Cloudy Water in Fish Tank for over two weeks!

zooey

I'm very new to the fish keeping scene but I'm having some serious issues, and I desperately need help.

I have a 65L tank that I ran for 4 weeks in what I've come to know as a fishless cycle, but did NOT add ammonia, or fish flakes because I didn't know that was what I was meant to do - I added stability every day though. After the four week mark, I put in 5 mollies without testing the water (stupid mistake). Since then, 3 of my fish have passed, one fish after two weeks, another 2, two months later. I was doing weekly water changes (about 20-25%) and adding prime to my water throughout this time. About two weeks ago, just before two of my fish passed, my water started getting really cloudy - I was finally able to get a water test done and was told that my ammonia and nitrite levels were too high (ammonia reached 1.5ppm, whilst nitrite levels didn't go past 1ppm). I started doing daily water changes for a week, adding stability and prime. I bought a new filter recently as well (AquaClear 20), and added poly filter to get rid of the ammonia.

I was able to get the ammonia down to zero, with slight colouration but not enough to be detected as .25ppm. Now, for the past two weeks, two fish have passed, my water has just gotten more and more cloudy, and my nitrite levels are stuck at .25 and will not go down. I've suspected that it's a bacterial bloom and that my tank is just trying to establish the cycle that I thought I'd done when I first got the tank, but it will not go away - I don't want my other fish to suffer, and I really want to get this sorted. I've taken all advice from local fish shops, but nothing's worked. My readings from today are as follows:

PH: 7.2
Ammonia: 0ppm (slight colouration)
Nitrite: 0.25ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm

Has my cycle stalled? Do I just need to leave the tank alone?
I also need to mention that in the past week I've been adding stability daily, and recently began adding API Quick Start, which I was told would lower my levels and help sort out my tank. So far this hasn't proved true, but I've only been adding it for 3 days - do I need to be patient? Any help would be appreciated, thank-you!
 

mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :) I am sorry I missed this yesterday.

I am sorry you got off to such a rocky start. Unfortunately without an ammonia source the cycle in this tank didn't start until you added fish. At that point you were doing a fish in cycle.

I am assuming you now have a way to test the water. What tests are you using?

The cloudy water isn't unusual at this point in the cycling process. Cloudy water shouldn't hurt your fish. It is just an eyesore. Normally you can't water change out cloudy water. It just has to run its course.

To get this tank cycled and protect your fish let your numbers be your guide. The amount of ammonia plus nitrites you are seeing right now isn't high enough to need to do a water change. As long as they go no higher than they are right now you don't need to do a water change. If they are still holding at this same level or lower at the end of a week change out 50% of the water.

If either or both start climbing you need to get them down with a water change. Try to keep the total amount of ammonia plus nitrites below one. I would stop adding Stability. It may help but if it hasn't done so in the 7 days they recommend you add it then it has done all it's going to do even if its done nothing.

The only thing I would be adding to this tank is Prime when you do your water changes. It is going to detox low levels of ammonia. Don't add any more fish until the cycle is complete. You will know it is complete when both ammonia and nitrites are a constant zero and you are seeing some nitrates. At that point you can move on to your weekly water changes and can slowly replace the lost fish.
 
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zooey

Thank-you so much for helping me out! I just recently bought an API Freshwater Master Test Kit, and have been using that daily to watch my levels, and they've stayed essentially the same. My nitrites had risen to .5ppm earlier in the week, and I did a water change (about 25%) which got it down to .25ppm, which is where it's stayed. I just had two more questions if you don't mind:

> Can I do top ups in my tank? I've heard that you don't want to add new water when it's going through a cycle but because of my lighting the water levels drop quite a bit just naturally - would it be fine to top up the tank?
> Also I was told by my local pet store to feed my fish sparingly, only once every three days (because of the original ammonia and nitrite levels) which I've been doing, but I'm worried that that's really not enough for them. I feed them a mix of plant flakes, tropical flakes and frozen bloodworms.

Again, thank-you so much for helping me out, I really do appreciate it!
 
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mattgirl

Thank-you so much for helping me out! I just recently bought an API Freshwater Master Test Kit, and have been using that daily to watch my levels, and they've stayed essentially the same. My nitrites had risen to .5ppm earlier in the week, and I did a water change (about 25%) which got it down to .25ppm, which is where it's stayed. I just had two more questions if you don't mind:
You are so very welcome :)
> Can I do top ups in my tank? I've heard that you don't want to add new water when it's going through a cycle but because of my lighting the water levels drop quite a bit just naturally - would it be fine to top up the tank?
Yes, it is fine to do top offs. Just be sure you add your prime to the water before pouring it in there.
> Also I was told by my local pet store to feed my fish sparingly, only once every three days (because of the original ammonia and nitrite levels) which I've been doing, but I'm worried that that's really not enough for them. I feed them a mix of plant flakes, tropical flakes and frozen bloodworms.

Again, thank-you so much for helping me out, I really do appreciate it!
Personally I would feed them daily. Just be sure no food is left over. If they don't eat all of it within 30 minutes or so use your turkey baster to pull it out of there. If you don't have one I will recommend you get one. It is one of the handiest pieces of equipment you can have.
 
