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FAQs on Freshwater Aquarium Cloudy Water

Related Articles:A practical approach to freshwater aquarium water chemistry by Neale Monks, pH, alkalinity, acidityTreating Tap Water, Freshwater MaintenanceFrequent Partial Water ChangesEstablishing Cycling, Freshwater Filtration, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for BeginnersIn praise of hard water; How hard, alkaline water can be a blessing in disguise by Neale Monks, The Soft Water Aquarium: Risks and Benefits by Neale Monks

Related FAQs: FW H2O Quality 1, FW H2O Quality 2, FW H2O Quality 3, Aquarium MaintenanceTreating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Water Hardness, Nitrogen Cycling, Establishing Cycling 1, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphates, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Mmmm, principal "causes": Uncycled system, inadequate filtration, circulation, aeration... Over- and mis-feeding... poor maintenance, excess nutrient presence, (lack of partial water change outs)... lack of plants...

update, and question (RMF, any thoughts on this?)<<I agree w/ your stmt.s. RMF>>
Fresh-water... trtmt.     7/18/17

Greetings Neale,
<Hello again, Byron,>
It has been over a year since our last correspondence on the problem of flashing/cloudy water. It was two separate issues as we had worked out, and the heat/salt cleared up the flashing (none since then).
<Cool. It's an old treatment, but safe, and as you report, often (if not always!) works.>
The cloudy water was an organics issue as you surmised, though I never did find out why (we had gone through the possible causes at the time), but more frequent filter cleanings has kept it at largely bay for most of this year. Anyway, that’s all solved, with my sincere appreciation to you.
<Welcome. Sometimes tanks go through phases, and sometimes it's actually seasonal -- the tank in my classroom receives hours of direct sunlight this time of year, and turns pea soup colour within two days of a complete water change! Nothing I can do about it, and since the Guppies and Limia are fine, I've stopped worrying. By September it'll settle back down to normal.>
I have a question about water conditioners, and specifically the amount to use. I am a very firm believer in not adding any substance to an aquarium with fish unless it is essential, and then keeping these minimal.
I believe that everything added to the water does end up inside the fish via osmosis through the cells or gills, and while these may not kill the fish, they don’t benefit except for the purpose needed, like dechlorination of the water.
<Makes sense.>
I have always used sufficient conditioner for the volume of the replacement water. So in a 90g tank, holding an actual 70 gallons of water, if I replace 60% of the water, I add conditioner for roughly 35-40 gallons, the replacement volume.
<Sounds about right, but I'd err on the side of over-dosing water conditioner than under-dosing. So if you think 42 gallons is being replaced (42 being 60% of 70 gallons) I'd round that up to, say, 50 gallons.>
I should mention that the replacement water is going directly into the tank from the faucet via a Python, not being pre-treated.
<Quite so. Did exactly this process this morning, changing 90% of the water in the aforementioned Guppy and Limia tank.>
Manufacturers like Seachem recommend adding the amount of conditioner for the entire tank volume, and even exceeding this by two or three times “will cause no harm.” Over on TFF, it has been suggested that the organics in the tank will somehow nullify much of the dechlorinator when water is added directly to the tank, so the conditioner should be for the full tank volume or more. I’ve never had identifiable problems in more than 25 years of doing it minimally, so I question this reasoning.
<I think their rationale is this: When you add dechlorinator to a bucket, you stir in the dechlorinator, neutralising all the chlorine before adding the water to your aquarium. When doing the Python approach, you're adding new water (including its dissolved chlorine) straight to the tank, which is a far bigger volume than a bucket, and much less evenly mixed, especially if you turn the filter off during water changes. If you add the "right" amount of dechlorinator, it might take, say, 30 minutes to completely mix with all the chlorine particles and neutralise them. Add two or three times as much, and you increase the chances the dechlorinator particles collide with chlorine particles. Very roughly, if you add two times as much, you half the time the chlorine is "free" and able to hurt your fish; add three times as much, and that chlorine is able to hurt your fish only one-third the time. Make sense? What the water conditioner manufacturer is suggesting -- quite plausibly -- is that the potential harm a triple dose of dechlorinator might do is less than the harm free chlorine will do in the X minutes it's un-neutralised in the aquarium. I honestly have no idea how long chlorine would take to neutralise in the aquarium, but for some fish, even a few minutes exposure could cause damage, particularly if this happens week after week after week.>
I’d be interested in your views on this. Particularly, am I correct in thinking that substances dissolved in the water will get inside fish (whatever the consequences)? And is conditioner for the replacement volume adequate?
<I dose extremely approximately using pond-grade dechlorinator. For all practical purposes this stuff is extremely low toxicity, so I'd have no reservations about using a double or triple dose. Conversely, if the plain vanilla dosage has always worked for you, I'd see no harm in sticking with it.>
With thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Constant floating debris; FW filtr.       6/27/17
Hello Crew!
<Hey Lisa!>
I'm delighted to stumble across WWM! I have no idea what took me so long to find you. Until now I have been at the mercy of well meaning teenagers at my local pet store.
<Heeee! Remember, we were them at one time>
My issue is constant floating debris in my 10 year(established) 46 gallon pie/bow front tank(short and deep). I have two large Blood parrots(both 4 years old) and a large Pleco(11 years).
<Ooh, messy fishes!>

I use an Eheim 2215 filter . The cascade of events began when my husband took a sudden interest in the fish and, unbeknownst to me, was(over) feeding them!!! Rotting peas and pellets every where. Sadly I did not
notice until my female parrot began to stress from the polluted water. I did a massive water change, went to clean the filter, it slipped from my wet hands and shattered on the floor. (ugh!) I immediately ordered a new
Eheim 2215(thank you Amazon)and set an air pump in tank to give my poor fish some support. New pump arrived, set it all up, great water pressure from out-put. My problem is that I have constant debris/poop/pea skins
floating about. It will float right past the filter intake. My water is really clear with the exception of the debris. I never experienced this before...but never had an air pump going either. I wrote Eheim and they suggested using a "clumping agent".
<This is one approach>
When I put my hand over intake there is suction but not powerful. Does this sound normal,
<Is normal. Am a HUGE fan of Eheim canister filters, but they don't provide much in the way of circulation or mechanical filtration for large/r particles>
or does it sound like my new filter not functioning correctly? Should I just expect to clean up the junk with weekly water changes?
<This is the best time; yes... swirling a net around, gravel vacuuming...
But, I would add more filtration here (redundancy pays); a large hang on the back power filter with the screen off the intake would be my choice; AND I'd switch to a known, good brand of pelleted food. Hikari and Spectrum are fave lines. MUCH less messy>
Thank you in advance for your advise!!
Lisa W.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Fw cloudy     6/12/17
It seems you guys have become my go to for information. I can't thank you enough! I just did a full substrate change on a previously cycled planted 55 gallon with 6 young angelfish, 2 Bristlenose Plecos, 4 Cory cats, a dwarf Gourami, one killifish, and two mollies. (Yes overstocked, the Gourami, killing, and mollies are getting their own tank this week).
<Ah good; need much different water conditions>
I changed from black coarse sand to fine tan sand (CaribSea) about two weeks ago. I tried to be careful in preserving my filter media, and had the fish moved to a holding tank. As expected I had a very slight rise in ammonia
the next day, but with frequent small water changes that seems to be fine now, and no nitrites, pH is about 7.6. However the water turned very  cloudy about 3 days ago.
<Cycling... high population of heterotrophic bacteria... STOP feeding if any ammonia or nitrite present... Will clear on its own in time>
This happened once before, and adding carbon cleared it right up. This time carbon isn't working, 20% daily water changes aren't working.
<Mmm; the latter may be forestalling clearing. I'd hold off unless there is NH3, NO2...>

The fish seem healthy and have great appetites. I've read that uv sterilizers can help with this issue?
<Yes; could... or just time going by>
I'm getting a larger filter in a week or two anyway, mine is rated at 75 gallon tanks, but since I'm overstocked
I thought more is better. I plan on running both until the bigger one is established. Any insight you can provide would be great, thank you.
<Please read here Re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/cloudywaterfw.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Fw cloudy     6/12/17

Thank you for the super fast response! Looks like I've got some reading to do. ��
<DO write back if your path is not clear. BobF>

Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled      11/19/16
Dear Crew:
<Fuzz.... Ah, Lor!>
I want to thank you for your informative site. I've enjoyed reading the many articles, and your responses to requests for "help".
<Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
I have an issue I can't identify, and would love your input.
I have a 29g freshwater setup, with a OTB Marineland Penguin/BioWheel 200, and two airstones on opposite corners in the back. I have many live plants, mainly Java fern, and Anubias, I think. The plants have been thriving for about five years, spreading all over, and producing "plantlets" on their leaves. There is one small piece of Mopani wood (half buried in the sand), four resin ornaments ("caves"), one ceramic sign, and a mesh bag with crushed coral I have used for a couple years to help keep the pH from dropping. I have white aquarium sand as the substrate. I cannot grow Java
moss, though it does well in a 2.5g I have at work.
<These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water quality, what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
Due to water source issues (company, not well water), I wound up breaking down the tank on October 17th, and starting over. At that time, after a partial water change, there was a pH crash, and a spike in the ammonia levels that apparently killed my dwarf BN Pleco, a couple Zebra Danios, a Julii Corydoras, and one of my Kuhli Loaches. That was when I put the surviving fish in a bucket, and started over, doing a thorough cleaning of everything.
I have been testing my water and doing daily water changes since then, 50% or a little more every evening, depending on the ammonia number. I use liquid drop water test kits. I have used SeaChem Prime for water changes, but started alternating that with Neutral Regulator a couple weeks ago after the tank water crashed below 6 pH during the cycling,
<What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source water?>
and I saw that the tap water being added during changes was over 7.6 pH.
<Well; pH and hardness are not always stair-stepped linked. DO read Neale's pieces on WWM re hardness; consider adding a level teaspoon of baking soda>
The pH is now holding about 7.2, ammonia is steady at .25 (could be the Prime, we have chloramines in our tap water), Nitrites have dropped to 0 after spiking to 5.0 for a few days, and Nitrates are now testing about 10 daily, and staying there.
<So; this system s/b cycled>
The temp stays at 80F. I am getting a little algae growth on the resin ornaments, but also a rust/orange colored
growth, neither of which is tall, just barely noticeable.
<Perhaps diatoms, dinoflagellates... maybe Cyanobacteria though. Can ascertain with a look at a sample and low/er power scope>
It doesn't worry me, though I've never seen any growth of that color before. I have reduced the water changes to every 3-4 days, and now am only doing a water change of 25% or so each time, the amount depending on the water test numbers.
The surviving fish (2 Albino Corys, 4 Kuhli Loaches, 2 Glowlight Tetras) were acting healthy, moving about, searching for food, just a week or so ago, but now they are mostly hiding again, the tetras are pale, and I've noticed a fine gray dust all over the plants. Yesterday I gently "shook" the plants with the siphon during the water change, to help remove the sediment, if that is what it is. I also took the sponge off the filter intake, and rinsed it out thoroughly. There was a lot of "dust" in it.
<Cycling die-off mostly... some inorganic precipitation>
Today I noticed the "dust" is all across the back of the tank, almost as if it's attached to cobwebs on the glass, moving in the water currents. A lot of this dust is back on the sponge I have over the filter intake, and on the plants as well. I have attached photographs to illustrate.
The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
I have been feeding literally 2-3 flakes of fish food, and 3-4 shrimp pellets daily, and some nights I add an algae wafer after the light goes off. The food is always gone in the morning.
<I'd cut this back to half for now>
What do you think is this gray dust, and what do I need to do, if anything?
<As above; and I'd keep doing the shake, siphoning...>
Sorry for the length of this email, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible to help you to determine the source of the "dust".
<Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation, filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
Thank you, again.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled      11/21/16
Dear Crew:
I want to thank you for your informative site. I've enjoyed reading the many articles, and your responses to requests for "help".
<Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
I have an issue I can't identify, and would love your input.
I have a 29g freshwater setup, with a OTB Marineland Penguin/BioWheel 200, and two airstones on opposite corners in the back. I have many live plants, mainly Java fern, and Anubias, I think. The plants have been thriving for
about five years, spreading all over, and producing "plantlets" on their leaves. There is one small piece of Mopani wood (half buried in the sand), four resin ornaments ("caves"), one ceramic sign, and a mesh bag with crushed coral I have used for a couple years to help keep the pH from dropping. I have white aquarium sand as the substrate. I cannot grow Java moss, though it does well in a 2.5g I have at work.
<These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water quality, what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
Due to water source issues (company, not well water), I wound up breaking down the tank on October 17th, and starting over. At that time, after a partial water change, there was a pH crash, and a spike in the ammonia levels that apparently killed my dwarf BN Pleco, a couple Zebra Danios, a Julii Corydoras, and one of my Kuhli Loaches. That was when I put the surviving fish in a bucket, and started over, doing a thorough cleaning of everything.
I have been testing my water and doing daily water changes since then, 50% or a little more every evening, depending on the ammonia number. I use liquid drop water test kits. I have used SeaChem Prime for water changes, but started alternating that with Neutral Regulator a couple weeks ago after the tank water crashed below 6 pH during the cycling,
<What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source water?>
and I saw that the tap water being added during changes was over 7.6 pH.
<Well; pH and hardness are not always stair-stepped linked>
The pH is now holding about 7.2, ammonia is steady at .25 (could be the Prime, we have chloramines in our tap water), Nitrites have dropped to 0 after spiking to 5.0 for a few days, and Nitrates are now testing about 10 daily, and staying there.
<So; this system s/b cycled>
The temp stays at 80F. I am getting a little algae growth on the resin ornaments, but also a rust/orange colored
growth, neither of which is tall, just barely noticeable.
<Perhaps diatoms, dinoflagellates... maybe Cyanobacteria though. Can ascertain with a look at a sample and low/er power scope>
It doesn't worry me,
though I've never seen any growth of that color before. I have reduced the water changes to every 3-4 days, and now am only doing a water change of 25% or so each time, the amount depending on the water test numbers.
The surviving fish (2 Albino Corys, 4 Kuhli Loaches, 2 Glowlight Tetras) were acting healthy, moving about, searching for food, just a week or so ago, but now they are mostly hiding again, the tetras are pale, and I've noticed a fine gray dust all over the plants. Yesterday I gently "shook" the plants with the siphon during the water change, to help remove the sediment, if that is what it is. I also took the sponge off the filter intake, and rinsed it out thoroughly. There was a lot of "dust" in it.
<Cycling die-off mostly... some inorganic precipitation>
Today I noticed the "dust" is all across the back of the tank, almost as if it's attached to cobwebs on the glass, moving in the water currents. A lot of this dust is back on the sponge I have over the filter intake, and on the plants as well. I have attached photographs to illustrate.
The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
I have been feeding literally 2-3 flakes of fish food, and 3-4 shrimp pellets daily, and some nights I add an algae wafer after the light goes off. The food is always gone in the morning.
<I'd cut this back to half for now>
What do you think is this gray dust, and what do I need to do, if anything?
<As above; and I'd keep doing the shake, siphoning...>
Sorry for the length of this email, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible to help you to determine the source of the "dust".
<Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation, filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
Thank you, again.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled      11/21/16

Good Afternoon Crew/Bob:
<Howdy Lor>
Here are my answers to your questions from yesterday:
> <Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
Would love to, but I don't see a "join" option, anywhere on the site.
Perhaps it does not show on a mobile device? :(
<<Ah, was referring to you joining the WWM Crew responding to queries!>>
> <These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely
> silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water
> what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
I have never used fertilizer, everything grows beautifully, except the Java moss.
<<Do you have sufficient iron?>>
I have my lights on a timer for 13 hours a day. I have a single fluorescent bulb: brand name FloraSun, 17 watt, T8. It says 5000K, high intensity in blue and red on the package (yes, I kept the cardboard sleeve).
> <What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source
> water?>
I did a KH test today, before and after a 20% water change, and both times the second drop of solution turned the sample yellow, or a 35.8 ppm KH reading, as per the instructions. The tap water reading is the same. I do not have a GH test kit. Yet.
<<I see>>
> <Decomposition?>
> The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
> <Still...>
During today's 20% WC, I siphoned the dust off of intake sponge and the plants, also shaking them to see if a dead loach could be found. I also checked all the ornaments, saw 2 live Kuhli loaches, but no evidence of deceased fish. The other fish are all accounted for. In the past I have thought that my loaches had died, but they always turned up alive during a
"deep cleaning". They may be under the sand.
<<I would stir, vacuum about half the tank sand per week>>
As per your suggestion, I will cut back a little on the food. I do skip feeding the fish for a day here and there.
> <Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation,
> filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
I have only the Marineland 200, and the two air-stones.
Would a powerhead help? Or should I bite the bullet and invest in a canister?
<<I'd add either one>>
The closest decent LFS is an hour's drive from where I live, and I doubt Petco/PetSmart do scoping. Suggestions?
<<Mmm; there are some inexpensive microscopes... digital, USB drive... made for children to adults... Some are reviewed (by me, others) on WWM>
Thank you, again!
<Thank you for your further sharing. BobF>

Re: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled     11/22/16
Good Afternoon Crew/Bob:
<Howdy Lor>
Here are my answers to your questions from yesterday:
> <Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
Would love to, but I don't see a "join" option, anywhere on the site.
Perhaps it does not show on a mobile device? :(
<<Ah, was referring to you joining the WWM Crew responding to queries!>>
> <These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely
> silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water quality,
> what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
I have never used fertilizer, everything grows beautifully, except the Java moss.
<<Do you have sufficient iron?>>
I have my lights on a timer for 13 hours a day. I have a single fluorescent bulb: brand name FloraSun, 17 watt, T8. It says 5000K, high intensity in blue and red on the package (yes, I kept the cardboard sleeve).
> <What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source water?>
I did a KH test today, before and after a 20% water change, and both times the second drop of solution turned the sample yellow, or a 35.8 ppm KH reading, as per the instructions. The tap water reading is the same. I do
not have a GH test kit. Yet.
<<I see>>
> <Decomposition?>
> The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
> <Still...>
During today's 20% WC, I siphoned the dust off of intake sponge and the plants, also shaking them to see if a dead loach could be found. I also checked all the ornaments, saw 2 live Kuhli loaches, but no evidence of deceased fish. The other fish are all accounted for. In the past I have thought that my loaches had died, but they always turned up alive during a
"deep cleaning". They may be under the sand.
<<I would stir, vacuum about half the tank sand per week>>
As per your suggestion, I will cut back a little on the food. I do skip feeding the fish for a day here and there.
> <Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation, filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
I have only the Marineland 200, and the two air-stones.
Would a powerhead help? Or should I bite the bullet and invest in a canister?
<<I'd add either one>>
The closest decent LFS is an hour's drive from where I live, and I doubt Petco/PetSmart do scoping. Suggestions?
<<Mmm; there are some inexpensive microscopes... digital, USB drive... made for children to adults... Some are reviewed (by me, others) on WWM>
Thank you, again!
<Thank you for your further sharing. BobF>

UPDATE: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled
Good Morning WWM Crew:
<And to you, too.>
It's been a week since I LAST received your assistance (thank you!!!), so I thought I'd give you an update. The sediment issue has cleared up! Yes!
<Good news.>

One factor might have been the air stone that I decided to replace. It appeared to have dark growth on one edge, but turned out to be crumbling, slimy. I don't recall having that happen to an air stone before.
<Hmm... does depend on the type, and some do seem, shall we say, biodegradable.>
The Java Moss is growing back (!) from a few shreds still attached to a resin object. Apparently they were "not quite dead".
The other plants (Java fern, Anubias) had some darkened leaves, brown, almost black, and brittle, which I have removed. I suspect this is from the pH crash/ammonia issues, or perhaps from the salt water "swish" I gave them when I broke down the tank several weeks ago. They do show new growth, so I am not concerned at this point. I will continue to observe.
<Quite so.>
The water parameters are holding somewhat steady, though the pH still has a tendency to inch down into the 6.6 or lower range:
Ammonia .25
<Higher than it should be; do review stocking, feeding frequency, amount of biological media available.>
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 10-20 (I do a water change of at least 25% at 20+)
<Sounds fine.>
I do believe the continued Ammonia reading is due to my use of SeaChem Prime. I have been testing the water daily, and add a teaspoon of Neutral Regulator (1/3 of the dose for my tank size) when the pH drops to 6.6, to keep it from going lower.
<pH drops tend to be down to low carbonate hardness, so review this. Adding a pH buffer can help here, though adding a small amount of carbonate hardness in the form of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is cheaper and easier. Something like a quarter to half a teaspoon per 20 litres/5 US gallons should be about right. Try a bucketful of water, and see how much it takes to get a carbonate hardness around 3-5 degrees KH. Otherwise, if you want to keep soft water fish that like acidic conditions, then simply add pH buffer that "fixes" the pH at either 7 or 6.5, depending on the needs of your fish.>
As NR is phosphate-based, I have added a two hour "nap" (off) to the light timer during the day, to help keep the algae growth under control. This method has worked for me in the past.
<Me too.>
I made the 45 mile (one way, about an hour) drive to a very good LFS yesterday, a family-run business that is in their 3rd generation (now 50 years!). Their tests of my water sample revealed the following:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10
Hardness 75
<Quite soft water.>
Alkalinity 40
<Ah, this is very low.>
pH 6.8
<Which explains the low pH.>
I did not think to ask her about iron, sorry.
QUESTION: what do you think of the Hardness and Alkalinity results?
<See above.>
Now...a confession, of sorts...I brought home the following, as I'd planned...for the most part...and as I'd researched previously with AqAdvisor (see all my justification? Ha!):
2 Albino Bristlenose Plecos (currently each are <1" long, I meant to buy one, but...)
4 Glowlight Tetras (a total of 6 in the tank now, and they are schooling, woo!!!)
2 Albino Corys (a total of 4 in the tank now, hope they will also school)
1 Kuhli loach (he was all by himself at the store, he now has 2-4 buddies, somewhere in the sand)
5 Olive Nerite snails
Vallisneria grass (I was told to lower the tank temp to 76F, as this plant tends to "melt" at 80F, am in the process of lowering it)
<Vallisneria doesn't like soft water either, so wouldn't be my recommendation here. I'd suggest one of the Crinum species, such as Crinum thaianum if you want something with long leaves, or else an Aponogeton species, though these are pretty much annuals under aquarium conditions.>
With all these additions, AqAdvisor says I have "satisfactory" filtration, but since you suggested it, I have been contemplating adding a small canister as a supplement to my OTB. I have read your section on canisters, but would appreciate your input on the idea of adding one to my setup, brands to avoid, etc. I saw a simple canister on Amazon.com, here:
<Seems a nice system, and VERY cheap. But to be honest for 10-20 gallon tanks, I find internal canisters from a reputable manufacturer better bets.
Easier to clean, use, and in the case of Fluval and especially Eheim, availability of spare parts is very simple. The Eheim Aquaball series for example is great value and runs very well.>
For your convenience I'm including our previous communication below, remove as you like.
And thanks for the "join" invite. I don't feel at all qualified to give much advice except maybe to total newbies ;) but maybe later on...
<Indeed. Glad to help, Neale.>

