difficult to clean thru the tiny porthole. They also threw off the balance with the tree as they were the same height.

Anyway, little by little, over the past year, I removed the plants slowly as not to cause a bloom. This is why I have all the ferts. The Cardinalis, which actually stayed hot pink in this low light, low tech tank, was the last of the plants to be removed. I decided to go all small-short-bushy plants opposite the tree. During this less plants time I have adjusted the ferts to smaller amounts (drops) and since the snow started I have gone a week without dosing any ferts BUT I continued dosing Excel. The problem continued. Could Excel be the issue or maybe Equilibrium?

As for why I still use these ferts? It’s because of the weeping moss which I believe loves these fertilizers. It took about 1 year for 2 cups of invitro moss to spread across the tree. Then it got a horrendous case of hair algae. I somehow had huge amounts of phosphates. After using, yep Seachem again, PhosGuard, I got rid of the phosphates and the hair algae. (Edit: I just remembered why I had the high phosphates. I was using Replenish instead of Equilibrium.)

Then, after all that, last summers heat wave of 2 weeks 100+ degree weather, ALL of the moss turned brown! You could see the little sponges I have glued to the tree and the white superglue! It was horrible. I cried BUT it came back and I believe it’s due to the Seachem ferts and the fact that I don’t keep the water overly warm.

Long story short, getting this moss as thick, lush, green and especially weeping in my particular set up was no small feat and I’m petrified of losing it if I completely stop the ferts. Does that make sense?

So do you think I should try it and maybe go longer than a week? Could it be Excel? Could it be Equilibrium? Even after a 5 gal wc and no ferts for days, it came back.

Thank you again!

Add: Not long before this happened the conditions were so perfect my Corys kept having babies. I would move the rocks while cleaning and they would dart out. Sadly they grew to about .75” and then disappeared. I went from so excited to heartbroken. It would’ve been impossible to remove them thru the dreaded porthole otherwise I would have. I found 2 old photos I forgot I had when I had more plants AND the beginnings of a sag subulata carpet! That’s nothing! I had 10x the amount of plants then it got too crowded and plants were smothering other plants and the carpet wasn’t getting enough light. And that’s how my poor moss tree looked! LOL


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  • #8
To solve an unknown problem you need to start somewhere, To me the best way is to stop everything in the way of adatives and by waiting a while till what's in there gets consumed or a big water change to get rid faster.
Your moss will not die off any time soon as mosses are some of the hardiest aquariem plants to have and especially yours being close to the light source. It will still take in what is needed from the water and as things deplete may slow down growth(at least you won't have to trimm so much) Wait till the precipitation goes away, you might have to stir things up if its lying on the sand, rocks et. Then start adding Equalibrium to your RO for water changes and nothing to topup water, be carefull on using any addative product as what's on the label is too much and for only using 1 product, I might be wrong but I think flourish and flourish advance are the same thing only advance has the trace elements mixed in so if you use advance you don't need either flourish or trace.
On the seachem website there is a forum that would be a better place to give you exact instructions on what to use and what not to mix.
On a sidenote my weeping moss grows so fast it needs trimming weekly, I do not add anything in the way of ferts for the plants, I just gave away about a 1lb bag of mostly moss offcuts java, straight, fire and christmas, the christmas does not grow as fast so they didn't get much.
The thin leggy Cardinalis is a lighting problem, they grow stringy to get up to the light as quickly as posible..
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
I am so happy I came to these forums for help and am finally getting some feedback!

So this morning I was telling my husband that I joined and posted here and about how helpful you all have been. Then he brings up "the last time this happened." It took half a second for me to remember. I had this happen in my tank before, a long time ago. It was way back when for plants, all I had was the moss and ( too many) of my old fish from my last aquarium (some were 15 years old! silver dollars, mollies etc...). I didn't know then what I know now about fish per inch!

These particles were nowhere near as bad then as what they are now. I remember them specifically being down low especially in the corner behind the tree, just swirling.

It lingered relentlessly. Then I got a bunch of plants. It stuck around for awhile and then all of a sudden one morning it was completely gone and the water was crystal clear. I believe adding more plants balanced out the number of fish. Now that I know better I know I was overstocked with fish then and didn't have enough plants. Does that make sense? I had an imbalance of fish to plants ratio?

Once I got more plants everything balanced out and these particles cleared up.

So it seems history is repeating itself. All of those fish have since passed and now I only have the Corys and the 12 tiny Rasboras. Everything was perfection when there was these current fish and way more plants. Now that all of those plants are gone with the final removal (right around when this all started) being the Cardinalis, I believe I've created an imbalance again.

The removal of the final plants must have played a huge role in what's going on and even though it's just drops, the ferts I've been adding are too much right now. My question is WHAT is precipitating? What is reacting with what? What are the "crystals" made of? I actually purchased an API Ca kit and just got it last night. I'm about to try it. Do you think this test will tell me anything? Do you think it's calcium carbonate precipitate?

I have another thought after reading something very interesting last night. It's called "bacterial carbonate precipitation." Carbonate crystals can actually be precipitated by freshwater bacteria! What if by removing those final plants I created some sort of bacterial release in the water and it was those bacteria that interacted with the minerals in the ferts (or IMO the more likely culprit is the Equilibrium because it's major calcium) and created the precipitate? During this process there's an interaction between positively charged Ca2+ (sodium-calcium ions) and negatively charged bacterial walls.

I had done some reading on cations and ions etc... because the particles suspended in my tank are clearly visible and appear large and solid (example; while looking at them stuck to the glass) but they CANNOT be (completely) filtered! Why? That makes me think they're actually way smaller than they appear and are not actually solid but some sort of charged ions? I hope I don't sound crazy! I have read so much about so many things it could be but at the end of the day, if this stuff is minerals why can't it be filtered?

I have tried 2 flocculants, the Aqueon and Clarity. Aqueon did absolutely nothing. The Clarity turned my water brown which is normal because it uses iron. After 6 hours I removed the floss pads and could see the brown from the Clarity and white crustaceans which I assume is the particles but what was on the pads after 6 hours made no difference in the thickness of the particles still suspended in the tank. Should I have continued using the Clarity maybe for days?

If only a tiny amount was removed after adding Clarity that makes me think even flocculants have a hard time attaching to these particles. I don't know what to think anymore. As I type this the particles are really, really bad and I feel so sorry for my poor fish swimming around in this stuff.

