cloudy tank

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by lottienr1, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. lottienr1New MemberMember

    I'm new to the hobby. Read millions of articles, bought books, explored options untill my head hurted :) and so after a month or so I was ready to start building up all the stuff I wanted and needed. And i'm sure I still got tons to learn too.

    I took days to hardscape, plant etc and since yesterday the tank has finally been switched on. I left the tank running over night and this morning everything still looked good and in place. So this morning i decided to start my little Chemistry project of fishless cycling :)). So excited!!

    My readings with in my 120l tank with no additives apart from declorinating substance are:
    NH3/4 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrates 10, ph 7.6 GH250/500

    I added drops of Ammonia untill I got a reading of +/- 3.
    NH3/4 3nitrite 0 nitrates 10 pg 7.6 GH 500 kg 100

    I use king british test strips.

    I added 5 balls of PURE (new on the market I think. They are balls with bacteria google it if you don't know it yet ;) )

    And after a few hours of adding the ammonia the aquarium has gone ridicalously cloudy (white) i noticed it first a the back areas and now it is pretty much through out the tank. I know the tank is new but i very much doubt it is the gravel as i had that in the bath to clean. And the aquarium has been running over night with Cristal clear water and still in the morning.....

    I don't think you can get a correct reading after you add ammonia but my nitrAte levels are rising quickly. There should be NitrIte first, right?

    Why do i have a cloudy tank? it is only day one of the fishless cycle I started. I read about cloudy tanks and how that can be bac colonies but that can't be happening so quickly, right?

    Thanks for helping!

  2. Daac

    DaacWell Known MemberMember

    First of all, I do not trust products that claim they are bacteria like those balls you are talking about. Since you put them in now you won't know really if they are amking the water cloudy or what but yes you are supposed to get a spike in ammonia, then nitrites, then nitrates. Cycling usually takes around a month so I am assuming those balls you put in are either just clouding the water or maybe they do have bacteria but I would not add any fish for a while until you are sure the tank is properly cycled. If I were you I would stop using the balls and just keep testing and adding a little ammonia every once in a while. If after a week or two you aren't getting ammonia spikes or nitrite spikes, you could probably do a few water changes to get the nitrates down to 20 or less and then add a few fish.
  3. Wendy Lubianetsky

    Wendy LubianetskyWell Known MemberMember

    I personally like Daac do not trust products that say they have bacteria in them to make your tank cylce quickly. There is Tetra Safe Start which people have had luck with, just not me. If I were you I would leave things alone and let your tank cycle properly.... especially before adding fish.

  4. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    No way am I adding fish now!! neither am I in a hurry to add fish. I've taken my time building this tank and will be taking my time cycling it properly (other wise i would of cycled with fish) So don't worry, my goal is not to add fish asap my goal is to succesfully cycle the tank. The tank is still cloudy however it seemed to have cleared a bit.
    I know people are sceptical about all the bacteria holding products but I just thought give it a go. I was not planning on using the balls everyday either it was just to kick start it all. Which I think it might of just done that :)

    My readings this morning were:
    ammonia 0.5
    nitrite 25
    nitrates 250
    I added the same amount of ammonia today as i did yesterday.

    fingers crossed :)

    In the mean time i found this really interesting and helpfull article also explaining indepthly as to way the tank is cloudy. see below or follow this link:

    Bacterial Blooms - Explained

    Every fishkeeper has experienced a bacterial bloom at some point. They are common in new set-ups which are cycling, but can happen at any time. The water goes cloudy, almost like someone has poured a drop of milk into the tank, and no matter how many water changes you do, it doesn't go away. Sound familiar?

    I hope to explain here exactly what a bacterial bloom is, the effect it can have, how to treat it and how to prevent it.

    The Nitrogen Cycle

    To fully understand about bacterial blooms, a knowledge of the Nitrogen Cycle is required. If you are unsure of the Nitrogen Cycle or don't know what it is, it may be helpful to read the linked topic below first. This is particularly relevant if you have recently set up the tank, as the cloudiness is most likely an indication of other problems.


    What is a Bacterial Bloom?

    There are 2 types of bacteria at work in our tanks:-

    Autotrophic Bacteria - Bacteria capable of synthesizing its own food from inorganic substances, using light or chemical energy. Our beneficial filter bacteria are autotrophs.

    Heterotrophic Bacteria - Bacteria that cannot synthesize its own food and is dependent on complex organic substances for nutrition. The heterotrophs in our aquariums mineralise the organic waste (break down the uneaten food, fish waste, dead plant matter etc into ammonia).

    Contrary to popular belief, it is commonly the heterotrophs which are seen in our bacterial blooms, not our trusted autotroph nitrifiers.

    It is the heterotrophs which are primarily responsible for creating the "bio-film" (slimy residue found on the tank walls and ornaments) which builds up in our aquariums.

