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Really Cloudy water :-(

Hello all!  New to the lists here and pretty much new to aquariums.  Well, I was like every other kid, had the 10 gallon with some fish in it, castles and bubbly things, but nothing ever like what I got now.  My girlfriend's mother gave me a 10 gallon recently and it rekindled (sp?) my interest.  After a few months in the 10 gallon, and some experiments with plants (Walmart bulbs did really well, I read a thread about those in this list), I decided it was time for an upgrade.  This was no small jump, either, I wanted to get something I could grow into, and not outgrow.  90 Gallons it was!  Heh, I love it...the only gripe I have (and perhaps I'm missing that 1/4tsp of patience) is the water never seems to be clear on its own.  I've had the tank running for about a month, perhaps a little more...more definately, and the whole time the water seems like it wants to be cloudy.  I haven't bought any fancy testers yet, only the standard phosphate, nitrate and pH.  They all show perfect readings, 0, 0, and 7 respectively.  

The tank is 90g, as I said, with overflow (AGA), freshwater.  I did a DIY trickle filter for it that consists of two 5 gallon buckets and a 20 gallon storage bin for the sump.  A 700gph sump pump and 5 gallons of bio balls.  One of the 5 gallon buckets has the bottom cut out and notches cut out of the top.  The bottom is kept with a 2" lip so it looks kinda like a bowl.  I have drilled 1/8" holes in circles in the bowl, leaving the center 3" diameter free of holes (this is my drip plate).  The other 5 gallon has a circle cut out of the bottom leaving a 1" lip on the bottom, kind of like a shelf.  On that rests "egg crate" (flourescent lighting covers basically).  On top of the egg crate is 5g of bio balls...on top of the bio balls is the drop plate.  Inside the drip plate is pre-filter pad.  I also bought the 5g cap to seal the top.  I drilled a 1 3/4" hole in the top to allow tubing through for the water from the overflow.  The water flows through the bioballs and down to the 20g bin, 700gph sump pumps it back up (also has a pre-filter).  I cut a small hole in the pump's pre-filter to allow 1/4" airline tubing that comes from a DIY CO2 injector.  The bubbles that go into the tank aren't the finest, but I haven't really had time to refine the reactor part of it.  Without the CO2 injection, the pH likes to rise a little higher to about 7.6 if I let it go long enough, with it it sits happily for about 2 weeks at 6.9-7.0.  

I have some plants in there, but I'm way too much of a newb to have any clue what kind they are.  I have about 10 bulbs from Walmart which are all growing happily, some red leafed something-or-other which was a stalk plant, but has since rooted nicely, but has some algae growth on the leaves.  And I have some micro sword (4 pots broken into smaller parts to spread out).  It hasn't really started to sprout througout the tank yet, which I hope it will soon.  I also have some (fading away) dwarf hairgrass.

The substrate is #1 gravel (50lbs bags x 2 sloped to the back to about 4-5").  I started with 1 50lb bag, rinsed it carefully and put that in the front 50% on the bottom.  In the back 50% I mixed in 55oz of laterite.  I took the other 50lb bag, rinsed carefully also (laterite rinsed too, btw) and put that down...also front 50%, back 50% is a layer of laterite only with gravel covering with about 2-3" of clearance to the top of the gravel.  I also have 1 lava rock, no other ornaments.  I have quite a few fish:

2 Blue goramis
1 Earth Eater (love this guy, and hes huge...bout 5-6" in length, beautiful color)
1 upside-down cat
1 spotted cat (dont know technical name)
1 leopard puffer (freshwater)
1 sword tail
5 glass fish (girlfriend influence)
3 angels
3 bala sharks
no snails

The fish have plenty of room, and eat up whatever food I put in the tank, so I don't think theres any left over rotting away somewhere.  If there was, the earth eater would definately find it and take care of it.

At first I had a HUGE problem with suspended algae, since then (dosing with Algae fix and keeping the light off) it went away.  Also since then I've done a 100% water change to add the second 50lb gravel...about 1.5 wks ago.  The water has balanced out, except for this cloud.  Since I got the tank, it seems like it was either cloudy, REALLY cloudy or crystal clear...but only crystal clear when I was using some sort of clearing agent, which I don't think is a great idea.  I don't think its good for the plants, its not great for the fish, and doggonit I just hate having to dose the tank to keep it clear!!  I really hope there is some sort of information in this book! I wrote about my tank here, that would give someone on the list a good idea as to whats causing it.  At first I thought it was just a bacterial cloud from the nitrogen cycle starting, but its been too long, and the cloud is too thick (and has a slightly green tinge to it) for it to be as such.  Normally after a day or so in the 10 gallon the cloud would be gone.  Bacteria would grow to take care of it, and from then on the tank would be happy...now I got this 90 gallon to start out in this hobby and I can't seem to get rid of the cloud...now lets see...

The cloud started about 5 or 6 days ago and has only gotten worse.  I keep holding myself back from doing anything to the tank in hopes that everything will balance out.  I know the water is balanced well enoug, the fish are happy, have great color, eat well and show no signs of stress.  The plants aren't too happy, though, I think they're not getting enough light!  LIGHT!  Almost forgot, I have two, 2 bulb shop lights on top with plant bulbs I got from home depot.  I know they're not the best, but they're full spectrum bulbs which I read were good for starters since I don't really know how to concentrate on any particular end of the spectrum.  They're all 40 watts, so about 160watts of light on the tank, which doesn't really bring me up to the good'ol rule of (what is it again?) 2w/g water...hmm

So if you've made it through my book, I hope you can help me! :-(



"Can you see the back of the tank?  "
"-No...can u?"

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