Should I Do A Water Change When The Water Is Cloudy?

Discussion in 'Cleaning and Maintenance' started by phenris, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. phenrisValued MemberMember

    Started this 10 gallon tank up for a female betta last Friday (June 8th). We had to do an emergency acclimation with this uncycled tank because of the extremely high ammonia levels in her cup, so I'm dealing with that.

    I know that for new tanks, a couple hours or days after starting it, the water will become cloudy because of an overload of bacteria. Some sources say to NOT do a water change, others say to IMMEDIATELY do a water change. I did about a 15-20% change on Monday, 2 days after the cloudiness started.

    Any advice? The ammonia levels are still way way too high, so I feel like I desperately need to do a water change, but I don't want to touch the tank if it's going to prolong the cycling process in the long run.

  2. SmalltownfishfriendWell Known MemberMember

    If you are worried about the ammonia dose with prime!! It will neutralize it up to 1ppm. As for a water change.. I really am not sure because I hear so much conflicting information on it also!!

  3. IHaveADogTooWell Known MemberMember

    Be careful not to let the status of your cycle become more important than the health of your fish.

    Cloudy water usually means an ammonia spike or a bacteria bloom, both of which can be harmful to fish. Change the water.

    Don't worry about if changing the water will affect your cycle. You already have fish in the tank. The health of the fish should take priority over the status of the cycle.

  4. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I agree with @IHaveADogToo The health of your fish is much more important than a cycle.

    You also need to figure out where the high ammonia is coming from. One little Betta in a ten gallon tank shouldn't produce enough ammonia to even register. Have you checked your source water for ammonia? If it is coming from there water changes with it won't help and you need to find a different source for water.
  5. phenrisValued MemberMember

    It's not my tap water. The ammonia came straight from her cup water, which I know because my tank water was at 0 ammonia before putting her in it. After putting her in it, it spiked to harmful levels. I know my fish's health comes first, but the reason I'm asking is because I've heard that DOING the water change is what causes more harm than leaving it be.
  6. phenrisValued MemberMember

    Also, I have seachem prime and have been using it since I did the first water change Monday.
  7. Small TanksValued MemberMember

    Test your water. Unless you have more than 1ppm of ammonia DO NOT CHANGE THE WATER.

    Keep dosing with prime (preferably every 23 hours) until it settles. It's new tank syndrome you WILL make it worse if you keep adding more minerals to the mix.

    If you have ANY access to plants or media from an already established tank put it in your new tank (fake plants, a handful of gravel, anything).
    (Java Moss is best at this stage IMO, but everyone has different tricks for that).

    Feed sparingly - or not at all if possible. Keep the filter going.

    It'll settle in a day or two. Do not be shocked if you get an algae bloom shortly after.
  8. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    How high is the ammonia? If it is less than 1 prime will neutralize it an make it safer for your fish. If it is over 1 your really need to do a water change to get it down. It is too late now because it is already done but it really isn't a good idea to pour bad water in the tank.
  9. phenrisValued MemberMember

    Already done all of this. Added gravel, filter media, and plant deco from an established tank. Ammonia is higher than 1ppm. Have been dosing with prime and prime only.
  10. phenrisValued MemberMember

    I acclimated this fish for over three hours trying to remove every last drop of pet store water. It literally just kept infesting the tank water I was adding to the cup. Tested the ammonia every 5 minutes and it literally just stayed stagnant. There was NO choice but to put her in my tank, bad water and all, because NOTHING was getting rid of that ammonia in her cup. Believe me, I have already done and tried every textbook fix and did the best I could in putting this fish in an uncycled tank. She was dying and it was better to put her in an uncycled tank rather than rotting in an ammonia-infested cup.

    I will start doing daily water changes 30-40%. I'm guessing it's the only thing that can be done at this point.
  11. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    At this point that is all you can do. I know some folks will disagree with me but even if this tank never cycles it is much better for your little girl than where she was. Water changes with Prime to neutralize the ammonia should keep her safe.

    Can you tell us how high the ammonia actually is. I am having a hard time understanding how there was enough ammonia in her little cup to raise the ammonia to dangerous levels in a 10 gallon tank. I am not doubting you. Just trying to get to the bottom of it so hopefully I will be able to help you.

    This should cycle this tank quickly so hopefully by tomorrow it will be taking care of whatever ammonia there is in there right now.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  12. Small TanksValued MemberMember

    If you've put media in from a cycled tank it should be fine. If your ammonia isnt going down with all of those efforts your kit is wrong or there's ammonia in your tank water.

    Also next time you end up in this situation, scoop the fish out with a net so you don't have to put their foul water in your tank.
  13. phenrisValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice! I can’t get an exact reading on the ammonia level because I’m using strips not liquid tests, but it reads for sure around 3.0. I’ve posted about this girl and her ammonia a couple different times for different questions and other people seem pretty baffled as to how she managed that too. I have no clue. I really hope the strips are just inaccurate.
  14. phenrisValued MemberMember

    Strangest thing? You would not know there’s a single fleck of ammonia in that tank. She acts perfectly fine. Huge appetite, blossoming color, lots of activity. There is what I and others suspect to be ammonia burn on her gills, but this COULD be her natural coloring.
  15. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I think I would be leaning toward defective strips. If she has in fact been in ammonia that high I would think she would not act as healthy as it seems she is.

    If you are still seeing ammonia at 3.0 even after moving her into the 10 gallon tank then that tells me that the strips are not reading correctly. Adding that cup of water to 10 gallons of water would have diluted the ammonia so much it shouldn't even show up at all. Simple math tells me it is not possible.

    I really think you can rest easy now because there is just no way she can produce enough waste to raise the ammonia level in her new tank much at all and certainately not to dangerous levels. Moving the cycled media and other stuff from a cycled tank should almost instantly cycle this tank.

    If you were using a liquid test kit I would expect zeros across the board by morning and then in a week or so you should start seeing a few nitrates. I really don't expect you will ever see either ammonia or nitrites though. That is how an instant cycle normally works.

    I highly, if at all possible, recommend getting your own API Master Test Kit. It will save you a lot of stress and worry.

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