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SubscribeWhat the heck is going on with my (relatively new) tank?
Small Fry
Posts: 2
Kudos: 3
Votes: 0
Registered: 24-Feb-2013
I am going to premise this by saying I have not tested my water. I used to test my water and I never had any abnormalities and so I stopped doing it... the test kits have gone way up in price, I just can't have an unnecessary expense for something that I can typically guestimate or eyeball by what is going on in my tank.

That said, I am having water problems with a (relatively) new tank. The tank is 20 gallons, play sand substrate, driftwood, moderately planted. It has a new aquaclear HOB filter, not sure the model number but it's meant for up to a 30 gallon tank. I started it up a couple of days before Christmas, using plants and some starter fish, some of which came from my old 10 gallon. I haven't started a new tank in a long time and so I basically filled it up with cheap starter fish... I had 6 black neons from the old tank and I went and picked up 10 regular neons because they were dirt cheap. I let the tank run with these fish for approximately 30 days, the water got a TINY bit cloudy, cleared up, and never had any issues other than the fact that I'm not sure much cycling actually happened. (like I said, I didn't test and the water only got a little bit cloudy for a couple of days). I went ahead and assumed that it was going to be fine, (as it usually is) added several more plants, and over the course of a couple of weeks switched out the fish for ones that I wanted to have long term.

Now it has been around 10 weeks, and about 2 weeks ago my water started looking terrible. It's cloudy and green, I'm not 100% sure if it is all algae or if there is an ammonia problem going on, but I can't seem to clear it up. I started turning the light off all the time because I had been keeping it on for too long before this happened (often sometimes forgetting to turn it off for 24 hours).

After turning the light being off, and doing 15-20% water changes every other day for 10 days or so, I left it alone for a couple of days and the algae DOUBLED. The light bulb was old (one 15w T8) so I replaced it with a new one (this new one supposedly has a spectrum meant for plants??? I don't know if there is even any real difference or if T8 is T8 but I thought I would give it a shot) but the light has been OFF for a week. It seems to only be waterborne algae, I don't have much algae growing on stuff. I am 100% sure that the tank is a bit overstocked, but I have always kept my tanks this way and never had problems in the past! Through this whole thing I have lost 1 fish and when that happened I did a 30-40% water change immediately (which was 2 days ago) and the water of course looks 30-40% better, but I am worried it is just going to go all green again.

Any idea what could be going on here? Could this have something to do with my (untested) tap water? Is my tank cycling again now that I switched out the fish and overstocked it a bit? I have never had green water that didn't clear up right away with a couple of water changes.

Here is what is currently living in the tank (besides many plants):
1 pearl gourami
1 blue ram
1 weather loach
3 ottos
6 praecox rainbows (I had 7, but lost one in this debacle)
some amano shrimp - not sure how many, maybe 4ish?

Post InfoPosted 24-Feb-2013 17:45Profile PM Edit Report 
Posts: 5108
Kudos: 5263
Votes: 1690
Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
EditedEdited 24-Feb-2013 22:18
Hi, and Welcome to Fish Profiles.

Here is a link for green water problems:

The T-8 bulb should be labeled, Sunlight or Daylight.
That will give you be best quality, "plant friendly" light.
Keep the photoperiod down between 8-10 hours "on."
Feed more sparingly, continue with large water changes and,
be sure to keep the replacement water within 2 degrees of
the remaining tank water. If not, you run the hazard of
having an Ich outbreak.

Green water comes from having excessive nutrients in the
tank. Water changes, along with less generous feedings
will have the most affect on eliminating green water.

I note you mention that you are tight of funds, but the
next thing to use is a UV sterilizer. That will kill off
the floating algae. The earlier things are things you can
do that don't cost anything, the UV light is kinda like
the "A Bomb" treatment. It works, but can be expensive.


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 24-Feb-2013 22:17Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Small Fry
Posts: 2
Kudos: 3
Votes: 0
Registered: 24-Feb-2013
EditedEdited 26-Feb-2013 02:37
Thanks! So that article is great - but there are a few things I don't completely understand

1. It mentions phosphate - what role does phosphate play in this whole thing, and what is phosphate absorbing filter material?

2. what are some plants that are considered fast growers and heavy feeders? do those two things go hand in hand? (like are there non-fast growers which are heavy feeders and vice versa?) The only really fast growing plant I have right now is a medium-sized bunch of cabomba.