Re: UPDATE: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled       12/1/16
Neale (and Crew):
Just letting you know, as per your suggestion, I found and ordered a new Eheim Aquaball 2208 internal canister for 30 USD on EBay. :)
<Cool. Nice little filter.>
I plan to try the baking soda buffer method you mentioned, just did not get to it over the weekend:
QUESTIONS: If my KH test turns yellow after the second drop of solution, which is about 38-40 alkalinity, how does this equate to the 3-5 "degrees" KH that you mentioned, above?
<All this is on WWM and elsewhere; would direct you here:
Where you will find a table for interconverting degrees KH into equivalent mg/l quantities of calcium carbonate (or more rarely, calcium oxide - check the units on your test kit). For sure 38-40 mg/l would be very low carbonate hardness.>
And what is a pH buffer "fix"? The Neutral Regulator? My knowledge of chemistry is solely from researching for my aquariums, so excuse me if I appear dense.
<Fixing the pH is a non-scientific term; it simply means attempting to fix, or steady, the pH at a certain point. In other words, to prevent wild fluctuations. Slight variation is normal and harmless, say, from pH 7.5 to 7.2 between water changes; but dropping from pH 7.5 to 6.5, for example, would be bad.>
Is there any other method to help with the soft water aside from adding baking soda or other buffer such as Neutral Regulator?
<Not really. Acidification happens because fish and plants produce wastes of various kinds that tend to be acidic chemicals. So between water changes, aquaria tend to become more acidic. Inhibiting this is any background alkalinity, alkalinity being chemicals that 'soak up' acidic chemicals, neutralising them, and so preventing acidification from happening. If you have typical chalk aquifer hard water with a high carbonate hardness, then the alkalinity is so great that any and all acidic molecules will be mopped up between water changes. So hard water tanks usually have a very stable pH. But if you have (or choose to use) soft water, such alkalinity is absent. That makes such tanks prone to pH drops between water changes. Of course acidification happens at a rate proportional to the amount of livestock and the frequency of water changes, so lightly-stocked tanks that get frequent water changes may experience little by way of a pH drop. Still, most aquarists keeping soft, acidic systems will stabilise pH by using a commercial pH buffer (often called
Discus buffer after the fish kept this way most often). These use a weak acid, phosphoric acid (if I recall correctly), to act as the buffer, fixing the pH at 6.5 or 6.0, depending on the formulation. Alternatively, if you're keeping a mixed community tank and don't need particularly acidic conditions, adding a little sodium bicarbonate can do the trick, usually
fixing the pH around 7.2-7.5 if used in small quantities. Some experimentation will be required to find the exact number of teaspoons needed for your water, but such an approach is cheaper than commercial buffers so favoured by those who aren't keeping specialist fish like Discus or Cardinals that need acidic water.>
I've read that adding crushed coral can help. I have some in the aquarium in a mesh bag, and it has shrunk over the last year or so. If it does help, could I put some in the canister or OTB filter?
<Crushed coral is basically calcium carbonate, so again, raises carbonate hardness. The problem here is that coral dissolves very slowly (it may take weeks before any measurable effect) and that in turn makes using crushed coral unpredictable (you can add a lump and find a couple weeks later the pH has gone as high as 8.0). Consequently, adding crushed coral, seashells, and coral sand are viable approaches in tanks where a high pH isn't a
problem, even desirable, but not the best way to handle mixed species community tanks. In other words, fine for Mbuna, Tanganyikans, Central Americans and livebearers, but not appropriate where tetras, barbs, and catfish are being kept.>
Also, I've read that increasing aeration will help remove CO2 and increase the pH.
<Correct, but only matters if you're adding a lot of CO2 to the system. CO2 dissolves in water to form carbonic acid, while bubbling or splashing the water causes the carbonic acid to break down into CO2 again and 'evaporate' into the air. Managing pH this way is irrelevant to most aquarists because CO2 concentration in the water is never very high. But folks keeping planted tanks where they *add* CO2 from external cylinders or generators may cause the water's pH to drop more than it should, so getting the balance between water movement and CO2 fertilisation is important.>
True? If so, adding the internal canister might help, hmm? Thanks again for all your help.
P.S. Truncate previous message below as needed.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Update: Sediment/pH/Soft Water Issues      12/13/16
Greetings Neale, Bob, Crew!
First things first, a dead link in the box marked "Units please!" on this page : http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkmeas.htm
And here's a conversion calculator I found:
Now the update...
...it's been about two weeks since my last missive, and things are doing well, thanks to your input and suggestions!
<Good to hear!>
I lost one of the Glowlight tetras within a couple days of my purchase.
Whether it was one of the new ones or the current residents, I do not know.
The remaining 5 are actively schooling.
I've had no more sediment issues. Yippee!
<Even better.>
The plants are all doing well: the Vallisneria has not died, is staying green, while the Java ferns are doing great! The Java moss continues to grow back.
<All sounds as it should.>
The fish are active, not hiding (aside from the Kuhli loaches). The Nerite snails are also active, and the diatoms/algae coatings are almost gone from the resin ornaments.
<They're good snails for this.>
The pH is somewhat stable, range is 6.6-7.2 (the latter after doing a small water change).
<Good enough. Maybe tweak the alkalinity and/or buffering chemicals a bit if possible, but assuming this range is between weekly water changes, this sort of pH change is within the tolerance of most species.>
I have been using a combination of Prime and Neutral Regulator with my water changes. The NR is to both add buffers and help stabilize the pH. I have been doing small 10-20% water changes every day or two, as the tap water pH (7.6+) seems raise the tank pH significantly with larger water changes.
<Maybe add a tiny bit more neutral regulator, maybe 10% more, and see what happens. Ideally, variation between 6.6 and 7.0 would be about right. The pH scale is non-linear, a log scale; so 0.6 points along the scale IS NOT necessarily 50% more than 0.4 points, but can be very much more than that.>
I added two small "weekend feeders" to help add calcium, so my snails don't die due to the soft water.
<I would not use these. They do tend to cause problems if over-used or misunderstood. If you must, then at least choose the very small ones, and definitely avoid the big holiday ones. But a better option would be to simply add a small piece of coral that the snails will graze on as needed.
Can be removed, cleaned, and returned periodically, too.>
I also started adding three drops (29g tank) of Kent's Marine iodine per week, as per a suggestion (by Sabrina...I think, it was someone here).
Current stats (I am testing daily):
pH: 6.6-7.2, mostly 6.8 24 hours after a water change
Amm: .25, stable, same every test (tested at 0 at LFS)
<Curious. Do compare to tap water. If 0.25 is the aquarium but the tap water is 0, then something's amiss re: filtration or stocking.>
Nitrites: 0 when I check them (not daily)
Nitrates: 10-20 stable, 5-10 after water change
KH: 35.8 (2 drops, which is 2 degrees I believe)
GH: 71.6 (4 drops) - new test kit! :)
<All sounds fine.>
Today I added an Eheim Aquaball 2208 internal canister, on the opposite side of the tank from my Penguin 200 OTB. I have it placed so the discharge is just below the water surface, and the little air intake is about 1" above the surface (see attached photo). Within a minute or so of plugging it in, the Glowlight tetras started racing back and forth, across the tank, but did not look as if they were stressed or upset. Some of them looked as if they were doing "wheelies", tail down at an angle. My impression was they were enjoying the current. The Corys got active, much more than usual,
looking for food, and I saw one of the younger "new" Corys "surfing" the currents. Some of the tetras even seemed to be playing in the airstone bubbles (I moved both airstones to make room for the canister, and to try to create currents in all areas of the tank.
<Sounds good.>
Eight hours later the tetras are still active. I think they "like" the additional water currents.
<Likely so.>
Next project is to try the Malawi mix, but I need to get to the Petco/PetSmart for the marine salt.
<Is optional, and probably not necessary here. It's more for the benefit of hard water fish like cichlids and livebearers. Your tetras and such will be fine without.>
I am hoping to get the water hardness up a little, to keep the pH from crashing again, and to ensure my snails don't suffer from calcium deficiencies.
At this time, things seem to be going swimmingly! However, any thoughts or suggestions would be welcomed.
<See above.>
You ALL have been a great help, and the site has been occupying my leisure hours for the last month or so. It's a real gem, fantastic resource.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Nice to meet you / Question; cloudy FW, slime     2/25/16
Hello Bob,
> Hope this email finds you well. It was so great meeting you at the last tropical fish meeting.
> I was wondering if I could pick your brain and see if there is anything you can recommend or point me in the right direction.
There is this fish tank that I have with five zebra Danios in it. The fish look fine but all around the cable of the heater, suction cups and around the walls of the tank there's this very fine layer of cloudy film. Water is cloudy too. I have done water changes but The problem remains. I've left the water alone and the problem still remains.
<Yes; have occasioned such "growths" over the years; as have others>
It's been months so I don't believe this is a bacterial bloom.
<A mix of Protists, Monerans...>
I have asked my fellow aquarists only to get mixed opinions. I was wondering if you recommend that I take a sample of this film with a swab and look it under a microscope.
<Yes! A sample scraped by the tilted edge of a glass slide, this smeared on to the middle of another, then topped w/ a glass slip cover, a drop of water allowed to capillate between... higher power... 400X plus...>
Then again, I don't have a microscope and I don't know what I should be looking for. Can you please help me? What can I do?
<Call around the local LFS; ask if they have such a 'scope, service... Otherwise, there are a few approaches to speeding up the "cycling" of such life. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/cloudywaterfw.htm>
> Alan

displaying dead coral and seashells in water       1/28/15
I started collecting coral and seashells for non water projects. I love them so much that I would like to display them in a small aquarium without fish. Even using a filter and an air bubbler I am getting cloudy water. I have cleaned the coral and the shells with chlorine and removed the scale, so is there anything I can do for this effect without keeping fish?
<Mmm; yes... there are simple deflocculants (water clarifiers) that one can buy commercially, or make oneself (buying the chemicals)>
I have been very careful not to take new ocean samples. I buy them at estate sells from older people who got them many years before we have the problems of toady.
<? What is this word usage?>
And I love it when I make a new small tank but it always turns cloudy. I am using a 2 1/2 gallon tank with filter and led lights . Any advise would be lovely.
Thank you, for your time,
<Do you want specific recommendation/s? Do you have a pool/spa? If so, you may already have a "floc" on hand. Bob Fenner>
Re: displaying dead coral and seashells in water       1/29/15

Thank you for your time Bob.
<Glad to share Carol. Our olde service company kept a few such poisoned systems... some institutional. We/they didn't want to use bleaches, copper compounds... for their deleterious effects. We used "flocs" as mentioned to keep the water clear, free of algae. BobF>

What are the swimming specs?     8/4/13
Any idea what the itty bitty little specs swimming around are?  Are they cherry shrimp fry?
<No photo attached. But in any event, tiny (sub-mm) specks on the glass below the waterline are usually Cyclops and other tiny crustaceans.
Harmless, and in fact useful live food for many small (especially juvenile) fish. Cheers, Neale.>
What are the specs - video     8/4/13
Sorry Neale....here they are.  I forgot to attach video in my first email.
Thank you, I'll read up more on those critters.
<Still nothing. Cheers, Neale.>

FW, reading     5/6/13
Hello again.. i have another question to ask.. ok like i said i have a 500 gallon freshwater fish tank.. Ok well i have added sand to my tank bout 10 days  ago. So at first it was really cloudy but it settled but now it still has a  touch of cloudiness to it... So would you have an idea what could be causing  this . My pump is a 2000 gallon a hr.. so i know my pump are good ones for  the size of my tank.. Thank You for your time again...
<Could be a few things; but most likely particulates and/or incomplete recycling....
Please follow directions: Search, read on WWM ahead of writing us... Start here this time:

Stressed Freshwater Fish/Cloudy Water 1/18/2013
Hello WWM!
You are a wonderful/knowledgeable site, and I very much appreciate your info and your willingness to help those in need, like myself. So, the facts: I have a 30 gallon long, freshwater tank, with Fluorite/gravel substrate, bogwood,
<Mmm, do remove this wood for now... likely a factor>
and lots of live plants with dense growth. I have an Aquaclear 50, 2 airstones, and an Aquaticlife 2x39 watt light (which I have on 11 hours a day). I have 2 German Blue rams, 4 Julii Cory Cats, 2 Platys, 3 Balloon Mollies, 3 Otos, 1 Bushynose Pleco, 1 Farlowella. I feed them a variety of fresh veggies, flake, small ml pellets, algae wafers, and Rapashy twice a day. My current water stats are: GH 30, KH 120, PH 7.8, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, Ammonia .25, my temp is 79/80. I do 20-30% water changes 1-2 times a week, and I lightly rinse the filter in the discarded water at the same time. I have been keeping fish for a bit over a year, and I upgraded from a 25 gallon tall to this tank November 25, 2012 using the bioballs and water from the previous tank, but adding new Fluorite/gravel and adding additional plants. The fish were basically the same, but I added the Rams December 15. 3 Days later the Rams had a small amount if ICK showing, so I raised the temp for a week, and it cleared up, no one else showed any signs of stress. Everything looked fine until the water slowly started turning cloudy approximately January 2, 2013, so I figured maybe I needed a beneficial bacteria boost and added 20ml of Stress Zyme.
<Mmm, not a bacteria, or boost for same at all... See WWM re purposeful nitrifying bacteria products>
But this has had no effect, in fact the water is even cloudier, like someone dropped 2 cups of milk in the water. I will do a water change, but it’s back to where we started 24 hours later. Then the signs of stress began Jan 8 and this is where I am presently stuck, no one has died, but of course, I don’t want to get to this point! The stress signs: Mollies and Platys hovering at the top corners, and hiding in the plants. Loss of color on the Rams. Mollies (all 3 female) dropping slimy golden balls (one is the mamma, she has not dropped anything, the other 2 are her fry, and they have never been in the presence if a male. Both Platys are also female). All are eating fine, and pooping fine, but all hide when I approach the tank, and generally are staying hidden in the plants, which is not their norm. The Pleco and Farlawella and just fine, the Cory Cats are mating happily (but I do see occasional flashing), and the Otos are just Otos…hard to tell if happy or sad. What direction would you point me in?
<Likely the elevated temperature triggered "something"... I'd stick w/ water changes, small gravel vacuuming, monitoring for nitrogenous metabolites and the bacteria addition.>
I would like to address the stressed fish, the cloudy water, and additionally, I have some spot green algae on my Brazilian Pennywort, and Moneywort, that I just can’t seem to clear up. Any hints there would also be great.
<See WWM re algae in planted tanks... Sorry to state, I'm out in an area w/ poor Net conn., so I can't look up for you, others>
Thanks soooo much in advance, I have a lot of respect for you, WWM and your staff that help fish lovers like myself learn more about this wonderful hobby! -Alisha
<Ahh! Keep reading/learning and sharing. Bob Fenner>

Extremely foggy f/w tank      5/23/12
Dear WWM Crew,
<Hello Stephanie,>
I have a 15 gallon freshwater tank that I've had set up and running since February 14th of this year. I first had an African leaf fish, 2 mystery snails which turned out to he Apple Snails and a very small rainbow shark. I got a small albino bristle nosed Pleco, who disappeared after four days in the tank.
<Too many fish of the wrong size for this aquarium. 15 gallons isn't really suitable for anything other than mini fish -- Neons, Glowlight Tetras, Cherry Barbs, etc. Even Zebra Danios would be a bit big and active for 15 gallons. If the tank is overstocked like this, good water quality will be difficult to assure, even if the fish seem healthy. Nitrite and ammonia may be at zero for now if these animals are rather small -- but in time they will grow, and water quality will drop. Plus, a small filter simply won't have the turnover or filter media volume to remove silt and other detritus, leading to cloudiness.>
I figured my Leaf Fish had ate him, well he reappeared a month later, the leaf fish saw him, ate him, choked and died... So I was left with 7 Rosie Red fathead minnows.
<As well as the fish listed above!!!>
One was a male who ended up passing away from unknown causes. My two apple snails bred and laid eggs constantly and then the male died. After about two months the female snail passed away and I had only 6 fathead minnows and the rainbow shark left in the tank.
<Do see WWM re: Apple Snails; they rarely last for long in tropical aquaria.>
I have one sword plant in the tank and then fake plants and cichlid rocks for my shark to hide in. I have maintained 0ppm ammonia, nitrite & nitrates and 7.8 ph. I do regular 20% water changes once a week and siphon the gravel in sections. I have a hang on the back 30gl. filter and a small stone bubbler in the back. The entire time I've had this tank I've not once had an issue with cloudiness.
However, about three weeks ago after a water change my tank clouded up and hasn't changed a bit.
<Could be a diatom bloom, a bacteria bloom, or simply silt that isn't being remove by the filter (and rinsed out at water change time). Diatom blooms are typically caused by sudden changes. Could be a pH or hardness change, but might be a temperature change or even bright sunlight now the days are longer and perhaps light is better able to stream through the window into the tank. Diatoms are benign, and usually settle down eventually, though blooms may come and go several times across a number of months. Adding fast-growing plants provides one fix, as will a UV steriliser. Bacterial blooms are less benign, and often indicate chronically unstable and/or poor environmental conditions. In some cases they are associated with water quality problems, and blue-green algae is often seen alongside the distinctive milky-white bacterial bloom. Fix the environment and the bloom will fade away. Finally, silt is a sign the tank isn't being kept clean. Deep clean the substrate and rinse the filter media as thoroughly as possible. Add a fine pre-filter (such as filter floss) to the filter if you can. It may well be necessary to increase filtration by adding a second filter or swapping the current filter for something more appropriate to the tank and its livestock.>
Now, before my female apple snail died, she snuck into my filter and laid two clutches of eggs and since she always laid them in another place where I could see them, the clutches hatched. So one day I looked and had roughly 70 baby apple snails. They are now the size of Nickle's and Quarter's. I feed them blanched carrots and romaine lettuce which they love, as well as algae wafers full of cultured Spirulina.
My rainbow shark also takes nibbles from the carrots and wafers.
I have homes for my snails and am planning on giving my largest ones away this week. When I do my water changes, I first siphon/clean the gravel, then I use Prime and two teaspoons of Aquarium salt (says 1tsp per gallon) for my fish.
<Why do you add salt? These are freshwater fish, and nobody except the manufacturers of aquarium salt recommends the use of salt in freshwater tanks as a matter of course. That said, salt can be helpful in overstocked and/or poorly maintained aquaria, at least in the short term, and that's why it was used in the past, well into the early 80s. But the hobby has moved on, and salt is now seen as obsolete and potentially harmful. Do please read:
That is all I put in it. I have used this combination since the beginning of my tank. I have not done anything different, so why oh why is my tank so cloudy? It looks as if someone took a drag off of a cigarette and blew it into my tank. My ammonia nitrate and nitrite are all 0 ppm and Phosphate is 0ppm as well. My PH is 7.8 , could it be all the snails? Thanks in advance for any help and advice.
Kindest Regards,
Stephanie L.
<Do read here:
and follow the links at the top. The basic problem here is likely overstocking and under-filtering. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Extremely foggy f/w tank      5/23/12

Thank you so much for such a prompt reply. My birthday is June 1st and I am wanting to upgrade my 15 to at least a 30gl.
<Good. Do be aware that at least some of these fish need more space. The Rainbow Shark should have 40 US gallons -- it's a territorial, potentially aggressive species that gets quite large, at least 12 cm/5 inches.>
When that happens, I will be giving my fathead minnows to my lfs owner
<Oh, I hope he doesn't sell them as feeder fish. In the US there are still many stores that sell feeder fish, unfortunately.>
and only have my rainbow shark and two snails. I will be upgrading the filtration system as well. Knowing that the rainbow shark is territorial and grows large, would a 30gl water be okay since he is only One inch in length?
<For now, yes; and on his own in 30 gallons, he'd perhaps be fine. But the moment you add more fish -- and the temptation will be there -- you may find yourself with problems. To be fair, the minnows might be fast enough and tough enough to work out just fine with him in 30 gallons, but anything more delicate (like Guppies) would be in for trouble.>
Thank you so much again for your references and advice.
Stephanie L.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Smokey Water PLEASE HELP!!    1/13/12
 Ok I have a 75 gallon tank, it has been up with 2 Oscars for 6 years. They died of unknown cause.
So took out log,
<Might be implicated
 did a 75 % water change, bought new filter media. Filter is Maineland Emperor. About a week later started to add Tetras. Then added a bunch more the next week, all reading were good. Then fish started flashing, no other symptoms.
Called a few pet shops and they said Parasites,
<...? On what basis?>
 try Copper. Did that for about a week with water changes, still flashing.
<What species of Tetras, what water quality test results?>
Now did another water change and again new filter media to take the Copper out and waited about 3 days and started salt used that for again about a week, still flashing. Then I used Malichate <Malachite> Green,
<Small Characins don't like either copper, salt/s nor MG>
again about a week still no improvement. Water now very cloudy like smoke.
Tested, everything is good.
<... need values, not subjective evaluation>
  Did 50 % water change and put filter media back and trying salt again, but the water is still cloudy.
What is causing this if the tank is not cycling?
<Could be "just new" and/or the salt addn., and/or the Malachite... all will subtend establishment of cycling>
A few fish have died, But all are eating and look happily swimming.
Thank you,
<Mmm, my late mum's name. Do please read here:
and here re cycling:
and the linked files above, particularly Cycling Trouble-Fixing FAQs. Bob Fenner>

cloudy water... no searching, reading... the usual    12/13/11
I just set up a brand new 60 gallon Malawi cichlid tankIt's only 3 days old, no fish yet, am in the middle of colonizing new bacteria over another 3 day period with "bottled" bacteria
<Which "brand"? Most are placebos... See WWM re>
 and just put API's Buffer Max in  the tank to bring up the pH from 7.3 to 8.2.
<A very poor idea... Read here:
and the linked files above>
 After putting in the Buffer Max, (mixed with water first) I noticed it started to get not real cloudy but just hazy and has stayed that way since last night.   What to do ??
<Either wait for a few weeks for all to settle down and the system to cycle, or drain and re-fill and do the same. You can read on WWM re Cloudy Water (search), but these are really your only two options. Oh wait, do search/read re Malawi Systems as well. Bob Fenner>
Re: cloudy water... still not reading...    12/13/11

Thanks for the quick response.  The bottle bacteria I used was Nutrafin's Cycle.
<See WWM re... bunk>
 True, raising the pH that drastically with fish in the tank-not a good idea, but like I said previously, I have no fish yet and am just trying to get as close as I can to the conditions of Lake Malawi before I buy my fish.
<Not necessary.... stop writing and read where you've been referred to, B>
I tested my pH and Alkalinity they are:   pH-8.2   Alk-3.6  (very top of the color scale...blue)
I've seen Alkalinity referred to as kH, or degrees, or ppm.  Not sure what 3.6 means.  Good?  Bad?
Is the haziness just undissolved Buffer Max?  Would a 1/2 water change mess up the pH?

