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Cloudy Water Conundrum

Ray

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For the last 3 weeks I've been going through an annoying cycle. At lights on my water is slighly cloudy - front to back view is ok but looking down the tank is distinctly "hazy". After a few hours of lights and CO2 the plants are pearling nicely and the water is crystal clear! Next morning the cycle repeats.

50% water change has no effect on this, so I added the JBL filter pad to remove super fine particles, but no difference. However, it came out green so I think I'm up against some kind of diatom algae. I guess it will either just pass, or I have to invest in a UV unit...

But what's going on, scientifically? You'd think they would bloom more in the light. Is the CO2 driving them off, or the O2, or do the plants remove trace ammonia, or something more complex?
 

Dan Crawford

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It sounds like a bacteria bloom, is it "white" clouding? Have you recently done some filter maintenance?
 

JamesC

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I had exactly the same thing a few years ago except worse. Tank was like pea soup in the morning and yet by lights out time it was crystal clear and pearling away. Went on for days. Eventually got fed up with it and purchased a UV after which it never reappeared.

James
 

LondonDragon

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I had this happening in my shrimp tank for the last 4-5 weeks, happened after I cleanned the sponges of the filter, its is gradually getting better, this week there is hardly any cloudy water, just keep on top of the water changes.
 

Ray

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Dan Crawford said:
It sounds like a bacteria bloom, is it "white" clouding?

That's what I thought until I put in the JBL Symec Micro and it came out green. So I think its algae. It first happened 3 weeks after the last filter maintenance. I think I induced it trying to find out what my Ottos eat - various foodstuffs went untouched for 24 hours until removal.

In my filter I have:

1.5L ceramic noodles
1" bio sponge
2L Eheim Ehfi Substrat Pro
1L Zeolite
100g Purigen
Wads of filter foam and then the Eheim white pad.

Is that enough? And what is it about the conditions in my tank towards lights off that is anathema to these critters?
 

Ray

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This is driving me nuts - you can almost set your watch by it. Home from work, annoying haze, 7.30pm - crystal clear.

Is it fair to say this must be the O2 coming off my plants - if so I need to improve oxygenation during lights off, i.e. more surface flow (hate airstones)?

I looked at UV filters on ebay (I presume I can run one for a week and then it can sit in a drawer) but its annoying to spend money when I am sitting on a cloudy/clear threshold and probably just need to tweak something to clear it up...
 

Mark Evans

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would the same thing happen if you were running 2 filters? i mean clean one and leave the other, does the unleaned filter cancel out the cleaned filter?
 

scottturnbull

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How long has the tank been up and running? Is it cycled?
 

ceg4048

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Ray said:
This is driving me nuts - you can almost set your watch by it. Home from work, annoying haze, 7.30pm - crystal clear.

Is it fair to say this must be the O2 coming off my plants - if so I need to improve oxygenation during lights off, i.e. more surface flow (hate airstones)?

I looked at UV filters on ebay (I presume I can run one for a week and then it can sit in a drawer) but its annoying to spend money when I am sitting on a cloudy/clear threshold and probably just need to tweak something to clear it up...
All the more reason to just ignore it and have some patience mate. This is not permanent and it goes away after a while. Sometimes it occurs only after a large water change, other times it occurs as a function of CO2 and plant/tank maturity. Just do some Vulcan meditation techniques or something when you get home from work so that you avoid going nuts...

Cheers,
 

Ray

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ceg4048 said:
All the more reason to just ignore it and have some patience mate. This is not permanent and it goes away after a while. Sometimes it occurs only after a large water change, other times it occurs as a function of CO2 and plant/tank maturity. Just do some Vulcan meditation techniques or something when you get home from work so that you avoid going nuts...
Thank you Clive, its reassuring to hear this is only a phase - everyone else is saying "UV" but I'll trust your counsel. Must say, I'm not impressed by my Zeolite. Its coming up to 3 months old, so I plan to swap it for more Eheim sintered glass media. Are you still running with Zeolite in your filter?

I've also a crackpot theory that finally adding fish will help develop a more robust bacteria population that can maybe handle the haze as a byproduct!?

Meantime, best solution is working late - its clear if I get home after 7! :lol:

Scott - up and running 3 months.
Saintly - I think filter maturity rather than number is the key. Also, I wash mine only in tank water, I know Clive maintains it makes no difference to him but us aquarists are a superstitious bunch...
 

ceg4048

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Well, you know me. I'd be more inclined to up my injection rate. By default that will produce more O2, right?. And I definitely never use fish to solve my problems, that's for sure - that just handcuffs you even more. You can also do more frequent water changes but that's the brute force way. How soon after lights on do you get pearling? If it's less than about two hours then that is kind of a clue to inject more.

Don't be too harsh on the zeolite. It isn't forever. It has a certain NH4 holding capacity and then it cannot adsorb any more. Bacteria colonize and feed on the trapped NH4 so then it becomes like sintered glass but perhaps with less surface area. I think it can be recharged with a salt/brine solution but I'll have to check into that to confirm. I just left mine in and never bothered swapping out. After some months with my routine and fiddling with injection rates the water became sparkling full time so I saw no advantage in buying/recharging more stuff. Life is simpler and cheaper that way. 8)

Cheers,
 

Ray

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:lol: I know how you feel about fish, but the rest of the family find planted tanks without fish quite boring :) Anyway, my Ottos and Amanos earn their keep eating the background algae on crypts and hardscape.
ceg4048 said:
How soon after lights on do you get pearling? If it's less than about two hours then that is kind of a clue to inject more.
Isn't the onset of pearling a complex function of light, flow, nutrient availability (including CO2), surface agitation and temperature? So how is early pearling an indicator of low CO2?

