Murky water

smillermom

Active Member
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I have a 20 extra high, basically 2 10 gallon tanks on top of each other. All of a sudden the water is looking murky. It has been fine for the last 6 months. Should I add an airstone for water flow? Love some advice!
 

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Don't take my word for it, as I am still relatively new, but the same thing happened to me a few weeks back. I did a water change, and the next day the water cleared up. You might want to try the same.
 

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What are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Have you done some extra special cleaning lately? Have you done anything different recently?
 
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  • #5
No, I haven't and that is what is strange. The only thing I have noticed, I had a new front window put in recently. I have noticed around 5:00 pm the sun hits my tank for about 15 minutes. I did not have a bow window before so maybe this? I am off to the lfs today to pick up an air regulator and stones to run some aeration in the tank and thought i'd make a 50% water change at the same time. We'll see what happens. What do you think of the direct sunlight? I was more worried about algae than anything else. Cannot move the tank, have too many other spots taken up with tanks!
 

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The water is getting pretty murky in the fry tank, would it be safe to use crystal clear chemical drops? I would think it'd be fine but having hard time putting anything with them without advice since their so fragile. If not the crystal clear, what else could I use to clear the water up? Other fish such as algae eaters are out of the question.
 
I would try basic 20-50% water changing daily, until it clears up. Any ideas as to what you did differently to cause the murky conditions? Add any fresh food (cucumber, zucchini, etc?) or is the tank cycling, or perhaps fallen behind on water changing?
 
I would try basic 20-50% water changing daily, until it clears up. Any ideas as to what you did differently to cause the murky conditions? Add any fresh food (cucumber, zucchini, etc?) or is the tank cycling, or perhaps fallen behind on water changing?

Tank was just set up about 40 hours ago when the fry dropped, so must be tank cycling. I have only fed them crushed flakes, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. So should I just leave out the crystal clear and do daily water changes then?
 
  • #10
I would stick with the water changing daily for now, yeah. Overfeeding is a good possibility, depending on what kinda fry you are feeding. Overfeeding can cause a bacterial bloom. You mentioned the fry dropping, so it is a species of livebearer? Unless its a godiad I doubt if it is quite big enough to take mosquito larvae in its first week or two.
 
  • #11
I would stick with the water changing daily for now, yeah. Overfeeding is a good possibility, depending on what kinda fry you are feeding. Overfeeding can cause a bacterial bloom. You mentioned the fry dropping, so it is a species of livebearer? Unless its a godiad I doubt if it is quite big enough to take mosquito larvae in its first week or two.

Theres 68 platy fry in their, and they have been intaking most of what I feed them since their so much. All the foods have been crushed with rolling pin into powder so that they can eat the foods.
 

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  • #12
okay, yeah with that many fish daily waterchanges should be done. It will help with the murky water, and with removing the growth inhibiting hormones most fish produce. That'll in turn let them show growth quicker, which is all around good.

Good luck.
 
  • #14
yea, even with much fewer fry, our fry tank would need daily water changes and cleaning. they're tiny, cute and messy.
 
  • #16
yea, even with much fewer fry, our fry tank would need daily water changes and cleaning. they're tiny, cute and messy.

haha yea their little piggies.

Fry are baby fish, in this case platy's.
 
  • #19
Hi, We have an established 20 gal tank - prob had it for 8-10 mos and we have Mollies and Platies - 3 mollies, 1 full grown platy and 3 babies (one 4 mo old, 2 2-3 month olds), and 2 catfish, don't remember what kind.

For the last few months, about 2 weeks after we do a 25+% water change, the tank starts getting murky again. I don't think it's so much a white murky, it just doesn't look clear anymore like it does within a day or two after changing it. And if we add any other fish they die within a couple weeks. We got 2 guppies, one died in 1 week, the other died in 2-3 wks. We also got a Blue Snail and that just died after about month or slightly more (we do have a baby snail I just found the other day ago but have no idea how long he's been there or how he's doing, just see him every once in a while so far). There is also a decent amount of green algae so the snail didn't die for hunger sake.