Cloudy Water 11/16/11
I apologize in advance if I did not send this message to the right category or email address. I'm new to owning fish and new to reading your website but I need serious help.
<Mmm, I take it this is a freshwater system... how filtered?>
I recently set up a new 29 gallon tank and all my water reading are good except my (KH), (GH), and (pH) are all high.
<Mmm, how high is "high"? Please send along values/measures>
My tanks water has been getting progressively cloudier over the last few days and from the information on your site I've narrowed it down to my rocks. (testing my tap water after treatment without rock in it) Anyways I was wondering if there is any solution to my problem other than replacing the rocks. I'm a poor college kid and I can't just keep throwing money at my problem but I need it fixed. Thank you for your time.
<Is this system cycled? How? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cloudywaterfw.htm
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Cloudy Water.... uncycled tank, w/ lvstk. present...  11/17/11
Again I apologize for my inexperience.
<No need>
Yes it is a freshwater system, it's filtered with a aqua-tech power filter and the (KH) is 250ppm, (GH) is 280ppm and (pH) around 8.2ish.
<Ahh, similar to our "liquid rock" tapwater here in San Diego>
After reading on your site to learn what "cycling" is it has not cycled.
<Yikes! A dangerous time for livestock>
I've had it up and running for four days (filled, decor, and conditioner).
I put Topfin bacteria supplement in it 3 days ago and I have 2 mollies, 2 tetras and a Glofish.
<Let's hope that these fish survive this transition period. DO take care to feed VERY sparingly.>
The pet place lady really misinformed me about all the things I needed to do to set up a fish tank so bare with my lack of knowledge.
<Mmm, well, you/we are where we are now... What will you do? Keep reading for sure... in particular re cycling establishment. I'd invest in some simple water quality test kits... Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Cloudy Water  11/17/11

Should I keep adding tetra easy balance to try and lower my (KH), (GH), and (pH)
<Mmm, no...>
or just leave it alone for now? If I do need to keep adding it, how often and do I use recommended dosage?
<Do keep reading as you find the time, motivation. I would likely just blend in some water (perhaps RO... do you have for your potable uses? B)

Cloudy water, FW presumably  -- 11/09/11
Hi! I was wondering if you could help me with my cloudy water. I did a full water change about 3 weeks ago and I have been told that was the problem and to wait about a week and add this chemical.
<"This"... not a fan of clarifiers... too many potential downsides>
I forgot the name but I know you have to add your aquarium water until the plastic bottle is full, shake it up and pour it in. They said it would help and the water will be okay. Plus I tested my water and everything was perfect. Well its been about a week maybe 2 and the water looks white cloudy still but none of my fish are dying. So what should I do? Please Help.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cloudywaterfw.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cloudy water   11/9/11

Thank you very much for your time.
<Welcome Luke. BobF>

Water cloudy and electric blue jack Dempsey, bloat    9/13/2011
I have a recently established 40 gallon tank and I am currently getting a 75gallon started. I have a tiger Oscar that is 3.5 inches and a 2 inch and 2.5 inch ebjd's. I also have a golden nugget Pleco. I am looking ahead to having to find a home for the Oscar ,in the future, but so far he is thriving and is not very aggressive.
<They are generally not, outside of breeding.>
I do not test water more than once a week but last week it was all zeroes as for a nitrogen related molecules.
<An odd way to state this!>
I have been using treated tap water from Tampa, Florida. It is hard, slightly basic, and full of organic dissolved solids. I have been doing three 12 percent water changes per week. My water has been slightly cloudy for two weeks. As if someone spilled a little milk in it.
<If the tank is new, likely diatoms or a bacterial bloom; should settle down in time (perhaps weeks, or a couple of months) if you provide good water quality, regular water changes, and adequate mechanical filtration (i.e., fine filter wool, replaced often).>
My theory is that my recently treated tap water has so many dissolved solids that it is feeding bacterial blooms when I do water changes.
<Diatoms thrive in unstable conditions, and in a new tank, water changes can exacerbate the problem, yes. They aren't feeding on the minerals, but rather the fluctuating conditions favour the diatoms over other life forms.>
My fish do not seem to be gasping and my marine land 200 gph filter drips into tank creating high surface agitation for oxygenation. My alpha ebjd seems to be a bit bloated in rib cage but is active and aggressively pursues food.
<Bloating may be caused by constipation, but with cichlids, the wrong diet is always a problem. Obviously "feeder fish" shouldn't be used, EVER, for all sorts of reasons, but you also need to watch out that you're offering things like krill and brine shrimp (good for constipation), plant-based foods (cooked peas are ideal), as well as the dried foods that are nutritious but do seem to cause bloating. Do be aware of Hexamita infections and other failures with cichlids caused by overstocking, high nitrate, lack of oxygen, lack of green foods.>
I fear treating with antibiotics will cycle my already tentative grip on water quality. Temp is 74 f. Any help on water cloud and possible bloat?
Buying that much ro water will be cost prohibitive....
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Water cloudy and electric blue jack Dempsey     9/14/11

Thank you for your time:)!
<Most welcome! Neale.>

Water cloudiness in freshwater tank 8/30/11
Hello WWM crew,
I am concerned about the persistent water cloudiness in my JBJ 28 gallon cube. The tank was started nearly two months ago and cycled with media taken from two very mature Eheim filters. It is stocked with two small Ryukin goldfish and two Nerite snails. Further, it is home to a large portion of Anacharis and several other plants.
Despite repeated 30% water changes, media cleanings and the addition of poly filter to the mechanical filtration, the cloudiness remains.
<I see.>
The goldfish are fed sparingly, and allowed to eat the ever growing Anacharis. They do not appear to be in any distress. No chemical or fertilizers are dosed, nor is anything non-essential added to the water.
Circulation is maintained through the return pumps and a small powerhead directed at the surface. Lighting is a 105W quad bulb of indeterminate age.
We're using sand for a substrate, but it was thoroughly cleaned prior to placement. In fact, the cloudiness didn't start until about a month ago.
We've also noticed that the cloudiness diminishes, but not disappears, the longer the tank light is on.
Water chemistry, acquired via dip strip, is as follows:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
PH: 7.2
Total Hardness: 150 ppm
Total Alkalinity: 80 ppm
Temperature: 78F (A bit high for goldfish, I know)
After perusing the FAQS, it appears the most likely culprit is a bacterial bloom.
<Or diatoms, or silt.>
We've had stable water chemistry, added mechanical filtration and done multiple water changes. What do we need to do to clear up this water?
Thanks for your help,
<There are a few approaches. Sometimes the easiest approach is to rebuild the aquarium from scratch. Take out the fish and the rocks, rinse thoroughly the gravel or sand until it's spotlessly clean, and replace the mechanical media (filter floss) in the filters without removing the biological filter media (sponges and ceramic noodles). Replace as much of the water as possible, keeping water chemistry and temperature the same.
Put the fish back and hope for the best. Another approach is to beef up the filtration, with more mechanical media. Perhaps a whole other filter, e.g., an inexpensive internal canister filter you can stuff with just filter floss. Replace the filter floss every couple of days until the water is clean. Thirdly, you can try using so-called "filter aids" (e.g., Interpet Aquarium Filter Aid) that clump together tiny particles making it easier for filters to remove them. This can work great if silt is the problem, but if you have an ongoing problem with bacteria or diatoms, it's a short-term fix at best. Fourthly, you can try UV sterilization. These units plug into the return flow from an external canister filter and kill off bacteria, diatoms, and also parasites like Whitespot. They're very effective, but expensive to buy. Finally, you should really try and understand what's causing the bloom. Bacteria typically bloom in unstable tanks, and diatoms are much the same, but with the added factor of lighting as well. Cheers, Neale.>

aquarium cloudy after evening feeding  7/24/11
Dear WWM crew,
<Hello Helen>
I would greatly appreciate it if you could offer any suggestions or insight as to the cause or solution to my current aquarium trouble. I have a 220l heavily planted tank that has been running for over two years. It is, I believe, a pretty stable system and I haven't changed anything much in it (other than plant trimming and usual maintenance) in months. The tank statistics are:
Water chemistry:
ammonia = 0,
nitrite = 0,
nitrate = 10ppm,
PH = 7.2
KH = 6ish degrees
GH = 8ish degrees
temperature 23 degrees
2 fantail goldfish of around 2 inches and 4.5 inches long
4 Crossocheilus siamensis
around 10-20 wild-type guppies
5 Corydoras trilineatus
breeding population of cherry shrimp
a variety of plants including several common Hygro species, crypts, Anubias, etc, Indian fern floating on top
(I know goldfish are better kept in larger groups - I had 3 until recently but one died and I am reluctant to get another at the moment as we plan to move in a few months and I don't want to increase my livestock before having to move the tank)
<Good. In this volume, I would stick w/ just the two you currently have>
Feeding: usually flake in the morning and a mix of floating and sinking pellets in the afternoon or evening
tank is lit by 2 39W T5 lights, these run about 12 hours/day
filtered by a Fluval 305
<I'd add more... perhaps a hanging/outside power filter in addition>
Now, the problem is that in the evening, usually an hour or so after I feed the fish, I notice that the tank looks a bit cloudy. Not a lot cloudy, just not that "crystal clear" look when you really think that your tank looks great.
In the morning it generally, when I stop to pay attention, looks fine. I haven't noticed it going cloudy after the morning feed, but that could be because I'm not usually around looking at the tank then, whereas in the evening I am sitting on the sofa and have time to watch the fish.
My first thought was that it could be something like an algae bloom that would clear up by itself. But it's been happening for months now.
<Is likely a (bacterial mostly) bloom of some sort...>
My second thought, after doing some reading on WWM was that it could be silt kicked up by the fish rooting around in the gravel after feeding. So I made an extra effort to rinse the filter sponges often (I did it every few days for a couple of weeks) and to vacuum the gravel more thoroughly than usual.
I am not sure whether this made any difference at all. Certainly it didn't make a big difference. However I have not vacuumed under the large piece of driftwood, as I would have to uproot a bunch of plants to do so, and I have not uprooted the plants in other areas to vacuum the substrate where it is heavily planted, so there are areas where there will be quite a lot of detritus and plant roots that haven't been altered (other than by the fish and the plants' growth) in a long time.
The third thought was that maybe it was something living that could be killed by a UV sterilizer. So I hooked up my little "portable" 24W sterilizer to the tank for a few days. This did seem to make more of a difference but not to completely solve the problem. When I took the UV tube out the cloudiness has returned. What I don't understand is that if the problem is something alive that is growing in response to the food entering the tank, why would it keep doing so for months. My understanding is that the filtration etc should adjust to cope with variations in the tank's bioload (and the bioload has not increased in months, if anything it has decreased) and such problems should thus self-correct in an otherwise stable system.
I realise I'm sounding vague here. The whole problem is quite subtle, and my efforts to fix it have not resulted in anything clearly changing. Do you have any suggestions for a next approach?
<Yes. I would give up on the flake food; just feed the pellets twice a day... See if this makes a difference. I suspect some part of the flakes are driving a daily expansion in microbial population>
While I don't think this is harming the fish, I worry that it's evidence of some ongoing problem and really it's just plain bugging me.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy water in water only tank 6/27/11
Good afternoon Neale, hope you have had an enjoyable day.
<Hot, tiring and busy taking a hundred Year 7s around Kew Gardens!>
I was hoping you could advise me on a small problem that has developed slowly over the last 3 years. First, all inhabitants seem happy and healthy with no fish losses. But weekly water tests are becoming very worrisome. I change approximately 40 gals. per week in the 125 gal. tank.
Change water sits for a week in an empty 55 gal. with air stone and is then pumped over. My problem, numbers keep going down, today they read: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20 ppm, GH 75, KH 0,
<Here's your problem; a low carbonate hardness means unstable water chemistry. Although aquarists keeping freshwater fish tend to assume soft water is good, it isn't stable with regard to pH. So for general fishkeeping in busy tanks, you want middling carbonate hardness levels. Do read here:
Baking soda is a useful source of carbonate hardness and can be used alone or part of a Rift Valley salt mix. To create hard water you want about one level teaspoon baking soda per 5 US gallons, so half to a third that amount, i.e., one tsp. per 10-15 US gallons, should create medium-hard water. By all means experiment with this. Somewhere between 100-200 mg/l calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is ideal for a mixed community.>
PH 6.4. My tap water is 7.8.
I understand from all the reading on your site that all home aquariums tend to become soft over time.
<Doesn't really become "soft" so much as more acidic; specifically, acids produced in the tank thanks to decay attempt to lower pH, and if the carbonate hardness is limited, that carbonate hardness is used up, and after that happens pH declines.>
Yesterday I removed all driftwood
<This can lower pH, but not noticeably so if you have adequate carbonate hardness.>
and lava rock
<There are some reports of this lowering pH too, though in theory it's inert.>
and added some poly-filter in the hope it would remove some Organics and Phosphates. Tank is lightly stocked, very heavily planted
<Photosynthesis causes pH to vary wildly as CO2 is removed in the daytime (allowing pH to rise) and then replenished at night (and pH drops). Also, some plants extract carbonate hardness directly, notably Elodea, Vallisneria, and a few other species adapted to hard water conditions.>
and lightly fed. Diamond and Emperor Tetra's are even breeding as always.
My biggest worry is that biological filters don't work so well in very soft water, which mine is certainly becoming.
<Provided ammonia remains zero, don't worry too much about this side of things.>
I believe I need to do something to stop this downward trend and was hoping you could give me some trusted advise.
<Do see above, and also:
Thank you so much for your time, I know it is needed by many. Also, I enjoyed your article so much in the new August issue of TFH magazine, do wish you had time to write more often. Karen
<Thanks for the kind words! Be sure to let the TFH Editor know you enjoyed the article! Cheers, Neale.
Re: cloudy water in water only tank 6/28/2011
Thank you Neale, your advise is very much appreciated and I will be adding some baking soda to my change out water, I will test everyday till I have it right, also, thank you for the links.
<Glad to help.>
I will give you a list of my plants and perhaps you could tell me if I should take any of them out. Dwarf Sagittaria, Java ferns, Water sprite, Echinodorus angustifolia vesuvius, Duck weed, 3 very large and blooming sword plants, Bronze Wendth,
<This is a variety of Cryptocoryne wendtii?>
Christmas moss, Hornwort. Lights are on approximately. 12 hours a day, ( 2 Marineland double bright LED ). The plants are large and beautiful but can be re homed if needed to give me back the medium hard water which did not cause me to worry. I am enclosing a picture and apologize for the size, I truly did try to minimize it, was taken last January. Thank you again.
<All sounds fine to me. None of these should greatly affect pH by removing significant carbonate hardness *if* the carbonate hardness is reasonably high to begin with. Alternatively, if you don't fancy raising carbonate hardness, you can buy "Discus Buffer" and other such products that stabilise pH using other chemicals. These are the favoured approach where acidic pH levels are desired. Carbonate hardness tends to raise pH to around 7.5, even at low levels, which is fine for community tanks, but less than ideal for fish that *must* have acidic water, for example Ram Cichlids. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cloudy water in water only tank 6/28/2011
<Only just noticed you sent a photo; nice tank! Cheers, Neale.>

Bio-wheel from a Penguin 150 filter and persistent yellow water in 55G FW  1/3/11
Hello WWM Crew and Happy New Year,
I have a question I would like to submit to you:
How can I preserve a mature bio-wheel from a Penguin 150 filter?
<Not hard.>
I used to have a 20-gallon FW aquarium with the
Penguin, but I upgraded to a 55G with a Cascade 700. I am temporarily keeping the bio-wheel in a container with some aquarium water. I do not have the capacity of keeping both tanks up, but I would love to keep the bio-wheel alive as back up for 'hospital or QT' situations. Should I put the bio-wheel in the 55 g aquarium as 'decoration'?
<Yes, this will work. Anywhere that keeps the media wet, oxygenated, and exposed to an ammonia source -- e.g., fish -- will work just fine and dandy.>
Also, my aquarium water is always yellow.
<Quite normal. Comes from bogwood mostly, and to a much smaller degree to organic decay of plant material, faeces, etc. Activated carbon will remove yellowing, as will regular substantial water changes -- 25% weekly is the standard recommendation. Do remember that carbon needs to be replaced at least every 2 weeks, and the space it takes up in the filter isn't doing biological filtration. Under most situations, carbon is useless, so it's best to leave the filter to biological media, and control yellowing via water changes and/or removal of some or all of the bogwood.>
I have Flo-Max and natural color gravel as substrate for the following plants; Anacharis bunches, Amazon swords, Anubias, a Cabomba; 15 platys, 6 Pristella, 7 Neon Tetras, and 2 Yoyo Botia Loaches. I also found 5 platy fries. I have several natural rocks, light brown in color, some are petrified wood and coming from the 20 G tank (established in November). I do a 10% water change weekly, and scrub the walls gently; I try not to be aggressive in my cleanings. When I test the water with Quick Dip strips these are the levels -- (approximate values as they are on a color chart):
Nitrates within 20,
Nitrites between .5 and 1
<Not good; will eventually stress, kill your fish. Must be zero! The tank is overstocked, under-filtered (perhaps a poor balance of biological media vs. chemical media), and/or the fish are over-fed. Review and act accordingly.>
Ammonia is 0
Chlorine is 0
PH is between 7.8 and 8.4,
GH is 300
KH is 300 also.
I plan on using these strips up and buy the big kit from API, I am not sure I can trust the accuracy of these strips, but the local PetSmart assistant said the were reliable.
<They're good enough. Not as accurate as liquid kits, but easier to use, and if sliced vertically to make two strips from one, very economical. When it comes to nitrite and ammonia, anything above zero is bad, so the precise value doesn't matter too much.>
Any advise?
Many thanks in advance for your input. I really appreciate your time and input.
Sincerely Francesca B
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bio-wheel from a Penguin 150 filter and persistent yellow water in 55G FW  1/5/11

Hi Neale, Thank you for your prompt reply.
<No problem!>
I suspect I tend to over-feed.
<Naughty, naughty'¦>
I will correct that and do 25% water changes instead of 10%.I also want to compliment you and everyone at WWM for the excellent website, the wealth of information, and the time and patience you "guys" have for "us" newbies!
<We're happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

My fish are dying... killed    1/1/11
I set up an aquarium about 2 months ago, maybe a little more even. It still has a cloudy (milky) tinge to the water.
<Not good... indicative of A) the system not being cycled, B) being under-filtered, C) being over- and/or mis-fed...Do you have water quality values/tests to relate?>
Not so obvious looking at the aquarium from the front, but looking through the side (which is longer), the
cloudiness is obvious. I keep having fish die, generally one by one, and that continues to this day.
I started out a several goldfish,
<? In how large a volume...?>
which we now have in my daughter's aquarium, then gradually stocked up the fish to a total of 6 Lyretail mollies (3 silver, 3 Dalmatian),
<Actually, not easily kept...
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm
3 Kuhli loaches, 3 albino Cory catfish, 7 cardinals, 5 Rasboras, 6 coral platys, 3 guppies. The 5 goldfish that are now in another tank were also there for a period of time.
<Mmm, goldfish "carry" a large parasite load generally... could easily be resident, passed on to your tropicals now>
The first to go were a molly and a couple of Rasboras. The other mollies seemed fine, as did the Rasboras. I did a 10-15% water change, and took a sample to the pet store. They said it looked fine so they replaced the fish. Then I think some cardinals
<... not compatible>
and another molly died. Same thing, water change, tested fine, store replaced fish.
<They are fools, or at least foolish here>
Later another cardinal, then later on another, and another molly dies as well. Everyone else looks fine to my untrained eye.
At this point I'm doing small water changes a couple of times a week or more, and adding de-chlorinator and "stress coat" to the water.
<Not of use>
The fish actually began to look pretty stable before we left to visit my family for Christmas.
Water still a little cloudy. I had put in a couple of plants to see if that might help the biological process.
<Ahh! A very good idea, move>
Also put in a "beneficial bacteria" solution that the fish store recommended,
<And this>
and set up a small motorized fish feeder to feed twice a day. Tested the feeder before leaving, it seemed to work fine.
Getting back from vacation, found most of the cardinals dead, three more mollies gone, 1 or 2 of the Rasboras gone, and a couple of the platies as well. Did a water change, again about 15%. In the days following, found another cardinal dead, then a Rasbora, and today a dead platy.
What am I doing wrong (or what "right" am I not doing)?
<Likely the system is not cycled... Do read here re:
and the linked files above till you understand your situation>
I have a 65 gallon tall tank (36"x18"xsomething tall), two filters (Emperor 280 came with the aquarium
package and an older filter I happened to have hanging around, not sure brand or size but it has a bio-wheel in it too), and a heater.
<These are inadequate... Again, you need to have your own test kits for ammonia, nitrite... at least>
The only other pertinent detail I can think of is the physical condition I noticed on some of the mollies. At least two of them, once it became clear they were in trouble, seemed to have trouble swimming and developed a deformed spine.
It was clearly warped into an "S" shape. Haven't noticed this on any of the other fish. I haven't noticed Ick, which is the only fish disease I can readily diagnose. I also just put in a number of Amazon sword plants that were given to me, hoping this will help any biological issues in the tank. But I don't think I'm making any progress.
Can you help?
<You can help yourself, your livestock by reading where you've been referred here>
Thanks in advance for your assistance!! Chris
<Welcome. Bob Fenner
Re: My fish are dying, salt-softened water   1/3/11

Thanks so much for your quick response!! Good articles. I have some more details that you asked about.
<Ah good>
Nitrate = 5; Nitrite = 0; Hardness = 15-20; 0 chlorine; PH = 8.2; Ammonia = 0.
I generally feed the fish once daily. We live in San Antonio, TX, which has a very hard water, but like most here we have a water softener installed.
<Avoid this water for your pet-fish use... the sodium from the salt recharging ends up being too much for your livestock>
Outside tap is not on the softener, though, so I could easily add harder (not softened) water.
<Best to get most from here... and just enough from inside to warm it sufficiently>
Bought some aquarium salt at recommendation of the person at the aquarium store. More fishy deaths...another cardinal, a Cory and a molly :-(.
I am curious also about the comment on filtration...the 280 should handle tanks up to 50...and my older filter was on my old 40 gallon tank...are the two together not enough for the 65 gallon?
<See WWM re... do both turn over all the water in your system ten times per hour?>
I would not be sad to get a new filter, the 280 makes a lot of noise and drives my wife up a wall.
<Ahh! There are many other better filters that are quiet>
Thanks again for your help!!!
<Welcome. BobF>

Dinosaur Bichir 11/22/10
Dinosaur Bichir (gigantic fish crammed into 55 gallons; blind Iridescent Sharks; the usual'¦)

Hi, I have a Dinosaur Bichir
<Polypterus senegalus, an excellent aquarium fish.>
that I got along with 2 Iridescent Sharks and two Balas and a large Pleco.
<In 55 gallons! Not a chance. Iridescent Sharks (Pangasius hypophthalmus) get to at least 75 cm/22 inches in captivity. They also grow extremely rapidly. Do please use Google and see how large these fish get. The photos will astound you! Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilos melanopterus) get to a good 30 cm/12 inches long, and require a good 55 gallons PER specimen.
As for the Common Plec (Pterygoplichthys pardalis), these get to about 45 cm/18 inches within two years and while a singleton might be crammed into 55 gallons, the result would be a murky, messy aquarium.>
They were all in a 55 gallon tank when I notice all the fish but my Dinosaur Bichir got Ick. I got the tank cleared of Ick and the next week one of the Iridescent Sharks had an eye missing.
<Unfortunately extremely common when Iridescent Sharks are kept in tanks too small for them. They bash into the glass, damage their eyes, and the result is blindness. This is so very common that it goes beyond a joke. Seriously, when I hear someone has an Iridescent Shark in captivity, I ASSUME that the poor catfish will be blind. Let me be crystal clear here -- Iridescent Sharks are NOT fish for the home aquarium. They're a food fish, with the size and growth rate you'd expect for a food fish. Anyone who buys one of these fish either [a] hasn't done any research at all or [b] has a 500 gallon aquarium in which to keep it.>
I watched the tank closely and didn't see and fish fighting however all the fish but the Dinosaur Bichir came down with a bacterial infection. Finally got the infection under control and then noticed that my Dinosaur Bichir was eating the fins of my sharks.
<Hmm'¦ actually pretty uncommon behaviour. Polypterus senegalus feed almost entirely on insect larvae and worms, and don't normally bite larger fish. They are territorial though.>
I switched the food to bloodworms hoping this would help not only with her trying to eat my other fish but with tank water clarity. I have tried for 6 months to get the tank clear and it seems like it just wont balance out.
<Of course not! You have fish for a 550 gallon tank in 55 gallons of water! Seriously, this is NEVER going to work. You need to sit down, think about what you're trying to achieve, and then take back the MANY fish you can't keep. In 55 gallons you could safely keep the Bichir, perhaps a Bristlenose Plec, and then a nice school of Silver Dollars or Australian Rainbowfish. That'd been lovely. Everyone would have swimming space, and you'd have a tank that was healthy, pretty, and easy to keep. What you're doing at the moment is just plain unworkable.>
I have live and fake plants and plenty of hiding spots. I decided that maybe the common denominator was my Dinosaur Bichir so I took her out and put her in my 40 gallon tank which I new everything was balanced and has a bushy nose Pleco in.
<Both eminently compatible species ideally suited to 40 gallons of water.>
Within 2 days my 55 gallon tank is sparkling clear however the 40 gallon is horribly cloudy. Why do my tanks do this is there something wrong with my Dinosaur Bichir ? the ph levels are spot on however the nitrate/nitrite and ammonia levels always are high in the tank with the Dinosaur Bichir.
<Overfeeding, overstocking, under-filtering'¦ likely a combination of all three.>
Is there anything that can be done about this?
Also my Dinosaur Bichir seems to prey on the injured or weaker fish even though she is eating plenty of blood worms, should I get her some feeder fish?
<Of course not. Feeder fish are possibly the worst thing you can feed predatory fish, second only to poison. Polypterus senegalus should be given a staple diet based around insect larvae and worms: earthworms are excellent, bloodworms mostly water so less nutritious though useful. Slivers of tilapia fillet and shelled cockles are also excellent and thiaminase-free. Once a week you can also offer chopped mussels or prawns, but these contain thiaminase so must be used sparingly.>
Thanks Misty
<Misty, Misty, Misty'¦ I've rolled my eyes a few times while reading this. I'm detecting lots of enthusiasm but not too much research! But don't worry, I was there once. There's an art to keeping big fish and oddballs, and that art depends upon planning. The Bala Shark and the Iridescent Sharks have to go, you have no way of keeping them. I'd lose the Plec, too. Then sit back, think about what you're trying to create. Feel free to write back if you want some tips on stocking. In the meantime, read here:
There's a nice photo of a 75-gallon tank set up for Polypterus, a school of Congo Tetras, and some other African oddballs. Lovely, isn't it! Cheers, Neale.>

