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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If this isn't the right forum, please move the topic, thanks. :fish:

I set up my Tanganyika shell dweller tank about 3.5 months ago and it's been such a troublemaker. The multies are all very happy and have produced lots of fry so far, the julies haven't paired (I need to get more), but haven't killed each other either. My Java Ferns have produced babies, and all has been well in that regard.

When I first set up the tank(fully cycled with media and fish from my larger tank), I put a small bn pleco in it to control algae. The pleco didn't really do anything, including eat much algae. He survived for around 5 weeks, then croaked. The other fish in the tank seemed to have left him alone, but who knows. I assumed it had to do with the very hard, high pH water, but the people in the Tanganyika forum didn't think that to be the case(14-16º kh and gh, pH 8.3) A few weeks later, the tank was overrun with algae and I decided to try another pleco. This time I bought the biggest one in the store, a fully grown WC guy that I named Brutus. I figured a fully grown fish would be a little hardier. He worked hard and removed all the algae from the thank, survived about 5 weeks and then disappeared. After the algae started building up again, I figured that he was dead, then bits of his armor plating began appearing on the sand. The tank started clouding, and I assumed it was a bacterial bloom to deal with the extra bio load of the decaying pleco. I'm very happy with how my rocks are, so I didn't want to tear the tank down, stress the fish and try to rearrange the rocks to get the pleco out. I don't mind his bones hanging out in my rock pile. I kept very close tabs on the water parameters(amm, nitrite nitrate), and occasionally got some ammonia, but it never went above .25ppm. I did water changes to keep nitrates down, and the plants helped significantly. Ever time I do a water change, it clears up a little(I remove about 1/2 the cloudiness), but within a few days, clouds back up.

I'd like to note that I have 2 plecos in my 75 gallon mbuna tank living happily in similar water hardness, and pH 8.0. They've been around for a few months and hold their own against the mbuna. I bought them the same time I bought pleco #1, the lazy guy.

The fish seem perfectly happy, are breeding, and have healthy appetites. I assumed that the cloudiness would "blow over" but it's been about a month and the cloudiness doesn't seem to be clearing up. I have a lot of filter floss in there, and prior to this hoopla, the tank was SUPER clear. I don't know what to do at this point.

Here it is 3 days after a water change.



This is pretty much what it looked like up til Brutus kicked the bucket


Is there anything I can do? What am I doing wrong? I'm willing to try pretty much anything at this point, so if you have suggestions, even if they seem far fetched, I'm open to them.
 

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You might want to run some carbon in your filter for a bit to deal with the cloudiness. Give it like 3 days then if your tank has cleared up go ahead and pull the carbon out. Also you may want to stir up your substrate a bit so that any muck in there will end up in the filter.

Since you have plants (I'm assuming live) and algae problems I'd recommend buying some Seachem Flourish Excel (not the regular flourish but the Excel specifically). It will nourish your plants and helps eliminate algae.

Good Luck!
 

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It sounds like you know why the water is cloudy. And it sounds like you are getting ammonia in the tank that is stressing the fish. I think you know what you need to do to get ride of the problem. Just take out the rocks, an vacuum up the remains and and other debris that is under the rocks. This is going to stress the fish a lot less the their current conditions. IMO, taking out the rocks and cleaning the hidden areas needs to be done a few times a year too. You don't need to "tear down the tank", you just have to remove the remains.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I already have carbon in the filter, I added it several days ago to help with the cloudiness. It did absolutely nothing.

There's no "muck" IN the substrate, it's sand and nothing settles on it, plus the multies are constantly digging, so there's quite a bit of turnover in that regard.

My plants look a little nicer since that photo. I was originally dosing with excel, then ran out, and I just got some about a week ago. After I started dosing with it, I have less algae covering them, and haven't noticed much more accumulation.

I doubt my cloudiness problem is waterborne algae, as it's not really very green, more of a whitish cloudiness, though I suppose anything could be possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
fumoffu said:
It sounds like you know why the water is cloudy. And it sounds like you are getting ammonia in the tank that is stressing the fish. I think you know what you need to do to get ride of the problem. Just take out the rocks, an vacuum up the remains and and other debris that is under the rocks. This is going to stress the fish a lot less the their current conditions. IMO, taking out the rocks and cleaning the hidden areas needs to be done a few times a year too. You don't need to "tear down the tank", you just have to remove the remains.
As far as I've read, bacterial blooms don't last that long. I had one when I added plecos to my 75 gallon tank when they removed a very thick layer of algae from every surface in the tank, and it went away within 3 days.

Perhaps I should have noted that I WAS getting ammonia, but I haven't for over a week.

Removing the skeleton of the pleco means removing all of the rocks, and with them, the plants, and the shells(most of which contain fry) will have to be moved and probably get mixed up. The only thing that would be left in the tank would be sand. I consider that a tear down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
rgr4475 said:
How much and what kind of filtration do you have?
It's an all-in-one oceanic biocube. On the right hand side of the tank there are "overflow" slots, that go through to a "holding area" that drains into a wet/dry style filter. It has bioballs on the bottom with a bunch of quilt batting on top to polish the water. After the water passes through the wet/dry portion it feeds into the 3rd stage where a powerhead with a coarse sponge filter blows it back into the tank. The powerhead is rated at 316gph

Here's a photo that I pulled from Oceanic's website
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The amount of biological media compared to my 75 gallon tank is huge, and I'm not having problems with the 75 gallon. In addition, I'm no longer experiencing any ammonia accumulation, so the biological filter is theoretically working well.
 

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I'm voting heavy organic load too. The cause could be a lot of things. The temporary rise in the ammonia level is the smoking gun. I know nothing gets my tank water clearer than vacuuming out and rinsing the sand even though it doesn't seem like there's that much in it. I use a minimum of sand for that reason. I know you don' t want to hear this, but a tear down is the only quick solution. I wouldn't assume the dead fish has finished decomposing.

If true, the biofilter would be cranking out nitrates at a faster rate than before the problem began. Have you noticed an increase in the rate at which nitrates build?

Tank cloudiness can only be a few things. You say it's not algae and obviously not from the sand. Could be something in the tap water, but I doubt it. You'd have noticed that, particularly if you have other tanks.

Organic load's gotta be it, I think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ugh. :?

Nitrates haven't gotten much higher than normal, but the plants do a pretty effective job of gobbling them up. After a 50-60% water change yesterday, they were at 5ppm. I did notice that my kh had dropped significantly, so I believe there may be validity to the increased bioload theory. I'm going to do another large water change this afternoon and rerinse my filter floss(it was much dirtier than I had thought).

I also scrubbed all of the algae off of my shells(the fry weren't too excited about that), and the background last night. I guess I'll see what the tank looks like when I get home from being away this weekend.

If it still looks terrible, I have a project. :(
 
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