We test the water a couple days after the water change and sometimes when the water's starting to get like this and everything looks fine except for the usual things - ph is low and the alkalinity is low. We add ph increase when we do the water changes but we've never used the buffer up stuff the tester says we need. We always put ammonia and dechlorinator in though anyways. The temp we keep at about 74-76 degrees.

We did get a bio-filter a few months ago that's new. We did originally have the Top Fin filter that came w/the starter kit and it seemed it didn't do a ton of filtering well so we got this one but it's pretty powerful - maybe too much?

Does anyone have any ideas what could possibly be wrong, esp why any new fish/snails die?

Thanks!!!
Heidi
 
  • #20
Spotted a couple of things right away:

1) Don't add ammonia to a tank with fish! They'll produce ammonia on their own (urine) that the biological filter will convert as part of the nitrogen cycle.
2) Don't mess with the pH -- fish adapt to what it is, and the odds are that your LFS is using similar water to what you have, so the fish are already pretty well adapted to the pH. Constantly changing pH is much harder on them than a pH level that's not within their 'normal' range.
3) You should move those water changes to every week -- that'll help keep anything toxic in the tank under better control.

What type of filter are you running now? Also, what are your water chemistry readings (ammonia/nitrites/nitrates/pH)?
 
  • #21
Eye don't understand.....You put AMMONIA in the tank?

If this is what you are doing, you are defeating the whole nitrogen cycle!!!

The cloudyness is a bacterial bloom, your bacteria is multiplying to process that ammonia. It is the ammonia that is killing your fish...

You stated the water tests look fine. What kind of test kit do you use? What are the readings BEFORE you change water, for
Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:

I would also do a 50% change every week. More until your nitrogen cycle is finished. (when your ammonia, and nitrite are 0 and nitrates 5-10)
 

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  • #23
Man, sorry about that - ammonia REMOVER! That should make more sense!!!

Ah, yes, that does make more sense. Is it a separate product, or something in combination with your dechlorinator? If it's a separate product, stop using it for a while -- it may be killing off the ammonia too much before the bacteria can multiply to keep up with the new bio-load of fish.

If your ammonia levels are high, you should use a product called Prime in your tank and when you add water. It's a dechlorinator that also converts the ammonia (and nitrites/nitrates) into a harmless form that won't bother the fish, but will still be gobbled up by the bacteria.
 
  • #24
Ok, so what we're normally reading on the test strips when we put the water in the tank is typically the following:

Nitrates: 0
Nitirites: 0
Hardness: 120
Alkalinity: 80
pH: 6.4-6.8
Ammonia: 0-.5

Again, these are off of the test strip bottle comparisons, so it's not like they are exact as far as the number, that's just the closest color that it shows. So we put the ph increase in because it's always so low, the ammonia remover we always put in and the dechlorinator or conditioner. We've never done anything about the alkalinity.

Just tested it right now and it tested the same at everything except the Nitrates were a 20, still in the supposed "safe" range according to the tester bottle. pH and alkalinity, nitritis and ammonia were at the bottom of the spectrum. So I don't know that it's a bacterial bloom because they're all testing fine, right? It's not like a white murky, like I said, it just looks like if you're looking at the middle to bottom of the tank like everythings out of focus or something - maybe towards the greenish side but not totally sure. And I don't know how to do anything more w/the algae because we have 2 bottom feeders and (did have) a snail and it still seemed pretty strong. There isn't a window next to the tank and we have the light on for 12 hrs a day.....Should we continue to do the water changes every week like suggested even though the water is always testing fine?

thx,
heidi

Yes, the remover is a separate product - when we initially were getting the tank set up the ammonia levels were constantly so high w/the normal cycling and it seemed in the new water we put in as well....So the fish need a certain amount of their own ammonia?
 
