water changes in planted tank
First, when doing a water change I usually notice what I think some people call a "bacteria bloom". The water gets super cloudy and usually stays cloudy for a few days. My tap has tested for slight amounts of ammonia so I got Seachem's Prime (this is the first time I've used it--just did the change today so haven't noticed the bloom yet. I'm just referring to previous water changes that did NOT use Prime.) Any ideas on if I'm doing something wrong?
Second, I do have plants, but it's not a very dense set-up yet. Partly because of unusually slow growth, and partly because I probably have just not planted enough. I did a pretty major water change of about 50% (I'd been travelling and it had gone a couple weeks I think w/out a change). When I filter the gravel I try not to stir it up too much. I just put the opening right on top of the substrate. Wow did it pick up a lot of gunk! I realize this will eventually be used by the plants, but is this the proper way to do a water change in a planted aquarium?
I'm not sure about the bacterial bloom
I'd say when changing the water it's not necessary to pick up all the fish poop. An advantage of leaving some waste is, as you've said, that it will be used by the plants for growth when it decomposes. A disadvantage is that it can look messy and also, leaving an excess of waste could result in higher than desired nitrates, as the plants won't be able to use up all of the nutrients available. In conclusion, it's not that critical what you do; in my opinion!
In my own tank there's not much bare substrate as I have lots of plants. When water changing I try to pick up any big accumulations of poop, just so the tank looks tidier but I'm not overly fussy about it
A weekly water change will typically not foster a bacteria bloom causing cloudy water, unless there are a lot of organics in suspension in your water. These cloudy blooms are not blooms of beneficial N2 bacteria, but rather decomposition bacteria. The cloudiness should subside in a few days. I have never seen any cloudiness following a water change.
You can use a gravel siphon selectively with a planted tank, just stay away from the plants. Yes, the mulm on/in the substrate is an excellent organic fertilizer. You can remove excess from the surface of the substrate if desired. Depending on your bio-load and the amount of plants you have, you could reach a point where this is nearly unnecessary...this is one of those things you just experiment and adjust. Once fully established, this organic fertilizer can reduce the need for fertilizer additives.
My tanks cloud up following the water change to varying degrees. The smaller tanks with sponge filters are usually crystal clear within an hour at the very most. The larger tanks vary, one will remain very slightly hazy for a day or more. I'm honestly not sure whether or not these are "bacterial blooms," and I do know that sometimes they are from sediment in the tap water or particulate matter stirred up in the aquarium. I have had cases where you could not see the back of the tank for a day or two, due solely to suspended particulate matter in the water after very heavy rains wash sediment into the mountain reservoirs and some of it gets past the many filtration stations. I don't worry about this.
As for the substrate, I no longer touch it. And I never see this "poop" you people talk about, but I do have small fish so maybe that it a factor. But even if I deliberately stir the gravel/sand, it is just a cloud of minuscule particulate matter. I am assuming you are referring to something much more visible as "poop." Unless the tank is too crowded, or there are insufficient plants for the fish load, this will never cause nitrates. This goes back to that balance concept.
Yadapoolman, what conditioner were you using prior to Prime? I'd like to explore this cloudiness then but not today, which is why I'm asking. And what is the ammonia level in your tap water? And have you tested the tap water for nitrite and nitrate?
I was using "Top Fin Water Conditioner". Says it "reduces harmful Chlorine, Chloramine and heavy metals" and "replenishes necessary electrolytes to reduce stress".
Since using Prime, tho, I haven't had the cloudiness issue. My tap measured .25 and minimal nitrite/nitrate.
That's probably what it was. I haven't noticed any cloudiness since using Prime.
Bryon - I'm glad to read what you wrote. I also never see "poop", and began thinking perhaps I'm not feeding enough, but glad to know you're not seeing it in your tanks, as I too have plants.
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