I'm seriously thinking I need to add more plants asap. What do you think? I'm adding a few photos I took just now. You're not going to believe your eyes and I'm going to try and upload video again. THANKS AGAIN for all the help!

Edit: If this is calcium carbonate precipitate or something similar wouldn't my KH be higher than 2 and my GH higher than 4?

Still can’t upload my videos because of some extension issue. So ticked off because the video is important to see.

Edit: in process of wc. Testing parameters. Whatever it is is causing ammonia spikes. Did Ca2+ test and it took 2 drops to see a very light shade of blue (is that where I should stop the drops or does it need to be dark blue). The endpoint color on instructions is deep grapewhich. So do I have 40mg/L? Snail tanks need 70-90 so doesn’t that mean my calcium is really high? Added photo.


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  • #10
I have another thought after reading something very interesting last night. It's called "bacterial carbonate precipitation." Carbonate crystals can actually be precipitated by freshwater bacteria! What if by removing those final plants I created some sort of bacterial release in the water and it was those bacteria that interacted with the minerals in the ferts (or IMO the more likely culprit is the Equilibrium because it's major calcium) and created the precipitate? During this process there's an interaction between positively charged Ca2+ (sodium-calcium ions) and negatively charged bacterial walls.

Not sure how removing the plants could do that but you are adding a cocktail of bacteria with each water change (Stability + Pristine). Also what is the reason that you add Prime?

I agree that your KH & GH readings suggest that your CaCO3 levels are not excessive.
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Hello, Thank you so much for reading my post and trying to help me. As of this moment I am literally at my wits end! If I told you all how much time and energy and brain cells I have burned on this issue. I have SO MUCH sunk into this aquarium, especially the learning process of how all of this works. The trial and error have been extensive but the learning process has been awesome and I don't regret any of it. I went from having a spectacular, pristine aquarium to having a hot mess with some bizarre, unknown, relentless issue that will not go away! I have lost all the joy I once felt.

As for adding Stability and Pristine. I follow the instructions on the bottles and after researching these additives. Stability-"For optimum biofilter performance use 1 capful for 20 gal once per month or with each water change." That's 5 dpg so I add 25 drops to my 5 gal jug of replacement water.

As for Pristine- "Use a maintenance dose of 1 capful per 20 gal with the additions of livestock or the disruption of the biofilter through cleaning or medications." During wc's I lightly clean my coarse sponge and quickly rinse my bag of Matrix in tank water and replace the floss pads and polishing pads. Pristine bacteria is supposed to keep the substrate clean. Again, 5 dpg so I add 25 drops to my 5 gal jug.

Prime I always thought was a given. I am not one who carelessly throws things into my aquarium. I research EVERYTHING! I care about my fish as much as I care about my dogs and cats. I add 10 drops to the 5 gal jug.

I strictly followed this schedule with the Seachem Ferts:

Sun> Excel, Flourish
Mon>Excel, Trace, Advance
Tues>Excell, Potassium
Wed>Excel, Trace, Advance
Thur>Excel, Potassium, Flourish
Sat>Excel, Potassium

Excel 24 drops, Potassium 36 drops, Flourish 24 drops, Trace 60 drops, Advance 60 drops. Never dose Trace & Flourish on the same day. After the removal of the plants I cut the drops in half.

I did a 50% wc yesterday. Cleaned all the glass. Vac'd the sand. Got up this morning petrified to even look and guess what? IT'S BACK!! That's right! It's back exactly the same as it's been for 1.5 months! Nothing changed, not even the amount of the particles and if history repeats itself and I'm sure it will, it will be even worse tomorrow.

I keep an aquarium journal. Everything is written down. I just looked back on the section where I jot down my water parameters which I take after most water changes (my parameters never change). On January 30th, THE VERY FIRST TIME I ever used anything other than the RO water from my lfs for the wc, I wrote "Distilled. Issues started with distilled." I totally forgot I ever wrote this but how is it possible that this change in the water I used caused this horrible issue?

My lfs is gone. It was a few miles from here and the next closest one is 18 miles away. This is why I started with store bought and it was only after researching that distilled/purified are ok to use. So the use of distilled and the removal of the Cardinalis happened at the same time. THAT is when all of this started! Something happened with the removal of that plant and the change of the water or maybe it was just the removal of the plant? Is it possible these particles are some sort of bacteria and I've been chasing trying to address a totally different issue? I read extensively and never found anything about any aquarium bacteria looking like particles.

So when this all started I had used the remineralized distilled. The suspended particles show up. Right off the bat I'm researching suspended particles. That's when I came across the ZW filter. It's all about removing suspended particles, down to 0 and it removes everything else you can think of..... I already have the remineralized distilled in my tank so when I get the ZW I immediately throw a remaining bottle of distilled into the ZW filter. After it filters I see all these tan gunky particles left in the white filter bowl and since I'm as anal as I am and record and photograph everything, I took photos of the gunk. Will post.

I think AHA! That's it! That's what's in my tank, these particles. On 2-10 I did a 3 gal wc with purified water. No change in the particles. On 2-16 another 3 gal wc and I did not add Equilibrium. I believe this was the start of my thinking these particles were not from the distilled water, it looked more like minerals. On 2-26 I did another 3 gal wc and this time I added half the amount of Equilibrium I usually do. Still, nothing changed. On 3-1 another wc and then the 50% wc yesterday and everything is exactly the same.

I have also run my UV sterilizer (the 3W Green Killing Machine for anyone who might read this who has an Edge and need a sterilizer) many times during this issue. It clips on the waterfall of my HOB filter beautifully, like it was made for this tank. For 2 years, after wc's I would clip it on overnight and in the morning my water would be flawless. The UV has done nothing to help with the issue I have now! I also always used Seachem Purigen which made my water invisible. I've removed that since all this started because it does nothing for the particles.

Only other things I have done are all mentioned in my above posts except I have added tiny pieces of a Wonder Shell. That was about 2 weeks ago. I read about them extensively, all good. I broke a small shell into many pieces and tossed a few in. They release minerals as needed and then they stop. The tiny pieces threw up bubbles for a few seconds and stopped. Didn't change anything. Other than that and the 2 flocculants, I haven't put anything in the tank. I'm so anal, I feed my Rasboras baby brine shrimp via an eyedropper so tank doesn't get polluted.