  • #25
No, the fish don't need ammonia, but they do produce it (via urine), which is why the tank will go into a mini-cycle when you add new fish -- the bacteria have to increase to handle the additional ammonia and nitrites. If you remove the ammonia too fast, the bacteria never 'catch up', so the ammonia produced by the fish isn't removed naturally.

If you have ammonia in your water, Prime would turn it to its harmless form (ammonium) when you add it to the water. The same bacteria that eat ammonia eat ammonium, so there's no effect on the cycle itself, and the bacteria can naturally increase to handle the additional load in the tank.
 
  • #26
Ok thanks, that makes sense. So w/the water being murkey, since there doesn't appear to be a bacterial problem, would you think that maybe it's just an algae bloom? I read that it's not harmful to the fish, but maybe as you suggested above, it's just the mini-cycle occurring at the same time that's causing the fish/snails to die?
 
  • #27
Yea, that sounds about right -- the ammonia and/or nitrites spiked, causing the bacteria bloom that's struggling to keep up with it. And the spike would be causing the fish to die, quite possibly.
 
  • #28
I agree use Prime, not a chemical to "remove" ammonia.

Bacteria is not bad. A bacterial "bloom" only means they are reproducing quickly, which is good. They settle out of the water on the plants, gravel, decorations, and in the filter. The bacteria are what change the ammonia to nitrite, and the nitrite to nitrate.

I would HIGHLY suggest you stop using test strips and invest in an API Master test kit. Your tests will be much more reliable.

Fish and snails won't die from bacteria, but they will die from ammonia, nitrite, or HIGH nitrates (over 20). Good Luck:;z
 
  • #29
Ok thanks very much for the tips - quick question, if adding only 2 fish causes enough of a bloom for the fish to die, should we only be adding one at a time or is there a way to balance it quicker so they live? We usually end up cleaning the tank right before we put them in but maybe that's not a good idea?
 
  • #30
Another question

Hi

What do you not want in your tank nitrate, or nitrite I'm confused haha
 
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  • #32
HI and welcome to fishlore

first, the oscar unfortunately cannot stay in that 20 gallon. the absolute minimum for just one oscar is 55 gallons, and IMO even that isn't big enough. although i'm sure your oscar is only 3 or 4 inches long now, he will not stay that small for long. Oscars can get up to 12 inches and won't be able to turn around in a 20 gallon.

As for the cloudy water, it's more than likely a result of the bacterial bloom caused by the nitrogen cycle. Here are some links on the cycle and what is going on in your tank.
https://www.fishlore.com/Articles/TheNitrogenCycle.htm
https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm

Since you're in the cycle, you need to be doing daily 50% water changes with either Prime or Stress Coat +. Just the stress coat isn't actually a water conditioner, it doesn't detoxify ammonia. if you can, I would take the oscar back. if not, I would try to sell him or give him to someone who has a big enough tank.
 
  • #33
Bacteria bloom

hi
Tank is very merky changing water 10 to 15% everyday its been 3 days is there any way to speed up the bacteria bloom or what sho uld I be doing in this situation
 
  • #34
I think you are asking how to speed up the cycling? If so, you could add a cup of gravel or some filter media from a mature tank, that should help. Is it the 20 gallon in your aquarium information? If so, for the sake of the fish keep doing water changes, and put in Prime to de-toxic-ify the ammonia.
 
  • #35
well if I were you, I would remove the oscar ASAP. Firstly, oscars get way too big for a 20 gal and are very dirty. They need 55 gallons minimum. Secondly, the oscars produce so much waste that your bacteria will never catch up or keep up and your tank will never cycle. Take out the oscar and let the tank cycle fishlessly.
 