Sudden cloudiness  11/10/10
Hi Bob,
I'm addressing this to you because it may be tangentially related to the nematode problem we have been fighting.
Over the past three weeks my display tank has been clouding up quickly (white not green), like 3 to 4 days after a water change of 75% or greater, and to date I haven't been able to figure out why. Previously, I had clear water for the entire two weeks between water changes.
From one month ago, here is the situation:
What HAS NOT changed: + pH (typical at 7.8 to 8.0) + Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate readings all 0 and stable. + Feed quantity + Filtration + airstone + nuisance snails
What HAS changed: + Removed 3 remaining first-generation mollies (infested with unkillable Camallanus ) to their own tank. + Lost the injured C. siamensis. + Population of 46 gallon tank currently at 21 mollies from late juvenile to adult size and all born in this tank, 2 small Chinese algae eaters, 1 C. siamensis, 1 something that resembles C. siamensis but is not (4 barbels, wrong color pattern--flying fox perhaps). + Temperature dropped to 78 for the winter, maintained with heater (was low to mid 80s without heater until early October). + Doubled the Praziquantel dose for one last round against the nematodes, currently in the three-week mop-up dose, ending this coming Friday morning. + Added more live plants (described below).
The symptom seems like a bacterial bloom, but I'm not sure of the root cause. I don't think it is related to overfeeding as I have not changed anything to do with feed in several months. So, that leaves as the most
likely suspects either the increased Praziquantel dose killing something off something (hopefully Camallanus) in the water, or it has something to do with the plants. I have empirically eliminated inorganic carbon and liquid fertilizer as the root cause.
Apology for being bad about keeping track of my vegetation's Latin names.
I added what appears to be Bacopa caroliniana or similar, either Didiplis diandra or Egeria densa--probably the latter, and Microsorium pteropus attached to a decoration that was already in the tank. All were purchased at Aquatouch. I also dropped in some "Betta bulbs," one of which has sprouted, three more still in the tank (not from Aquatouch). I had intended to give them a few more weeks then remove if they don't do anything. The other plants in the tank were there long before the problem began.
Substrate is loose gravel last vacuumed 4 days ago with an 75% water change. Praziquantel went in a few weeks ago for the first dose for one week duration, and went in again right after the water change for the
follow-up dose.
Tank will get another water change on Friday when I will put the activated carbon back in to remove the meds, (at which point I am moving into observation mode for Camallanus in this tank as I think they are gone.)
So, based on all that, any idea what might be the root cause of the cloudiness?
<Rick, cloudiness in freshwater aquaria comes down to three things. The most common is silt, and usually this occurs when sand or gravel has been added to a tank without being properly cleaned. Eventually the silt settles down and after about a week should be unnoticeable, especially if the mechanical filter media in your filter is rinsed a few times. The second common cause is diatoms, and these will bloom under unstable water conditions. Again, most common in new tanks, but messing about with water chemistry or changes in light intensity can also trigger blooms. Diatoms tend to die back eventually so there's nothing much that needs doing, though a UV steriliser will get rid of them pretty quickly. In either case, silt or diatoms, the risk to fish is minimal, and in fact many fish prefer murky water because that's what they're adapted to in the wild. Watching Glassfish for example in silty water is a revelation, and you understand
just how invisible they become. The final cause is bacteria. These will bloom under a variety of conditions, but usually changes for the worse.
Again, they'll die back of their accord, but if you're repeatedly seeing bacterial blooms, you need to review aquarium conditions. Medications certainly can affect biological filtration, and lapses in water quality
management are a common reason for bacterial blooms. Telling apart the three different types of blooms is very hard, though silt can usually be ticked off the list if the tank is more than a few days old. Diatoms do
tend to be more yellowy than white, whereas bacterial blooms tend to be more milky. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sudden cloudiness 11/10/10

Hi Neale,
What is confusing to me is that the substrate is over 8 years old, was boiled about a year ago, and regularly vacuumed. There shouldn't be any fines left. A filter rinse in tank water is part of standard water change operating procedure, and I did 3 water changes of 75% or more (including one of about 90%) within the past 3 weeks. Light intensity did increase but that was several months ago with no ill effect until just recently.
Water chemistry is stable. That's why this has me so stumped. This is a mature tank.
The only variables left are the meds in the water and the new plants. I guess I do another major water change when the Praziquantel treatment ends on Friday and see if conditions improve as the meds are drained and adsorbed by the carbon.
<Is indeed strange, but I can't think of any other reasons for water to turn cloudy. Review and act accordingly. Do replace mechanical filter media as required, and consider using the flocculent potions on sale to clump silt particles and thereby speed up the clarification process. If you try these and the water remains cloudy, the bacteria or diatoms are more likely than silt, in which case there may simply be a biological process of some sort to work through, or else a more fundamental problem you haven't considered re: stocking, planting, biological filtration, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: switching to new food 05/07/10
Cloudy Water

Thanks Chuck... I got him to eat Cyclops now. it so happen it was too hard for him so I cut each pellet in half... Thanks for the fast reply as well... appreciate it. =) Do you have any solution for cloudy water aside
from frequent water change?... Thanks...
<Smell the water. If there is a fishy smell then it could be an ammonia spike. Get an ammonia test it to check for sure. If there is no odor then it could be mechanical filtration of a substrate that's not been properly

Re: switching to new food  5/9/10
Changing Water
Thanks again for the speedy reply. One last question. Do I need to remove my fish if I do a 20% water change and if I dechlorinate the water will it affect my Flowerhorn if I don't transfer him?
< When changing water I would recommend placing the new water in a container and then using the dechlorinator in the water in the container.
This way the water will be safe for all organisms in the aquarium and they don't need to be removed.-Chuck>

Question: Cloudy Water, Snail, Freshwater 15 gal   4/26/10
Hello WWM Crew,
I have a situation here that has me stumped a bit. I absolutely love your site by the way. I have tried searching around, and have read tons of your FAQs (which are extremely addicting by the way) and haven't quite found
anything that would help explain this so here it goes.
I have a 15 gal freshwater aquarium (landlord won't let me keep anything larger) with an Aquaclear 30 power filter with sponge, carbon, and ceramic ring inserts.
<Fine. But do understand the limits 15 gallons places on your fish choices.>
Water Parameters have been steady the whole time:
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - less than 5
GH - 160
KH - 180
PH - 7.8
Temp - 80 deg F
<All fine for a wide range of species.>
This tank has been set up for about 6 weeks and has had fish in it for 4 weeks.
3 Platies 1.75"
<Borderline for a tank this size; watch the aggression of the males.
Actually, keep one male, two females in a tank this size.>
2 Peppered Corydoras 1" (babies!)
<Do add a couple more; they're gregarious fish.>
1 Black Mystery Snail 0.75"
<Your tank is far too warm for all these fish. Aim for 24 C/75 F.>
My question is that, while I know that my tank is still cycling, and the cloudy water is more than likely due to a bacterial bloom,
it seems to have coincided with the addition of the snail which I added about a week ago. Now I've read dozens of times that dead snails pollute the water to horrendous levels very quickly, but what about live ones?
Does adding live snails spur a bacterial bloom?
<Certainly can. Apple/Mystery snails -- which I DO NOT recommend you add to aquaria generally -- to indeed promote the growth of Protozoans in the water. They used to be maintained precisely for this, for creating the infusoria required to feed baby fish. Whether that's the issue here is difficult to say, particularly since adding any animal can tip things in the favour of bacterial blooms.>
When I look at the water it just looks cloudy from a distance (sitting on the couch). But looking at it really closely I can see literally millions of microscopic specks floating around, and if not for these particles, presumably bacteria, my water would be crystal clear.
<Do make sure you cleaned the substrate and have rinsed or replaced mechanical filtration media.>
Am I even right here? Is this a bacterial bloom? Or is there a possibility of something else... parasite perhaps?
<Not this, no. Generally, if you can see it, it's harmless.>
All the fish are happy and healthy, eating, swimming and being themselves.
I just hate cloudy water and would like to know if there's a chance this could be something that needs to be dealt with (parasite).
<More mechanical filtration, plus time, will work.>
Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question: Cloudy Water, Snail, Freshwater 15 gal 4/26/10
Hi Neale,
Just wanted to say thank you for such a quick reply, its much appreciated.
<No problem.>
I will started lowering the temp over the next few days as you suggested,
<Can switch it down at once; it's take a few hours for the tank to cool down the couple degrees.>
and just went out and bought some filter wool to replace the carbon in my filter, since I don't have any driftwood in the tank (just plastic plants and a few caves) the carbon's pretty pointless.
As far as the Platies, I sexed them all when I got them, they are all male.
With the exception of establishing a pecking order over the first week, I haven't noticed any aggression between them, in fact they have become quite buddy-buddy at this point. Do you think this will last?
<Might do.>
Or would you suggest getting females anyway?
<If you do add females, the males will become more feisty, and you'd need at least 6 females for 3 males, and 9 Platies would be a lot for a 15 gallon tank. See if you can't trade-in one of the males against four females.>
One last question, as far as the Corydoras go. I was planning on getting a couple more. Should I wait till the tank rights itself or just get them now? I know if I wait, then the addition thereafter could potentially cause another bloom. Just wondering what the best route would be at this point.
<By all means wait for things to settle down. The Corydoras will be fine on their own for a few weeks, but long term, the difference you'll see with 5-6 specimens (of the same species, obviously) compared to just 2 will be
dramatic. Again, try and get a mix of males and females, though most Corydoras species are rarely aggressive. I have 6 Peppered Corydoras in a tank about this size, and they scoot about across the sand most contentedly. If you can, keep them with a smooth silica sand -- they're so much happier than with gravel, and their whiskers become super long.>
Thanks again for all your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

FW... established tank- cloudy water  4/14/10
<Umm, where is the prev. corr.? Whom were you chatting with here? Or were you?>
Here are your numbers: 120 gal tank has been set up about a year. Ph consistently ranges b/w 8-8.3 but I never fool w/it (think the difference might be in the interpretation from one test to the next) ammonia 0, nitrite 0, carbonate hardness ranges b/w 4 & 5 (again, interpretation)
Here's the issue: Fish were thriving, so decided to add a few live plants. Plants didn't thrive so much. Gradually added more light, some Seachem Flourish Excel (but less than directed b/c am a minimalist at heart.) All was well until 3 or 4 days ago when water got very cloudy. Am about 6 weeks into the plant/light/chemical experiment and can't figure out the problem. The water doesn't appear to be green like algae, just cloudy, although have never had
an algae bloom so not positive that isn't it. Have done a 40-50% water change, changed and cleaned 2 Eheim canister filters and one top waterfall-style filter (not sure the proper name.)
Lights are on a timer and run 12 hours a day. Total wattage now is 320. Upped from 240 about a week before the problem started
The fish don't seem to be stressed, the plants are doing better, but as of a few days ago I can
hardly see them! The guys at the fish store suggested AcurelF. Any other ideas?
<Likely a bacterial bloom... I too like the minimalist approach... Read here:
Bob Fenner>

Re: established tank- cloudy water  -- 4/14/10
Thanks for the reply. Was not already talking to someone else, just thought I'd get straight to the point. Dad nicknamed me "bullet" for a reason, I guess.
<A good to great nickname IMO>
Used the AcurelF as suggested by the fish guys and water has cleared up.
<This and their companion product is a worthy treatment... Depending, of course, on addressing root cause/s of the cloudiness>
Would still like to know what happened so can avoid same in the future.
How can I verify if problem is "bacterial bloom?"
<Mmm, really... a cell micrometer and good microscope... several hundred power...>
Read your suggested links (actually did so before sending inquiry, but looked again) and still not sure.
<Have a huge list of "potential topics"... including a series on pathology... Am trying to sell such as a column again... to the print mag.s... Maybe NealeM and I will crank out as part of our new online 'zine experience. Cheers (and biers), BobF>

Foggy water -- 3/31/10
Hello Crew,
As a long time reader and a fan of the website. I have a question. I recently setup my 3rd fish tank, a 55gal African cichlid tank. as substrate I have about 75lbs of white gravel and 50 lbs of fine grain sand.
<Ah, yes! This is where the silt came from. Both gravel and sand can be very dirty, and it seems to be no matter how much I clean them before use, adding new substrate results in a cloudy aquarium.>
I then filled the aquarium two days ago and now have had two hang on back filters rated for 60 gallons each running for one and a half days and the water looks like a milk suspension.
<The filter will only trap fine particles if equipped with fresh filter wool. Sponges and ceramic noodles are hopeless, as the silt passes right through them. Old filter wool needs to be replaced. Realistically, you'll likely need to change the filter wool 2-3 times within a week to get all the silt out. It *will* settle out eventually, but if you want to clean the tank, that's the way to do it.>
I know that it is normal to have cloudy water right away but in the other two tanks it clears up in about 15 minutes. One which is a salt tank with 100 pounds of sand. The new tank does not run an undergravel filter or an overflow which are the differences in the other tanks the fresh tank runs undergravel and the salt runs an overflow. What may be causing this?
<Differences in filter types and media, amounts/types of substrate, and various other factors.>
You can see the particles convectioning around the aquarium in the current.
The water had a yellowish foam when I first started filling it like what you see on the edge of a lake or river on the banks.
<Yes, it's just silt, organic detritus, and proteins of various sorts.
Basically the scum you find in a protein skimmer. Harmless but unsightly.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Foggy water (RMF, can you help with the marine part of this question)  3/31/10
Thank you very much for the quick response. That's what I planned on doing tonight when I get off work.
Also would adding activated carbon do anything worth putting it in there now for the cycling process.
<No help at all. Carbon removes dissolved organic acids such as tannins.
Since organic acids aren't the problem here, carbon won't fix anything.>
Also on a different note. The 75 salt tank that I mentioned. I have a Entacmaea Quadricolor anemone for two maroon clowns the anemone has been in the tank now for about 8 months going on a year I can't quite remember when I got him. Now he is staying all deflated and small. He was about 6 inches in diameter and full and the maroons loved to take it pieces of mysids, brine, clams, and other meaty bits not the flakes and the pellets that they get every other day. Also I have quite a bit of detritus on the substrate and short of siphoning all of the time cannot figure a good way to keep it under control. Other inhabitants are 4 burrowing snails not sure what kind 2-Narcisus?? 2-Olive?? a purple Pseudochromis 3-blue green Chromis, and a small 3 inch Niger Trigger he so wants to be a real fish one day. I run a protein skimmer, Wet dry filter, Sump/refugium, Filter wool, activated carbon, also lava rock for bio media. The Maroons are small also like 3 inches and a male about one and half inches. I know that the Niger could be a little big when full grown but am planning to upgrade soon. The question goes to What fish would you recommend to stir the sand bed as it is about 3 inches deep and dirty. Thanks in advance
<Outside of my field of expertise, so I'm asking Bob. I will make the general observation that *adding* livestock rarely, if ever, makes an aquarium cleaner. Looking for animals that'll minimise the requirement for maintenance or better filtration is usually a hiding to nothing.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cloudy water,   3/1/10
Hello, I just have a quick question for you. I've had a ten gallon tank for about two years now, with few problems. Recently I changed all the water and rinsed all the gravel and decorations I have in the tank.
<This is rarely wise to do, your tank will now need to cycle again most likely.>
I decided to buy a heater because I had noticed the water getting a bit on the cool side for guppies. Anywho, I set everything back up, changed the filter, and added the heater. After a couple of days, the water became cloudy. Its
almost like a watered down green tea color. I've completely cleaned out the tank before and never had the water to become cloudy. Is it something to do with the heater? Any other suggestions on what could be causing this?
And what should I do to fix it? Thanks in advance! Karen
<Chances are your tank is cycling, and this is either a bacterial or algae bloom common during cycling. Watch your water parameters for a rise in ammonia and nitrite and be prepared for water changes.>

Cloudy milky water -- 02/25/10
This morning my fishtank had grey cloudy water?
<I'm assuming you're telling me, and not asking me!>
It's been setup for about a week and this morning there was grey cloudiness and it looks so ugly. I have 1 striped Raphael catfish one Hoplo catfish and 3 Corydoras and I love it. My Raphael croaks at night it's so cute I'm wondering what's wrong with my water and my ammonia test said it's that my ammonia is ideal
<When you say it's been set up for a week, was the tank cycled prior to the fish being added? What is the number you get when you test for Ammonia?
What of Nitrite? What type of filtration are you running on this tank? Is the tank in direct sunlight, and how long are you leaving your light on per day? I'd like to help you here, and I remember some of your system's information from last time we corresponded, but don't believe any of this information was included then, either. The only "ideal" level for Ammonia is zero, and you get anything other than that, the tank is not cycled, and you've added fish much too quickly. Please write back with as much information as you can provide. If you don't have a Nitrite test, you could either purchase one, or have your fish store test it for you, but be sure and press them to give you numbers, not a subjective response, such as "it's ideal," "it's within limits," or "it's fine." I'm worried that you skipped the cycling process here, and I hope that you haven't!>
Thank you for all your help!
<You're welcome. By the way, we do request that folks run spell check and capitalize the first letters of their sentences when they write in -- otherwise, we have to fix it and then we can answer your query, and that takes extra time. Often, all you have to do to fix simple errors is take the time to read what you wrote before you hit "send" -- I used to explain to folks in the writing center where I worked that if you don't even want to read it, why would I? Thanks and please do write back with more information.
Cloudy milky water
<Hello Jordan!>
Sorry Melinda for just pushing everything on you. See there's some punctuation.
<And isn't it great!>
Anywho the worker at PetSmart said to add stability by Seachem and while you use it add all the fish you wanted but don't overstock and I got all the fish I want and love.
<This tank isn't cycled... is likely going to have a lot of problems, shortly.>
My tank is so milky I can't see my background!
<Please write back with results for tests on Ammonia and Nitrate, at least.>
I also was thinking of adding 2 more Cory's and 2 clown loaches, so the total of fishes would be:
1 Raphael catfish
1 Hoplo catfish
3 peppered Cory's
2 bandit Cory's and
2 clown loaches but I am going to change into a 55g later.
<Don't add any more fish until you know whether your tank is cycled. You do not want two of one schooling fish, and two of another, but five to six of one type of schooling fish... either way, as I discussed with you earlier, the number of cories and Raphael catfish you have currently needs to be increased, before you add any more fish, and then, I discussed with you the fear that at that point, you'd be overstocked. I would not add any more fish until you have upgraded tank size, and I wouldn't add the clown loaches at all here -- they'll ultimately need much more than you're offering, space-wise. Also, very few of my questions were answered... not only test results, but I asked about filtration, the tank's placement relative to windows, how long you're leaving the light on, etc. I can't help if you don't provide information!>
Oh one more thing Melinda! Do you think I could feed my Raphael catfish an earthworm small one I find?
<If you mean outside, this can be tricky -- due to the use of pesticides, etc. I'd stick with what you're feeding now, and if you'd like to add earthworms, those small red worms from a bait store might be a better option.>
Thank you and have a wonderful night and by the way I'm Jordan.
<Jordan, I don't think this tank is cycled, which is bad news for your fish! Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. Again, please do not purchase any more fish until you've really gotten this figured out.
Please feel free to write back after reading, testing, etc.

Cloudy water and fur like substance, FW, data...   1/29/10
Please can you help.
<I can try.>
After testing the water in my aquarium the ph levels were high.
<What is the reading here? Number...>
Introduced some ph buffer by API and water went cloudy and there seems to be a fur like substance on the gravel and all the plants , ornaments etc.
<Algae? Can you send a photo?>
Please help, fish seems fine, only 1 molly at moment as lost his friend a day ago.
<If you've lost a fish so recently, there's good reason to believe the one you've got left is "fine." Without knowing why the last fish died, you have no way of knowing if the living fish is suffering from the same conditions, but just a little hardier, and lasting longer. Please write back with the following information:
How long as has your tank been set up?
Did you cycle it?
What are your Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels?
Why are you adjusting pH (i.e., please give number on pH, as stated above.
It really takes a good understanding of aquarium water chemistry before you should start messing with pH. Adding products which rapidly change pH can really stress fish. A common myth propagated by some pet store employees to new fishkeepers who really don't know better is that you have to worry about pH. Most of the time, you don't. With Mollies, harder water is ideal... your "high" pH would indicate that this is what you have. Likely no reason to try and change it.>
Don't want to replace until water sorted out.
<That's a good plan. Let's get this figured out. Please answer the above.
I'd like to help you, but you didn't give me much to go on. I'd stop adding pH ups and downs right now. It's just not necessary at this point in time. Please read on WWM, using our search tool, on Molly care and systems. Also, please have a look here in order to understand the relationship between water hardness and pH. I think it will give you a better understanding into the type of water that Mollies enjoy, and provide insight into the numbers you get when you test in regard to water chemistry:
Also, please read here on the nitrogen cycle and water quality, if anything, as a refresher. This is the other side of your testing -- water quality:
<You're welcome.

how do I get rid of dust?   1/26/10
hi, I'm sorry I sent 3 of the same email yesterday I clicked 'e-mail' a bunch of times again sorry,
<Not a problem.>
anyway I have a bunch of dust floating in my 8g tank with dwarf puffers and there is just a ton of dust floating around and makes it look messy and I don`t want to use chemicals, and the siphon doesn`t pick it up because it
is floating
<It's not dust, it's silt. Normally silt is found in new tanks, and means you didn't clean the gravel properly. Eventually (usually within a week) it settles onto the bottom or else gets trapped by the mechanical filter media
in the filter. If the tank isn't new, it means that the tank has poor mechanical filtration. Mechanical filter media is the stuff that traps silt, and is either filter floss or very fine sponge. Either way, it traps silt particles before they pass into the part of the filter with the biological media, because silt smothers bacteria. Replacing or washing mechanical filter media should be done regularly. If the tank is silty, you either don't have enough mechanical media, or you aren't cleaning it regularly enough.>
and I have another question I have a air tube that connects to the wall with suction and I was wondering does it go under the gravel?
<You can put air tubes wherever you want, but do realise that the deeper the tube under water, or the more gravel on top of it, the less air will be pushed through it. The air pressure generated by aquarium air pumps is usually pretty low, so water pressure squeezes the tube, letting less air get through, and making the air pump work harder to squeeze bubbles out the end. Cheers, Neale.>