As I write this I am at a loss. I don't know what else to do. Nothing I've added to my filter compartment has worked even a stack of floss. I tried 3 different submersible filters that did nothing, pre-filters did nothing, flocculants did nothing. Adding and not adding Equilbrium hasn't changed anything and stopping the ferts hasn't changed anything. I'm thinking is this stuff coming from something in the tank? The moss? The driftwood? The sand? Is it minerals or is it some freak bacteria?

After writing the above paragraph I got up to do and post my current parameters. I am now of the belief that this issue is NOT of the mineral sort but of the bacterial sort because my ammonia has spiked again! WHAT is it????

Added photos: My current parameters and the distilled water gunk. The fact that these gross tan particles are in what is supposed to be pure distilled water is disturbing. Imagine drinking what you see on my filter. Thank you again to everyone who has read my post and tried to help me! I appreciate you all very much!

Edit: just to be sure, I tested ammonia again. My eyes are going bat**** crazy from looking at test tube colors. And this after a 50% wc?? Also, how is it possible my PH is higher? My PH was always a steady 7.4. After I filtered the purified water last night I tested the PH and was blown away that it was 7.4 yea, same as my tank. Now it's higher??? KH and GH both 3 drops to achieve the absolute lightest shades of yellow and green.

Edit: How could I forget? I found something attached to my weeping moss. I moved the moss and a few other ones fell which I sucked up and put in a bowl. Are they eggs? They look nothing like the Cory eggs I've seen. My Rasboras hang out inside the moss canopy all the time. If not eggs could they be something that's causing the issue??? Also (adding as much detailed info as possible in hopes of finding an answer and to eliminate things) I test for phosphates ever since they caused the major hair algae outbreak on my moss. It appears my pho’s are less than zero (last photo) as the test color doesn’t match any of the lightest colors. When phos caused the hair algae the test water was navy blue.


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  • #12
They look like eggs. I think you need to go back to basics and stop using many of those chemicals. Stability and Pristine are non essential additives in a cycled tank. Prime is primarily a dechlorinator and is not necessary if you’re using distilled water. Also can you please state why you are using this instead of your tap water? I realise that the Rasboras like soft water but your treatments are not resulting in particularly soft water. Also if your tap water is suitable to use you would not need to be adding Equilibrium and I suspect that whatever is precipitating is coming from that.

Another course of action to try is to switch from your Flourish/Trace/Advance/Potassium treatments to a complete all-in-one fertiliser at dosage rates suitable for a low tech planted tank. There are also some that contain glutaraldehyde if you didn't want to have to add Excel separately.
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Hello and thank you for reading my post and trying to help me! I don't use my tap water because it comes from my well. Although my well is extremely deep at 750', I live in a rural area where there is run off from horse farms etc...I've only tested it with my aquarium test kit not with an actual well water-drinking water test kit and that's because I would never drink it! So I have no idea what else might be in it. The PH of my well water is typically between 7.4-7.8 but the GH is 14 and the KH is 19 not to mention the ammonia which is 2.0 and sometimes higher most likely from fertilizers running underground. I actually have a natural spring under my property and it runs all the way down my block. I have no clue what's in my well water but I do know that it causes rock hard orange-y rings around my toilet bowls that require muriatic acid to remove. No way I would ever use my tap water in my aquarium. If I won't drink I wouldn't want my beloved fish swimming around in it.

So, from just using my aquarium kit it's not water I want to use in my aquarium. Readings are just too high to try to stabilize. So using purified water, I start with a clean slate so to speak and just add the Equilibrium. Done. Keep in mind, I've done THE EXACT same thing as far as water treatment for 2 years and never, ever had an issue. In 2 years I haven't changed a thing as far as my tank maintenance.

As for Rasboras preferring soft water, you are correct but if you read my post above I stated that when I started this aquarium I had different fish and for the year I had those original fish in this tank the PH stayed at a steady 7.4, never changed. When those fish passed, I only had the Corys left and they were the only fish in the tank for awhile as I decided what other kind of fish I wanted to get. I got the Rasboras knowing fully well about the PH they prefer but I also know that in fish stores fish aren't always kept in the conditions they prefer and they can adapt to different PHs. A constant PH is more important than chasing or trying to create a perfect PH. All of my other parameters like KH and GH are ideal for them.

I purchased my Rasboras 4-29-2019 so they've been in my aquarium for coming up on 1 year. I haven't lost a single one. I used the drip line method to acclimate them before adding them to my tank and they adjusted to my 7.4 PH and that PH has never changed. I wasn't going to suddenly change my PH to 6 because I have Panda Corys as well and I've had them for many years.

I'm not even sure anymore if my issue is precipitate because as I stated, I just changed half of my water and added back water that was not remineralized and the particles are still there. I'm finding it hard to believe at this point that it's mineral precipitate. I'm not even adding ferts anymore, just Excel so my moss doesn't start getting algae as it's very close to my light.

In one moment I'm thinking this issue is some sort of bacteria that came from my pulling up those last plants that were rooted really deep in my sand. When I watch these particles literally multiply before my eyes it makes me think bacterial but when I see them stuck to the glass as the water lowers during wc's, they look like mineral deposits. What's really weird that I just remembered now is, I put some of my water into a clear glass bowl and held it up and watched the particles and their shape looked different than they do in my tank. They looked straight up and down like tiny slivers.

If these particles are some sort of mineral precipitate WHY can't I filter them out? I see mineral deposits and rust all the time from my well water. The stuff is hard like cement. The film that these particles cause on my glass is super soft and when I use my razor on a stick to scrape it off it just floats away. I've read about mineral precipitate in many a reef forum and reef keepers talking about precipitate and ways to scrape it off the glass. This stuff isn't like that so if it is minerals, the minerals are super soft and not like calcium.

This whole situation is truly baffling which is why I'm trying to post every little detail I think of. Here's what's really weird, there's less of this stuff late in the day and 100x more in the morning. Not only is it suspended in the water but it literally POURS down like snow! When I say "pour" I mean it pours down! This is why I need to post my videos, so you can see how this stuff moves.

I'm posting 2 super close up photos of my Anubias leaves. Zoom in and take a look at this stuff and as you're looking, look at the particles falling behind the leaves and how they have a slivery shape. Every morning I get up and first thing I do is look at the tank and it's the same and every time I see it's the same I say I'm done and I'm not going to think about it anymore but I can't help myself. I can't stand looking at it anymore and I need to know what it is!

