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Please help, so MILKY!

ScaperJoe

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20 Mar 2021
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Channel Islands
Hi folks. My aquascape is 45 days in and its suddenly gone all milky. Is this a bacterial bloom and is it temporary? Is there anything I can do besides water changes and polishing pads to speed its removal? Here is is today and a week ago for comparison:

Today

Day 45.jpg


And a week ago:

Day 38.jpg


Let me know what information might help identify and solve the issue.

Any advice welcome. Thank you!
 

si walker

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30 Mar 2020
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uk
haha thats funny. i do the same. thought i had iron deficiency and just kept it up. i dont think you can do too much damage!
someone will be along in a mo and update us on iron facts, which i look forward too!
good luck mate.
si
 

Hufsa

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If youre getting milky water from adding iron it is likely because the iron is reacting with phosphate and forming insoluble compounds. Seachem Iron is fairly weakly chelated if I remember correctly, you may have better success with a stronger chelator like DTPA or EDDHA
 

MichaelJ

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+1 for Iron. I used to use Seachem Iron as well back in the day. And it always bugged me that it would cloud up the tanks - now I am just relying on what's in the Tropica Premium - which may not be quite enough. Anyway, my tanks used to clear up in a day or two after adding the Iron.

Nice scape!

If youre getting milky water from adding iron it is likely because the iron is reacting with phosphate and forming insoluble compounds.
Yes! It definitely appeared to be worse in the tank with the significantly higher phosphate level, if I remember correctly.
 

Hufsa

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The milkiness itself isnt dangerous, but when they merge together you are basically removing a fair amount of two important plant nutrients, which is why I would avoid it. That being said the OP's milky water could also be a bacteria bloom :)
 

PARAGUAY

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Your tank looks really nice Scaper Joe no sign of iron deficiency so might be getting enough micro nutrients to your plants anyway. Maybe stop the "extra " iron and see if its a bacterial bloom
 

ScaperJoe

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If youre getting milky water from adding iron it is likely because the iron is reacting with phosphate and forming insoluble compounds. Seachem Iron is fairly weakly chelated if I remember correctly, you may have better success with a stronger chelator like DTPA or EDDHA

The milkiness itself isnt dangerous, but when they merge together you are basically removing a fair amount of two important plant nutrients, which is why I would avoid it. That being said the OP's milky water could also be a bacteria bloom :)

Thanks for this @Hufsa . I may even have a combo of the iron+phosphate situation and a bacterial bloom. I think I should have stopped adding the filter bacteria supplement a long time ago, but was just putting a minor dose in with each regular water change - perhaps its got to the point that its just happy to multiply in the water column. I've stopped that and the iron. Only been a couple of days but it looks to be subsiding slowly. Another water change today and I'll post a picture tomorrow.

Your tank looks really nice Scaper Joe no sign of iron deficiency so might be getting enough micro nutrients to your plants anyway. Maybe stop the "extra " iron and see if its a bacterial bloom

Thank you @PARAGUAY :) I may not have an Iron deficiency but my Anubias are definitely missing something they need - they've started shedding leaves and some yellow is starting to creep in.

+1 for Iron. I used to use Seachem Iron as well back in the day. And it always bugged me that it would cloud up the tanks - now I am just relying on what's in the Tropica Premium - which may not be quite enough. Anyway, my tanks used to clear up in a day or two after adding the Iron.

Nice scape!


Yes! It definitely appeared to be worse in the tank with the significantly higher phosphate level, if I remember correctly.

Are those red ones flamingo Crypts? Sorry for being off topic. The plants looks really healthy!
Cheers @MichaelJ its good to know its happened to others and there's a definite reason. Re the plants, they are 'alternanthera reineckii mini' - from Tropica 1-2 Grow! cups. I really like them - they close up at night and are an even more vibrant colour underneath. They are tissuey thin though, so if they get algae and the Amano shrimp get on the case, they can actually put loads of tiny holes through the leaves as they graze!
 

Zeus.

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Had the same issue with Seachem Fe some time back, I take it you have hard water in your part of the world also.
Tanks looks great IMO :clap:, and from the pics I dont think you need the extra Fe either. See your Amanos have been snacking on your Alternanthera a bit 😬
 

ScaperJoe

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Had the same issue with Seachem Fe some time back, I take it you have hard water in your part of the world also.
Tanks looks great IMO :clap:, and from the pics I dont think you need the extra Fe either. See your Amanos have been snacking on your Alternanthera a bit 😬
Thank you Zeus! We have hard water but I create RO and it still comes out at TDS 20-25. Its a cheap RO unit though.