Cloudy water in water only tank 12/23/09
Good afternoon crew, I have searched your sight for about an hour looking for an answer to my question and I am sure I am using the wrong key words for Google but I am unable to find it. You have helped me before when I
wrote a direct e-mail so I am hoping that once again you will be able to.
<Let's see...>
When I upgraded from a 55 gal. to a 125 gal. I decided to keep the 55 and use it as a holding tank for water changes.
<Okay... but any reason why? Do you need to let water sit for 24 hours before using it in the aquarium? Nothing wrong with doing this, but it may be a waste of time and electricity if you don't need to do it.>
I have a heater and 2 small air stones to keep the water moving, has been sitting thus for about a week. Now the water looks cloudy/hazy. The tank was well rinsed out before I set it up as a holding tank but now I am afraid to use this water for my weekly water change due to the way it looks. Could it be the air stones?
<Microbubbles in the water will settle out quickly if you switch off the aerator, so this is easy to check. More probably we're looking at a diatom bloom, a bacterial bloom, or simply silt from the substrate or the water supply itself.>
In your infinite wisdom do you think it would be ok to use this water?
<Use a couple of test kits. If the ammonia or nitrite levels are zero, then you're fine in terms of water quality. If the water chemistry is where it should be, i.e., the same pH as the display aquarium, then again, no problems. So if the water is measurably safe, even if it looks cloudy, it's fine to use. That said, you may want to do just a smallish water change first, maybe 10%, to see if the fish react negatively. If they do, then chuck out this batch of water.>
If I can use this water will the cloudiness remain in my display tank which is filtered with 2 Eheim filters plus a Marineland 280 hang on the back filter. I very much
appreciate your taking the time to help me.
<Cloudiness caused by silt will be removed by filters, but bacteria and diatom blooms have to run their course, and nothing much speeds up or prevents their particular cycles.>
Happy Holidays to all. Karen
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cloudy water in water only tank 12/23/2009
Once again Neale thank you so much for your advise, as before you have given me peace of mind.
<Glad to help.>
The water tests fine and I will start with just the 10% change to make sure there are no adverse effects in the tank.
The reason I am using the 55 gal. as a holding tank is only to make my water changes easier as the sink is quite far away from the tank and is an effort to be running buckets of warm water back and forth every week, also I thought the cost of running the heater in the tank with the air stones would be about the same as taking 30 gals of warm water out of my hot water tank.
<I see. To be fair, doing water changes with cold water, provided no more than 25%, usually doesn't do any harm. Indeed, fish that like cool conditions, like Danios and Corydoras, actually like the drop in temperature, and will often spawn immediately afterwards. Supposedly, it mimics rainfall. So provided tap water isn't frosty cold, something around 15 degrees C (59 F), adding up to 25% in a water change won't do any harm.>
This way I can run a hose with cold water into the tank, let it come to room temperature for a few days then turn the aquarium heater on for a few days to bring it up to the 77 degrees I need in the main tank.
<Your fish seem to get the five-star treatment!>
I am always open to any thoughts you may have that save time or money.
Thank you once again and I hope my e-mail will help someone else searching for holding tank water, as when I was searching I found many, many answers to cloudy water in tanks..but none with only water in it, so perhaps it will help someone else in the future. Thank you again. Karen
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cloudy water in water only tank 12/23/2009
Again I learned something new, being able to use cooler water, thank you for the information, I do have 6 Cory's as they are just such little clowns, but it is my rainbows that take center stage and within the next 2 weeks I will be adding the Denison's barbs that are in QT.
<All of these will enjoy a splash of cool water! Don't go bananas and freeze them, but as I said, a bit of cool water during water changes will do no harm at all.>
So I believe my interests are in river fish?
<Very much so. Do be careful with the Corydoras though: most come from shallow streams, and none are happy in water much deeper than 30 cm/12 inches, and from 45 cm/18 inches the smaller species can drown if they
cannot easily get to the surface to gulp air. Use Brochis spp. instead in deep tanks.>
There is just no getting away from their beauty when schooling together and with their new 6 ft. tank, they sure are enjoying themselves. I forgot to mention that the 55 gal. tank is only 6 ft. behind the 125 gal. so I use a little Rio 1100 pump to transfer the water from the 55 to the 125, my life gets easier everyday. And without Wetwebmedia.com and wonderful, friendly, helpful people like yourself, I really believe I would still be sitting with my little 20 gal. tank and a few, probably sad little fish.
<A good analysis. While bigger tanks are expensive, they do make fishkeeping easier.>
Your site is very encouraging to new members of the hobby, as I was just 2 years ago, now here I sit with 125 gal. tank and much more importantly, healthy and happy fish.
<Some folks think we're scary!>
I really hope you have a wonderful holiday and please, keep doing what your doing, you are enriching many peoples lives not to mention the fish!
Thank you again, Karen
<My pleasure. Have a happy Christmas yourself. Cheers, Neale.>

Water quality problems with African Cichlid tank
Malawi Tank Cloudy After Vacation 8/6/09

I have a 46 Gal tank with Aqua Clear 110 filter. Have 5 African cichlids in it. Have had tank since March and all has been great. Water checks have been normal with minimal nitrate level. I changed the carbon filter on Thursday and went on vacation for 4 days and had a family feed fish once each day. When I came back from vacation, water looked cloudy with particulate matter floating around. I checked water and had nitrates and nitrites in the water. I did a 30% water change last night and called local pet store who recommended using Acurel F. I couldn't find it, so I purchased Nutrafin waste control. I haven't added this to my tank as I am hesitant to add unnecessary chemicals. I see a lot of waste product on the aragonite substrate today which I gravel vacuumed yesterday. I am
wondering if these particles are fish waste or some kind of worms. They aren't moving and look a lot like the blood worms that I feed them. Help!
Any advice on what to do or if I should add this Nutrafin product? Thanks, Jen
< Next time skip the help when going on vacation. I usually go a week before I even think about having someone feed my fish. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the entire depth of the gravel and clean the filters. Don't feed the fish until the water clears. Skip the additives. The wormy things are fish waste.-Chuck>

Cloudy Water   3/23/09
Hi there WWM Crew!
I had a question that I couldn't find the answer to on your site... I have a 10 gallon planted tank with one molly, 3 ghost shrimp and 1 apple snail (*bridgesii*). I was cycling my tank (1 week) then decided to add the plants and another layer of gravel since what I had was not enough for the plant roots. The water was crystal clear UNTIL I added everything new. I also added some shale (from the LFS, marked for aquariums- Yes, I scrubbed them down in HOT water till the water ran clear- the gravel too). Now I'm
suffering from cloudy water which does not get better with water changes- nor does it get worse.
<Mmm, sometimes changing water only forestalls the settling of such particles>
It appears to be the same "level" of cloudiness, constantly. Tetra Water Clarifier had no affect at all. Invertebrates are doing well, but the molly is listless. What am I doing wrong?
<I would leave off with the "Clarifier" product and water changes... unless you are experiencing too high measured levels of ammonia and/or nitrite... and cut back on feeding (and out altogether if having nitrogenous problems as mentioned), until the water clears of its own accord. This should happen in a few days to weeks>
(Water parameters are doing fine, plants look OK- still shock from roots being messed with during planting). I can see little itty bitty particles in the water, no green tint or milky-ness as I've seen described elsewhere.
Thanks for your help!
Anitra A.
<Just patience here... really. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Water   3/23/09
Hi there WWM Crew!
I had a question that I couldn't find the answer to on your site... I have a 10 gallon planted tank with one molly, 3 ghost shrimp and 1 apple snail (*bridgesii*). I was cycling my tank (1 week) then decided to add the plants and another layer of gravel since what I had was not enough for the plant roots. The water was crystal clear UNTIL I added everything new. I also added some shale (from the LFS, marked for aquariums- Yes, I scrubbed them down in HOT water till the water ran clear- the gravel too). Now I'm
suffering from cloudy water which does not get better with water changes- nor does it get worse.
<Mmm, sometimes changing water only forestalls the settling of such particles>
It appears to be the same "level" of cloudiness, constantly. Tetra Water Clarifier had no affect at all. Invertebrates are doing well, but the molly is listless. What am I doing wrong?
<I would leave off with the "Clarifier" product and water changes... unless you are experiencing too high measured levels of ammonia and/or nitrite... and cut back on feeding (and out altogether if having nitrogenous problems as mentioned), until the water clears of its own accord. This should happen in a few days to weeks>
(Water parameters are doing fine, plants look OK- still shock from roots being messed with during planting). I can see little itty bitty particles in the water, no green tint or milky-ness as I've seen described elsewhere.
Thanks for your help!
Anitra A.
<Just patience here... really. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water cloudiness 4/14/2009
hi, I went back to a tropical tank, 55 gl. have a few guppies, wags, Neons, had 3 6 inch goldfish, when I got rid of them. I did a 10 percent water change, added a 360 BioWheel filter, plus the Topfin60 filter that came with the tank.
<Ten-percent really isn't a sensible water change. It's what people did twenty years ago when they thought "old water" was better. We now recommend 25% weekly.>
Water is still cloudy, a little milky white. Tank is 5 months old. I have a big resin rock, a resin ship, 4 real plants, 4 plastic ones, could that be causing the cloudiness?
Putting the BioWheel on it did not help at all.
<Hang-on-the-back filters are pretty useless for mechanical filtration, and in my opinion, overpriced/underpowered. No idea why Americans are so wedded to them; you hardly see them in Europe, thankfully. In any case, overall turnover should be four to six times the volume of the tank, i.e., for a 55
gallon tank, the filters (when added together) should provide 220 to 330 gallons per hour turnover (you'll see these numbers printed on the pump itself or the packaging). If you're under these values, your tank is
Its funny all the pet stores that I have gone to ,. they all have crystal clear water in them, I told myself when I got a tank mine is going to look like that, perfect clarity with crystal clear water, have not had my tank
crystal clear yet, and it's been 5 months!
<Filtration, filtration, filtration. Understand that cloudiness can be caused three ways: from silt, from diatoms, and from bacterial blooms. Each has its own causes. Silt usually is a problem with new tanks where the gravel or sand hasn't be washed properly. "Filter aid" products can help here, but you will need ample mechanical filtration (e.g., filter wool) to gather up the agglutinated silt particles. Silt doesn't usually come back after the problems been fixed, but if you have messy fish, don't clean the substrate, and do small water changes, there's a danger that mulm (organic detritus) can build up over time. Diatoms form yellowy blooms, and are very distinctive. Again, they're a problem with new tanks usually and eventually go away by themselves. Mechanical filtration and UV sterilisation both help, but since diatom blooms are a temporary issue, they're usually not a big deal. Bacterial blooms make the water look milky. They can occur in any
tank. They usually indicate serious problems of one sort or another:
inadequate filtration, lack of aquarium maintenance, etc. Mechanical filtration has minimal impact since the bacterial multiply so fast, though UV sterilisation can help.>
I have the water tested almost weekly at my fish store and its always ok.
<Define "ok" for me. What are the values??>
I also do the test strip and always ok. please anything I can do at this point? Or maybe not have an aquarium, I do not want to turn on the lights and have people see it, they would look at it and think that my tank is dirty. Lorna
<Cheers, Neale.>

Emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg.   02/06/09 After years of healthy fish and clean water, suddenly yesterday my tank was cloudy like I've never seen it before. I thought it was a temporary die-off of bacteria -about 3 days earlier, I had removed one of those Purigen filter bags to bleach and soak it (did not put it back in yet), but there were still regular filter pads in there. Two days earlier, I had also put in some blackworms for my puffer to eat as usual - they had all situated themselves nicely in the substrate like they always do, didn't seem to be any problems. Well yesterday the worms had scattered all over the tank as if in distress. Today they were almost all dead and disintegrated and the water was really foul. All the fish were at the top looking for air. Was this due to (a) lack of oxygen due to cycle being all messed up from filter bag removal or (b) maybe the worms were diseased and when they died they set off an ammonia spike? I have changed half the water, am probably going to change another half tomorrow and start to get rid of the worm remains. Fish all seem to be still alive somehow. Thanks for your prompt response! Bob <Hello Bob. It is NEVER a good idea to add live food (or any other kind of food, other than plant material) to a tank that is not consumed within 5 minutes. Not ever. The reasons why your live food in this case died and caused problems is difficult to say, but the point is that the situation should never have arisen in the first place. Yes, when live food dies it causes the oxygen content of the water to drop. There's something called the Biological Oxygen Demand (or BOD) that encompasses not just the oxygen used by animals and plants, but also things like bacteria and fungi. Decay is a major element of this, and the more decay there is, the higher the BOD. If BOD exceeds the amount of oxygen in the water, you get an oxygen crisis, and things can die unless they can supplement their oxygen by breathing air. Lungfish and Gouramis for example are masters of this latter art, but Puffers can't do it, and obviously any bacteria stuck inside a (closed) filter can't do it either. If filter bacteria die, ammonia and nitrite processing decreases, and water quality drops. So, the "fix" here is to do a big water change to flush out any ammonia and nitrite, clean the substrate to remove as much decaying organic matter as possible, and then make jolly sure you don't add too much live food ever again! If you have excess live food, store it in a container of water in a cool place. Add a bit at a time, just enough for your fish to be nicely fed but not gorged so much it swells up. Puffers should look lean, with a gently rounded belly, and should NOT look like they swallowed a bowling ball. As for the filters, all else being equal they should bounce back within a day or two. Rinse any media gently in a bucket of aquarium water, and then put the filter back together. No long-term harm should happen. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg.   02/06/09 thanks! <Happy to help.> I feel horrible. <Oh?> To explain, I have never had luck keeping my worms in the fridge. <Don't bother.> Despite changing the bit of water they soaked in daily the worms always died and messed up my whole fridge. <Indeed.> Therefore I have always "hidden" live food under a rock covered in java fern in the corner of the tank where even the puffer could only access a few worms at a time, and this has worked for years. <Ah...> However this time the new store I went to gave me too many worms (twice the normal amount), and I think maybe this caused the BOD problem you refer to. Maybe I'll try again with the cool storage especially after this problem. I hope everything stabilizes soon. Thank you. <Why not buy frozen? (As opposed to freeze dried.) Safer, cleaner, cheaper. Puffers take to frozen food without complaint. You can also offer a variety of things: bloodworms, blackworms, glassworms, etc. More variety = better health. You don't need live foods. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg.   02/06/09 This has been an ongoing war for years with my puffer. He simply does not do frozen. I have starved him for months feeding only frozen and he hates it. He spits it out and then finally loses interest altogether. My LFS guy said, he'll eat it if he's hungry enough but I have never seen any evidence of this even when he's emaciated. This is a very entitled and privileged animal. <Made a rod for your own back here. Do try bloodworms. My puffers (including Dwarves, Red-tails and South Americans) love them. Offer alongside the live food, mixed in. While feeding on the one, they'll likely take the other. Switch brands. Some seem more palatable than others. My puffers are less keen on glassworms and mosquito larvae than bloodworms. Also try hand-feeding, using forceps. Wriggle the food about enticingly. Generally, puffers *will* eat if they're hungry enough. Never seen one refuse! What kind of puffer is it? Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg. - Part 3  02/06/09 It's a dwarf. Forceps, are you serious?! Wow, high maintenance, this one. <Yep. Deadly serious. I feed many of my fish this way. Besides helping to "tame" them (i.e., to settle into captive life and view humans as friends, not giant predators) it's also a way to make frozen/dead food more "interesting", so they take it readily.> If I'm not mistaken I tried frozen bloodworms - in those compartmentalized plastic chambers? <Yes.> Is there a brand you recommend? <Any should be fine to start with, but look for "mini bloodworms" given the species you have; the big bloodworms might be too tough. Don't thaw them in warm water: let them defrost slowly. I find thawing them quickly sometimes does something to the flavour, and the fish are less keen. But do, please, try mixing bloodworms with the live mosquito larvae. Once they're in a feeding frame of mind, they may well peck at anything.> Also I tried frozen shrimp. He also got a few snails here and there, till they became hard to find. <Indeed.> Thanks so much for all advice, the fish are already swimming around better after I changed most of the water. <Cool. Good luck, Neale.>

Cloudiness after feeding zucchini 1/27/2009 Hi Crew, <Nicole> Hope you are doing well! Just a quick question, since it seems you are busy and short handed lately, I won't take up too much of your time. <No worries> I've noticed that after I leave zucchini in my tanks overnight, more often than not, the next morning the water is slightly milky. Milky is too strong a word, but I can't otherwise describe the lack of crystal clarity that ensues. If I remove the zucchini, within a few hours, the water clarity returns. <Does, can occur... I would use a bit smaller piece/s of Zucchini...> I know that vegetable based foods are low in protein, so it should not put much of a strain on the filter to leave half a zucchini (cut lengthwise) into a 55 gallon tank...is that right, or am I mistaken? <Could> Should I maybe just put less in there? <Yes> It's just a bristlenose Plec and some Otocinclus in there eating it, along with Kribs nipping at it a bit - so I could certainly cut back on the serving size. Any insights you have would be appreciated. Have a great day! Nicole <And I should ask, "Are you blanching before using?"... A good idea to at least microwave and let cool before offering... makes this at-times tough vegetable easier to consume. Bob Fenner>

New tank; cloudy water, pH issues, some fish ideas 1/24/09 Hi, I'm new to this site and i really do love it. It is so addicting to explore it. However, i do have a question that i hope was not answered before. <Thanks for the kind words.> 1) I just set up a new tank and it is being cycled. How long will it take for the tank to start fogging up? I bought a 45 gallon square tank with a reasonable price. I also added filter media from another established tank to help speed up the process. It has been set up for about 3 days now. <Can take some days. Cloudiness is caused by three things. Most commonly, it's silt, meaning you haven't washed the sand/gravel properly. The water looks milky or like cloudy lemonade. This is a really common problem, and happens all the time. Water changes and cleaning/replacing the mechanical media (filter floss or fine sponges) will help. There are products called "filter aids" that are flocculants and cause silt particles to clump, making them easier for the filter to remove. By all means use one of these if you want. They probably shouldn't be used all the time, but in situations like this, appear to be safe to both fish and filter bacteria. The second most common reason for cloudiness is a diatom bloom. This gives the water a brown-gold colour. Again, this is usually a one-off problem, though it may come and go through the first few weeks or months. Usually settles down by itself. Adding fast-growing plants, particularly floating plants, will help because these tend to suppress the growth of algae quite dramatically. Finally, there are bacterial blooms. These can be various colours, but typically milky-grey. These are rare and usually indicate some fundamental problem with the tank, e.g., overstocking or under-filtering. The solution is to fix the aquarium!> 2) What do you recommend i put in there? My tap water is soft and very acidic. I believe it is 6.2-6.5. <That's pretty good water for fish from softwater habitats. So things like tetras and dwarf cichlids will do especially well. On the other hand, fish from hardwater habitats like Livebearers and many Rainbowfish will be miserable. Do have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm In particular understand that soft water tends to be prone to pH changes, so it is important to either use a buffer (such as a "pH fixing" product) or else keep tabs on pH and perform very regular water changes so that any drops in pH are minimal between those water changes. If you have soft water, I'd perhaps be looking at (among other fish) things like Cardinals, Glowlight tetras, Emperor tetras, Lemon tetras, Silver Hatchetfish, X-ray tetras, Golden Pencilfish (Nannostomus beckfordi), Corydoras aeneus, Corydoras panda, Corydoras sterbai, Kuhli loaches, Whiptail catfish, Apistogramma cacatuoides, Glassfish, Peacock gobies (Tateurndina ocellicauda) and Bristlenose Plecs (Ancistrus spp.). All these fish are reasonably hardy, will coexist with one another, and can be maintained at 25 C/77 F safely. I've deliberately left off a few fish that either need cooler water (Neons and Danios for example); warmer water (Rams, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi); tend to be aggressive and/or predatory (like Three-spot Gouramis and Angels); or are otherwise difficult to keep because of disease issues (Dwarf Gouramis, Neons, and Mikrogeophagus ramirezi).> I have kept fishes before and i decided to give it another try. Thanks. <Good luck, Neale.>

Stinky tank  12/18/08 Hello, I have 2 tanks in my house, both are freshwater. We initially started out with a 10 gallon, but then upgraded to a 20. When we upgraded I washed out the 10 gallon one and set it aside to sell. Well, my 2 daughters decided they would like the 10 gallon in their room. So, I replaced the filter cartridges, bought new gravel as I had used the old gravel in my new tank, added water and cycle brand chemicals. We put in 5 small male guppies and 1 frog. All the fish seem to be doing fine (and the frog), but their tank stinks so bad. It smells really strongly of fish. I know this isn't normal, my other tank doesn't stink. It is now causing their room to stink. The water is clear, fish are fine, just the stink. What is going on? I set it up about 1 week ago. Thanks Kacie <Kacie, if the tank smells, it is surely being over-fed or under-cleaned. While the filter might keep the water safe, it might not be able to cope with the sheer amount of much in the gravel. Flake that doesn't fall in the water, but gets stuck in the plastic trimmings above the waterline will also rot and smell. You are correct in saying a normal fish tank doesn't smell; at most, there's a greenhouse-like "sweet water" smell. Ten gallons isn't a big tank, and smaller than I'd recommend for Guppies, but even so, 5 guppies shouldn't be creating so much mess the tank would stink. Likely the kids are overfeeding the fish or not cleaning the tank adequately. Do of course check the water quality: ammonia and nitrite levels above zero are a sure sign of overfeeding, under-filtering, and generally bad maintenance. Cheers, Neale.>

Size of tank / cloudy water, Oscar sys.    12/10/08 I don't remember the formula to find out the number of gallons. Length X width X height X WHAT? <Have no idea, I do all this stuff in metric. Much easier! 10 x 10 x 10 cm = 1 litre. But if you insist on Ye Olde Worlde measurements, then according to Google, one cubic foot is 7.48051948 US gallons.> I have 37 gal tank (I was told it was, I don't think it is), with a heater, filter,& a 6 inch Oscar. (Which has been running a month) <Too small for anything but a really young Oscar, and at 6 inches (15 cm) this Oscar is well beyond that point.> The Oscar is eats floating pellets twice daily. (None in tank when finished) <Pretty typical for Astronotus!> Water cloudy - partial water changed & filter changed. Still cloudy, what next? Thank you <Tank is overstocked; too much fish, too little water. Buying a bigger filter would be good money after bad. Astronotus need tanks from the 55 gallon mark upwards. They're big, messy fish prone to disease (e.g., Finrot, Hole-in-the-Head) when kept for long in sub-optimal conditions. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Size of tank / cloudy water... Oscar sys.   12/10/08 Thank you. FYI; Height X Length X Width X 7.5 = gallons <I believe that's what I said, only more accurately. Height (in feet) by length (in feet) by width (in feet) gives you cubic feet. There's 7.48051948 cubic feet to each US (as opposed to Imperial) gallon. As I'm sure your maths teacher reminded you many times, the units are critical! So don't forget about them. Do your sum in inches and you'd get a totally different number (say, 12 x 24 x 12 inches for a two foot tank) gets you 3456 cubic inches, when multiplied by 7.5 comes out as 25920 cubic inches, an answer that isn't in the least helpful! In any case, your tank is too small for Astronotus. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Size of tank / cloudy water Thank you. I was wrong, a pet shop owner gave me the wrong information. <Glad we could help! Enjoy your fish, Neale.>

FW cloudy water, perhaps low oxygen?  11/19/08
I have 72 gallon freshwater tank that has been established for 6 months or so. In it I have: 15 rummy nosed tetras, 5 gouramis, 1 6" Pleco, 3 Cory cats and 2 wag swords.
Yesterday, I did a 25% water change and vacuumed the gravel, but I didn't do anything with the filter.
Today, the water is cloudy (whitish) but all of the test strips read right where they should be. I wasn't comfortable about it and so I watched the tank rather closely throughout the day and decided to do another water change this evening as some fish were starting to gulp for air at the top of the tank. The water looked a bit better after the water change, and again, it tested well, but now even more fish are going to the surface for air (including the Cory cats).
What do I do now?
<Hello Cheryl. If the water has gone cloudy after a water change or after cleaning the gravel, the cloudiness is almost certainly just silt. After 24 hours things should settle down. Silt sometimes irritates the gills of certain fish, and that might explain their behaviour. You can speed things up by rinsing out or replacing the mechanical media in your filter. This is typically filter wool or sponge. The cleaner the mechanical media, the more quickly the silt will be removed. Remember not to do anything to mess up the biological media in the filter. Rinsing biological media is fine, but obviously if you replace more than 50% of the biological media with new media, that will have an impact on water quality, at least in the short term. Otherwise, if pH and nitrite are both normal, I'd just double check water temperature and filter circulation are correct. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cloudy water, perhaps low oxygen?  11/19/08
Hi Neale!
Thanks for your reply. Since I emailed, more has happened. 5 Rummy-nose tetras and one Cory cat died. I moved the rest of the rummy-noses, the Corys and the 2 wags to a small tank to try to save them, and did a 3rd water change. The Pleco and the gouramis seem rather unaffected by it all.
The water continues to read well EXCEPT that it has gone rather acidic, but the nitrites and ammonia are 0. I went to the fish store, and they have no ideas. I bought some aquarium salts but don't really know if or how to use them. So, I'm not sure where to go from here. I don't have a big enough tank to move the gouramis and the Pleco to. Any ideas?
Thanks again!
<Glad you checked the pH. The pH of all aquarium has a tendency to drop.
What you as a fishkeeper try to do is slow that change. If you live in a hard water area (as I do, in southern England) then the water itself will buffer against pH drops because it has a high carbonate hardness. In soft water areas this doesn't happen, and you need to be more careful. The simplest approach is to keep the tank lightly stocked and to do regular 25-50% water changes. Adding a pH buffer to the water can help, or you can deliberately raise the carbonate hardness (measured with the KH test kit) by adding Malawi salts (from the store, or home made). Note that "aquarium salt" has no useful function in this regard; sodium chloride does not change the pH or carbonate hardness. It's important to understand that general hardness (the dH or GH test kit) measures something else, and by itself general hardness has nothing much to do with the buffering capacity of water. It's carbonate hardness that's important. Now, I suspect you are in a soft water area, or else have made the common mistake of using water from a domestic water softener. Naturally soft water should be approached with caution, and domestically softened water never used at all. Anyway, when water lacks carbonate hardness, pH can drop suddenly under some situations, even within a few hours. This severely stresses most fish. Do two things: check the water chemistry of your tap water, and then check the water chemistry of your aquarium. If they're different, something in the tank is causing the pH to drop, likely overstocking or else some type of decay in the substrate or filter. If the water chemistry of the aquarium is the same as the tap water supply, then that's a whole other problem, specifically your water will need treating and likely buffering to make it "fit for use" in an aquarium. Reminder: if you use a domestic water softener, draw the water for the aquarium from the drinking water (i.e., unsoftened) tap. In the meantime, increase the aeration and circulation in the tank (e.g., by placing the out flow from the filter at the water line so there's lots of splashing). Do a series of 20-25% water changes across the next few hours to flush out anything nasty from the tank. You will also (hopefully) raise the pH and hardness in stages by doing this, acclimating the fish to the better conditions. Now, here's the thing: if a fish tank experiences a wipe out of this type, sometimes it's quicker to simply break the whole thing down, stick the fish/plants in buckets, deep clean the gravel, and then refill with water again. You then introduce the fish as if you'd just bought them, but exposing them slowly to the new water chemistry, e.g., by adding water from the tank to the bucket a cup every 5-10 minutes before netting them out. While this sounds like work, the fact is it's often quicker, because you remove the problem without wasting time figuring out what the problem was. (It's equivalent to reformatting the hard drive and installing fresh system software on your computer when it's playing up; sounds like a hassle, but often the most cost effective solution.) Naturally, being alert to potential problems, you keep looking for what might go wrong with regard to pH, hardness, water quality, etc.
Cheers, Neale.>

