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Re: Remember cloudy water??

My lord, what a difference good advice makes.  Thank you all for the advice,
now for some more q's ;-)
First, let me say I increased the CO2 amount on my simple DIY system to 4, 2
liter bottles.  The pH began to drop in my tank, and the puffer I have in
there is beginning to show signs of stress.  Last I checked the pH was 6.8
or so (not exact kit) and all the rest of the fish seem fine, but the plants
are SUPER HAPPY!!  All the new plants I added have, since I added the
additional CO2, rooted down and changed to a much darker green color.  Plus,
my micro swords are finally starting to spread into what I hope will someday
be a lawn in the front of the tank.  All my plants have started pearling,
which to me is amazing.  One stalk had a bubble brewing on the underside of
its leaf and it grew to 4mm or so before I had to leave for work :-(  It
appears to me, for the plants sake, I was missing CO2...now for the water's
sake, I'm still not sure.  The cloudy water I was experiencing is creeping
back in.  over the past week or so I've noticed it get worse, but after the
CO2 really started crankin, its subsided in its march.

Now, I'm wondering, if the plants are happier, will they help keep the water
clearer (if thats a word)?  If not, what am I doing wrong?  The last time
the cloud got out of hand (algae bloom) I droped clarifier in and within a
few hours it was clearer, but not as clear as it was in the past using this
technique.  Something has definately changed in my tank.  The water is NEVER
crystal clear, instead more or less cloudy.  Water changes help as much as
water changes help...if ya know what I mean...water is slightly clearer for
a day or so then goes back up again.  The only thing I've noticed lately is
it doesn't seem to get as bad with the plants as happy as they are.  Now, I
know nobody can determine exactly what the problem is just by my post, and
common problems have been post in the past such as over feeding, too long
light cycle for algae blooms.  What about water content, chemicals...things
like that.  My live-in girlfriend read an article lately that points to me
having really bad tap water, and our pur filter clogs its guts before the
inicator bar reaches half-way through!!

What sort of things can I check for in my water content that could possibly
cause this cloud?  If its not algae does a UV system really work?  There
must be something simple I can look into beyond overfeeding and light cycle
that would make this go away.  I've done regular water changes, chemistry
seems good, theres never any leftover food.   No decaying plants (as said
above they're all happy!), no dead fish I can't see...someone mentioned
adding even MORE plants.  By no means would I say my tank is full, but how
much will really be beneficial?  If plants are in fact clarifying my water,
I will run out and get as many as I can afford!

Side q, how can I get micro sword to fill out faster?

Also, since I'm adding so much CO2, I'm nervous about the pH dropping
quickly (seems I have softer-side water).  I would really love to invest in
a pressurised CO2 system, but they all seem so expensive...is there an entry
level system I might be able to try out?  I don't need anything too
complicated, though I've considered building my own, having my friend build
the circuits for me and what-not.  Is there anybody in MA that could point
me in the right direction?  My problem is, I love talking to people about
hobbies and this is the first one I'm doing all alone :-(  My father does
aquariums, but only salt water, and he never really got into freshwater
planted tanks.

Oh, another thing people asked was, 'what kind of tank are you going for?'
Well, when I bought the tank I had intentions of a planted tank.  My gf
really loves fish, though, so I didn't really have a choice *whip* (sorry
ladies).  I still consider my tank a planted tank, though it does have its
share of fish (I enjoy them too!).

Back to the cloud.  If I look up at the tank, into the lights, I can
literally see a cloud flowing through the water.  It looks like a
precipitate from chem 101, but not quite as thick.  If I were to guess I
would almost say its dust!  But I was very careful to rinse all gravel going
into the tank, and by now it should have lost all that anyway.

Oh yea, I'm getting really frustrated! :-(  I told my gf last night that I
was going to let the tank do whatever it wanted for a while now.  I almost
feel I've been overworking it, but not for the past few weeks I've been
posting here.

Perhaps something in my filtration?  I have a good q here!  My setup
consists of 2, 5 gallon buckets.  1 of the buckets is almost full of
bioballs, the other acts as a stand...they make a big barrel that I run
water through to make a trickle filter.  After going through them (and heres
where the question applies) the water drops into a 20g bin under the tank.
I have pre-filter pads under the sump to keep the noise down, though it is
pretty quiet.  In the 20g bin the surface water starts to look really nasty.
I mean like a film of green on the top that gets on my hand if I put it in
there.  There is a definate ring around the buckets and it looks like theres
a layer of spit on the top (bubbles).  I don't get it, I have a feeling this
is a protein layer caused because the top layer nearly doesn't move at
all...I have an extra aquaclear 300 or something, should I throw that on the
bin to keep the surface moving a bit?

Thanks in advance....sorry for the book