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FAQs on Bubbles in Freshwater Aquariums

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Freshwater Bubble Troubles  6/20/09
Good Day,
<And you>
I have a freshwater tank (39 Gal, Tall) that I have recently setup. I purchased it used from someone who seemed to be a knowledgeable aquarist. In the past, I have used the bio wheel filter systems with great success and crystal clear water, but this tank came with a canister filter, RENA Filstar XP1, plus a lot of spare parts for the filter system. The setup that I employed was all new components (filters, hoses, and all) with the exception of the pump itself that goes on top of the canister. There doesn't seem to be a lot of room for going outside of the box with multiple layers of different media in the canister, so I went with what it came with. This is my first canister filter so I hope all is well in there.
<Likely so>
Water chemistry seems to be good and I have not really had much of a new tank break in cycle and I kick started the tank with a bacteria supplement just before adding in the first group of fish. No detectable nitrates or nitrites after 4 weeks of use and about 14 smaller fish (tetras and gouramis, and three Bala sharks),
<Yikes... these last get very/too large for this volume>
so I am fairly sure that the filter is doing what it should.
<Again, probably the case>
The problem that I have run into of late is micro bubbles, a lot of them! So much so that the water is getting cloudy. I have run into this with a new tank (first 48 -72 hours) as our Colorado water gases off initially, and this tank did just that, but after the first few days that tank was crystal clear. Just within the last week or so has the cloudiness become an issue and it all seems to be micro bubbles. We have finally started to have warmer weather, so the room temp is a bit higher than I has been over the last month (water temp is hanging out between 78-81 F), but other than that, I haven't made any other changes to trigger the bubbles that I am aware of. The lid for this tank came with an Eclipse # system, but it is much noisier than the canister system, and I wouldn't want to overdo the flow through the tank,
<Mmm, this unit shouldn't be "that" noisy, and I would run both>
but if that will fix the issue,
<Mmm, won't "fix" the bubbles... these are assuredly from a leak in the plumbing and/or canister "top"... that should be searched out, fixed...>
I am willing to do what we need to do. (The previous owner and the guy at a locally owned fish shop both said that the canister should do a better job than the Eclipse, but now I am wondering if that was good advice.)
<Both would do a better job than either alone>
I have read through the many bubble trouble FAQ pages, but everything there seems to apply to marine setups with over flow tanks and refugiums, etc..., I am not a newbie, but am very much stumped on what to do next. Thank you in advance for your advice and guidance.
<Please search... have done for you... others search with the term/string: canister filter bubbles:
Read the cached views. Bob Fenner>

Re: Freshwater Bubble Troubles   6/21/09
Thank you for the quick response and assurance on the canister system.
<Is easy to remedy... well usually... going systematically through all fittings... with a water bottle, tubing to ones ear... locating the source of air entrainment...>
I will definitely use both filters if I can get the noise issue taken care of.
<I assure you, you can>
The pump for the eclipse is shifting to the point where it contacts the hood lid creating a tremendous buzzing noise. I think I can get that in control with some suction cup mounts for the intake tube and then tilt it back at an angle so the top lip of the output points down at a better angle to avoid contact with the lid.
<Sounds good>
Also keeping the tank always topped off with distilled water
<Distilled? Nah>
will help cut down on the crazy splashing noise (hopefully).
For some reason, the splashing noise on this unit is WAY more than the Emperor 400 that I am using on my other tanks. Any other suggestions on noise dampening would be helpful.
<Do send along a few pix of the area please... summat is amiss here>
I read on your site that I can use petroleum jelly to seal the few joints to cut off the air infiltration,
<Mmm, is too messy to suit me... find the area and fix it otherwise>
but don't I have to worry about fouling the water with that?
<Silicone Lube is much preferred... not a solvent as petrolatum is>
(I have always been nervous about getting any oily substances anywhere near my tanks in the past.)
There are only a few connection points so I should be able to isolate this out. My guess is it may be in the return side as there are a lot of little junction pieces that came with the plumbing that the flex tubing connects to vs. only one elbow on the intake side. What would I use to permanently seal the joints, and how long will it need to cure before it is safe to start the pump back up again?
<Cut the flexible and make new, more solid connections... this and re-lubing the O-ring/s on the canister filter top/pump>
On side note, the Bala sharks are just temp residents of this tank. I needed a good batch of "bottom feeders"
<? bottom?>
to cleanup any extra food that the other residents missed while I get the auto-feeder dialed in to their twice a day feedings (this is an office tank and I have some times a couple day out of town trips and the weekends to deal with). Once the sharks out grow this tank (I am guessing within the next 6months as these glorified carp grow crazy fast when fed well in a healthy environment),
they will be transferred to one of my larger home tanks and be replaced by a cori cat and a rubber lipped Pleco once the substrate has matured and a little algae build up starts happening more than the gouramis can nibble on.
Thanks again for the help and wonderfully informative web site! (The search cache on canisters has brought me up to speed rather quickly!)
<Ah good. BobF>

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