Thing is, WHY the ammonia spike?? This is why I'm thinking bacterial but wouldn't my nitrates spike too? How would excess minerals cause an ammonia spike?


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  • #14
Ok understood, you definitely don’t want to be using the well water. I’m at a loss though I’m afraid, if they are solid suspended particles your filter should be filtering it out. Do you see it in the filter floss (without adding Clarity)? I wonder what would be involved in getting a sample of the substance tested. In the meantime I would only add essential additives. A small amount of Equilibrium to re-mineralise the distilled water and perhaps change your ferts.

I’m not familiar with your branded substrate. Is it just inert quartz sand? That might be something else to investigate.
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  • #15
Exactly! If this stuff is solid I should be able to filter them out so what's up with that? Can't filter it out yet it's large enough to stick to and be clearly visible on the glass??

I took my coarse sponge and my bag of Matrix out of my filter a few times and set them aside in a bowl of tank water for several hours. I stuffed my filter full of floss. No change. How about the fact that I tried 3 different submersible filters? They looked obscene in the tank! LOL. They didn't do anything to lessen the particles. I even took two 100 micron pads and made them into a pre-filter. Stuck them at the tip of my intake tube. Nothing! I cut a hole down the center of a regular coarse filter sponge and did the same thing. Nothing. Then I watched a youtube video where the guy cut the top off a water bottle and stuffed it full of floss and stuck it on the end of his intake tube so I tried that too. Nothing. I stuck both of my bags of Purigen in the filter. Nothing.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing has worked or even lessened the problem and at this point I have stopped everything. No Equilibrium and no ferts. The only thing that brings me any comfort is this stuff hasn't affected my fish as far as I know.

I just turned on my really bright Nicrew light that sits atop my glass and took some photos. Egats! It's so unbelievable! Seeing it in photos is nothing compared to seeing it in person. I've also posted a photo of my substrate bag where it describes the sand. It's very soft, very fine. Never had any issues because of it. Are you thinking there's something in the sand now maybe after 2 years?

Edit: I didn't answer your question. As for seeing any of it in my filter media. The only time I saw it was when I used Clarity and that's because the Clarity turned the pads brown which made the white particles show up. So I'm thinking, the Clarity did allow some of it to get filtered so should I continue using the Clarity for a few days??? And as far as having the stuff tested, believe me, I thought of that and WISH I knew someone or someplace that could do that for me. Any ideas?

Wanna see something really funny and by funny I mean funny in a sad way? Compare the photo I posted right above that was taken of the snowstorm with my Nicrew light on moments ago and look at this photo of how my tank looks right now at 6:30pm with the stock light on. You would never, ever know there’s a nightmare going on inside!


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  • #16
The sand is not likely an issue. I can’t see any indication that it’s anything other than inert silica sand. I wouldn’t add Clarity again since it will only partially address the symptoms and not the cause which remains to be determined and as you mentioned it does not appear to be affecting the fish. I wouldn’t know where you would start with testing but perhaps that’s a bit premature at this stage. I don’t know what’s causing the reaction but you can be sure that you are not the only person to have experienced it. It’s just a matter of someone recognising it and hopefully chiming in. In the meantime you might benefit from cross posting your issue in a dedicated shrimp forum where a large percentage of members would be using RO or distilled and re-mineralised water.
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  • #17
GlennO, thank you for saying that about the Clarity thing and how if I continued to use it I would not be addressing the cause and I would seriously give anything to know what the cause is! Nobody loves a good mystery more than me but this is ridiculous!

I keep thinking of other steps I've taken to try to resolve this issue. Bear with me because the more I think and type, the more ideas I'm getting.

I purchased a whole new filter and it wasn't cheap, $38, because I was so perplexed about why these particles weren't being filtered. I thought maybe my filter motor was giving out. I also purchased a propeller for an AquaClear 50 which fits the AquaClear 20 but provides much more power. I would stand there and stare at the tip of my intake tube with millions of these clearly visible particles RIGHT THERE and they didn't look like they were getting sucked in. This is because the Fluval Edge has the white tower at the center back that houses the HOB filter and all the electrical cords. The intake tube hangs to the far left of the tower but still in front of the white tower. So I can only see stuff getting drawn towards the intake tube to a certain point. Once these particles get in front of the white, I can't see them so I'm not actually seeing them going into the intake tube but how could they not be? Do they get right there and then somehow find the ability to not get sucked in? If I can see them getting drawn towards the intake then they must be going in and if they're going in and they are being filtered but at the same time the tank is always loaded with them, that means they are constantly multiplying.

The fact that I can see them getting drawn towards the intake tube has to mean they are going inside the filter right? So what if this stuff is coming from inside the filter? Could it be disintegrated Matrix???? The more I omit things like Equilibrium and ferts and things stay the same, the more it makes me think it's coming from something inside the tank.

I hope that you're right about someone coming along with the answer. This is why I keep posting every little thing I think of. THANKS SO MUCH FOR TRYING TO HELP!

I found something interesting while researching about Matrix falling apart or if it ever does. Found this chat between an Equilibrium user and Seachem support about Equilibrium causing precipitate. There’s a lot of math and science in this chat. I’m no scientist that’s for sure. I know just enough to be dangerous. If anyone reads this chat let me know what you think PLEASE! I’m Googling for info on how long Equilibrium which is all calcium, mag, pot salts, lasts in the water. This user states that the pot salts keep building every time you add Equilibrium!

Check this out....

Problem with Seachem Equilibrium - Seachem Support Forums
  • #18
I can't comment on the validity of that test but it's interesting and makes me wonder why potassium salts are included at all in Equilibrium? It's main purpose would be as a fertiliser? Raising GH & KH should only require baking soda, epsom salts and calcium carbonate and if you could find the correct formula you could mix it yourself. Alternatively and much easier, try a different potassium-free brand.
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  • #19
Tank is the same today as it's been for 1.5 months and I'm about ready to just give up. I don't want to look at it anymore or think about it anymore or research for answers anymore. As for the Equilibrium that's not even in the tank anymore, the calcium, magnesium, potassium salts in Equilibrium are sulfate. Calcium and magnesium sulfates are soluble. Potassium sulfate is "partially soluble but rarely precipitates" so I don't think Equilibrium was even the cause. Even if it was the K, what would make it precipitate? As I stated several times, I've been using Equilibrium and every other Seachem product I mentioned for almost 2 years without issue.

