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Old 12-02-2022, 05:40 AM   #1
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Cloudy water

Hi,
We bought a tetra starter line tank and set it up as instructed. 9 days in and the water is still really cloudy.
We had bubbles on inside of tank for a couple of days then that cleared and now its really really cloudy and doesn't seem to be clearing.
We added gravel and 2 x ornaments which we rinsed before.
Please advise.

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Old 12-02-2022, 06:02 AM   #2
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Could you describe the cloudiness better please.

Is it a milky white water? Or a tea like water? Or particles floating about in the water?

Each would have a different cause.

A few further questions.

Do you know your water parameters? pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate?

Are you aware of the nitrogen cycle and how to cycle a new tank? If so, how did you/ are you cycling the tank?

Do you have fish in the tank? If so what and how many?

How big is the tank you bought?
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:19 AM   #3
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Hi, thanks for your reply, it's a milky white. We are new to this so don't know about pH levels and nitrogen cycles sorry 🙄🙄
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:34 AM   #4
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This is whats called a bacterial bloom and is normal in a newly set up tank. Its bacteria feeding off ammonia in the water and reproducing to such an extent they become visible. As your cycle establishes and their food source gets cut off, this type of bacteria dies out. This can take a couple of weeks.

Ill post something about the nitrogen cycle for information should you be interested in whats happening. A basic knowledge of this is useful.

Ill also post some basic information on 2 common methods to cycle a tank. You havent mentioned whether you have got fish yet. If you dont have fish, consider which method of cycling you prefer. If you do have fish, you will need to do a fish in cycle unless you can return the fish you bought to the store. Let us know how you want to proceed and i can give more detail on how to cycle a tank.
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:34 AM   #5
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The nitrogen cycle is the natural processes that go on in your tank that convert ammonia into less harmful substances.

Ammonia gets into your tank through various pathways. Fish waste, decaying uneaten food, and dead, decaying plants are common ammonia sources in an aquarium. Its also possible your tap water is an ammonia source. Chloramine is a common water treatment and when treated with most water conditioners the bond in the chloramine breaks and releases ammonia into the water.

Ammonia can be toxic to fish, depending on how much there is, and what the pH and temperature of your tank water is.

The first stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of ammonia. If you have real plants in your tank some of this ammonia will be absorbed as part of their natural growth. Generally though ammonia is consumed by denitrifying bacteria that lives mostly on your filter media. These bacteria consume the ammonia and produce nitrite. Unfortunately nitrite is pretty much as toxic to fish as ammonia.

The second stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of nitrite. A different denitrifying bacteria will consume the nitrite and produce nitrate. Nitrate is much less harmful than ammonia and nitrite, and for most aquariums the nitrogen cycle ends there. Excess nitrate is removed through your regular water changes.

A further stage of the nitrogen cycle can also happen, but its difficult to remove all the nitrate from a typical freshwater aquarium. Plants will absorb some nitrate in a similar manner to how it absorbs ammonia to grow. There are also nitrifying bacteria that consumes nitrate and gives off nitrogen gas which will simply offgas from your aquarium. This nitrifying bacteria is difficult to grow in freshwater aquarium.

“Cycling” a tank is the process you go through to grow denitrifying bacteria in your aquarium to consume ammonia and nitrite. You are said to be “cycled” when you have enough bacteria to consume all the ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces and turns all of it into nitrate. If you test the water of a cycled tank you should see 0 ammonia and nitrite and some nitrate.
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:37 AM   #6
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

Two commonly used methods to cycle a tank are called a “fish in” cycle and a “fishless” cycle.

A fish in cycle
uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels. This has been the go to method to cycle a tank for many years, and it commonly is the way new fish keepers cycle a tank when they have bought fish with no knowledge that a tank needs cycling and how to go about it.

Pros.

- You get to keep “some” fish pretty much on day 1 of setting up your tank.

- More consistently gets you through your cycle.

- Only real choice if you already have fish.

- If done simply, eg stock lightly, add fish slowly, you can fishless cycle safely without testing. Although testing your water while cycling is still a good idea.

Cons.

- Lots of water changes, especially if you are doing a fish in cycle with a fully stocked tank.

- Although you should be doing plenty of water changes to maintain relatively safe water, your fish will be living in waste which isn’t ideal.

- Can take a long time (several months) to go from an empty tank to fully stocked if done safely.

A fishless cycle
uses an ammonia source to replicate the fish waste that a tank of fish would produce. This ammonia source can be pure ammonia, an aquarium specific ammonium chloride product like Dr Tims Ammonium Chloride, a cocktail shrimp or fish food.

Pros.

- You cycle the tank before adding fish, therefore they shouldn’t be exposed to their own waste.

- No need for regular water changes while your tank cycles.

- Can be quicker to go from an empty tank to fully stocked.

Cons.

- Needs patience, you will be looking at an empty tank for several weeks.

- More technical approach requiring dosing ammonia and will need to be done alongside regular testing.

- Less consistently successful than fish in cycles, especially with new fish keepers who don’t understand the process and expect it to run to a timetable.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:30 AM   #7
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I was told yesterday a water change worsens a bacterial bloom “because it adds nutrients to the water.” Is this so? What nutrients are in conditioned water? Sounds counterintuitive, but is probably correct to avoid water changes. I just don’t get it.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:40 AM   #8
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Larapreece, there are some good YouTube videos that explain setting up tanks, cycling & testing your tank water with the API Freshwater kit to check ammonia, nitrites, nitrate levels. All of this stuff is confusing at first & I personally found watching videos very useful.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:41 AM   #9
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Bacteria is feeding on ammonia. If there is ammonia in your tap water then it would be a source of nutrients. Chloramine would be an ammonia source if that's what your tapwater is treated with.