  • #36
Help nitrate at 0 tested it still murky

Hi
I'm still lost I tested ph its neutral and my nitrate is 0 and I have been changing water for 4 days every day about 15 to 20% but my water is still merky what's the problem the tank has been up for only 6 days but I can't seem to get the water to be clear it was clear when I first set it up for like 2 days than got really merky white here are some pics
 
  • #37
Your threads have been merged. Please start only one thread per question.
It'll be easier for you to keep track of the answers and the other members will know what's already been suggested.
Thanks
 
  • #38
I'm no expert here, but I will try to help explain, as it was explained to me.

I had a bacterial bloom in a tank that did not have any fish at all in it for at least a week. My water was crystal clear for 36 hours. Then when I woke up the next day, it looked exactly like your first picture.

Chlorine and chloramines are what many utility companies use to keep bacteria in check in their water; even more or less "harmless" bacteria.

When you dechlorinate your water with a water conditioner in a tank, you are allowing these bacteria (that are present in all water) to grow unchecked, and populate so thickly that you can "see" them; hence where your water was clear upon first putting it in, in a day or two these bacteria have multiplied enough to cloud your water.

Now here is where some people might disagree with me, and that is ok. And I'm not saying it's right, but this explanation made the most sense to me.

As explained to me: the bacteria causing a "bloom" such as you are experiencing are actually NOT one of the two that are involved in the nitrogen cycle; meaning the ones involved in breaking down ammonia, then nitrite. Those two bacteria (the ones breaking down fish waste), multiply slowly, which is why it takes from 1-2 months for this equilibrI'm to establish in your tank.

The bacteria involved in the bloom are of a different sort. No, they are not harmful, however they reproduce very quickly, unlike the others; which is why no matter how many water changes you do, your water will seem to cloud back up quickly. *note* You still need to do these water changes, but not to make your water clear. You will need to do them to eliminate the ammonia and then nitrite from your tank until your OTHER bacteria establish themselves (see below).

As your other bacteria that are needed for the nitrogen cycle establish on the rough surfaces in your tank and start breaking down the fish wastes, the cloudiness will go away; as they will be processing the organic nutrients in the water in lieu of the bacteria that was populating in the water so thick that your water hazed up.

*I offer this explanation with a disclaimer, because from what I've learned this is an area of disagreement among fishkeepers. I only relate it because this was an explanation that made me understand why I had a bloom in a completely fishless, and thus ammonia-free tank... for an entire week.
 
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  • #39
It's called New Tank Syndrome...bummer when you have that beautiful aquarium and don't understand why the water is so cloudy.
Like haedra explained, it's a bacterial bloom. Very common in new tanks.
Perhaps reading this link will help you further understand:
White, Green and Yellow Cloudy Aquarium Water

If there are still fish in the tank follow Alex's (agabr123) advice.

Hang in there, your tank will be looking better soon.
 
  • #41
I'm no expert here, but I will try to help explain, as it was explained to me.

I had a bacterial bloom in a tank that did not have any fish at all in it for at least a week. My water was crystal clear for 36 hours. Then when I woke up the next day, it looked exactly like your first picture.

Chlorine and chloramines are what many utility companies use to keep bacteria in check in their water; even more or less "harmless" bacteria.

When you dechlorinate your water with a water conditioner in a tank, you are allowing these bacteria (that are present in all water) to grow unchecked, and populate so thickly that you can "see" them; hence where your water was clear upon first putting it in, in a day or two these bacteria have multiplied enough to cloud your water.

Now here is where some people might disagree with me, and that is ok. And I'm not saying it's right, but this explanation made the most sense to me.

As explained to me: the bacteria causing a "bloom" such as you are experiencing are actually NOT one of the two that are involved in the nitrogen cycle; meaning the ones involved in breaking down ammonia, then nitrite. Those two bacteria (the ones breaking down fish waste), multiply slowly, which is why it takes from 1-2 months for this equilibrI'm to establish in your tank.