I was just cutting up some new filter floss pads and noticed that what I thought was these particles on dirty ones is actually just part of the floss. So I was thinking Clarity had actually attached to some of the particles and they were filtered out but that doesn't seem to be the case. I've posted a photo of a new pad so you can see how similar the white dots are to the used pads that are stained brown from Clarity.

If this is fact and Clarity did nothing and this stuff was not on the floss pads then it CANNOT be filtered AT ALL and that just ticks me off even more. For the **** of it I added some new floss just now and popped in the AquaClear 50 propeller which is way more powerful than the 20 and interestingly, the tank looks clearer! Particles are still there but not as thick.

Also, I did an ammonia test again today it appears I have 0.25. If anyone looks at my photo please tell me if I'm right because I've done so many water tests since this started I'm not even sure what I'm seeing anymore. I actually had to order a new master test kit because half my bottles are empty just from this current issue.

There's no way after a 50% water change there is anything substantial left in the tank as far as chemicals; Equilibrium or ferts which I haven't used in days.


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  • #20
This may b of no help but were those "egg" looking things hard to the touch? When is the last time u vacuumed the moss? Could it b that there's so much excess gunk in ur moss its causing the particles and ur ammonia reading? Those eggs almost look like fungus from uneating food. I'm just throwing things out there since nothing else has worked for u. Please don't give up cuz its a beautiful tank! And obviously uve put a lot into it!
  • #21
I'm thinking that maybe(?) this is bacterial. Would anyone on here know a good way to treat a bacterial bloom? Don't give up on this. Take a break, clear your mind, and come back to it less stressed. You can ask in Forum Issues Log for help with uploading the video.

Although, just to inspire some thoughts, have you tried using the fish test kits on the distilled water to see if there's anything in it?
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  • #22
Good Morning, I have a big update! JamieLu if I had that $1,000,000 I would be sending it to you but since I don't I'm sending you a HUGE virtual hug and a HUGE thank you!! What's funny is you said "This may b of no help!!!"

I am 75% certain that this whole issue has been caused by my (DIRTY) weeping moss and if it weren't for JamieLu's post who knows how long it might have taken me to really look at the moss as the cause. I jumped into action yesterday as soon as I read JamieLu's post and actually got my hands all on and in the moss and OMG!!!THE DEBRIS THAT CAME OFF WAS UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I've always sort of just patted it lightly to let some of the debris float off but this time I smashed it completely down over and over, squishing it like a sponge and when I was done my white sand was LOADED with brown debris that was so bad I couldn't see the sand! I did the squishing several times and the debris just kept coming and coming. I was disgusted and felt so freakin' bad for my fish.

It took me all day to get this done. I did a 5 gal wc and had to use my teenie siphon that's about 1/3 the diameter of a drinking straw to clean all the debris so as not to suck too much water out. I sat on the kitchen counter and it took FOREVER! I also trimmed off a huge clump of moss. It was it's first haircut. As I did I discovered beautiful, clear Cory eggs which to me is unbelievable that during this disgusting issue my Cory's never stopped having fun! I love them! In fact, there are 2 more eggs at the very top of the tree that were not there when I went to bed last night! lol

I was literally shaking as I approached the tank this morning because the overhaul I did yesterday was extreme. The water has 75% less particles than it has had the past 1.5 months. I'm so bummed that there are still particles but NOWHERE near as bad. So we have to be on the right track right? I'm assuming that because the particles are still present I need to clean the moss even more? and in between now and the next wc the particles will mulitiply/get worse? Here's the thing though, we still don't know what the particles are??

The main reason I never looked hard at the moss being the problem is because of the visible particles and how they look like crystals on the glass when the water is lowered. In all of my research I found NOTHING that states aquarium bacterias ever appear as visible solids so I was all on the precip thing BUT I kept having the ammonia spikes so I kept going back to bacterial. The back and forth between chemical/mineral precipitate and bacterial was brutal because even now that I believe the ton of moss debris caused an ammonia spike and somehow the particles, how? Is it that occurrence I mentioned in an earlier post..."Carbonate Crystals Precipitated by Freshwater Bacteria?" Are we looking at both bacteria and precipitate? Did the bacteria from this debris somehow interact with the Equilibrium and/or the ferts and cause the crystal-like suspended particles? And if the particles were minerals why couldn't they be filtered or were they filtered but because the bacteria kept mulitiplying so did the particles?? Has anyone ever heard of this before?? (I posted the link below)

So, albeit beautiful, my moss is a major debris magnet. I have known this for awhile. After dealing with a horrendous case of hair algae it had way back and then the heat wave last summer that turned all the moss brown, I have treated the moss with kidd gloves (big mistake). Every time I do tank maintenance it's all about being careful of the tree, be careful of the tree!

After the heat wave when the moss burned up I thought it was done for but it came back even better, I haven't wanted to really touch it too much. I wanted to leave it alone, allow it to really attache to the tree and get super thick. Then I was going to trim it so it looks like the many moss BonsaI trees I have admired these past 2 years.

Well, after yesterday, I can safely say that I put things off for way too long! Little did I know that even though my tank always looked flawless there was a major problem brewing inside the giant moss sponge. Interestingly, my husband, who knows nothing about aquariums, admires my moss every day. A few days ago he said "It's the size of a human head!" and then he said "Maybe it's the cause of the problem." I brushed his comment off BECAUSE OF THE PARTICLES!! Now, if the water column was raining down little brown particles that woulda been a no brainer.

So, I'm going to watch things throughout the day and will keep this updated. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the answer. Again, the particles are 75% less which is huge but I'm still a little scared because they are still there and if there's still some that means more will come again until I get rid of it all and how many more times do I have to clean the moss? I've already trimmed of 1/4 of it!

I went "back to my roots" and added Equilibrium to the new water. I 100% believe in and trust this product and I could not do another large wc without adding these vital minerals for my fish even if it meant the issue continued. If the bacteria from the moss debris is somehow interacting with the minerals from Equilibrium does that mean Equilibrium is bad? I don't think so but if it is bacteria and minerals interacting in such a negative way I think Seahem should know about it right? Have we stumbled onto something unknown that the fishkeeping world needs to know about? I did however take Glenn's advice and (for right now until I see how things go) I did not add Stability to the replacement water. I will however add Pristine as I believe it will help with all the moss debris that landed on my sand.