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zooey

Awesome - thank-you so much for helping me out! :)
 
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Cherryshrimp420

Seems like feeding too much. Just feed less or even stop feeding for a few days until the cloudiness goes away. The fish wont starve
 
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zooey

Seems like feeding too much. Just feed less or even stop feeding for a few days until the cloudiness goes away. The fish wont starve
I did initially consider this, but even when I first purchased them, I was only feeding them once every other day, and only as much as they could eat in 2 minutes or less. Any food that wasn't eaten I would scoop out with my net. At the moment they've only been eating once every three days, and I've done this for about two weeks now trying to sort out the cloudiness, but to no avail. I appreciate your input though, thank-you!
 
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mattgirl

I did initially consider this, but even when I first purchased them, I was only feeding them once every other day, and only as much as they could eat in 2 minutes or less. Any food that wasn't eaten I would scoop out with my net. At the moment they've only been eating once every three days, and I've done this for about two weeks now trying to sort out the cloudiness, but to no avail. I appreciate your input though, thank-you!
In this case I really don't think over feeding is an issue. The fact that you were feeding so little for so long basically proves this to be true.

I was out of the hobby for about 6 years. When I set my 55 gallon tank back up I did my normal fish in cycle. The water in this tank was cloudy for most of the cycling process. The cycle was actually complete in about 4 weeks. Meaning 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and the nitrates gradually going up between water changes. I didn't consider it totally done until the cloudy water cleared up. It cleared up at right at 6 weeks. I didn't like it but knew it is normal in some tanks.

If the cloudy water is caused by the cycling process water changes are not going to help. The cloudy water just has to run its course. The main thing is, it is not harmful to the fish.
 
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zooey

Although the cloudy water is a bit of a nuisance, I'm just glad it's not affecting my fish, that's really all I was worried about. At this point in time I suppose I just have to wait - thank-you!
Also just one last question, can I still keep up with weekly maintenance (water changes, siphoning the gravel, wiping down the glass, etc) while my tank is cycling, or is it best to just leave it all alone at this point in time?
 
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mattgirl

Water changes as needed to keep ammonia and nitrites down as low as possible but hold off on cleaning anything unless necessary until the tank is fully cycled. Bacteria is growing on all the surfaces in the tank. We don't want to disturb it any more than we have to until it is firmly established.
 
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zooey

Just a little update, because I don't know if things are getting better or worse.
Yesterday when I did a water test, I noticed that while my nitrite levels had stayed the same, my ammonia and PH levels went up, and one of my fish was seeming a bit off. I did a small water change (about 15%), and added a double dose of API Quick Start + used Prime to treat my new water. A few hours after the water change, I noticed that both of my fish had perked up substantially, and the water had cleared quite a bit.

Today I tested my water just to make sure things were okay and noticed there was a bit of a change, and I don't know whether it's a good thing or not:

PH: 7.2 (went back down from 7.6 the day prior)
Ammonia: .25ppm (more colouration than previous, but only just reached .25ppm)
Nitrite: 0ppm (first reading of zero in a week)
Nitrate: 5ppm (just reached 5ppm, but most likely a little less)

I'm a bit worried that the ammonia went up, so I did add some more API Quick Start today, but I don't know if I should do another water change. The fish seem okay, much better than yesterday morning, but I know that doesn't mean they aren't affected. The water's much clearer than it has been, but is still quite murky, so I don't know whether this means the cycle is progressing or there's something wrong?

Also, just a note (WARNING: SAD!) - one of my fish that had passed about a week ago, I'd left in the main tank (because I don't have a quarantine tank), with the hopes he would perk up. In his last few days he would alternate between swimming fine, other times he'd just be swimming still at the bottom of the tank, almost as if he was sleeping. He always came up for meal times, even if it took him a bit of effort, which is why I held out hope. When I woke up one morning, he was nowhere to be found, and I was told he was most likely eaten by the other fish. Because I didn't get him out earlier, I don't know if any remains have decomposed and that's what's causing some ammonia?

I've also increased feeding just slightly, to once every two days, rather than once every three days, but I've literally only JUST started. I'm trying to leave the tank alone and just do its thing, but I can't help but be worried for my other fish. Any help would be appreciated - thank-you!
 
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mattgirl

PH: 7.2 (went back down from 7.6 the day prior)
Ammonia: .25ppm (more colouration than previous, but only just reached .25ppm)
Nitrite: 0ppm (first reading of zero in a week)
Nitrate: 5ppm (just reached 5ppm, but most likely a little less)
These numbers are looking good and don't prompt a need for a water change. Now that you are seeing zero nitrites they shouldn't go back up. Seeing zero means you now have enough nitrite eating bacteria to process all that is being produces straight through to nitrates.

In my humble opinion a 15% water change is a waste of time. I recommend changing out no less than 50% of the water. By doing so you are making a significant difference in the ammonia/nitrite levels.

I suspect the reason for the slight ammonia reading is the extra food the fish are eating. Don't let this deter you from feeding them We want them to be producing ammonia. Without it there will be no ammonia eating bacteria.
 
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zooey

Okay, I'm glad the reading is good. I know I'm a bit anxious about this whole thing, so I appreciate your patience, thank-you for helping me out!
 
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