Chronic cloudy water fix! 11-12-08 Hi, <Hello!> I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank that I have been having an absolute nightmare with for the last year. I must have the patience of Job because no matter what I did the water would turn cloudy over and over again! It finally became a Cloak-and-Dagger routine to find the culprit!  Initially, I set up my aquarium with river rocks on the bottom, a Marineland filter with bio-wheel, air stone, and a Top Fin brand log for decoration. The only fish in the tank was my cute little Betta! But to my dismay the water turned cloudy! That didn't look to good.  I thought it could be that the tank was getting some direct light at one point during the day so I moved the tank to an area with less light. But the water remained cloudy.  During the course of many months I did many 1/4 water changes and multiple full tank water changes, starting over again after the water would become so cloudy that you could hardly see the other side of the aquarium or even my red Betta! I'd use tap water with dechlorination drops, reverse osmosis water from the store, and even water hauled from my local aquarium store in 5 gal buckets.  But the water continued to turn cloudy.  I purchased a bag of the Caribsea Eco-Complete Planted substrate and put in live plants. Water turned cloudy!!!!  I changed the lights. Water cloudy. Put in clarifier. Water cloudy. Put a bag of ROWAphos in the filter chamber. Water didn't clear at all.  No matter what I did or how much money I spent doing everything the people at the aquarium store told me to do to rid myself of this problem the water would still turn cloudy! I was finally coming to my wits end, but someone who has an aquarium of his own suggested that I once again take everything out of the tank and begin a process of elimination. So, I dumped everything out of the tank, threw away my bio-wheel (I know you're not supposed to do that but I wanted to get rid of anything that could be starting the cloudiness), I submerged my filter, intake valves, air stone, log, everything into a light bleach and water solution to kill any bad bacteria that could be starting the problem.  I filled my tank once again with good water and put everything back in except the river rocks, just bare glass was seen on the bottom. I put my Betta back in, ran the filter without the bio-wheel for flow, put the air stone back in, and my log.  Two days later I noticed that the water was starting to turn cloudy again!!! Augh!! I'm like, what the heck is making this water turn cloudy so fast??? What is going on??? I wasn't doing anything any differently than the aquarium store with their aquariums and even they were stumped!  As soon as I saw the water turning cloudy again I didn't wait a day. I dumped everything out, filled up the tank with new water again, put everything back in eliminating one more thing.... the Top Fin brand log.  My water has been crystal clear ever since! The end. <Glad you fixed your water. Any type of wood in freshwater will leach tannins into the water making it very cloudy. To prevent this wood should be soaked in a bucket for two weeks to a month with daily water changes to prevent your tank water looking cloudy. Any other problems feel free to look at Web Web Media's large collection of articles and FAQ's and drop by the forum and chat about the joy if fish keeping! Merritt A.>

High phosphates/cloudy water in freshwater tank 11/5/08 Hello Crew, <Hi> I have an established 46 gallon freshwater tank with river-style gravel, an AquaClear 110 (just ordered an Eheim Classic 2217 upgrade), various fake plants, resin rock, and a single 36" Tropic Sun fluorescent light (on 8hrs/day). My (currently sparingly-fed) livestock consists of 15 small tiger barbs, 3 pictus cats, and a red-tailed black shark. <Ok> I've had several battles with blooms of suspended algae over the past 6-8 months. Though the blooms have (temporarily?) subsided, I'm experiencing some white/grey cloudy water. <Likely some sort of bacterial bloom.> I recently purchased a phosphate test kit and I'm getting readings of 5 ppm. Ammonia and Nitrite are at 0 and nitrate hovers around 5 ppm or less. <Did something die in the tank perhaps? Some change or additive that is causing your tank to recycle, which the evidence seems to suggest is happening.> I've been doing several water changes each week but I can't seem to drop my PO4 levels (0 ppm from the tap). <What and how much are you feeding? Maybe try another test kit to make sure it is accurate.> I'm taking a ride to the LFS tonight to pick up a Poly-Filter (I heard these work well), but I'd rather remove the problem than bandage it. Any thoughts? <The Polyfilters will help, but as for the cause check your food quantity, clean your filters often, and more water changes. Are you using any other additives?> The gravel was changed about 5-6 months ago, could it have been a bad batch that is somehow leaching PO4 into the water. <Seems unlikely but worth investigating, try soaking some in a otherwise clean container overnight and check the water in the morning to see if phosphates appear.> I don't use any type of chemical filtration, just sponges and bio-media in the filter. If plants are the solution, would that require different gravel as well? (e.g. eco-complete, as opposed to frequent supplementation, etc.) <Not necessarily, in my planted tank I have pea sized gravel, and then just placed a little (handful) of eco-complete (I think, may be a similar product, but not at home at the moment to check) around the planting site. Seems to have worked well.> Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Billy <Plants will help, but I am concerned that more phosphate is being added to the tank, keep testing and try to eliminate and possible sources one at a time to see if you can determine the cause.> <Chris>

Re: High phosphates/cloudy water in freshwater tank 11/06/08 Hello again, <Hi> Thanks for the advice. <Welcome> I don't believe anything has died, but now that you say it, perhaps a full gravel cleaning is in order (maybe it's buried?). <With ammonia reading I would not go too crazy, will destroy your biofilter that way.> I feed very sparingly, it takes maybe 3 minutes for the fish to finish. <Cut this by 2/3s, all food should be consumed within 1 minute.> As far as additives go, I use Amquel during water changes. <This may explain your ammonia readings, binds the ammonia so it never breaks down. Many test kits will still read this as free ammonia.> I've used the water clarifiers in the past (flocculants), but I find that the tank will stay clear for a day or so, then go back to it's original state, so I'm not a big fan of adding "stuff." <Good> I will try your idea and soak some of the gravel overnight. Aside from a possible bacteria bloom, is it possible that the high phosphate content is causing the cloudiness? <Could> Thanks again! <Welcome> <Chris>

Re: High phosphates/cloudy water in freshwater tank 11/7/08 Wow, 1 minute...here I am thinking I feed sparingly. <A common misconception, you are not alone here.> Would you suggest any other conditioner for water changes that wouldn't throw my readings off? Most of them seem to "detoxify" ammonia etc. but it would be nice if they just removed chlorine/chloramine so I could get an accurate reading. <They all work the same way, if you can find out what your water municipality uses you may be able to avoid the need for a water conditioner, unless it is using chloramines.> <Chris>

Dust in my tank (Filtration)  -- 10/10/08
hello ,I? just started a 55 gallon discus tank and all is going well but i didn't have a top on my tank for a while and it collected alot of dust on the top.?I can c it floating and i would like to no how i could get it? out.? Today i just did my first 20 percent water change and it looks a lil more dusty?.(o and i have a top on it now?)? Im worried that it might not be good for the fish to breath in dust.??I have a Fluval 305 canister filter? that seems to only clean the bottom of the water.? Also should i get a power head cause i don't think there is enough circulation in the tank . In ur opion what is the best way to do a water chance i just used a shipion and took out 20 percent of the water while cleaning the gravel. Then filed up buckets with water,?treated them cheacked that it was the rite temp then poured it in?. If im doing it rite how many should i do a week or month .Ty ive learned alot from this website!???? ?mike
<Hello Mike. Any chance you could use a spell checker next time you write? At least halfway decent grammar and spelling is something we specifically ask for in return for our services. In any case, if your tank is genuinely collecting dust from the room its in, then a hood, or at least a condensation tray, will make a big difference. Dust sits on the surface of the water and has no real affect on fish health, so shouldn't cause any specific problems, though in theory at least dust could bring in various toxins such as detergents or pesticides used in the house. However, I'm a bit skeptical about the idea of dust causing the problem. Consider two other alternatives, silt and oil. Silt can come from gravel or sand that hasn't been cleaned properly, and it can be a real nuisance in a fish tank. Again, it isn't dangerous to the fish (in fact many fish prefer cloudy water) but it is unsightly and often collects on the surfaces of plants and rocks as a grubby film. Silt goes away with time, particularly if you have strong filtration with ample mechanical filtration media. If your water is silty, you may need an additional filter -- despite what gets quoted on the box your filter was packaged in, the "proof is in the pudding" and I have to confess to preferring generous filtration where cichlids are concerned. The other possibility is contamination with oils. These normally come in with food, particularly meaty foods, and collect on the surface as a milky film. Oils are most easily dealt with by making sure the surface is well agitated (e.g., by using a spray bar) so that the oils get mixed into the water and then processed by the biological filter. Oils don't seem to cause any immediate problems, but in theory anything that sits between the water and the air can reduce the rate at which oxygen diffuses into the water. Besides using methods to remove the oils, also review what food you're offering, and minimise the use of oily foods. Cheers, Neale.>

Question about water clarifiers... Water Clarifiers - 7/1/08 Hi Guys- <Hello Steve!> I am a long time fish enthusiast for over 35 years <Wow, you've got me beat!> and I have rarely encountered cloudy water problems before. I recently started feeding my discus the Jack Wattley frozen formula and noticed my water getting a bit cloudy. I immediately did a 20% water change to no avail. In a panic, I went to my local supplier and bought a bottle of Acurel F. I followed the instructions and my water was supposed to be crystal clear within an hour, but guess what? my tank is even cloudier than it was before. What is the "trick" to get this stuff to work? <To not use it...chemically cleaning the cloudiness out of the water not only is a purely cosmetic fix, but it is harmful to living inhabitants of the tank.> This is not a new tank it has been long-established, my water chemistry is at optimum levels for my discus. Please if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. <Perhaps there has been too much waste food causing bacteria blooms in the water? I would try checking the amount you are feeding, and several water changes to control the problem.> Sincerely, Steve M in NY <Benjamin>

Re: Water Clarifiers - 7/1/08 Thanks for the suggestion, I will give it a shot and hopefully things will clear up. <No problem. And with all your experience and love of the hobby, why don't you drop by our forum at bb.wetwebmedia.com ? I daresay you'd be a valuable addition, and might enjoy learning/sharing with we fish geeks...> <Benjamin>

29 G BioCube... FW stkg.    6/23/08 Hello, I had a 29 gallon BioCube with a small yellow tang. <... needs more room than this> After awhile I realised I didn't like saltwater as much as fresh so I decided to convert, after draining the tank and taking everything out and giving the tang to a petstore I cleaned it with biodegrable soap and such. <Mmmm> that day though the tank started to smell so I filled it up with water and put vinegar into it. <... CH3COOH... an organic acid... food> after a few days of running a white fuzzy mold started to grow. I really want to put stuff in this tank but I think this tank isnt ready. any tips on how to make it ready? <Dump and really clean it, start again. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwclngtkfaqs.htm> PS can a BGK fish go with a Senegal Bichir? thanks for your time <Neither in this sized/volume system. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Tank, FW, induced  6/13/08 Hi, I got this website from a friend and I have been finding lots of very useful info on it and am hoping you can help. I have a 29 gallon tank that has been set up for 6 months now. I have numerous plants including 2 Cryptocorynes, 2 Amazon Swords, and 2 Green Cabombas. I have a variety of fish such as many tetra (Neons, Cardinals, Lemon tetra, Glow tetra, Black Skirt tetra, Green Fire tetra, Penguin tetra), Rainbows, 2 Zebra Danios, a Leopard Danio, 2 Chinese Algae Eaters, <Watch these last... Fish eaters> Rasboras, 2 Platys, a Red-Tailed Black Shark, 2 Betta Females, and 2 Tiger Barbs. <Quite a lot of species in such a small volume> All my plants and fish are doing very well and no fish have gotten sick or died for about 5 months now. I do 10-15% water changes every 2 weeks and vacuum the gravel at the same time. I clean my filters every second week when I am not doing water changes. <Good techniques> I test my water, add cycle, and fertilize with Iron and Flourish plant supplements weekly. I recently set up a DIY yeast CO2 injector as well. <Neat> I have one 20 watt fluorescent tube light which is on for 12 hours a day and an Aquaclear filter with foam, ammonia, and bio stones. My last test results are as follows: GH-60, KH-0, pH-6.0 to 6.5, NO2-O, NO3-20. The problem is a couple of weeks ago my water turned very cloudy, kind of white with maybe a slight bit of green cloudiness. I have been reading up on a bunch of your FAQ's and trying some the things but to no prevail. I did a 85% water change in an attempt to get rid of the cloudiness but no change. I have been feeding moderately and I watch carefully to make sure all the food is eaten by the fish. The only thing I can think of that may have caused it is perhaps sunlight from a nearby window. <Could well be> I have kept the blinds closed on this curtain since I discovered the cloudiness. I have never been a fan of chemicals as I believe these cause more problems than they solve but in desperation I tried B Clear which was recommended at my local fish store. <Mmm, I would not do this> It did little to help the situation but had no negative effects on the fish, plants, or water quality. I also tried Green-X which is supposed to trap and remove phosphates, nitrates, and nitrites but still nothing. I have looked into diatom filters and UV sterilizers but they seem rather expensive. I am not exactly sure what my next step is to get rid of this and although no plants or fish are suffering because of it, it is not very enjoyable looking at a very cloudy and murky aquarium. Any help at all on this situation would be much appreciated. Thanks! David <Mmm, well, this system should re-center itself in time... but it is crowded, under-illuminated... and likely not as well filtered or circulated as it could/should be. I'd consider addressing these root issues rather than trying to fix symptoms of their causing (i.e. the cloudiness). Bob Fenner>

White dusty looking growth on everything but the fish  4/18/08 Hi guy's, I tried to look for a topic about this and nothing, <Maybe under "cloudy water"> so here is my problem, I have a 55 gallon that houses only a 12 inch male frontosa and a catfish and I am trying to find the name of the cat fish and I cant, ,it is pretty common, it is dark about six inches in length bulky body, any way I wrote you before about how do old fish act and how my frontosa was sitting on the bottom, I did medicate with the furnace and the Metronidazole like you said, it seemed to help a little, but then after a water change I noticed all this white stuff floating around like dust it is every where and it looks like he has hole in the head so know after a break from the first med treatment I changed the water at least three times before I put clout <Which is largely Metronidazole> in the water and I am going to make water changes and feed him some earthworms, (this was the first time he has had any thing live, and first he would spit it out, it was kind of funny, he has had frozen bloodworms, my husband tried again that night and he sucked them right up) so any way I also have 135 gallon tank and this too has the white stuff in it, see, I use the same bucket and siphon hose to clean their tanks, so now I am boiling water each time I do a water change in the bucket with the hose submerged in the bucket with some table salt. I do have a pic if you can download it, I will try. but do you know what it could be. I have been water changes once or twice a week. usually the nitrates are 0 and the ammonia is 0 and the ph is 7.4-7.8. but I have not checked it because of the meds. Thank you M.W. <Mmm, likely just particulates from food, wastes, algae growth... I would spiff up your circulation, filtration, water change activity. The medications may well have contributed to this dustiness... Have you tried Spectrum Foods? This completely nutritious line may well help solve the dust problem as well as the HLLE. Bob Fenner>

Re: White dusty looking growth on everything but the fish  4/19/08 Thanks Bob, I do have spectrum, and a lot of variety foods, I think you are probably right about the white stuff being the left over medication. It has to get better with the water changes. Thanks again. Michelle W. <Ah, welcome my friend. Thank you for the follow-up. Bob Fenner>


I am emailing you regarding a problem that I have been having with my fresh water Discus tank.  3/23/08 First I will start with the details on my aquarium set up. It is a 30 gallon <Too small...> fish tank with plenty of live plant life, 2 Discus (1 of them expired because of my problem), 3 albino Danios, 3 white cloud tetras, 3 green tetras, 1 albino Corydoras cat fish, and 3 Otos (who were all fed twice daily with reasonable amounts of frozen foods). <Mmm, don't really eat such...> I do a 30% water change every week with treated tap water <Good> (I add plant nutrients, a pH lower, black water extract, and prime) <I would get/use an RO device...> in order to maintain proper water parameters. Regular water tests show that my water typically stays around 0 ppm of ammonia, 0 ppm of nitrite, around/below 20 ppm of nitrate, <Too much for Symphysodon> and a pH of 6.4. I used two back mounted power filters in order to keep the water circulating with a combination of filter floss, carbon, media for housing beneficial bacteria, and bags of media to chemically lower nitrates. <These can be problematical> This worked perfectly well on my tank for a while until one day I spoiled a water change where I planned on scrubbing down the glass and changing the water, but instead I ended up scrubbing off the glass, changing the water, and stirring up the gravel (which is a very fine substrate for my plants) by pouring in the water. White cloudy water followed this water change and nothing I could do would fix this. It was putting much stress on the inhabitants of my aquarium so while I was doing research I was doing 50% water changes daily which made the water less cloudy and the fish swam around like normal until the next morning when I had to do the water change again. Much research told me that the only thing it could be would be a bacterial bloom and after talking with my local discus breeder (Wattley Discus) <Hello to Jack> I put a cartridge filter on my fish tank that broke it down to something like 1 micron (this filter was a canister that was connected to a pump that was separate from the filter). I left this filter on my fish tank for 12 hours and the fish tank cleaned up right away, but the water was starting to turn cloudy again within 24 hours so I put this canister filter on my fish tank again and the water was polished right up all over again. I then invested my money into my own canister filter (a Fluval 205) which i fitted with biological filter media (little clay tabs), peat, zeolite, and the stock sponge media and I removed the other canister filter. Shortly thereafter my water started to cloud up however it was not as bad as before and my fish population did not seem as stressed as before. So, I added the Fluval water polishing media to my aquarium and the water did not clean up all that well. I was going away for a week the next day so as a last resort i took the other canister and put it on the output line of the Fluval and the water cleared up within the hour. Throughout this whole endeavor my water parameters were kept in check. I have done research that suggests that keeping the water polishing canister on line with the Fluval may not be a good idea because it will remove too many essential properties from the water. <This may be so> I have since disconnected one of the hang on filters from the back. I have the next week off so I would like to know what all I could/should do to my aquarium to keep it in check. <Mmm, mainly less... I would mix, store your make-up water for the week ahead of time, cut out the use of Prime (unnecessary then), get rid of the nitrate absorbing filtrant... and start saving for a larger system> Any help will be greatly appreciated. p.s. The only other information that I could see as relevant to this problem could be the lighting and the presence of an oxygen stone. The oxygen stone was putting the bubbles off right into one of the hang on filters and the bubbles were being broken down and dispersed throughout the entire tank. Also I have heavy lighting on the aquarium which consists of a stock head that has a light fit for plant growth and a high output fluorescent head with 2 actinic blue bulbs and 2 daylight bulbs.> Thank you, Josh Early. <Mmm, what you need is a bit more biology, less chemical use... Bob Fenner>

Re: Cloudy Water Discus Tank 3/26/08 I appreciate your quick response to my troubles, but this simply opens up more questions for me. <OK, Scott V. here this go round.> Is it necessary for me to cut out the prime from my water, or is it just a corner cutter to save money? <It is a matter of adding less to your water. All the additives are likely contributing to your problem, hence the urging to use RO water instead.> Also, how would I go about increasing the biological capacity of my filters and handle the nitrates by non-chemical means. <Increasing the biofiltration should not be an issue. Handling the nitrate should happen through your water changes, 30% a week is quite substantial. Yet but another reason for RO water, your make up water itself is likely high in nitrate.> Another thing you addressed is the size of my aquarium. What size should I take my fish tank to as a minimum and why? (as Wattley Discus seemed to find nothing wrong with my tank setup as long as I could keep my water parameters in check). <A 55 gallon would be fine. Discus get fairly large and are shy, skittish fish. The larger tank will help you with diluting pollutants (such as your nitrate issue) and prove better psychologically for the fish.> I also don't feel that you addressed my main issue of the cloudy water and what I should do about the external water polishing canister filter or if you did I completely missed it. <The canister treats the symptoms, not the problem. It sounds like your issues stem from your water and the additives to begin with, a larger system will certainly not hurt and will be necessary as the fish grow.> Any further response will be greatly appreciated. -Josh <Welcome, Scott V.> Re: Cloudy Water Discus Tank 3/29/08 Ok thank you for all of your help. <Very welcome.> I was doing the water quality from memory (since I was out of town at the time of my first email) and have since tested the water after a week of my absence and it came out to be 0 ppm of ammonia, 0 ppm of nitrite, and 0 ppm of nitrate. <Good to hear.> I eventually be investing in a bigger system, but my plan was to upgrade the tank as the fish started to reach adulthood or simply divide them based on pairs into smaller tanks and start fresh wit the 30 gallon. Your help is greatly appreciated. <Welcome, best regards, Scott V.>