Pearling comes 2nd half of light cycle, 5 or 6 hours in, come to think of it about the same time as the water clears. I can force pearling faster with all 4 tubes but things are growing quick enough so why bother? Also, as my biomass increases I expect the pearling time will start to come forward, and maybe crystal clear water too...
 

ceg4048

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Yes mate it's all very complex but the quick and dirty little secret is that it's a pretty reliable indicator of the actual uptake from a macro-view standpoint if you know what I mean. It could easily mean that the flow should be better but what I'm saying is that assuming you have EI level nutrient concentration CO2 isn't being processed fast enough, whether that means injection rate, flow, light or whatever combination thereof. Can't you just put some fake fish in there for a few weeks just to test it? :p

Cheers.
 

Ray

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ceg4048 said:
Yes mate it's all very complex but the quick and dirty little secret is that it's a pretty reliable indicator of the actual uptake from a macro-view standpoint if you know what I mean. It could easily mean that the flow should be better but what I'm saying is that assuming you have EI level nutrient concentration CO2 isn't being processed fast enough, whether that means injection rate, flow, light or whatever combination thereof. Can't you just put some fake fish in there for a few weeks just to test it? :p
Good idea - they do want "big fish" and are not 100% sure about my pansy planted tank style designer tetras, so some big robot Altums could go down nicely. :lol:
OK, lets get to basics - I'm putting 78w onto a 200l tank at 24 degrees C. Flow is good, I'm sure of that. CO2 is good too - DC is green at lights on. Even after my blackout when for two weeks I was blasting the drop checker into the yellow I never got pearling before 4+ hours in (although the biomass was tiny compared to now). But if I run a midday burst (156w) I get pearling within 15 minutes. So my conclusion is nothing is amiss and this is correct for my configuration :?:
 

vauxhallmark

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ceg4048 said:
How soon after lights on do you get pearling? If it's less than about two hours then that is kind of a clue to inject more.

I don't understand these sentences - are you saying that if plants start pearling in the first two hours of lights on it's a sign of CO2 deficiency? Or did you mean to say "more than 2 hours"?

I can't understand how low CO2 would make plants pearl any earlier, if at all!

Not that my plants do pearl in the first few hours of lights on - in fact hardly at all. I've always assumed this is due to relatively low lighting (1/2 watt T8 per litre) and constant high turnover of water in a fairly open planting design which keeps all the plants waving constantly, and (I hope) removes the layer of oxygen rich water from near the leaves, allowing it to be replaced with lower 02, higher CO2 water.

It would be great if you could clarify what you said in the bits I've quoted, just out of interest!

Many thanks,

Mark
 

ceg4048

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Hi Mark,
What I'm saying is that generally, if you don't have pearling within the first few hours of lights on, then that means a carbon deficiency. Fundamentally, oxygen production is the byproduct of photosynthesis. Two famous things happen in photosynthesis. The first of those is that H2O is stripped of it's Hydrogen to yield H+ and O2 (this is known as the hydrolysis of water). The second thing is that Carbon is "fixed" in reactions that convert CO2 to a type of sugar. The rate at which all this happens is determined by the availability of the CO2. Of course there are a couple hundred individual reactions that occur between input and output but this is the long and the short of it. Assuming an unlimited supply of nutrients to ensure that the the components are available to make the reactions proceed. The whole purpose of photosynthesis is to fix carbon into a sugar. So there is a direct relationship between the rate of sugar production and the rate at which all the other reactions take place. Higher sugar production rates indicates higher reaction rates, including higher hydrolysis rates.

A way of looking at it is say for example I could measure the rate at which you were producing CO2 as you exhaled. If you're at rest I would measure a low CO2 production rate but if you had just finished a 100 yard dash I would measure a high CO2 production rate and that would undoubtedly indicate that you were breathing hard and consuming more O2 than you were at rest. In this same way for a plant, a high rate of O2 production indicates a high CO2 consumption. A high CO2 consumption is only possible if high CO2 levels are available.

So that's just the basic process. As you and Ray point out there are a lot of environmental factors that determine whether we actually see bubbles or not. Temperature, light, nutrients and so forth. But I'm assuming that all these other factors are adequate so based on that assumption, CO2 availability will drive the O2 production rate. Higher CO2 availability will increase the O2 production rate with greater likelihood that we will see bubbles sooner in the photoperiod. Again, I'm not suggesting that he just crank the CO2 otherwise the fish might suffer, but if he has CO2 related algae then this is a clue. Sometimes it might be as simple as turning on the gas earlier to saturate the water better by the time lights come on.

Cheers,
 

vauxhallmark

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ceg4048 said:
Hi Mark,
What I'm saying is that generally, if you don't have pearling within the first few hours of lights on, then that means a carbon deficiency.

OK. So you meant "more than two hours" in your original post - that's what was throwing me!

Cheers,

Mark
 

Dave Spencer

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Ray said:
OK, lets get to basics - I'm putting 78w onto a 200l

I use 114W of T8 over 240l with minimal pearling. I wouldn`t expect too much pearling with the light levels you have.

Dave.
 
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