Also - I'm not sure how overstocked I am exactly. Does my tank sound wildly overstocked, or not terrible?

Thanks for all of the info!

edit: also the light I decided to try out is this one

in the description it says "This high intensity lamp with peak emissions in the blue and red regions serves to maximize the photo biological processes in plants." So I thought I might give it a shot. if nothing else I do like the way it looks (the light is a little bit less yellow than full-spectrum, more of a faint violet hue which slightly intensifies the green plants and the makes the blue sheen on the praecox pop quite nicely!)
Post InfoPosted 26-Feb-2013 02:31Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 5108
Kudos: 5263
Votes: 1690
Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
EditedEdited 28-Feb-2013 23:45
Let's start at the top...
Phosphate can get into our tanks in different ways.
It is a component, sometimes a very large component, in
our fish food. Compare the labels and choose those with
the lowest percentage of phosphate.
It can also be a part of our tap water coming
from agriculture runoff.
Another way is if one allows the mulm (waste particles
and food products) to build up in the tank.

You can lower the levels of nutrients, including phosphate
by careful selection of fish foods.

From the tap water, you can use a filter such as the PURE charcoal filter that
attaches to the kitchen faucet, by installing a Reverse
Osmosis (R/O) filter system, or by using a Rosin bag
designed to remove phosphate from the water. These bags
can be set inside a hanging aquarium filter, or installed
inside the canister type filters. When the bags are
saturated, some can be "recharged" and reused, while others
are thrown away.

To clean the tank, you need to vacuum the gravel from the
surface of the gravel right down to the glass bottom of
the tank. Mentally divide the unplanted areas of the tank
into four sections and with each weekly water change,
vaccuum a different section. That way, over a month, you
have cleaned the gravel, and, not upset the biological
filter that lives in the gravel.


Essentally, any of the "stem" plants are considered
"Fast Growers." The plants take up nutrients, including
phosphate, into their stems and leaves. As the plant
grows toward the surface (the light) the lower sections
of the plant becomes shaded, looses its leaves and the
stalk becomes old and "woody." When the top of the plant
reaches the surface, you can trim off the top quarter of
the stem, pull the lower section and discard it and then
plant the top quarter in its place. Tossing the lower
section removes the "taken up" nutrients from the tank.
With the proper care (light, CO2, and nutrients) these
plants will grow so fast that you can swear you can
actually see them grow!

Plants, such as the Amazon Sword Plant, are considered
heavy feeders, and these in particular are considered
heavy root feeders. Most of their nutrient uptake is
through their extensive root system. A single sword
plant, well cared for, can take over a 100 gallon tank!
That plant takes alot of nutirents out of the water
and into the plant itself. Trim the older, yellowing
leaves off and discard them, that removes nutrients
from the tank. These plants do not grow as fast as the
stem type of plant, but in growing they do remove alot
of nutrients from the tank.


The bulb that you are looking at is fine for your plants
and tank. Some folks don't like the shades of purple or
pink that the light gives off, while others love it. That
is an individual matter. My only comment is that you do
not "need" to buy it. Instead, you can purchase, from any
store ranging from a WALMART to any hardware store a
T-8 bulb that is labeled DAYLIGHT or SUNLIGHT, and have
a perfectly good plant bulb with a 6700 or 6800K temperature,
Do not, purchase a bulb that has "WARM" or "SOFT" light,
label. These are designed for reading and is a different
temperature light. The others are designed to light a
room as if it were exposed to sunlight and are best for
plants. Your choice is fine, but more expensive.
Keep the photo-period, time on, between 8 & 10 hours
per day, use a timer to make things easier.

Between the color(s) of gravel, or decorations, one uses
in their tank or the number or type of fish,
I make it a point to not comment. People are people and
what would turn my stomach with be another's prize winning
tank. There are sites that exist that you can type in
a fish's name, and then another type of fish and it will
tell you if they are compatable. Likewise, you can
type in the length & width of your tank and get the
surface area of the tank and then compute how many fish
of what size is just right, or too much. Just remember,
the fish, all of the fish, have to have enough room to
swim, rest, and eat without interfering with the others
or being harrassed by the others. Size of the tank, and
population of the tank matters.

Hope this helps...

-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 27-Feb-2013 09:27Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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