Cloudy water -- 03/18/08 Hi Neale! I have been getting problems with my tank water. It has been extremely cloudy. <One of two things likely: a bacterial bloom (common with new tanks, goes away with time) or the mechanical filtration part of your system needs replacing/upgrading.> I have a 40 gallon hexagonal tank with a AquaClear filter that pumps 300 gallons per hour. In it i have the BioMax thing, and a sponge to trap debris. <Do squeeze out the sponge regularly, even if you leave the rest of the filter alone. I'd recommend cleaning it under a running tap every week or two if you're finding the water is cloudy. It's the sponge that traps particles in the water. Once "saturated" with those particles, it stops doing its job.> I also have an under gravel filter 2 of the under gravel stem things are ammonia removers and the other is carbon. In the tank, i have a blood parrot, 1 Firemouth cichlid, 1 yellow lab, 1 juvenile Jack Dempsey (still very small, i have a 50 gallon waiting for it), 1 dwarf Pleco, one fig. eight puffer, 1 convict, and 1 elephant nose fish. Is this overcrowded? <Not sure it's overcrowded per se, but it's a pretty random selection of fish. By which I mean there are plenty of possible problems down the line. The Figure-8 puffers is a brackish water fish, so long term will need its own tank. The Elephantnose is totally out of place here, and I'd be staggered if it is getting enough to eat. It needs a tank with a sand, not gravel, substrate or the barbel on its chin eventually gets damaged, leading to infections. Because most medications will kill Elephantnoses, you need to go for prevention here, not cure. The JD and the Convict could both "own" the tank if they decide to, and the Firemouth and Parrot would both be likely losers in any fights. The Yellow Labidochromis obviously needs hard, alkaline water; and while most of these would tolerate that, the Elephantnose certainly won't. I'd be thinking about dividing up these fish in the not too distant future.> I know this isn't the best choices but all my fishes are actually getting along great. <Famous last words.> I see no aggression except when it is feeding time. <And in the case of the Elephantnose, I'm not sure this will work in the long term. 99% of the Elephantnoses sold to aquarists die of starvation. These are NOT easy fish.> Also, none of my fishes get injured or get ripped fins. <Yet.> I have kept these groups for more than 5 months now believe it or not. <They're presumably still babies. But sexually mature JDs and Convicts are notoriously aggressive, and so to a lesser extent are Firemouths and Labidochromis, even if they're not in the same league as the real bullies of the cichlid world.> I do weekly water changes of about 40 percent. But this week, because of the cloudy water, i had to do 4 water changes in one week! <Look at the filter, see if it needs a good clean. Do also stir and siphon the undergravel thoroughly. In fact, I'd recommend giving the tank a thorough clean during the Easter break when you have a day spare. Put the fish in buckets, leave the filter connected to that bucket if possible (otherwise, remove the media and leave in a basin of water so the bacteria get oxygen), and then deep clean the tank from top to bottom. I think you'll be surprised how much silt there is in the tank, especially under the undergravel filter plate, and that's a prime source of the cloudiness, I'd guess. Reconnect everything when you're done and see how things go. While this might sound like a big job, in the long term it may well save you time. From this point onwards, take care to clean the filter and siphon the gravel more regularly.> I never had this water issue before. I also don't overfeed. I feed twice a day with small amounts. Is there something i can do? <Stop feeding for a few days after a water change and see what happens.> Should i add any chemicals? <No.> I am getting a bit tired with all these water changes. <I bet. That's why I always recommend relatively understocking tanks. Yes, it may be less "fun" in the sense of being able to keep a ton of stuff, but in the long term you have an aquarium that requires very little upkeep.> Please help. Thanks so much Neale. I really appreciate it. <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: cloudy water  3/26/08 Hi Neale, sorry to bother you once more, but is there a way to speed up the bacteria bloom? Will doing daily water changes help, or will it just kill more bacteria during the process? Thanks <There's no way I'm aware of to speed up a bacteria bloom. Water changes will obviously help, and increasing mechanical filtration (e.g., by adding additional filters with sponges or filter wool) also helps. Providing additional aeration will help if the fish are looking unhappy (bacteria can consume a lot of oxygen). Keep tabs on nitrite and/or ammonia just to make sure the water quality is good. Reduce the amount of food put in the tank by 50%, and do also take care to remove silt from the substrate and filter media. Cheers, Neale.>

Cloudy FW Tank   2/6/08 Evening All! <Hello.> I went on vacation for a week at the beginning of January '08 and had my father in law pet sit for us. Included in that pet sitting was my 10g FW tank. It has been an established tank for going on 5 years now (w/one interruption when we moved to our new house in March of '07. We took all of the tank water and reused it at the new house) and has been running very well, and needing hardly any maintenance. Anyways, when we came back from vacation, I came back to cloudy water, and lethargic fish. <Hmm... normally when this happens after a vacation, the problem is overfeeding. If you're only gone a week, the best thing is simply don't feed the fish. They're fine for this period of time without food.> At the time, the tank was stocked with a Bristlenose Pleco (about 4in.), 3 platys (1.75in. & .5in), 1 Dalmatian Molly (.5in), 1 Julie Cory (6yrs old &1.5in), and 1 unidentified peachy-goldish-whitish fish(.75in). I know this is probably a bit much for the tank but I've been keeping an eye on the water parameters and they've been perfect. <It *is* too many fish, and the wrong sorts and wrong numbers... but we'll let that slide for now, except to say overstocked tanks are more prone to water quality upsets than otherwise.> I checked my water parameters when I discovered the cloudy tank and found it to be: Nitrates - 160ppm, Nitrites - 6.0ppm, Hardness - 25ppm, Alkalinity - 300ppm, and PH - 8.4ppm. <Seriously, that's a lethal amount of nitrite, and almost certainly implies overfeeding unless there was a dead fish or something in there. The nitrite comes from ammonia, and the ammonia comes from fish or decay.> I didn't have time to do a water change that night, and woke up the next morning to find that the Cory had committed suicide. <Not suicide, manslaughter. Not doing the water change exposed the fish to lethal amounts of nitrite, and that in turn killed the fish. Definitely not the Corydoras' fault!> I did a 75% water change (treated tap water like always, and left out the aquarium salt this time) w/vacuum. Water parameters went immediately down to what was normal for my tank: Nitrates - about 20ppm, Nitrites - 0, Hardness - 25ppm, Alkalinity - about 40ppm, and PH - 7.2. Then one week later the tank got cloudy again, and I had a small platy suddenly go gaunt and then die within 72hrs. <Whoa... the pH changed from 8.4 to 7.2? Doesn't this suggest something to you? The pH is a "handle" on water chemistry, and just looking at how the alkalinity has changed suggests to me that you're not keeping water chemistry stable. This is another critical issue with fish, and big changes of this type are fatal.> The next day, I had one fish break out with ick and treated it with some 'jungle' brand medication that has always worked wonderfully (1 'tablet' for ea. 10g, used one). Just about the time that started to go away, roughly a day or so later, the big platy came down with pop-eye and some sort of fungus on the affected eye. I treated with the same brand but for fungal/bacterial infections, and within two days the platy was looking pretty good. <Again, your problems with disease are all secondary to the lack of water quality/chemistry, or at least stability thereof. It's kind of like sticking a person in the Arctic without any clothes, but then treating him for hypothermia. Until you bundle that guy up with nice warm clothes, he's going to keep getting sick however often you treat him. That's the situation here.> I didn't want to do a water change until the fish started to look stable, and then wanted to give them a few days to settle after that. <Nope. When water quality and chemistry aren't stable, water changes are your friend. Make them frequent, say 25% twice weekly, and things should become more moderate. But in the meantime, reflect on the dynamics of the tank, and make changes -- remove excess fish (though the Grim Reaper is doing this for you I suppose), consider if you are overfeeding, etc.> I started to notice that my remaining little platy was looking haggard and gaunt, but went ahead with the water change since the water was reading Nitrates - 200ppm, Nitrites - 10.0ppm, Hardness - 0, Alkalinity - 300, and Ph - 8.4+. <In a mature tank you shouldn't be getting nitrite readings of 10 mg/l -- that's insane. The only explanations are too many fish, too much food, too small a filter, or somehow dead filter bacteria.> I freaked, and did another 75-80% water change with vacuum, gave the tank a few days and rechecked the conditions. As of tonight the tank reads: Nitrates - 80ppm, Nitrites - between .5 and 1.0ppm, Hardness - 75ppm, Alkalinity - 300, and PH - 7.8. The gaunt platy that was alive when I left was dead when I got home, the big platy is doing well, but I think she'll go in the next day or so... something about her movement just isn't right, the Bristlenose is doing great and is his same old antisocial self though he does seem a bit more agitated, and the unidentified small fish is doing wonderfully and doesn't seem affected by any of this. <As fish die, the bioload is sinking down to something proportionate to your filter and aquarium. Nature reaches its own balance, in spite of what you'd like. Once that level has been reached, the tank will work fine, right up to the point where you add more fish. Fighting against the loading capacity of an aquarium is hard work, and likely unwinnable unless you're prepared to massively upgrade the filtration system. Even then, what's the point? It's a 10 gallon tank after all. Fine for a handful of Neons but that's about it. The Ancistrus catfish alone is probably filling out the filtration capacity.> I'm at a loss as to what to do. My husband and I have noticed that our tap water has been tasting different. I just tested the tap water and it's reading: Nitrate - 0, Nitrites - between 0 and .5, Hardness - 75, Alkalinity - 180, and PH - 7.8. <If the tap water has a nitrite level of 0.5 mg/l, then that obviously isn't the cause of your 10 mg/l readings. There's 9.5 mg/l that has to come from someplace else, i.e., the fish. That said, I'm not thrilled about your water quality, so ensuring optimal biological filtration is essential to remove that nitrite as soon as it gets into the tank. Check your filter is up to the job. The minimum filtration turnover rate is 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. In other words, your filter must have a turnover of at least 40 gallons per hour. This rating (sometimes in litres per hour or LPH) will be on the filter pump or its packaging.> I can't decide if I should just leave it be, start doing partial water changes every couple of days... what! <Strongly suggest reading some of the introductory articles here at WWM about water chemistry and water quality. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm Once you understand how and why these issues matter, you'll be better placed to solve your tanks problems, which I expect are multiple and to do with overstocking, under-filtering, and lack of water buffering capacity.> My tank is slowly dying off and I'm just confused. I'm assuming that that the tap water is having something to do with it as the latest tank readings are fairly close to the tap water, but I don't know what to do to bring the tank back to where it used to be, or at least something close to what they were already acclimated to. <While the 0.5 mg/l nitrite isn't a good thing, it shouldn't be a major problem if you have an efficient biological filter. That amount of nitrite will be quickly converted to nitrate before it does any harm. This is especially true if you do smaller (25%) water changes twice a week rather than one big water change. The rest of the problem is where the excess ammonia is coming from, why your established filter isn't getting rid of it, and why the water chemistry (pH, hardness) is bouncing around all over the place.> I've contacted the water company (we're on city water) and they say that latest water test they ran showed everything in 'normal' ranges. <Indeed. O.5 mg/l nitrite is considered "safe".> I'm not concerned about any over feeding from when my father in law watched the tank since he has his own that has been up and running for roughly a year. <Hmm... well, that ammonia got in there *somewhere*, and it sure didn't creep in during the night from off the street.> Any suggestions would be welcome! <Cheers, Neale.>

Fresh water cloudiness 1/27/08 Hi, I have a 30 gallon tank with an eclipse hood and bio wheel. Its been set up for a year or so. I have 3 fancy goldfish and 2 Sterba Corydoras, I got 3 more Sterba Corys and 2 apple snails 2 weeks ago. For the last 5 or 6 days the water has been cloudy. I've done a 40% water change and it did not seem to help. I only feed a little bit 2 times a day. The food is gone within minutes. Do I have to many fish for tank? What to do with cloudiness? THANK YOU. Gary <Hi Gary. Cloudy water can be caused by multiple things. So by itself it isn't a reliable indicator of any one specific thing. Most commonly, cloudy water is caused by silt -- fine particles that the filter should but doesn't always remove. Goldfish and Corydoras are both great "snufflers" and will kick up silt from the substrate. But you'd likely have noticed this get gradually worse over time rather than a sudden thing. That said, if the mechanical media in your filter (i.e., the very fine sponge or the filter wool) is clogged, then the silt will seem to get worse because it isn't being removed any more. Silt is harmless and doesn't really have much impact on water quality, though a seriously clogged filter may be less efficient at removing ammonia. Cloudiness can also be caused by bacterial blooms. These are typically seen with new aquaria where water quality (ammonia/nitrite) are bouncing up and down. Left alone they go away as water quality improves, and don't cause any major problems. Really the only way to confirm the situation in the tank is to perform water quality tests, at the very least by using a nitrite test kit. If the water quality is good, then I'd be tempted to leave things be for now. If things aren't improved in, say, a week, get back in touch. As to whether your tank is overstocked. A 30-gallon tank is at the low end of what's suitable for Goldfish. With that in mind, filtration is the "make or break" factor. Goldfish are so messy and so large, that you need a serious filter to keep them healthy and to remove the solid wastes and silt they produce. As a baseline, I'd want a filter offering not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So check the filter you have. The turnover will be quoted on the pump or packaging. If it's less than 6 times the tank volume in turnover per hour, then that may be part/all of the problem. Just an FYI: most all-in-one tanks have filters adequate for small fish, such as Neons and Guppies, the manufacturers (for obvious reasons) including the bare minimum filtration they can get away with. Goldfish almost certainly will require tanks with the built-in filter *plus* some other source of filtration, like an internal or external canister filter. Cheers, Neale.>

Need help with identification.... FW micro-life RMF's go   1/16/08 I'm not sure what I'm dealing with. I have been maintaining a tank for about 7 or 8 years with no problems, only having to do a completely break it down and clean it about twice a year. <?!> I even had the same Wal-Mart fishs for about the same period. Through some recent errors on my part, I'm down to one fish. The tank was getting cloudy right after cleaning it and nothing I put in cleared it. <... insufficient filtration, circulation... poor feeding practices...> I was using all the tricks in my bag. But my daughter informed me that there were tiny things swimming in the water. <Always present in biological systems> I can barely see these very small white creatures swimming around like the own the place, thousands of them. My daughter has much better eyes than I do and she drawn a long teardrop shaped creature and she said it seems to have maybe segments or sections. I removed the fish and have it in a small treatment tank. I'm using Quick Cure on it and have not seen any of the things in the treatment tank. <... I would NOT use/place Formalin in the system... nor release such in your house... toxic> But I can't seems to find anything that looks or sounds like what I'm seeing. <Mmm, a cheapy microscope and a borrowed book from a library on aquatic microbiology...> I have remove the tank for my daughter's room. I had a little beach, <?> so I put it in the water, but it did not kill them. Maybe I didn't have enough. Them were even crawling and moving on the glass ABOVE the water. If I stared at it, I could make out their movements, crawling around. I was just wondering if you had any idea of what they might be and were I could find a picture to confirm the identification. I want to make sure I treating for the right thing. Thank you, Sue Please email me at my address (this is my husband's email and he doesn't always remember to tell me about replies I get, thanks). <Done... this/these could be a bunch of types of life... from insects, to several kinds of crustaceans, to... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm the second to last tray down. Bob Fenner>

Need help with identification - Need more information! Lynn's go  1/16/08 <Hi there, Sue> I'm not sure what I'm dealing with. <Heeeee! That makes two of us!> I have been maintaining a tank for about 7 or 8 years with no problems, only having to do a completely break it down and clean it about twice a year. <Yikes - why?> I even had the same Wal-Mart fishes for about the same period. <6 months or 7-8 years?> Through some recent errors on my part, I'm down to one fish. <Sorry to hear that.> The tank was getting cloudy right after cleaning it and nothing I put in cleared it. I was using all the tricks in my bag. <Need more information -- is this freshwater, brackish, or saltwater? What are your methods for water changes? How often/what quantity each time? What's the tank size? Do you use RO, RO/DI, or tap water? Do you treat the water prior to adding it to the tank, and if so, how? What were the parameters of the tank water prior to the water change?> But my daughter informed me that there were tiny things swimming in the water. I can barely see these very small white creatures swimming around like the own the place, thousands of them. My daughter has much better eyes than I do and she drawn a long teardrop shaped creature and she said it seems to have maybe segments or sections. I removed the fish and have it in a small treatment tank. <Was the fish showing any signs of distress?> I'm using Quick Cure on it and have not seen any of the things in the treatment tank. But I can't seems to find anything that looks or sounds like what I'm seeing. I have removed the tank for my daughter's room. I had a little bleach, so I put it in the water, but it did not kill them. Maybe I didn't have enough. <Yee-ikes!> Them were even crawling and moving on the glass ABOVE the water. If I stared at it, I could make out their movements, crawling around. I was just wondering if you had any idea of what they might be and were I could find a picture to confirm the identification. I want to make sure I treating for the right thing. <I'd really like to help you, but I don't have nearly enough information. For example, what kind of system is this -- marine, freshwater, or brackish? What kind of set-up: equipment, livestock? If it's freshwater, is it a planted tank? If marine/saltwater, is it a FO (fish only), FOWLR (fish only with live rock), or a full blown reef tank? I'm guessing that this is a freshwater tank, but...? What kind of fish do you have and are there any invertebrates - snails, etc., in with that fish? What are the water parameters? Have there been any recent additions? How was that one fish doing before removing it to the treatment tank? Was it eating/behaving normally? Were there any signs of disease/distress? There is much information available at WWM regarding water changes, critters, etc., but unfortunately, not knowing the basics of your system, I can't direct you to the appropriate section(s). Please use the search engine, and available information at this link to get started - and read, read, read! http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm > Thank you, Sue <You're very welcome. Take care -Lynn>

Cloudy Aquarium Water  1/16/08 Hello. I have a problem with my aquarium and it is not going away. The problem is cloudy aquarium water. The setup I have is a 75 gallon freshwater tank, stocked with cardinal tetras, penguin tetras, angelfish, and Corys. The filter I use is an emperor 400. <Need more than this...> I do regular 15-20 percent water changes weekly. The tank was running smoothly for months with perfect water quality (This aquarium was an upgrade from a smaller tank). This problem started last month in December. I was going on vacation so I did a water change like I always do. I have plastic plants and I hadn't washed them for months, so I took them out, put them in a bucket with water and bleach, rinsed them thoroughly, and let them dry for a day and a half. <Good protocol, but you likely "bumped off" too much in the way of useful microbial life here> I put them back in, and the water was crystal-clear, all the fish were healthy and I was satisfied. The next day I turned on the aquarium lights, and the water was cloudy. The fish seemed fine, and I thought the problem would go away when I came back. When I came back it was still cloudy. So I did a water change to see if it would help. <Mmm, not likely> It didn't. Then I researched the problem online, and I thought I had figured it out. I read that I needed to replace the carbon in the filter. <Mmm, might help, but...> That's what I did, and along with water changes, I thought it would clear up. It hasn't. I keep changing the water every other day but no success. I don't know what to do. I took out all of the plants and rocks out of the tank because I thought that they were leaching something out into the water. <Good line of investigation> It doesn't seem to help. When I test the water, there is no ammonia, no nitrates, but the pH has gone down from a steady 6.5 to 6.0. <Mmm, this is a bunch... depending on the "likes" of your chosen livestock...> All the fish seem healthy, no deaths, they still eat voraciously. The only problem I see is that some of the penguin tetras have slightly torn fins with white stuff on the end , but I don't think this is related because they keep chasing each other and nipping their fins which is probably the cause. Although now that I think of it, I had been using melafix previously <Worthless... and too likely a contributing cause to your troubles here> to cure this, maybe that can be somehow related (The water became cloudy with the treatment as expected, but with water changes I got it back to normal). I am extremely frustrated that I can't figure out the problem, so I turn to you WetWebMedia Crew. Please help me figure out and solve this problem, I am desperate. Thank You. -Pawel P. P.S. I just realized I should describe the water to you. The water is hazy, and sometimes is seems yellowish. I noticed that the top of the water has a very thin film of white stuff that is only noticeable when you disturb the top of the water. I don't know if this is a bacterial bloom or not. <Well... you should add some other "redundant" mechanical/biological filtration here... perhaps another power filter... that you clean out on alternate periods... and the clarity can likely be solved by adding BioSpira... What you have is a "classic" "bacterial" bloom... in a disturbed/cycling system. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above... for background. Bob Fenner>

New to this! Small, uncycled FW  1/12/2008 I've searched through all the posted FAQs and the web and I can't find anything that applies. I set up my 12G tank 10 days ago and I noticed a few days ago that my BioWheel was cycling oddly. It flows fine and then {glops} and then continues to turn. <Not atypical of this product... much improved from the early years though...> I had two platys and a fasciatus in there. <A... fasciatus what? Hopefully not a Leporinus> The water had started to cloud a bit so I did a 10% water change two days ago. <Mmm, do know that such small systems/volumes are given to easy "bacterial" issues... particularly when relatively newly set-up...> Treated the added water, added a little bit of salt as suggested by the pet store - all in proportions directed. I came home today to feed them and the one platy (possibly pregnant) was dead. So I'm a little panicked. I've checked the flow of water over the BioWheel and it looks unimpeded and clean. Changed the filter today. The water is still a little cloudy. What am I missing? <Measuring for aspects of cycling... or at least reporting thus here> Should I go out and get a test kit for the water? <Oh yes... and likely some BioSpira product, or other ready means of initiating/establishing cycling... But first, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above... till you understand...> Thank you so much! You are already a fixture on my toolbar! Dena <Be chatting... and reading. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Water, Fresh    10/21/07 Hello, I have very cloudy water in my established tank. I did a 40% water change and filter change a few days ago and the water is getting cloudier. This condition has existed for a month or more despite water changes, cleanings, etc. I have even tried two different "water clarifiers" which actual seem to make the water cloudier. I have a water softener which has been on line for about six months, I'm not sure if this added salt has anything to do with it. I cut the amount of aquarium conditioner salt I added during the last water change but it seemed to have no effect. At the moment there are 4 black skirt tetras, 1 neon, two red spot tetras, and 2 small catfish in the 20 gal. tank, certainly not an overwhelming amt. of fish. Any suggestions? Thanks, Jon <Hi Jon. Cloudy water generally has one of four causes. The first is silt. This usually happens after a tank is just set up. Silt on the sand or gravel gets dumped into the water. If you don't clean the mechanical filter media regularly, a similar sort of thing can happen. The second cause is bacteria. Under some (not altogether understood) conditions bacteria can "bloom" in the water, making the water look whitish or greyish. The apparent causes for these bacterial blooms are issues with water chemistry and water quality, specifically changes. This is most common in immature aquaria, when the biological balance is not yet settled. The third cause is organic material in the water. Certain foods decay more messily that others, and they can make the water cloudy. Finally, algae can cause the water to turn cloudy. Green algae are obvious, but diatoms are more brownish. Either way, these blooms tend to be temporary, and eventually go away, The causative factors are unclear, but unstable water chemistry, direct sunlight, and high nitrate/phosphate levels have all been implicated. Anyway, identifying which is happening in your tank is difficult, but you can take a scatter-gun approach: check for excess light, experiment with different foods, check water quality, replace the mechanical filter media. Next up: water softeners. Do not use water from a domestic water softener in a fish tank. Domestic water softeners DO NOT soften water -- all they do is replace lime scale minerals with sodium salts. The advantage to this is that sodium salts don't fur up pipes. But the resulting so-called softened water isn't "soft water" as aquarium fish expect it. In fact, it's a kind of water few fish experience in the wild. Always use the unsoftened water in your aquarium. One last thing: why are you adding salt to this aquarium? There is no, repeat NO, reason to add aquarium salt to a tank containing freshwater fish. At best, it's a waste of money; at worse, it's a stress factor on soft water fish not adapted to living in mineral-rich waters. Hope this helps, Neale>

FW hazy tank and plant fertilization, AGA referral   12/28/07 I sent a message earlier regarding a hazy tank (same subject heading), I forgot to add an additional bit of info: I perform a 25% water change every 3 weeks and the water does not clear up afterwards. Hopefully you can piece my two emails together. <Have done so> Thank you Brent Hey, your website is absolutely amazing, I have spent hours reading your FAQs and find them incredibly helpful! However, the situation in my tank does not quite add up. Here's the run-down on my tank: Freshwater, 90 gallon, 2 Fluval 305 filters (no carbon media used), 100% Fluorite based, heavily planted, water test levels: 0 for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH 6.6 - 6.8, CO2 injection, KH 40 ppm, 270 Watts compact fluorescent lighting, temperature 79.8 - 80.3 F. Fish: 1 Pleco (6"), <Yikes... what species? Some of these will "bother" to consume most all plants> 1 redtail shark (4"), 5 Neons (tiny), 5 black skirts, 2 flying foxes (3" each), 3 clown loaches, 4 honey dwarf Gourami, 1 Danios (a lone survivor of a former school of 5). My tank has been running a little more than a month. I fertilize regularly (every two days) with flourish excel and iron and I use flourish (containing other trace nutrients) twice weekly. <Mmmm, okay... I do wish there were simple, available test kits (of use natch) to test for the principal ingredients in these mixed fertilizer products> Also, I inject CO2 into the tank and diffuse it with an airstone and the canister filter (seems to be about 90% efficient for diffusion). Also, there is minor minor algae on the glass, and a little amount of beard algae on the edge of one of my plants leaves. All the fish seem happy: no disease, no weird behaviour, excellent colouration, etc. I feed once every 2 days (4, 1cm diameter algae discs, and a pinch of granulated fish food). All the plants seem happy: excellent growth, thick stalks plenty of leaves, nice and green. Ok on to my question: My tank is still a little hazy (white) and I would like crystal clear aquarium water. I think the haze is from a bacterial bloom, will that go away with time? <Hopefully so... can be more of an unsightly nuisance... such microbial populations can "lead" to changes in water quality that are detrimental...> Also, if it is a bacterial bloom, and the nitrate levels are so low (zero), why exactly are they blooming (their nutrient sources should be all used up by the plants)? <Mmm, a bit of a conundrum, but likely what available Nitrate there is, is being "taken up" rapidly here... So, not that there is no NO3, but that it is concentrated...> Also, my nitrate levels are at 0. In a tank that is heavily planted, should I be fertilizing with nitrates (NPK fertilizers) or is this going to cause the bacterial bloom to get out of hand? <This form of Nitrogen is supplied via fish wastes and in the SeaChem products... sufficiently here> Thank your your help! Brent <I'd bet most anything that you'd gain by reading Diana Walstad's works... do a search and scan when you have some time on the Aquatic Gardener Association's website: http://www.aquatic-gardeners.org/ Bob Fenner>