And yeah, I fed all the cheeky Amanos a shrimp pellet each today, hoping to discourage them from the Alternanthera. They've been doing such a great job everywhere else in the tank, I can't stay mad at them.
 

ScaperJoe

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3 days later and a couple of water changes. No iron or bacteria added. I think you can see a slight improvement in water clarity, but its not quite there yet.

I have recently changed mechanical filtration over in my filter (not the Seachem Matrix) and I read that this can sometimes have a disruption on the bacteria and potentially cause blooms if you over clean your filter?

Day 48.jpg


Maybe a few more days and I might be back to glassy water?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I think I should have stopped adding the filter bacteria supplement a long time ago, but was just putting a minor dose in with each regular water change -
......... What grows from that microbial assemblage, in the inoculum (filter bacteria supplement), is going to depend on all sorts factors, some of which aren't quantified yet. It looks like ammonia level is the chief driver, which means that products produced in a commercial bioreactor, with high ammonia loadings (again I'm going to guess it is all of them), aren't likely to be very suitable......
It definitely isn't doing any good now, even if it helped initially. Have a look at our <"Dr Tim Hovanec"> and <"Bacteria in a bottle"> threads, they cover this whole area in some detail.

I use a different approach to "cycling", that doesn't require any water testing, or the addition of ammonia and/or bacterial supplements. All you need to do is wait until your plants are grown in and then your tank is fish safe. Using this metric your plants were plenty grown in after 45 days (and still look really healthy). Have a look at <"Where are the bacteria?"> (and the threads linked in to it).
but when they merge together you are basically removing a fair amount of two important plant nutrients, which is why I would avoid it.
I'd be reasonably confident that the cloudiness has been caused by <"insoluble iron compounds">.

cheers Darrel
 

ScaperJoe

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A further update. I did another 50% WC yesterday and monitored all day today as I worked from home. The cloudiness hasn't shifted, if anything it may have gotten worse.

This has lead me to believe that it is bacteria having a right old knee's up and my water changes may have been encouraging them... which has all lead me to this:

It ain't pretty, the Green Killing Machine Internal UV Sterilizer with Power Head, but lets see what this does overnight

GKM.jpg
 

ScaperJoe

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Following 3 nights of the "killing machine" on the case, here it is today. Again, I think there is a small improvement, but it didn't have the result I was hoping for. Perhaps I am just being impatient.

I was sure it was going to return me to crystal clarity, but I was only running after the lights and CO2 had gone off. Do you think it would be OK to run full time for a few days?
Concerned about the amount of CO2 'off-gassing' it might cause and disrupt the plants day routine? But perhaps I have insoluble compounds floating around in there too?

Day 52.jpg
 

MichaelJ

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@ScaperJoe
I think its going in the right direction. Not sure the sterilizer made the difference or if the improvement would have happened anyway - if so, just give it another couple of days.
Also, the UV sterilizer would only have helped if its some kind of algae or bacteria bloom and depending on what kind as the Green Killing Machine will only take care of (i.e. kill) certain algae and bacterias (both good and bad) and if it's an insoluble compound it won't do anything as far as I know. For what its worth, I am hysterically impatient myself with water clarity and had similar issues in the past after dosing iron (possibly reacting with phosphate). In bad cases I have successfully used the Mainland internal polishing filter - it comes with a micron filter cartridge and can further be charged with diatomaceous earth powder (90% silica) to increase its polishing efficiency. It would make my tanks crystal clear in a day. I haven't had to use it for a very long time though.

Perhaps just wait it out and see how things improve after your next WC.

I don't know if anything related to Co2 can cause this... I'll leave that question to the domain experts on this forum.

Cheers,
Michael
 
Last edited:

ScaperJoe

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Thanks @MichaelJ - that helps and I don’t think I’ll be surprised if it’s down me over tinkering (and over worrying) with my first scape without enough experience to know what I’m doing.

I won’t be returning the killing machine to the tank tonight. I haven’t added any iron for a week or any bottled bacteria. So I’m going to try to exercise patience - keep up the WCs and let nature do her thing.

All the creatures seem happy enough in there, so I’m confident it’s safe whatever the cause.

edit: I am however going to look into this Mainland internal polishing filter you mention 😁
 

MichaelJ

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Thanks @MichaelJ - that helps and I don’t think I’ll be surprised if it’s down me over tinkering (and over worrying) with my first scape without enough experience to know what I’m doing.
So I’m going to try to exercise patience - keep up the WCs and let nature do her thing.
Yep, patience! That's one of the guiding principles in this hobby.

edit: I am however going to look into this Mainland internal polishing filter you mention 😁
In my experience, it's nice to have in the arsenal.
 

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