Cloudy water and bubbles at the top of the tank

noahdan252

Hi guys,
So I set up a 15 gallon tank about a week and a half ago, and have been performing the functions of cycling the tank. Everything was going well, however, I am starting to run into some problems. On the second day after the tank was set up the water turned cloudy, which I assumed was a bacterial bloom. Usually this cloudy water goes away within a few days, but the water has remained cloudy since that day. There is also a cluster of bubbles that have formed at the top of my tank. They aren't smelly so I don't believe they are protein bubbles, the tank is brand new and has not been exposed to any soap, and the only fish I have in there at the moment are three pygmy catfish. My Nitrate levels are 10 and my Nitrite levels are 2.0. My chlorine levels have all come back as 0, so the bubbles can't be from untreated tap water. I have also been treating the water with Seachem Stability.
Now, there may be one cause. As I mentioned, I have 3 pygmy catfish in there. They've been in there for about 5 days now, and the first 2 initial days they have been schooling together. However, I can no longer find one of the catfish anywhere in the tank. I have checked the filter and moved the decorations around am still unable to locate it. I haven't found a body inside or outside of the aquarium, so I don't believe it jumped. I want to take everything out of the tank, however, that is going to slow down the cycling process and lose the already established bacteria on the decorations. But if there is a decaying body in there, it may be a cause for the bubbles and why the tank has ceased its cloudiness. What do you guys suggest, and why might there be bubbles at the top of my tank?
 

StarGirl

Welcome to Fishlore! :)

The first thing I would suggest is to get the Nitrite levels below .50 or all the fish will be dead soon. Nitrite is terribly poisonous. Keep Ammonia under .50 also. How often are you changing water?

Can you just move the deco around to find the body without taking it out of the tank? Yes you will lose some bb taking it out.
 
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noahdan252

Welcome to Fishlore! :)

The first thing I would suggest is to get the Nitrite levels below .50 or all the fish will be dead soon. Nitrite is terribly poisonous. Keep Ammonia under .50 also. How often are you changing water?

Can you just move the deco around to find the body without taking it out of the tank? Yes you will lose some bb taking it out.
Thank you so much for the welcome!
I've been trying to bring those Nitrite levels but they seem to be rather constant. I'll keep working on it though. As for the water changes I read to not change the water during the cycling process. I have done that for my other tanks and have not run into any issues, but this is my first time cycling a tank with fish in it. If I need to perform water changes, how much water do you suggest taking out?
And I have tried moving the decor around but it is jam packed with decor and artificial plants. I have uprooted everything and moved things around but have still been unable to find it. I feel like I need to take everything out of the tank in order to better see the bottom and every inch of the tank. It's just a little too crowded.
 
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Jo7984

I'd say you really need to do a 50% water change asap which should half the nitrite reading to 1.
That's still too much nitrite though, so you will need to do another 50% to then drop ot to 0.5

Nitrite is very dangerous for fish.
 
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StarGirl

Fish in cycle is different than fishless because you have fish to protect in there. You want to do water changes constantly when the levels rise up. Since it has only been a week and a half I would do a 50% water change to get levels down. Again tomorrow if they are still high. It wont hurt your bacteria because there is little in the water column. It is on the substrate in the filter and on the deco. Try not to gravel vac though.
 
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noahdan252

I'd say you really need to do a 50% water change asap which should half the nitrite reading to 1.
That's still too much nitrite though, so you will need to do another 50% to then drop ot to 0.5

Nitrite is very dangerous for fish.
Okay thank you! And do you suggest doing a 50% water change today and then a 50% water change tomorrow, or give it less/more time to settle?
 
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StarGirl

50 % today 50% tomorrow and then see what your readings are. You may need to do more than that.
 
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noahdan252

50 % today 50% tomorrow and then see what your readings are. You may need to do more than that.
Awesome, thank you guys so much!
 
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FishareFriends6

Bubbles normally suggest high amounts of decaying waste causing over production of proteins, which then make a layer on the surface and cause the bubbles to not be able to escape and exchange gas normally.

Big clean of the tank and filter or check if the filter is good enough for the amount of waste.

There’s my 2p
 
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noahdan252

Bubbles normally suggest high amounts of decaying waste causing over production of proteins, which then make a layer on the surface and cause the bubbles to not be able to escape and exchange gas normally.

Big clean of the tank and filter or check if the filter is good enough for the amount of waste.

There’s my 2p
Thank you for the information! I did read that bubbles could mean high amounts of protein meaning there is something decaying. I would do a big clean and change the filter, but I'm in the middle of the Nitrogen cycle. At this point I don't know what to tackle first.
My tank is filled with artificial plants and other decor, making it nearly impossible to spot anything on the ground, especially in the back. In order to do a deep clean and find my third missing fish, which may be dead and decaying, I would need to take out a majority/all of the decor and foliage. And as you said, I would also need to replace and/or clean the filter. If I were to do this, as well the 50% water changes (which I've already started), I would practically be starting this cycle over again.
Should I take everything out, clean it, and then start over, or keep moving forward with water changes and added chemicals. I also have the 20 gallon Aqueaon silent flow filter for my 15 gallon rimless aquarium, if that's any indication if the filter isn't strong enough.
 
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Jo7984

I would do a big clean and change the filter, but I'm in the middle of the Nitrogen cycle.

I personally would say don't do a big clean now.
Your half way through the cycle as you said, for the fishes sake I'd say sort the nitrite reading / cycle out.
Other issues may even sort themselves out during the process.

To cycle a tank takes weeks, I would stick with it now rather than completely start over again.

:)
 
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StarGirl

All you need to do right now is change water nothing else. If you are getting film on top you could put a air stone in.
 
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