There is nothing particularly harmful with bacterial blooms, at least in the short term. If you need to do a water change to deal with other issues, then do a water change. If you don't need to do a water change, then dont.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:45 AM   #10
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Hi Aiken,
Many thanks for your reply, well just leave it and give it more time then yes. Should the light be on or not?
We have no fish in the tank. Someone suggested to get some Hardy fish as in Zebra Danio to help out, is this true.
Please forward info on cycling of tank please, much appreciated.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacky12 View Post
I was told yesterday a water change worsens a bacterial bloom ďbecause it adds nutrients to the water.Ē Is this so? What nutrients are in conditioned water? Sounds counterintuitive, but is probably correct to avoid water changes. I just donít get it.
You were told wrong. If you have a bacterial bloom, doing a big water change will dilute the nutrients and the bacteria and help to clear the problem.

If you have enough nutrients in your drinking water to promote bacterial growth, I wouldn't be using that water for anything except the lawn.

------------------

For the OP, if you don't like the cloudy water, do a huge/ complete water change and refill the tank with dechlorinated water. Try to gravel clean the substrate when you do a water change.

Wipe the inside of the glass down because you sometimes get a white film on the glass and the water can be clear.
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Old 12-02-2022, 08:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larapreece View Post
Hi Aiken,
Many thanks for your reply, well just leave it and give it more time then yes. Should the light be on or not?
We have no fish in the tank. Someone suggested to get some Hardy fish as in Zebra Danio to help out, is this true.
Please forward info on cycling of tank please, much appreciated.
Getting a small number of hardy fish is whats called a fish in cycle. Zebra danios are good for this. Whatever fish you get to cycle the tank should be something you plan on keeping or at least have a plan for rehoming them once your tank is cycled. You havent said what size tank you got, so i cant comment on whether zebra danios are suitable for your set up.

Lights only need to be on if you have live plants. Having them on or off wont effect your bacterial bloom or cycling the tank. Beyond that, once you have fish you probably want the light on to be able to see your fish clearly. 6 to 8 hours light on per day usually keeps algae down to a managable amount.

Ill post a fish in cycle method next post.
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Old 12-02-2022, 08:21 AM   #13
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

A fish in cycle uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels.

Set up your tank. Make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have used a water conditioner product with any tap water you have put in your tank. Seachem Prime is a water conditioner that will also detoxify some ammonia for a day or two, so is a good choice for a water conditioner while cycling a tank with fish.

You should have a test kit. Preferably a liquid test kit. It should test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

In ideal circumstances you should be starting a fishless cycle with a low bioload (number of fish). 1 small fish per 10 gallons/40 litres is a good number of fish, but this can be tweaked a little for fish that are social and don’t do well on their own. Ideally a hardy type of fish. You may have fully stocked (or overstocked) your tank before you knew about cycling. In these circumstances, if its not possible to return fish, you will have to make the best of it.

If you haven’t already done so, add your fish. Acclimate them to the water in your tank before doing so.

Feed lightly to start with. Daily as much as is eaten in 2 minutes, or as much as is eaten in 3 minutes every 2 days. You can increase to full feedings if you are confident your parameters aren’t getting too elevated too quickly and water changes don’t become a daily thing.

Start to regularly test the water for ammonia and nitrite. At least daily. Depending on your bioload you could start to see ammonia quite quickly. Nitrite will likely take a little longer to appear.

Your target should be to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm by changing water whenever your water parameters exceed this target. 0.5ppm combined is a level of waste that is sufficient for your cycle to establish but relatively safe for your fish.

If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.0ppm nitrite (0.5ppm combined) then leave things be. If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite (0.75ppm combined) then change 1/3 of the water. If you see 0.25ppm ammonia and 0.75ppm nitrite (1.0ppm combined) then change 1/2 the water. If water parameters get worse than these levels it may require multiple daily 50% water changes to maintain safe water conditions. This is more likely to happen with a fully stocked tank.

Remember to add water conditioner whenever you put tap water in the tank.

Over time the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change to maintain your ammonia + nitrite combined target will reduce. You can also start testing for nitrate and should see this rising. If you are finding the ammonia and nitrite in your tests are consistently low, and you aren’t already fully stocked, you can add a few more fish. It may take a few weeks to get to this point.

Once you add a few more fish, continue to regularly test the water and continue to change water if you exceed the 0.5ppm combined ammonia + nitrite target. With added bioload the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change may increase again until your cycle has caught up. Again once you are consistently seeing low ammonia and nitrite you can add some more fish. Rinse and repeat with testing, water changes, and adding fish when safe to do so until you are fully stocked.

You can then cut back on water changes to control nitrate only. Typically you want to keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm, but I would recommend changing some water every 2 weeks even if your water test says you don’t need to.

A fish in cycle from an empty tank to fully stocked can take several months.

A good way to speed up this process would be to put a small amount of filter media from an established filter into your filter, or get a sponge from an established filter and squeeze it into your tank water. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? This will seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow and speed up the process.

Another option is bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One + Only or Tetra Safestart. These products wont instantly cycle a tank as they claim but in a similar manner to adding established filter media they can seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow to establish your cycle. These products are hit and miss as to whether they work at all, but are an option if established filter media isnt obtainable and may speed up the process from several months to several weeks.
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