Intense and unexpected bacterial bloom, did I screw up my tank somehow?

Mergle

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(Hopefully pertinent?) Details:
- I have a well planted 20gal long bare bottom tank - guessing 25 stems of anacharis, 3 medium java ferns, a square foot-ish of java moss and like 12 marimo moss balls.
- The tank was fully cycled fishless (adding bottled ammonia) for about 2 months before I added a bunch of endlers and ghost shrimp I've had to make sure it was stable for another 3 weeks. When I got my 2 subadult spanish ribbed newts a little over 2 weeks ago, all endlers and as many ghost shrimp as I could catch (3 remain and don't seem to bug the newts) were then taken out and put back in their respective homes.
- Levels have remained consistent and stable since it finished cycling, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and about 5ppm nitrates
- I do anywhere between 10-30% water changes once weekly and a decent amount of topping off because I have a fan going to keep the temps nice.

How I think I messed up:
- I'm so used to large predatory fish who need lots of turnover, and once I added the newts I realized I had way too much filtration going on. I had a large sponge filter and 2 (heavily baffled) internal filters running, and of course that's way too much for these little guys. So 2 days ago when I was doing a 30% water change, I dismantled one of the internals, squished its sponges out a bit in some used tank water and popped them in a media bag next to the remaining internal to snag as much beneficial bacteria out of it as possible before discarding it. The large sponge filter and remaining internal were not touched or rinsed at all.

The problem:
- Suddenly today I am having an INTENSE bacterial bloom, I feel like I can barely see 2-3 inches into the tank. I just did a water test and it's registering the normal 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites, but also 0 nitrates?! I have never had 0 nitrates before.

What now?:
What happened here? Did I screw up my cycle? Are my nitrates just registering near 0 because of the regular water changes and lots of plants? Is this bacterial bloom going to pose a danger to my new newt friends? Should I leave it alone and wait it out, remove my newts into my spare tank until it clears, or do water changes until the bloom clears?

Sorry for the insane amount of detail and questions, I just wanted to make sure I didn't leave anything potentially important out. Thanks for any advice or insight you might have for a newbie that's trying hard!
 
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  • Toothpickthelotl:
    I made a huge error, I’m about to cry because I don’t know why I was so stupid. I decided to clean the sponge and other stuff in my filter while I left the filter running. (I took out the parts in the filter to swish around in dirty tank water). Bc I left the filter running, all the gross stuff at the bottom of the filter filled into my axolotl tank. My tank is like brown now. I was trying to unclog something in my filter cuz it wasn’t running right and idk why I left it on I literally don’t know. I tried to take a bunch of water out snd replace it with fresh water but it’s STILL brown.
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  • Toothpickthelotl:
    also my filter is like not running right. It’s not a consistent flow it’s more like little droplets of water. :( I’m so confused
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  • Toothpickthelotl:
    Is the stuff in my tank gonna harm my lotl? Should I just let the filter clear it up? I’m confused
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  • Toothpickthelotl:
    Seems to be clearing up slightly with the filter running. Axie is okay also no signs of distress or anything
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