Hi all, first timer on CS here

Like many who took advantage of the clearance on EM7000 few months ago, I bagged myself one and have been doing some trial and errors since. But I have a few questions:

1) I removed the EM69101 Anti-calc cartridge, as I read somewhere that it's difficult to find a replacement (please correct me if I'm wrong). Is this recommended? Are there cheaper alternatives to de-calcify the machine?

2) All along I've been topping my water tank whenever it beeps at the 1Litre mark. Recently I decided to take out the water tank drawer, and I found quite a lot of green sediments floating around, like fish poo... Of course I changed the water, but is there a way to prevent this? (is that what the EM69101 is for?). My machine is tucked into a corner of my kitchen, so it's kinda a bother having to drag it out...

3) Tonight I tried brewing a cup, and it was a lot louder than usual, but no water was coming out. The coffee pressure needle went all the way past the red zone. I panicked and stopped it. I tried the hot water knob, and same loud sound, and no water. Same for the steamer. It's like it's not able to get water. So I took out the water tank and put it back in and it's fine, for one more brew and then it happened again. Has anyone encountered this before?

More of a confession rather than a question: My grinder is the EM0430 (a hand-me-down), and right now using supermarket beans (I know, I'm breaking all sorts of cardinal rules here). I have to literally scoop the grind out of the grinder bin with a spoon and lay it in my PF, tap, scoop more in, tap, tamp. I'm still tinkering to find what works best with what I have right now, but it takes so long to make a cuppa!

Thanks all! I'll be lingering around CS to learn more on how to get the best out of this beast (and not to surrender to a Nespresso..)

Ben