FW cloudy tk.   9/30/07 Hey crew, <Chris> I have a 45 gallon freshwater tank. There are two catfishes, one platy, ten platy fries, two guppies, and four tetras. They have been well and healthy. However, the water seems really foggy. I do 20 percent water changes every two weeks. No fishes have died or had any disease and the nitrate and ph seem fine. The ammonia may be a tiny bit high though. <Should be and stay zip, zero...> I have not been overfeeding my fishes and only fed as much as they could eat. Do you know why the water gets cloudy? <This and the presence of detectable ammonia leads me to suspect inadequate filtration> Also, do you know any thing I can do or add any good chemicals to prevent it from fogging up. <Not a good route to go... Improve the filtration, circulation...> Thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it. <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy tank, FW  - 6/1/07 > Hello, > Over a period of about 2 - 3 weeks my tank went steadily more and more cloudy, I have no real idea why. <Cloudiness can be caused by a variety of things. Often it is silt, from new gravel or sand. Other times it is a bloom of diatoms, most common in new aquaria, and tends to clear up by itself. Yet other times it is bacteria, again typically in a new aquarium.> > Could it be the addition of a few drops of pH adjuster, I've slowly decreased it from about 7.6 to around 7.2 - 7.3 <Change the water chemistry always has the potential to tip the balance in an aquarium. That's one reason I prefer to recommend people not mess around with the water chemistry, and instead choose fish suited to their water conditions. That way, you can do big water changes as often as you want without worrying about changes in water chemistry. There's no real need to change the pH from 7.6 down to 7.2; that's a pretty trivial change, and any fish that would thrive at 7.6 will be fine at 7.2, and vice versa.> > The water went green and although the staff at my LFS were just being helpful, no one really was able to suggest maybe why it occurred. In the end we bought a chemical which is supposed to clear it in two hours, we gave it > one dose and nothing happened, a day later another dose and still nothing. <The chemical you used only works with silt. It binds the silt into clumps, and those clumps get caught in FINE filter media, such as filter wool. If the problem isn't silt, and if your filter doesn't have filter wool installed, the effectiveness of this chemical is little to none.> > I didn't add any more and yesterday I noticed that it was starting to clear, today it looked a lot better, about 75% clearer. Obviously its nice to be able to see the fish in my tank again but it would be even better to have an understanding as to why it happened in the first place. Algal bloom ? > Relative to high phosphates maybe? <Could be anything. Almost always nothing to worry about PROVIDING water quality and chemistry are otherwise correct. Most freshwater fish are used to murky, silt-laden water and couldn't care less about the clarity of the water. Very few freshwater environments have the sort of transparency we associate with the crystal clear waters of coral reefs, for example. So, do a water test tomorrow and another in a few days just to check everything is OK, but otherwise just let things settled down. Change the mechanical filter media in your filter this weekend, and give the biological filter media a gentle clean as well, since the filter will be clogged with silt/algae by now.> > Thanks. > S.Moore <Cheers, Neale>

New Tank, Cloudy water  -- 05/08/07 Hi Crew, Thank you for your excellent advice you gave me regarding a previous finned friend. New problem: I read your FAQ's but didn't see an answer that fits my situation. I have a 6.6 gallon heated tank for my gorgeous blue lavender female betta, Nigella. I conditioned the water and added Prime to make sure it was good. I tested the water, waited two days tested again and added my fish. Overnight the tank went hazy/cloudy. Is this new tank syndrome? < Probably, Check the ammonia with a test kit.> Will Nigella be ok or am I suffocating her? < Ammonia is toxic to fish and needs to be dealt with.> She has living plants and a lot of room to swim. On top of that she's very interactive and playful. I have had her for a few months and finally got her a larger tank. Last night the water was crystal clear and this morning it is cloudy. I feel bad that I did something wrong. Thank you, Elizabeth < Excess fish food and fish waste are broken down by bacteria into ammonia. When the biological filtration is established it will be broken down into a less toxic nitrite and then once again into an even less toxic nitrate. If you add Bio-Spira from Marineland the bacteria will go to work right away. If not it will take a couple of months to get the tank established. Feed your fish once a day, and only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. Remove any leftover food. Vacum the gravel to remove fish waste and do numerous partial water changes to keep waste levels under control.-Chuck>

Couple Questions; Cloudy FW   -- 04/29/07 I've been having a problem with cloudy water...the tank is 4 months old...and it's been cloudy for about 2-3 weeks and I'm very concerned. I used a product called "Clear-Ease" that is supposed to check microbial bloom and clear cloudy water. Worked great. Over the next couple of days, 4 fish died (clown loach, 2 gold algae eaters, and a platy), and a few days later it got cloudy again. What can I do? <Water changes, frequent rinsing of the mechanical media in the filter, replacement of filter wool weekly.> I've been doing regular water changes since I've had the tank, I've been doing them every 3 days since the cloudiness, it's a 46 gallon tank with an Emperor 400 with new filter media, have an airstone for aeration...I'm new at this but from what I've read thus far I haven't been able to find anything else... <Cloudiness tends to come from two things. Firstly, silt. If gravel or sand are put into the aquarium before being thoroughly cleaned, the silt goes into the water. This is worst in tanks with big fishes because these swish the silt up into the water as they root about in the gravel. The second source of cloudiness is an bacterial or algal bloom. Typically, this happens when a tank is first set up, and then goes clear. Since your tank is relatively young, it's possible either (or both) of these causes are to blame. Assuming the water quality is good and the water chemistry steady, cloudiness by itself shouldn't cause any problems. The waters most fish inhabit are *far* murkier than anything we tolerate in an aquarium! So, before blaming the cloudiness for the death of your fish, what are the pH, hardness, nitrite, and ammonia levels in the aquarium?> And my next question, what kind of fish is this? I just got it...I was thinking it was a Jack Dempsey but it doesn't look quite the same as others I have seen pictured. He is probably about 6" and mostly grey with yellow on his dorsal and tail fins, and fluorescent blue spots on his whole body and face. <It's Aequidens rivulatus, a.k.a. "the Green Terror", a gorgeous South American cichlid with a very mean personality. Although a South American cichlid, in temperament it is much more like a Central American, and should be kept only with other robust species. There's every chance it will view your 46 gallon tank as its personal territory and eliminate any other aquarium fish kept with it. Often mistaken (with disastrous results) for the similar but far milder Blue Acara, Aequidens pulcher. Cheers, Neale>

Cloudy FW Aquarium  - 3/7/07 Dear crew, In my 55 gallon tank the water is constantly too cloudy to see the back of the tank; I looked on your site and found no comments on the subject. (I apologize if I missed something)  I have tried 75% water changes, but a couple of days later it's as cloudy as before. I have filtration enough for 400 gallons of water. I have 1 blue gourami, 1 dwarf red gourami, 2 tetras, a lone swordtail, two sharks (the type on these 2 is unknown) and finally 2 Plecos. My nitrate is about 10 my nitrite is 0 my hardness is 75-80, my alkalinity/ buffering capacity is about 40, and my pH is 6.4 (I know the last two are dangerously low, but in my aquarium history this is the best my tank has ever been) I would like to know how and why my tank is constantly too murky to see through. Thank you for your time, D .Throne < Two different things could be going on here. Number 1 is high ammonia levels. If the water is cloudy with a fishy smell then get an ammonia test kit and check it out. High ammonia levels could be caused from dead fish, over feeding or excess bioload in the gravel. I would recommend doing a 50% water change while vacuuming the gravel. You have water that is acidic. Any sedimentary rock like sand stone will dissolve in your water. Sedimentary rocks are lightly cemented by a lime like substance. In your water the rocks may be dissolving and releasing minerals and causing the cloudy effect. Make sure that your rocks and sand is aquarium safe. This may also be the reason that you aquarium is doing better than some of your past attempts. These minerals add a certain amount of buffering that prevent pH swings.-Chuck>

Re: Green Cloudy Water, FW    3/11/07 Dear Crew, I apologize that I didn't state this in my last e-mail, but my water isn't the normal," cloudy" it looks very similar to pond water (it's green, instead of the average cloudy), and as stated last time, 2-3 days after a 60-75% water change the water is as pond-like as before, is this due to the reasons you stated last time, or is there another problem? Thank you, for your time, D. Throne < This is caused from an imbalance of the nutrients in the water. Usually the waste from the fish and uneaten food is quickly broken down by the bacteria into less harmful and less toxic components. Under very bright light the algae in the water gets to these nutrients first and causes the green water problem. The algae needs two things, light and fertilizer. Start by doing a 50% water change while vacuuming the gravel. Clean the filter. Feed your fish once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Remove any leftover food after two minutes by using a siphon. Turn on the lights only when viewing the fish. If your aquarium is next to a window then cover that side of the aquarium with some paper to block out the window light.-Chuck>

Yellow Water Won't Clear Up    2/16/07 Hello,  I need to know a way to remove yellowish from freshwater other than  doing water changes and using carbon. I already do a 25% once a month and won't  do anymore and I use carbon and it clears the water but only for 3 days. I read that a protein skimmer works to take out yellow water for saltwater but it only   works because of the salt in the water creating a charge with the bubbles ... so  have any other ideas thank you, Anthony This is important to me. Just so you know it's a 29 gallon with an Eheim 2217 and a Pentair fluidized bed filter 300. I do gravel vac with water changes. < The biggest source of yellow water comes from driftwood in the tank. Take any wood out and place in a tub or bucket. Change the water every day until it runs clear. Some fish foods can make the water yellow too. Try a different brand as see if that helps. As you have already found out, good quality carbon will remove the yellow water too. Changing only 25% of the water monthly may not be enough. If you are not able to change more water you may want to consider less fish.-Chuck.>

Cloudy Water   12/31/06 Hello WWM crew! I first would like to say that I am impressed none of you have spontaneously combusted after having to go through so many emails containing that have already been answered several thousand times. The email I sent a few weeks ago was about something similar to cloudy water, but was NOT the same thing. The response I got was this: < If the cloudiness is caused by organics then a good quality carbon should take care of it. Fill a clean clear glass with tap water and look for impurities. The water should be clear and free of sediment. If you notice anything then contact you water supplier and tell them you think there is a problem. If your tap water is OK then we need to assume that the cause is from the aquarium itself. Feed the fish once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If there is still a problem then change fish food because the binder may be getting old and breaking down.> This would have been an excellent response, but I am not sure that it was not referring to the common problem you are sick of reading of. I have been putting fresh carbon in my filter regularly, the flake food I am using is from Tetra and is not more than a month old, our tap water is clear, I am almost positive it is not the filter, the gravel, or the water because the problem showed up in my three separate tanks at the same time. I know that would mean it's obviously the tap water but I checked it and the particles are not in it. The cloudiness in my water is not like the regular cloudiness I have gotten during cycling. I am sure it was not from a bacterial bloom or sediment from the gravel or algae or my tap water because my filter would have cleared up solid particles within days, and a bacterial problem wouldn't have caused the particles to look the way they did. It was almost like underwater dust, and the particles were easy to tell apart from each other and they were nothing like the big solid gray mass that appeared when I didn't realize a plant was dead in time. I tried adding a Accu-clear, but nothing happened. The only organic thing I could think the "dustishness"  could be from is a coconut shell in one of my tanks. There is no shell in the other tanks and after removing it, nothing happened. The gravel did throw up some sediment when I first added it but the filter cleared that up and the gravel has not been disturbed since, except for vacuuming, which never caused a problem. I recently left town for 5 days and upon returning, found nothing had changed. I did not put in a vacation feeder for obvious reasons. If I am wrong, and the cloudiness the usual thing, I apologize for wasting your time. If dust-like particles ARE out of the ordinary, please help. John O. P.S. One of the rocks in my 20 g tank has started growing little dark blue-green plumes on it. I do not think it is blue-green algae because the plumes look almost like anemones except for the fact that they are about a quarter of an inch in diameter. They look like small fluffy blue trees. Thank you for any reply you may deem fit to bestow upon me, and sorry for anything I did wrong. < If there are three different aquariums with the same problem then you have to look at the common denominator. What is the same in all three tanks? Or what happened in all three tanks prior to the tanks getting cloudy?  You are going to have to do a little detective work to determine the cause, but here is a couple of suggestions. The dust could be from a rock or piece of gravel that is breaking down and dissolving in the aquarium. Sedimentary rocks are clays, silts and sands that are cemented together over time. When wetted up again the cement starts to dissolve and the clay particles break off into solution. In an aquarium with a current they will never settle out. They will remain a cloudy dust and can only be filtered out with a water filter with a very fine micron screen. Water wells sometimes suck particles of dust through the sand filters too. The anemones are probably hydra and are dangerous to small or baby fish.-Chuck>

Cloudy Water  12/29/06 Yes, this subject again! <Ok> I haven't seen a question pertaining to a brand new fish tank. There are no fish in the tank, no live plants. The tank has been sitting for two days. It is cycling through a filtering system. I have two air pumps running. I dechlorinated the water and added pH down because the level was about 7.8. <Ok for many fish.> The tank is cloudy. I don't know whether to add more chemicals, do a complete water change, or wait. Any suggestions? <It could be from the chemicals if you added too much.  Also if you are feeding/cycling the tank it could be a bacterial bloom.  But most likely it is dust from your substrate.  Either way cease using the chemicals and give it a couple more days and see what happens.  Most likely nothing that won't pass soon.> <Chris> Cloudy FW   12/8/06 Hello WWM crew!  The last time I asked a question, it was answered in less than a day. Thank you! I have a 20 g aquarium with a heater that is a shade too small but still works, and an Aqua-clear filter rated for 20-50 gallon aquariums, so I don't think under-filtration is the problem. I have a swordplant and it's offspring, some Cabomba, some water wisteria, 2 zebra danios, male and female, a pair of distressingly prolific guppies, a pair of platies, 3 Corydoras catfish, a small "pleco" (no idea what kind it is), a single cherry barb and a single kuhli loach. I am working on getting the schoolers some more friends ASAP.  I also have a separate 10 gallon tank with two goldfish rescued from my sister's Bowl of Death. About a week ago, I noticed that the 20 gallon tank had something in the water. I have experienced cloudy water, and it wasn't quite as cloudy as that. There were a lot of tiny, tiny particles in the water, almost like what is in tap water after you turn it on really, really hot. They are kind of hard to describe, they looked kind of like really really small bubbles. They did not look like the usual bits of poop and food and plant debris floating around in there, they were smaller and more dust-like. A few days later, I noticed the same problem in the goldfish tank, so I turned off the filter and aerator for a few hours to see what would happen. The particles did settle to the bottom, a little, but there were still some left, and they all came back once the water was stirred up again. Water changes do nothing that I can see to help. I tried adding  Accu-Clear, but all that did was turn the water gray for a day. The male guppy looks like he has a few black spots on his tail, could that have anything to do with it? The black spots looked similar to the ones that have caused every batch of platy fry to die off... they never affected the guppy babies though, who were sharing the baby saver at the time. This next bunch of information is probably irrelevant, but here goes. I have a half of a coconut shell that the bottom feeders hide in, a rock that I have seen in pet stores, it is white with an orange stripe and porous.  I am growing parsley with the roots in the tank, but there is no soil, so no soil contamination. The gravel was thoroughly washed, and the tank has been running since mid-summer, with no particles from the gravel in the water. I have been less-than-religious about water testing besides the pH, which is about 6.8. The tank has no odor, one aqua-Glo bulb, and close inspection of the sponge in the filter has revealed that stringy things connect the holes in the surface, like a spider web. The ten gallon used to be a warm water tank for several years, and I noticed that whenever I messed with the filter, stringy things just like I mentioned, except bigger, would pour out. That particular problem has not occurred in the 20 gallon tank, as I clean the filter more often. Sorry about the long email and rambling, I tried to include as much information as possible. Many thanks, John - P.S. The reason the heater is too small is that is was my spare. The right sized one wouldn't turn on unless it was turned up way too high, and after having heated the aquarium to about 82 degrees, it would turn off and not turn back on unless I pushed down on the dial. After my fish went through several cycles of not moving at all and gasping at the surface, so the heater went bye-bye. < If the cloudiness is caused by organics then a good quality carbon should take care of it. Fill a clean clear glass with tap water and look for impurities. The water should be clear and free of sediment. If you notice anything then contact you water supplier and tell them you think there is a problem. If your tap water is OK then we need to assume that the cause is from the aquarium it self. Feed the fish once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If there is still a problem then change fish food because the binder may be getting old and breaking down.-Chuck> 10 Gallon Tank Cloudiness   12/6/06 Dear Crew, <Koda> My 10 gallon aquarium is constantly getting cloudy.  I know I am not over feeding due to the green 'fuzz' growing on my gravel and the green colored cloudiness.  I have tried repeated water changes, but only 2-3 days afterward the water gets cloudy to the point were I can't even see the back of the tank. <A common situation... likely an out-of-balance equation with too little filtration, non-cycled circumstance, mis-over-feeding...> I would like to know the constant cause of the cloudiness and what the 'fuzz' is growing on my gravel; I also think the fuzz is the cause of the cloudiness, <Kind of> also due to the fact that my water is tinted green when cloudy. <An algal component> If this helps, my tank contains, 1 blue gourami, 2 dwarf gouramis, 2 tetras( these are unknown , they are roughly ½ the size of my dwarf gouramis, and have 2 black stripes down their sides) 2 swordtails, and 1 sucker fish( I cannot spell this name correctly, it's name starts with 'P'). <Mmm, likely a Plecostomus of some sort/species... needs larger quarters> It also has a waterfall filter, <Take care to not "clean" this till your water clears permanently> a triangular rock with 3 'caves' in it that reaches 7/8 the way to the top, two fake plants and a bubble wand (the 'fuzz' is more abundant here). My tank is constantly getting cloudy and I do hope that you can help me out. Thank you, for your time. D.Throne <Mmm, what are you feeding? Your answers are posted here on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oqualfaqs1.htm and the linked files... Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Water  - 08/05/06 Hi. <<Hi, Sal. Tom>> I have a 55 gallon aquarium with two full grown silver dollars, three giant danios (not full grown), a 2 inch pangasius <<Pangasius, perhaps?>> catfish, a two inch striped African glass cat, a three inch pictus cat, two orange  barbs (they're about two inches each, not sure of the species.  They look a bit like goldfish, but they're not) and two high finned tetras.  It's been set up about a year. <<Your Pangasius catfish (aka Iridescent shark (catfish), Iridescent catshark) will grow - given the opportunity - to leviathan-like proportions, relatively speaking. Even your 55-gallon tank won't be a fraction of the size this rascal will need down the road. Not talking hundreds of gallons but thousands. Healthy, full-grown adults may easily reach 40 inches in length. I ran across an article quite a while back that cited one instance of a 55-inch specimen. That's over a foot long! :)>> About three months ago, I started experiencing cloudy water.  This may be a coincidence but it coincided with my changing brands of fish food.   <<You and I don't really think this is "coincidence", do we?>> I feed them once a day and I don't feel like I'm overfeeding.  PH, ammonia and Nitrates are fine.  The fish appear healthy. I can't get rid of the cloudy water.  Water changes help temporarily.   <<Good old water changes...>> I vacuum the substrate every other water change (when I'm not changing the filters). I use a Penguin Biowheel 350 filter. <<I'm familiar with this filter, Sal, so am I correct in assuming that you're merely "rinsing" the media in old tank water and putting it back into service? Under normal operating conditions, there shouldn't be a need to actually change this...ever.>> I tried using Biozyme, to no avail.   <<Won't be effective.>> My water was crystal clear before this.  What gives?    <<Let's discount dissolved particulates from new gravel, rock, etc. based on the length of time that your tank's been up and running. I'd also write off an algae bloom since the cloudy water would be green(ish) and this isn't mentioned. Last at the top of the list is a bacterial bloom and this is the one I'd, personally, hang my hat on. Since all aquaria contain bacteria, both good and less-beneficial types, I'd wager that the food change sparked a "feeding frenzy" that wasn't occurring with the old food. Worst case, the bacteria responsible may be "in" the food itself. Hard to know this for sure. In any event, I'd switch foods since this seems the likely culprit to me.>> Thanks. P.S. I do a twenty percent water change every 2 or 3 weeks. <<I'd increase this to every week, Sal, which is what I do with my 50-gallon tank. Also, I'd vacuum the gravel with every water change, regardless. The substrate is where bacteria of this type take up residence and it's not simply on the surface of the gravel. You need to push the vacuum deep into the gravel right to the bottom of the tank. I'd be surprised if you weren't shocked at what comes up! Best of luck with this, Sal. Tom>>

Cloudy Tank - 06/17/2006 I've Googled and searched and can't find an answer. I've a 29 gal. with some plastic plants and a few natural. Stock is 2 Mollies 1 ½'; 1 Platy 1 ½'; 3 Cory cats 1'; 4 tetras under 1 ½'; 1 small CAE, 1 ½'. The water is cloudy and it doesn't clear. Ph, ammonia, everything test ok, <At what levels?  "Ok" doesn't help diagnose a problem like this....> I do a 10-20% change every week or ten days, and still cloudy. The fish are all active and appear quite healthy. Any guesses? <Probably an algae or bacteria bloom....  either way, from an excess of some sort of nutrient(s) in the water.  Please do take a look through our freshwater algae control articles and FAQs, especially regarding green water, as it may be a sort of free-floating algae in the water which is causing the cloudiness.> Thanks Carlo <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>
Re: Cloudy FW Tank  6/5/06
Chuck, Thanks for the advice.  I had a couple more fish contract this illness and began treating them in a hospital tank.  Two of the four survived and are recovering well in the hospital tank.  I suspect the other two died because I was late identifying the problem and the additional time it took me to secure the medication.  Now I have a new problem with the same 125 gallon tank.   All of a sudden, the main tank started clouding over last week.  This is the gray, milky clouding similar to what you would see in a new tank.  It took place quickly too, only in a matter of days.  I heeded your warning on the erythromycin and only treated the fish in my 10 gallon QT.  I have tested for everything.  The pH remains stable at 6.8 which is where it ought to be.  The ammonia & nitrite tests came back 0.0 and I tested several times on different days to be certain.  My nitrate readings are down to under 5 ppm, probably because I did a 75% water change to alleviate the clouding.  A week has now passed since the aforementioned water change and the cloudy water has returned, equally as bad as before.  Strangely, the fish still in the tank are acting perfectly normal.  In fact, the rainbows are in rare form when it comes to courtship display. I don't know what to do.  This tank has been up and running for about a year now.  The tank is planted with Seachem Fluorite gravel, two Whisper 60 filters, and a Rena XP3 can filter with CO2 being fed through the outflow.  I have shut off the CO2 tank since I have doubts about the plants ability to even utilize it, given the poor clarity of the water.  All totaled, I'm straining the water at a rate in excess of 900 gph.  I even changed the carbon in the two Whisper filters hoping this might do the trick.  It didn't help.    As always, your advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks // Brook < Smell the top of the tank. If there is a fishy smell to the water then it may be an ammonia spike, regardless of the test kit results. If you took you tap water an added any kind of pH decreaser or water softener then the chemical in the additive has replaced the calcium in the water and formed a calcium precipitate which would cause the cloudy water.-Chuck>

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