Cloudy fish water in planted tank

  1. CowlRaven Initiate Member

    So I'm pretty frustrated with my tank at the moment. It seems no matter what I do, the water refuses to stop being cloudy. I have a crowntail male betta with 4 male albino cory catfish in a 10 gallon, live planted tank. There's no algae in the water, and every time I do a water change there's no excess food and hardly any poop because of the plants. I'm positive I'm not overfeeding and any food my betta doesn't get to that falls to the bottom of the tank is eaten by the cories (I use algae wafers to feed them, and pull out the excess that they don't eat). When I set the tank up I used Topfin water conditioner and dechlorinator as well as as a few drops of a bacteria supplement. Let it cycle for 2 days, then added in the fish. For about a week everything was fine, nice and clear.

    Then about 3 weeks ago it became very clouded, to the point where I couldn't see the back of the tank very well without a light source behind it. I struggle to find my poor betta in the cloudy water and have to shine my light in it to make sure he hasn't jumped out. It gets better after water changes but only slightly, and comes back within an hour.

    Thing is, my fish appear happy as can be! The cories enjoy swimming together against the sides of the tank during the night and pile on top of each other during the day. My betta takes naps on the marimo I put in there and loves to blow bubbles at the surface and chase my finger when I hover it in front of the glass. None of them are gasping for air or seem to be struggling or suffering in the slightest.

    My nitrites are 0, my nitrates are 6, my ammonia is 0, my pH is 6.7. I use natural sunlight for my tank and during the day the temperature rises to 79, while at night it falls to 77. I do 20% water changes every Saturday. I have one Java Fern, two Anubias, and one small Amazon Sword alongside the medium sized marimo. The second Anubias was actually an accident, since the one I bought surprisingly had two of them stuffed in there. I also have a little volcano bubbler.

    What's going on? The cloudiness has been here for 3 weeks and doesn't seem to be getting better no matter what I do. I'm pretty sure it's a white cloud though it's honestly hard to tell since the gravel in my tank is green. Should I just wait it out? More water changes? Less water changes? Any advice would greatly help me out.
  2. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    White indicates a bacterial bloom which is likely due to excess nutrients in the tank.

    What test are you using? Your nitrate result is strange.

    Unfortunately your tank is overstocked with the cories. They are very active and are happier in larger groups. The "swimming together against the side of the tank" doesn't sound normal.
  3. CowlRaven Initiate Member

    I had it tested at the original store I bought the fish from, sorry. I don't remember the exact number they gave me but I know it was around 6ppm(?), this was a week ago.

    I've heard that you can keep up to 5 albino cories in a 10 gallon with no problem since they're on the smaller size of the cory family, but maybe I heard wrong? And they're not so much swimming together as they all seem to become active at the same time. They swim all around the tank, they just like to swim by the glass more often.

    Is there any way to get rid of the excess nutrients?
  4. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Water changes. Since your tank is overstocked I would suggest a minimum change of 50%.
  5. CowlRaven Initiate Member

    Should I keep doing them every week?
  6. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    At least! Maybe even twice a week.
  7. DanB80TTS Well Known Member Member

    I agree with Aquaphobia, do a large water change and see where it goes from there, Your tank size isn't ideal for the cories but I wouldn't say you are overstocked in terms of bioload.

    What filter are you using? Wondering how much water turnover you have.
  8. CowlRaven Initiate Member

    I'll do a 50% tonight and then a 40% for all water changes from now on, see if it helps the cloudiness. I'm using an aqueon quietflow 20 or 30 if I remember correctly.
  9. Bellatrix Member Member

    If I were you, I would do a 70% change ASAP and then a 50% a day or so later.
  10. Peacefantasy Well Known Member Member

    Agree with everyone above. Also recommend getting your own test kit (liquid) so you know exactly whats going on with your tank.
    I also suspect bacteria bloom
  11. Bellatrix Member Member

    I'll be honest, I had a major issue with excess surface bubbles and though it's not the same thing, I found the only thing that worked was a full water change.

    Fish out of the tank and bagged in old tank water, everything out and cleaned (in treated water) then put back. Obviously you have a planted tank so you can't take them out but you can take all the water out I think, as long as you float the bag like you would when adding new fish to the new water, the fish are fine (in my experience). But you don't want to put that cloudy water back in the clean water so I suggested netting them to put them back in the tank after they've been accumulated.

    I had murky water yesterday and did a full water change, I'm just going on my experience. People might disagree but it works.

    Some people disagree with CWC but others think they're fine. I personally think they're OK if you do it right.
  12. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Since you are using sunlight as a light, there is a good chance it is an algae bloom. It would be helpful if you could figure out for sure if the water is cloudy white, cloudy gray or cloudy green.
  13. Bellatrix Member Member

    I thought you were not meant to use sunlight on fish tanks?
  14. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    People try to keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight since algae loves direct sunlight.
  15. Bellatrix Member Member

    Also it weakens the glass apparently.

    Plus makes water temperature fluctuate which is bad for the fish.
  16. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    I've never heard that one. Glass is extremely stable. You'd have to put a magnifying lens between the sun and the glass to develop the kind of temperatures that would affect it and I'm not even sure about that!

    However, you're right about it heating the water inside;)
  17. CowlRaven Initiate Member

    I did a 50% water change like I said last night and the water is much clearer now, and it's become obvious that the haze is white, not green. Like I said there's no algae in the tank besides the wafers the cories eat.

    I decided to use sunlight because of the live plants and the fact that (strangely enough) LED lights are the only common factor between all our other tanks where fish had died seemingly with no reason. I can't afford any other kind of light unfortunately as my budget is very low, so sunlight seemed the best option.

    If it gets as bad as it had been I'll try doing a 100% water change by putting the fish in baggies. But for now I'm hoping to stick with 50% water changes twice a week. As soon as I have the money I'll invest in a few testing kits to have at home so I can have an accurate reading of my water quality.

    Thank you guys for all your help! Any further advice you all have is greatly appreciated!
  18. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Hm, do you fertilize at all? Have root tabs under the substrate that may have been disturbed? There's something feeding those bacteria and doing a 100% water change will only be a temporary fix I'm afraid.

    What kind of filter do you have? Have you cleaned out the inside of it recently? There may be some gunk in the bottom:;dk
  19. CowlRaven Initiate Member

    No fertilizer and checked the filter last night, cleaned it out and everything, and the cartridge didn't look dirty so I left it in. I use an aqueon quietflow 10 (found the box last night and checked it).

    Now you see why I was so perplexed by the cloudiness in my tank! :p
  20. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Ok, that might be part of the problem. That model of filter only has a rating of 100gph. That's the minimum filtration for your tank volume but filters are generally rated without media in them. So your actual gph filtered is probably considerably lower than advertised. I would add a second filter to the tank.