What Do You Use To Get Crystal Clear Water?

MFac

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I know this gets asked a lot, so I'll try to be as specific as possible. I've already tried a few obvious things but not results.

I have a 46 gallon acrylic tank with African cichlids. It has been up and running with fish for 6 weeks now. I'm using argonite gravel. Our tap water here is pristine. I've tested all parameters and all are perfect. No ammonia, no nitrites and as close to no nitrates as you can hope to be. I'm running an FX6 with four different types of biooogical media, purigen, two blue fine filter pads and two polishing filter pads. I have a hydor mini 425 creating surface turbulence. Temperature kept at 79~80 degrees.

So what am I doing wrong? Why isn't my water crystal clear? It's always looks like someone dumped a cup of milk in with the water. It's clean, and you can see some occasional fish waste float by, but it's by no means polished. I only feed them as much as they will eat in a minute. They're small-ish so I'm feeding them twice a day. I'm also doing 25% water changes weekly using a python gravel vac. Just disassembled and changed filter pads today in the FX6. I assumed the purigen needed to be recharged but it's just a dirt brown color. Not almost black as the label says it will be.

Suggestions?
 

AllieSten

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Add some carbon for 24-48 hours. That should help. Also I use filterfloss plus all the other media. Gets those tiny pieces the filterpads miss.
 
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MFac

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Add some carbon for 24-48 hours. That should help. Also I use filterfloss plus all the other media. Gets those tiny pieces the filterpads miss.
I used the filter floss pads from fluval for the FX6. I ordered some pinky filters floss to use instead, but it hasn't gotten here yet.

I'm not convinced about the benefits of carbon other than to remove odors or medication.
 

Lynn78too

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Are the a lot of bubbles being created by the filter? My old filter created a ton of bubbles and it affected the whole tank.
 

AllieSten

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What about using Purigen? Isn't that a water polisher also?

Edit:never mind I see that you use it. Maybe it's how you have your canister set up? Maybe you need to put the items in a different order. Have you checked out YouTube for canister set up tutorials to see if there are any tips? That's where I usually start.
 

MissRuthless

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When you say you changed filter pads, do you mean you threw away the old ones and replaced them with brand new ones? You should not have any need to throw away filter media after only six weeks. The bacteria you need lives in there, so you only want to rinse it out with tank water and put it back, and only replace it if its literally destroyed and falling to pieces. In that case you'd want to leave at least a piece of the old pad in there to seed the new one for a couple weeks.

What exactly is your nitrate reading? Is it zero, or more? That's important. My best guess is that you aren't completely cycled, and a bacterial bloom is clouding the water - that milky water you describe is common in new tanks just before they cycle.

I think you should cut down on your feeding, at least until your water issue is resolved. The uneaten food could be contributing to the cloudy water, and despite how much fish can beg and look hungry, that's just what they do. The only fish I feed more than once a day are my growing angelfish who are getting ready to spawn - the rest eat once a day five days a week. This has improved the overall health of my tanks and fish, and kept nitrates from building up as quickly. I've gone at least two weeks without feeding before when I had serious water issues going on - they beg, but they won't die.

Edit to add: I second the idea of adding carbon, it is definitely beneficial beyond removing odors and meds which is why it's in every premade filter cartridge you can buy.
 
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MFac

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When you say you changed filter pads, do you mean you threw away the old ones and replaced them with brand new ones? You should not have any need to throw away filter media after only six weeks. The bacteria you need lives in there, so you only want to rinse it out with tank water and put it back, and only replace it if its literally destroyed and falling to pieces. In that case you'd want to leave at least a piece of the old pad in there to seed the new one for a couple weeks.

What exactly is your nitrate reading? Is it zero, or more? That's important. My best guess is that you aren't completely cycled, and a bacterial bloom is clouding the water - that milky water you describe is common in new tanks just before they cycle.

I think you should cut down on your feeding, at least until your water issue is resolved. The uneaten food could be contributing to the cloudy water, and despite how much fish can beg and look hungry, that's just what they do. The only fish I feed more than once a day are my growing angelfish who are getting ready to spawn - the rest eat once a day five days a week. This has improved the overall health of my tanks and fish, and kept nitrates from building up as quickly. I've gone at least two weeks without feeding before when I had serious water issues going on - they beg, but they won't die.

Edit to add: I second the idea of adding carbon, it is definitely beneficial beyond removing odors and meds which is why it's in every premade filter cartridge you can buy.

I'm sure I'm overfeeding. I'm going to cut back to once per day for now.

I threw away the old pad. It was a polishing pad. It was done. I think it filtered out sediment form the substrate and the fish and the food and whatever else and was done. I replaced it. I actually added two this time. The for different types of biological media I have in there is whats holding all the beneficial bacteria. I could see visible proof that they are active.

After testing, ammonia and nitrites are zero. The nitrates are registering at the bottom of the scale, close to zero but I know it's not absolute zero by any means.


I'll try the carbon. I honestly feel carbon is a total waste of money and exhausted way too fast. There are instances where it's needed, but in all my previous years of fish keeping, carbon was as useless as undergravel filters.

Next up, I'm going to throw on a fluval HOB and fill it full of floss and see what that does. If that doesn't work, I'm going to use a UV sterilizer. One way or another, it's getting clear.
 

MissRuthless

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I agree that undergravel filters are useless - I had a thread here looking for help trying to retrieve a tiger barb fry that had hatched under mine, and ripped it up trying to save him. Poor thing lived his entire short life stuck under there, and it was gross on the floor of the tank after.

Are you able to take a photo of the nitrate test? Other members may be able to tell, and I've also found that just taking a photo with flash helps me to read them sometimes because I'm blind. Also try to look at it under multiple light sources (same idea I guess).

How many fish do you have in there, juvies and adults? At what point did you add them and how many at a time?

Apologies if this has already been covered but what is your water change schedule like? I would think with such a nice filter, regular water changes and less food should straighten things out in fairly short order. Don't run out and buy a sterilizer if you don't already have one - what you are experiencing is really common in new tanks, and it will clear up as long as you take proper care. My setups are all super ghetto, and I could never afford to spend a few hundred dollars on anything fish related - but they have all been crystal clear since I came here and learned how things are actually supposed to be done.
 
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MFac

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I agree that undergravel filters are useless - I had a thread here looking for help trying to retrieve a tiger barb fry that had hatched under mine, and ripped it up trying to save him. Poor thing lived his entire short life stuck under there, and it was gross on the floor of the tank after.

Are you able to take a photo of the nitrate test? Other members may be able to tell, and I've also found that just taking a photo with flash helps me to read them sometimes because I'm blind. Also try to look at it under multiple light sources (same idea I guess).

How many fish do you have in there, juvies and adults? At what point did you add them and how many at a time?

Apologies if this has already been covered but what is your water change schedule like? I would think with such a nice filter, regular water changes and less food should straighten things out in fairly short order. Don't run out and buy a sterilizer if you don't already have one - what you are experiencing is really common in new tanks, and it will clear up as long as you take proper care. My setups are all super ghetto, and I could never afford to spend a few hundred dollars on anything fish related - but they have all been crystal clear since I came here and learned how things are actually supposed to be done.
Thanks for the reply. I just ordered some Rox 0.8 carbon. I was debating on putting in a reactor, but that's basically what a canister filter is anyway. I'll put it between some filter floss and see how it works. I've also cut back to feeding once per day. Water is still cloudy at the moment. It's clear enough but just hazy I guess. I think it just may have never really settled from when I first assembled it and got it going. I'm partialing 25% once per week.
 
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