As for ferts I will be holding off on all of them for now but I will still be adding Excel because my moss will instantly start getting algae because of how close it is to my light. When all of this is over I think I will take the advice of several people who posted and combine the ferts. I did research all of the ferts I've used for 2 years and followed Seachem's instructions to the letter.

If this bacterial/mineral combo is what caused the relentless, visible suspended particles that could not be filtered, ammonia spike issue and right now we still don't know how or why but what I do know is, in the future I will listen to my water test results FIRST and put what I actually see 2nd. The fact that there's been ammonia in my tank should have kept me on the bacterial track but I let my eyes and the visual of the suspended particles take me down a different path. In fact, I walked the visual (particles) path way more times than the invisible (bacteria) path which it seems was a big mistake.

Just wanna say THANK YOU AGAIN to JamieLu and I also have to thank the person who posted the next comment because their kind words of encouragement along with JamieLu's idea kept me going on this thing for another day. I was totally ready to throw in the towel. I'm really happy I signed up to the FishLore forums and I know it sounds totally dorky but even in fishkeeping it's nice to know you're not alone. love u guys.

Here's the link to what I think may be going on Carbonate Crystals Precipitated by Freshwater Bacteria and Their Use as a Limestone Consolidant

And I'll post some updated pics of the tank/tree.

Edit: A major point I forgot to add; after I refilled the tank I tested the ammonia and it actually rose from the 0.25 it was at before I started to 0.50 which is another reason I believe things are on the right track. The moss debris caused the spike to 0.25 and my releasing a ton more of the debris out into the water column made it go even higher. I added 24 drops of Prime to lock down the ammonia before going to bed for the safety of my fish. I know some say not to lock it down because it doesn't help the good bacteria. What do you think?

Also, I see my link didn't stay but the title is there. I think I will contact Seachem and find out if if the mineral precip by bacteria is actually possible and if Equilibrium or Seachem ferts played a part.
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  • #23
I'm thinking that maybe(?) this is bacterial. Would anyone on here know a good way to treat a bacterial bloom? Don't give up on this. Take a break, clear your mind, and come back to it less stressed. You can ask in Forum Issues Log for help with uploading the video.

Although, just to inspire some thoughts, have you tried using the fish test kits on the distilled water to see if there's anything in it?

Hello aoiumi, I would like to say THANK YOU to you for your kind words. Your post along with JamieLu's suggestion kept my going yesterday after I was going to give up. It's amazing what a few words of encouragement can do.

As for the distilled water, I tested it as I do any water that goes in my tank but I stopped using that particular water after this started and after I discovered the brown gunk that can come out of distilled water. This gunk can accumulate in the machinery where distilled water is created when it's not cleaned properly. So gross! I will most likely never use distilled water again. As of right now I'm going to stick with Meijer Purified Water. It's the first purified water I've seen that states "By Reverse Osmosis" on the bottles and the PH unbelievably tests at 7.4 which is what my tank PH is. Also, the KH test at 2 and the GH 2 so it's perfect!

I also thank you for telling me where I can get help on uploading my videos because they are of major importance for this thread. Just seeing still photos of the issue is nothing compared to seeing these particles in action. Honestly, it will make you gasp and if anyone else out there ever encounters this same issue I would like to have the videos here so they'll know for sure if their issue is the same.

After spending 1.5 months and probably hundreds of hours researching my issue I prayed every day that my next Google would yield the answer and I would come across someone out there who experienced the same thing. I never did and for me to be the first to put this particular issue out there and possibly help other fishkeepers, would mean a lot.

THANK YOU AGAIN for the kind words.
  • #24
Woo hooo! I'm so happy I could help. I love this place for that reason, sometimes we overthink things too much in our own situations and it takes an "outsider" to point out what we may not have thought of or tried. I hope that with regular moss maintenance ur particle problem becomes virtually nonexistent. I really am so excited that I could b of help for u. I'm jealous of ur tank and it would b a shame to not continue on with it. Is beautiful! oh, also, I don't think prime actually locks up ammonia like ammo lock does, it just turns it into a less toxic for, ammonium I believe or something like that, but its still available for the bacteria. Please keep us posted!
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  • #25
Thank you JamieLu!!! And don’t ever let anybody tell you you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer

I couldn’t wait to show you the incredible difference between the particle photo I posted yesterday and the photo I took just now I am so happy to report that the particles have not gotten worse since I posted this morning! I’m in total shock right now

I took both photos in the exact same spot, at the left side of the tank. You won't believe your eyes!

I’m also posting a photo of the beautiful, perfect Cory eggs I found attached to the moss. Is it normal for Corys to swim that high and release eggs? All other Cory eggs I’ve found in the past were either stuck to the glass or under plants.

Also, I’m posting a photo of the materials I used to build the foundational platforms to hold the moss in the tree. I followed Dennis Wong’s instructional YouTube video. Interestingly, when I first put these materials in the tree I was concerned about the sponge material trapping debris but he’s an expert so I did it. They’re just slivers of sponges but I’m sure they didn’t help the debris situation. They came really loose in the tree so I nervously pulled them off. I believe there are only a few more still in there. The moss seems to have attached itself pretty good. Yea!

I entertained the thought that the glue was the cause of the particles but it’s rock solid so I’m thinking it’s not. I used the proper glue.

I’m going to do a very small wc now, maybe 2 gallons, to finish vacuuming the sand and trim some stragglers on the tree.

The moss has literally turned greener overnight and is even more beautiful than before! OMG it looks like a real tree

Oh ya, I did something really dumb! Because I wanted the moss to attaché when I first put it in the tree I made a small plastic water bottle barrier shield in between my filter waterfall and the top of the tree. The pressure from the water kept causing the moss to come off and every day I had to scoop it off the substrate and put it back on the tree.

The barrier worked BUT it prevented any real flow from going through the moss! Well now the barrier is gone and the waterfall is hitting the moss and it’s fabulous! No moss has come loose!

So I’m adding side by side photos to show the density of the particles for the past 1.5 months (a still from video) and today and the Cory eggs and the sponge-glue stuff. Also. Tons of tiny bubbles and I think particles are accumulating at the top of the tank under the glass and when I go through it with my Flipper the stuff leaves behind a greasy streak? I wonder if it's from the particles or biological from the Corys with all the egg laying??

Will update later with photos of how the tree looks now.