    The heterotrophs are generally bigger than the autotrophs and therefore don't attach themselves to surfaces with the same ease. They also reproduce much more quickly. Heterotrophs can reproduce in around 15 - 20 minutes, whereas autotrophs can take up to 24 hours to reproduce.

    In a newly set-up aquarium, the heterotrophs get to work quicker than the autotrophs, causing the 'cycling bloom' we so often see. Blooms are almost certainly heterotrophic if they are caused by a build up of organic waste in the substrate, which most, if not all, are.

    Bacterial blooms are common in tanks with apparently no organics present (for example, where all that is in the tank is water and ammonia for a fishless cycle). This is caused by the dechlorination of the water suddenly enabling the water to support bacterial populations. The heterotrophs immediately get to work on the organics in the water itself. The severity of the bloom and even whether a bloom happens at all is dependant upon the level of organics contained in the water supply.

    Our autotroph nitrifiers are strictly aerobic (require oxygen), but the heterotrophs can be facultative anaerobic (they can switch between aerobic and anaerobic function depending on their environment). Therefore the heterotrophs in the substrate will be in their anaerobic state and breaking down the organic waste into ammonia, but if they bloom up into the water column, they will switch to their aerobic form and will start to convert the ammonia back to nitrite, although very inefficiently. The heterotrophs are around 1,000,000 times less efficient at ammonia oxidisation than our beneficial autotrophs as the heterotrophs are not true nitrifiers.

    The Effects of a Bacterial Bloom

    Most of the bacteria in the aquarium are aerobic as it is a oxygen dominated environment, and these bacteria require lots of oxygen. When the heterotrophic bacteria bloom into the water column and switch to their aerobic state, this is a big drain on the oxygen content of the water. Oxygen depravation is the only risk to the fish which i am aware of during a bacterial bloom, as the heterotrophs themselves are harmless to fish, so good advice is to increase aeration! image

    To help you to understand why bacterial blooms occur, overfeeding ,dead fish or dead plant matter will cause a rise in the reproduction of the heterotrophs in order to break down the organic waste, they re-produce too quickly to be able to attach themselves to a surface and this causes a bacterial bloom. As the ammonia production increases due to the increased mineralisation, the nitrifiers are slow to catch up (as i said above) and so you see an ammonia spike until the autotrophs reproduce enough to take care of it. Contrary to popular belief, bacterial blooms cause an ammonia spike, not the other way around.

    It is unclear whether the autotrophic nitrifiers ever bloom into the water column or if they simply multiply too slowly to cause this effect.

    Treatment and Prevention of Bacterial Blooms

    A thorough gravel vac will certainly help the situation, as will trying not to overfeed. Also, increase aeration as I noted above. Water changes will probably not clear the cloudiness as when you remove the free-floating heterotrophic bacteria, the others will reproduce more to compensate. Given the reproduction rate of the heterotrophs, it would require a 50% water change every 15 - 20 minutes just to stop the bloom getting worse, and even more if you want to make any progress towards clearing the bloom.

    However, water changes won't exacerbate the situation as it will be heterotrophs (which are producing ammonia) which are removed from the water column via the water change. A water change will remove virtually no nitrifying autotrophic bacteria from the tank at all as 99% of the nitrifiers are housed in the filter, not in the water column. Water changes are not essential in clearing bacterial blooms, as left alone, they will usually dissipate within a matter of days.

    Reducing the amount of organic waste in your tank is the ultimate solution to treating a bacterial bloom, and avoiding a build up of organic waste in the tank is the best way to prevent a bloom. The best way to do this is to maintain a regular aquarium husbandry routine involving water changes and substrate vaccuuming.

    As I said above, blooms are common in tanks with apparently no organic waste present, most commonly when only water and ammonia are in the tank for a fishless cycle. In this case, there are few easy ways to remove the organics from the water, and so my best suggestion is to sit it out and wait. Water changes with purified water would help as it would dilute the concentration of organics in the water. Reverse Osmosis water would be ideal in this situation, however i would suggest that patience is the cheaper and more environmentally friendly option.

    A bloom in an established tank indicates that there is a problem which has allowed a build-up of organic waste, usually in the substrate. This can be caused by excess dead plant matter, over-feeding which leaves food lying around the tank, or leaving dead fish in the tank. None of these are desirable in an aquarium and a bloom in your established tank will certainly indicate one or more of these causes present in the tank. If you experience a bloom in an established tank, improve your husbandry.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  5. Daac

    DaacWell Known MemberMember

    Interesting and glad to hear you are doing your research but make sure you site that article or the mods may delete it.
  6. Shawnie

    ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    WELCOME to Fishlore Lottie!!!!

    I think you are on the right not familiar with your test kit, but test your tap water also...that lets you know if you are getting true readings from the tank or is it your water source....

    Using the ammonia method is great also....if you use the search bar at the top left, you can search for many threads on this and it might help you to know where you will be headed.....