The bacteria involved in the bloom are of a different sort. No, they are not harmful, however they reproduce very quickly, unlike the others; which is why no matter how many water changes you do, your water will seem to cloud back up quickly. *note* You still need to do these water changes, but not to make your water clear. You will need to do them to eliminate the ammonia and then nitrite from your tank until your OTHER bacteria establish themselves (see below).

As your other bacteria that are needed for the nitrogen cycle establish on the rough surfaces in your tank and start breaking down the fish wastes, the cloudiness will go away; as they will be processing the organic nutrients in the water in lieu of the bacteria that was populating in the water so thick that your water hazed up.

*I offer this explanation with a disclaimer, because from what I've learned this is an area of disagreement among fishkeepers. I only relate it because this was an explanation that made me understand why I had a bloom in a completely fishless, and thus ammonia-free tank... for an entire week.

I'm not saying you are wrong about this but...it would seem to me that the chlorine in the water would have killed all of the bacteria. So even though water conditioner is added, there should be no bacteria the grow. The only explaination I can think of is that the chlorine didn't kill off all of the bacteria (which I don't know I like to think about when drinking a glass of water.)
 

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  • #42
No. the tank is not done cycling, and the oscar in it makes it already ovestocked, as Alex said. Besides, there are hundreds of different kinds of cichlids, all with different care needs.
 
  • #43
can I still put some cichlids in the tank like 2

It wouldn't be a good idea, no. Nitrites are toxic to your fish.
Do you still have the oscar and a pleco? I'm not really sure that cichlids are compatible with an oscar and definitely not in a tank your size.
The Oscar should be in a much larger tank as advised above.
 
  • #44
where can I find articles on some cichlids and there care needs

no oscar has been takin to my step bros tank its a 7g gallon

75g sorry ha
 
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  • #45
I'm not saying you are wrong about this but...it would seem to me that the chlorine in the water would have killed all of the bacteria. So even though water conditioner is added, there should be no bacteria the grow. The only explaination I can think of is that the chlorine didn't kill off all of the bacteria (which I don't know I like to think about when drinking a glass of water.)

Should be hypothetically.. but in my own opinion, not the case.

It would be an interesting question to pose to a local water authority! I might have to do that.

This was the explanation I had accepted.. because it was the only one that made sense to me in explaining how you can have a bloom in a tank with no fish in it at all. In my own line of thinking.. if there are "legal" levels of chemical contaminants, I suppose there might be a legal level of biological contaminants as well (consisting of harmless wee little beasties). Again, that I don't know without contacting my water authority.

Another would be I suppose, bacteria from your hands and such getting into the water, and given free reign to grow uninhibited by chlorine. There are loads of bacteria on us at any given moment, that are completely harmless (among others, who aren't so harmless but live inside us).
 
  • #46
Rather than posting back to back, please use the edit button to add to a post.

I'm glad you re-homed the Oscar. That's great! he'll be much happier in a larger tank.
Here's some info that'll help research cichlids:
 
  • #47
what kind of pleco do you have? most get to 12 inch also. only the more expensive ones are small!
 
  • #48
Actually bryan87, a common pleco will get 24 inches. ! I didn't realize he had a pleco, if its a common one, that will need to be rehomed as well.
 
  • #49
Hi! Lots of great advice. Just want to say you have to be "patient" in cycling a tank! It doesn't happen overnight or in 3 days. lol The bacteria bloom sucks to look at but in time in will clear up. Again, be patient!!! Good luck!!
 
  • #50
I have a 7 gallon tank which has been now planted and deco'd for almost two weeks, but I have only just started on cycling. Water pH is 7.5 and temperature is 24 C but I have yet to test the other parameters.

Yesterday I added a cubic centimetre of cocktail prawn on a hook to begin fishless cycling since I was unable to find pure liquid ammonia anywhere in the shops. Now today the ammonia levels are between 0.25 and 0.50 but the water is very murky and scummy. Is this in anyway normal? Should I be panicking? Is there anything I can do to regain water clarity?
 

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