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[APD] Cloudy water

Hi all,

         Hoping to pick some brains here. A week before this past Saturday, or the Saturday before last, or whatever way people from your neck of the woods like to refer to what wasn't last Saturday, but the one before, I noticed what might have been the earliest stages of an ich outbreak in one of my 55 gallon tanks. ( That may have been the longest sentence ever written!... Alright fine, at least worthy of mention. ) At any rate, on this Saturday, which we have already determined was not the Saturday we just experienced a few days ago, but the one that directly preceded it, I went about my normal tank maintenance routine. 
          The tank in question is set-up at my girlfriends place, so it doesn't always get the care it should. She's not much of a fish enthusiast. Closer to the truth would be to say that other than giving them names, most of which are sub-par, she really doesn't like the fish. I often wonder if she even feeds them regularly when I'm not there. 
          Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now to regale you with some of the wonderful names she has come up with. For instance, I won't waste your time telling you that both of the iridescent sharks are named "Sharky", as in "Ooh look, the Sharkies are out!" or that the clown loach is named "Gacy". Somehow, the cory cats, around 25 of them or so, remind her of Wilfred Brimley, or Walter Grimley, or whatever else she comes up with when she can't remember his name. The two Geophagus Juripari's, ( BIG mistake ), constantly displaying, are simply referred to as the mohawk guys, apparently due to the erect dorsal fins.
           For starters, I drained about 75% of the water. I normally drain this much and sometimes more because as I said, the tank is often neglected. It is not unusual for this tank to go 3 weeks or more without a water change, or cleaning of the filters. ( 2 Emperor 400's ) After refilling the tank, I cleaned the Emperors and got them running minus their cartridges. ( With the intention of battling the ich, I obviously couldn't have the carbon in there. ) At this point, everything was ship-shape, and the numerous variety of cory's were laying their eggs everywhere, like they always do when I change the water.
           I made a point of swinging by her place every day last week to keep up with the medicating regimen.
          Upon my arrival, I always go into the room where the fish are immediately. In this way, I hope to be able to save some of them on the day that she decides to poison them. She's always saying I spend too much time and money on the fish. ( Money that might otherwise be better spent on her )
          I guess it was Wednesday before I realized that the tank was much cloudier than I could attribute to the effects of being without proper filtration for a few days.
          By Friday, the tank was so cloudy that I couldn't see the back. Not willing to compromise the medication, I did nothing.
          Which brings us to Saturday, being the most recent Saturday past.
          Eager to clear up the tank, I again drained at least 75% of the water. Worthy of note, neither this time or the time before did I use any kind of water conditioner. Indeed, I have never used a conditioner when changing water in this tank. After filling the tank, I again cleaned the Emperors and placed brand new cartridges in both.
           Much to my surprise, the cloudiness has persisted. The thin cloudiness remaining after the water change, I expected to succumb to the freshly cleaned Emperors and their shiny new cartridges. This has not been the case. Not only has the cloudiness thwarted their best efforts, but a film of bubbles on the surface has joined the fight.
            The bubbles won't go away, ( despite loud cursing and thinly veiled threats ) and the cloudiness has gotten worse.
            Through all of this, the fish have been fine. Other than the constant darting to the surface for breath on the part of the cory's during the period of medicating, it has been business as usual.
            The tank is quite heavily populated. Other than those you have already met, there are about 50 various tetra's, rasbora's and danois, 12-15 platies, an 8 inch Snowking pleco, 5 inch Black sailfin pleco, a 4+ inch Royal pleco, another pleco sold to me as an adda-badda pleco, a gigantic SAE, easily 5 inches, 4-5 otto's, 4+ inch blue gourami, spotted raphael, handful of khuli's, and a number of other rarely ( if ever ) seen fish that I have forgotten but am sure are in there.
             As for plants, there is one large sword, variety of anubias, large colonies of java moss spreading over rocks and wood, and the last vestiges of what was once a thick wall to wall carpet of dwarf sag ( fallen victim of the "mohawk guys" )
             I just now realized that my floating patch of rotala indica, which sometimes appeared to be taking root in the mat of java moss on my highest piece of wood, has disappeared. The rotala had been in steady decline for months since being uprooted and left to the mercy of the current. I'm sure there are a few more plants sneaking around in there, but none that I see right now. Crypts in particular, seem to come and go in this tank. Probably due to that disturbing tendency of theirs to melt away and remain dormant for a time. I never seem to have much luck with them.
             As I'm writing this, I remember that during the water change after which all this unpleasantness arose, I did a deep vac of the gravel for the first time in recent memory. ( my memory sucks ) I was unable to do this before because of the dwarf sag. I'm wondering if perhaps this contributed to, or is in fact the cause of, the cloudiness. This deep vac is the only thing out of the ordinary that occurred during this time.
              There is a quantity of that very fine, air-floated, red art clay mixed in the lowest part of the gravel. ( Mainly consisting of Flourite with a bag of Eco-complete, a bag of Flora-base, and 100 some odd ounces of First Layer Pure Laterite. ) My bad experiences with the clay in other tanks, those times when I have inadvertently released a cloud of it into the water column, have been associated with a relatively short-lived ( directly related to amount released of course ) cloudiness of a very definitely red/purplish color. The cloudiness I am battling now is white. 
               I fear I shall have to close there as it has just turned midnight. I will appreciate any ideas you may have or suggestions for dealing with this problem. I realize I have probably left out some key piece of the puzzle, if any more information is required for diagnosis, I will be happy to provide it.
                                                                            Thanks,         Mike

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