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  • #26
Unfortunately for me, the issue continues. I've cleaned and trimmed the moss twice more and done small water changes. Water remains clear for several hours and in the morning IT'S BACK! So there doesn't seem to be an answer. A big mystery. So sick of looking at it I could puke.
  • #27
Unfortunately for me, the issue continues. I've cleaned and trimmed the moss twice more and done small water changes. Water remains clear for several hours and in the morning IT'S BACK! So there doesn't seem to be an answer. A big mystery. So sick of looking at it I could puke.
Oh no I'm sorry I was actually just thinking about u and ur issue hoping it was better. Ur tank is still beautiful, I would take it off ur hands in a heartbeat. Mines a hot mess but hey if my fish are happy so am i.
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  • #28
Hello JamieLu! I hope you and your family are safe and healthy as well as everyone who might read this post! I've been thinking about you as well and how I didn't want to come here and say this issue is still present after we both were so happy that we thought it was solved. It's so frustrating!

So ya, I'm pretty much at my wit's end with this. Here's the thing; your idea about the moss seemed to be right on track because the particles became much less right after I did the first big clean & trim but 2 days later the particles came back a little more and a little more. I've done 2 wc's and moss cleanings since then. Yesterday I did a 5 gal wc and the tank looked pristine until I put the lid on and went to bed. This morning, the particles were back. They're still not as thick and heavy as they were during the worst times in the past (almost) 2 months but they're still there and very visible.

First thing I do is take the lid off and a few hours later, same thing, the particles start to dissipate/thin out. After all the water changes I've done my thoughts are that it has to be coming from inside the tank so maybe your thoughts on the moss are correct. What is the most prevalent thing in the tank? The tree and the moss but as of now I have trimmed off about half of the moss. It's sitting in a bowl of water and I have no idea what to do with it.

I have also removed almost all of the sponge/superglue pieces that were in the tree. If I remove the rest (might be 3 left) I will most likely destroy the tree. So I've tried it all...not using Equilibrium and ferts and going back to using Equilibrium. Doesn't affect the particles

Most importantly, my ammonia still reads 0.25!!! WHAT IS CAUSING THE AMMONIA TO SPIKE??? Added pics of my water parameters and how the particles look right now. Also, still can't figure out how to add video.


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  • #29
I think u have to upload a video to youtube then add the link here. Also, have u ever got an actual reading of 0 on ammonia? I know that my test kit as well as others always shows .25 but its actually 0, its a flaw with some of the kits. If u run ammonia test on bottled water what do u see? So with the lid off the particles go away? And uve cleaned the lid recently I'm assuming?
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  • #30
Great question on the ammonia thing. I just learned a few weeks ago that you're supposed to let the ammonia and the nitrate test water sit for 5 minutes. I never knew that. And the PH and nitrite results are instant. I always left the ammonia test water sit for maybe a minute or two and it was always yellow. Since I've been waiting 5+ minutes it's always 0.25 so now I have no idea if I have ammonia or not? Flaw with the kits? This just gets crazier and crazier! I just got a brand new API master test kit on Sunday so that's what I used today.

If I actually did have 0.25 ammonia wouldn't my nitrates increase? In 1.5 years my nitrates have stayed at 5.0.

I posted a photo of ammonia test from bottled purified water and it too appears to read 0.25. I never knew there was a flaw with these test kits. That's pretty crazy because how do you ever really know if you have ammonia or not? Wait and see if it reaches 0.50 or is that color off too?

As for removing the lid, the particles don't go away but they lessen and I'm assuming it's because evaporation has an affect on them? Yes the lid is spotless. The lid for the Edge has a metal screen on the top so it's not like closed up tight like a drum when the top is on. It still has ventilation but in the morning before I take the lid off the particles are 100x thicker. Lid comes off and they lessen and lessen throughout the day until I have to get right up on it to see the particles BUT the lighting plays a big part in how the particles appear as well. The whole thing is crazy and it's driving me nuts!

Also, my KH is 2 and my GH is 4. If these particles were minerals precipitating wouldn't those readings be higher? Nothing about this makes sense. I probably don't have ammonia so that rules out bacterial right? My KH and GH are low so that rules out mineral precip right? So what does that leave?

Photo is of purified bottled water ammonia test. And my TDS reading is 136. I've had TDS readings up in the 260s back when my tank was flawless.


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  • #31
I think its more a margin of error than a "flaw" but the rest of the readings should be accurate. Not sure why some always have a tiny green hint to them so I'm thinking u don't have any ammonia unless u see ot rise. And as far as the other stuff goes I'm no good with that stuff...I'm at a loss as u are....I'm sorry! Oh and I hope u guys are staying safe as well!
  • #32
So, it might not work, but you said these particles reacted to the light/air? Maybe try leaving the light on for 36-48 hours and see what happens?

You could also try a UV sterilizer, though I read that the lower end ones don't actually work. They need to use a low-vacuum bulb to work but a cheap one might sell you a medium-vacuum bulb as a low-vacuum bulb, so make sure it's one with good reviews.

For some reason I keep thinking this is bacteria, but I might be completely off base. I go with gut instinct sometimes.
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  • #33
So, it might not work, but you said these particles reacted to the light/air? Maybe try leaving the light on for 36-48 hours and see what happens?

You could also try a UV sterilizer, though I read that the lower end ones don't actually work. They need to use a low-vacuum bulb to work but a cheap one might sell you a medium-vacuum bulb as a low-vacuum bulb, so make sure it's one with good reviews.

For some reason I keep thinking this is bacteria, but I might be completely off base. I go with gut instinct sometimes.


They don’t react to light. They do thin out after a few hours after I take the top off. I have a Green Machine UV sterilizer that I’ve used numerous times during the past 2 months. It has no affect but I know it typically works because I used to use it after every water change and by morning my water was flawless.

I am FED UP right now! This stuff is still there and hasn’t changed. After water changes it comes right back and in between water changes it gets worse and worse.

A few days ago I did a 5 gal wc and I scrubbed the rocks this time. No change.

I hate my aquarium and don’t even want to look at it anymore. I used to love it and looked forward to seeing it every morning. I feel like shoving it off the counter and calling it a day. If there weren’t fish in it I would tear it down and never look back. Because it’s on my kitchen counter it’s right in my face. I actually avoid turning my head.
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  • #34
I attached a few photos above and here of what it looks like right now but looking at still shots is nothing compared to seeing things on video which I still am unable to post because of extensions or something? The stuff is thick and it’s literally POURING down throughout the water column!! Today it’s actually worse than it’s been in awhile.