    Goodluck and share some pics when you can!!!!
  7. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    @daac ah thank you. defo did not wanna get in trouble :) i put the direct link in now. Hope thats is allright now :)

    @shawnie thanks! I will read up some more! really enjoying all of this. And it does not stress me out as I am not harming any fish :) so even when things go bit funky at first it does not matter much!
    I tested my tapwater before i started or when i filled the tank with nothing added and reading 0 on all appart from 10 nitrate.... I will post some pics as soon as i figured out how to do all of that on here...
    Trying to keep a nice photo diary with all the different stages. aahhh hang on lets see if this works.....

    no pic of full tank but bit cloudy now so that will follow later

    thanks for all your input


    Attached Files:

  8. Shawnie

    ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    LOVE LOVE the creative tank!!! Nice job~!
  9. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    thank you so much! :0) can't wait for the plants to grow so the bright red wil slowely but surely be covered bit more with green especially at the front. hard to see on the pics but there are some tiny little bunches of grass (dwarf hair grass or whatever it was) just hoping they'll take
  10. Daac

    DaacWell Known MemberMember

    Very cool... that will look amazing when the plants fill in
  11. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    aaarrrggghhhhh and so now everything stars turning there anyway to determin what the cause is? it could be green algea or blue/green algea aka might even be hair algea i do see hairy slimy strings on some plants... Is there anyway to test and be sure?

    Ow dear i don't know a lot about algea yet...appart from the fact that your tank should not receive any sunlight...maybe i'll put some more floating plants in to compete with the algea (if that is what it is)

    I should propably post the algea question elsewhere.....sorry still learning..

  12. Daac

    DaacWell Known MemberMember

    It is probably because there is so much ammonia and such in the tank... try doing a few water changes and also add some fast growing plants like floating plants and hornwort and such
  13. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Great tank design!!

    Algae can be expected in a cycling tank. It is caused by the nitrogen buildup. As you have live plants, what type of lighting do you have? How many hours are the lights on? Are you currently dosing any ferts or CO2? I see the ladder in the back of your tank. How many bubbles per second?
  14. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    mmm I thought the cycling might have something to do with it :). I did not think water changes were an option whilst fishless cycling your tank? Or am i mistaken.
    No to dosing ferts but I did use tetra fert substrate under the red stone area (where all the plants are). Yes the co2 is running giving 1 bubble per second. I have one of these natural plant co2 sets (the ones where you mix sugar,water,etc etc) so can't switch it of at night or do much regulating with that.

    The lights have been on for +/_ 10 hrs I use 2x15w (daylight)although i kept them off today as I understand they just love the light...but so do my plants althought they really do not look happy at all in ther at the mo.

    this forum is great! it is beginning to annoy my little girl and hubby as i am forever on it trying to learn more. And people are so helpfull too. Shame i cant give points or whatever it is you give for reps

  15. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    So you just have the standard flourecent bulbs that came with the setup?

    Welcome to FL!
  16. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    oh and thank you! makes me proud that people like the design :) but i might have to do it all over if does not go right ;|

    yep just the set up bulbs it was fitted with one moonlight and one day light however i wanted the plant to receive bit more lighting so now have two daylight bulbs in there.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2012
  17. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Having 2 daylight bulbs is great for a planted tank! As plants need some light, just monitor their behavior. If they need more light the leaves will begin to turn translucent and die back. Plants only need as little as 4 hours a day. They can get this light from ambient room lighting or light from a window.

    For now don't worry about the ferts. Being a cycling tank there are plenty of nutrients for the plants to get rooted.

    The DIY CO2 set ups are usually paired with an air pump. Run the air overnight while the tank is dark to release any CO2 buildup. Then turn the air off during the daylight hours. This is how to control the gas.

    When you are ready to learn about the causes of algae, follow the link titled "Why is that algae in my tank?" in my signature above.

    Good luck with getting your tank to cycle.
  18. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    Ah ok I will defo lower the lighting air pump with the Co2 [​IMG]
    but in a highly earated area....

    Perhaps run another co2 kit as i do have another type with a pressured canister. Ha ha yes i've seen it and read it (or been studying it more like :) earlier today did not realize you written it! Very good article I liked it a lot! very informative but for me still quite difficult to realy see the diference or figure out what it is precisly, for now...

    And since i have you "live" here now can I just ask you a question on what i did not understand?

    "*Water Changes, only if your tank is not cycled and stable. Change enough water to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 or as low as possible. I would continue the water changes 1 or 2 weeks after there is no sign of ammonia or nitrite" (source

    but I thought the whole deal about this fishless cycling wat to keep building up the amonnia so your nitrite levels spike than your nitrates...

    and if i was to bring it back to or keep it at it at 0 and the algea will go would they not come back the minute I start topping it back up with ammonia in order to get the cycling going again? :)) questions questions question.

    I'll take and try to send a few pics in a minute and the more I look at it the more i think appart from the greenish water there might also be or perhaps causing it fuzz algae...
  19. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    And the pics

    Attached Files:

  20. OP

    lottienr1New MemberMember

    the white stringy bits around the wood are air bubbles btw but the slimy white snot isn't

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