I can’t believe someone out there doesn’t know what this is? I’ve thought of and tried everything. After all the water changes and no change in the particles doesn’t it have to be coming from something inside the tank? But what? All I have is a few rocks that are now scrubbed clean, a driftwood tree with moss, sand and a few Anubias. Only other thing is the heater. Could there be something wrong with the heater? It’s an Eheim. I know it sounds crazy but I’ve eliminated all the obvious and everything after the obvious.


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  • #35
I can't see the photos but I still feel like its from ur plants/moss. I have it in my tank too, well I did but I have springtails (bugs) in my aquarium that were eating my duckweed and causing it to die slowly. I also have moss. Now that the duckweed is gone it has gotten better but I notice particles in my moss that get swished around by the fish. I'm just don't know what else it could be honestly. I may have already asked this but what kind of filter do u have? Have u tried emptying it and scrubbing out all the tubes/pieces and thw inside
  • #36
I tried to read through all the posts but maybe I missed this being addressed...

1. have you tried stopping all non prime additives? For one week? Just curious.

2. The pictures you’ve shared and the cloud you describe remind me of when the bio rings are first used or start to decay. I get huge clouds of them in my canister tanks.
Which led me back to your original post on filter media. And I see you’re using Seachem matrix? Have you tried removing that and doing a big water change and moss cleaning? (Since moss seems to be a filter/retainer itself)
It’s a porous material and has reviews of many people having similar issues with it..
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  • #37
I tried to read through all the posts but maybe I missed this being addressed...

1. have you tried stopping all non prime additives? For one week? Just curious.

2. The pictures you’ve shared and the cloud you describe remind me of when the bio rings are first used or start to decay. I get huge clouds of them in my canister tanks.
Which led me back to your original post on filter media. And I see you’re using Seachem matrix? Have you tried removing that and doing a big water change and moss cleaning? (Since moss seems to be a filter/retainer itself)
It’s a porous material and has reviews of many people having similar issues with it..

Hello and thank you for trying to help me!

You just freaked me out!! I just pulled my filter stack out and had the EXACT same thought!!! I literally had the Matrix bag in my hand when I read your post!

I was going to post a photo of my floss pads which are dark brown? What is in my tank that’s that color? The Matrix bag but that’s the color of typical tank debris so no surprise. I swish the Matrix when I swish the sponges when I do wc’s so I do maintain them but maybe you’re correct and this is the answer! It’s one of the only things left that I haven’t seriously considered because Seachem says this stuff doesn’t break down.

Could I safely leave the Matrix and the coarse sponge out and put a brand new coarse sponge and a stack of new floss in for a few hours? Will the old sponge and Matrix be ok in a bowl of tank water?

I did try this briefly a month ago but was so nervous about killing off all my bb I put the Matrix-old sponge back after about 2 hours.

As for all non prime additives yes, I went without adding equilibrium and ferts and pristine etc... Because I use RO water I need the Equilibrium. I’ve been using Equilibrium for 2 years with no issues so I don’t think it’s suddenly going to change. Also, as stated in an earlier post, I did a BIG TIME moss cleaning the day JamieLu suggested it and trimmed half of it off. Then I did several more really good moss cleanings/wc's after that. The first day I did the moss cleaning/wc was the best the water looked for the longest period of time which is why we thought the moss was causing the issue. Days later however it all came back and hasn't changed since.

I’m feeling hopeful right now as I try removing the Matrix (again but for a longer period of time). How long can I leave the Matrix and old sponge out? In case this isn’t the answer I don’t want to kill my bb.

Also, can you direct me to the discussion on Matrix?

Again, THANK YOU for trying to help and I'll update throughout the day as I watch what the new filter media does (or doesn't do) .......


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  • #38
I can't see the photos but I still feel like its from ur plants/moss. I have it in my tank too, well I did but I have springtails (bugs) in my aquarium that were eating my duckweed and causing it to die slowly. I also have moss. Now that the duckweed is gone it has gotten better but I notice particles in my moss that get swished around by the fish. I'm just don't know what else it could be honestly. I may have already asked this but what kind of filter do u have? Have u tried emptying it and scrubbing out all the tubes/pieces and thw inside

HI JamieLu, yes I have cleaned the filter top to bottom. It’s the stock AquaClear20 that came with the tank. Actually, it’s a brand new replacement I purchased when this particle thing started. Turned out there was nothing wrong with the original filter but I kept the new one anyway.

I also purchased an impeller for the AquaClear 50 just to see what would happen if my AQ20 had a bit more power. Didn’t change the particles at all!!
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  • #39
Thought....Is it possible that the Matrix is no longer holding onto the BB and therefore the BB is being released into the water column? I haven't read anywhere where it states any aquarium bacteria are visible to the naked eye as particles, only foggy blooms, but is it possible? Does that even make sense or am I losin' it at this point?

These particles are all uniform, exactly the same. They're not like typical fish debris particles that are different shapes/sizes/colors etc...

Also, as I've stated before, this situation doesn't seem to be harming my fish so whatever it is doesn't seem to be toxic which again makes me think BB.

Does that sound crazy? Is it possible?

Also, I just opened my mesh bag of bio rocks and realized I have 2 different types; one is the cylindrical shaped ones that I believe came with the tank (Fluval BioMax) and then the Matrix that I added to the bag A FEW MONTHS AGO! The cylindrical "rocks" are smooth and very hard unlike the Matrix which are more porous and feel grainy in my hand. I will freak out if the Matrix is what's causing the problem!

So I took the Matrix out of the mesh bag and left the BioMax that appear to be impossible to fall apart and do not feel grainy at all. I'm going to put this original bio material back in my filter along with my old, clean sponge and do a water change. Fingers crossed.
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  • #40
So I did a 5 gal wc yesterday and as usual the water is much clearer but the "particles" are still there. If things go as they have for the past almost 2 months they will multiply over the next few days until the tank looks hideous.

Anyway, I was just looking back at some of the photos I have posted and I zoomed in on the photo where the water level is about 3-4 gallons low and these THINGS are stuck to the glass. I never noticed this before but I hope you guys will have a look!

Look at them stuck to the glass and then go down and look at them on the surface of the water. THEY LOOK LIKE SOME SORT OF BUG and I'm about to freak out!


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