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Cloudy Aquarium Water

In some cases, cloudy water can be an indication that your aquarium water isn’t very healthy.

Sometimes, no matter how often you change the water or filter media, the water is still cloudy. 

Causes Of Cloudy Aquarium Water

First let’s explore some of the reasons why you’ve got cloudy water, then we can look at what you can do to rectify it.

Insufficient Cycling Of Tank Before Stocking

When you set up your tank and haven’t cycled it sufficiently, the water becomes cloudy when you start adding fish and fish food. This is called a bacterial bloom and it causes cloudy water.

When you feed your fish, leftover food sinks, decomposes and then releases nitrogen. When fish produce excrement, this floats into the tank and releases ammonia. Nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia to nitrites, which then convert to nitrates which takes around 2 to 6 weeks. 

New tank syndrome is where the ammonia levels and nitrate levels get too high in a new tank and kill your fish. Your tank filter needs to develop the right levels of bacteria to filter the ammonia and nitrates from the water.

So you need to be sure that you’ve cycled the water in your tank enough so that the bacteria in the filter can effectively filter the ammonia and nitrates from the tank. Before you stock your tank with fish, leave enough time for the bacteria to develop.

To check that you have the correct levels of nitrates, nitrites and ammonia in your tank you can purchase an aquarium test kit.

You should ideally test the water in your aquarium to ensure that none of the levels get too high. 

Overfeeding Your Fish

If your food doesn’t eat all the food, the remains will sink to the bottom then start to rot. The food dissolves, breaks apart.

Overcrowding The Tank

If you have too many fish for the size of your tank they could be kicking up a lot of debris from the gravel or substrate. When fish interact with the substrate they could stir up rotting food and excrement which can create cloudy water. 

Inadequate Filtration

If the mechanical filter is too small for the amount of fish that you have, it won’t be able to filter the water quickly enough. 

You might have the right size filter, but you might have the wrong media in the filter. The finer the holes in your media, the more particulates will be trapped in the filter. For example, you may have a very coarse sponge in your filter. That sponge may trap some debris, but if you had filter floss as well as the sponge, it’ll trap even more debris. 

Unfortunately, if you’re using floss as well, you’ll need to clean or change the filter more often. If you’re not change the filter often enough, you’re going to get a problem with cloudy water. Once the filter floss becomes clogged up, it’s not going to filter any more water and will pass the water back into the tank.

Dead Fish

Sometimes fish can get stuck behind some rocks or trapped in the filter and die. When the fish decomposes and can turn the water cloudy as you have additional material contaminating the water. 

Dirty Tank

Sometimes your tank may not actually be cloudy. It may be that your tank is just dirty which makes it look like the water is cloudy. When a biofilm starts to form on the glass it starts to give a cloudy look. Just doing an algae scrape can make your tank look immeasurably better.

Water Changes

The level of nitrates in your water will determine the number of water changes you need to do. If you don’t have a planted tank, try vacuuming the gravel when you do the water change. This will pull out a lot of the uneaten food and fish waste. 

Check Your Filter

Ensure that you check your filter regularly to check it’s not getting clogged up. Regular media changes will ensure that your water doesn’t get too many nitrates. As soon as it starts to look brown and nasty, pull it out and replace the media. 

Reduce Food

Reduce the amount of food you’re feeding your fish. For example, if you feed them three times a day, try feeding them only once a day. 

UV Sterilizer

A UV sterilizer will prevent the bacteria bloom from multiplying. When bacteria are exposed to UV light it causes genetic mutations which prevents them from reproducing. As bacteria have a short life this causes the bacterial bloom to disappear. 

Coagulating Agent

If your water is cloudy from particulates you can use a coagulating agent. This works by collecting together the particulates in the water and allows the filter to extract them from the water. 

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Closing Words

We hope you’ve now got a sound overview of how to deal with cloudy aquarium water.

Bookmark Pet Gear Zone and come back soon as we continue our aquarium series giving you all the information you need to provide you fish with the best possible home. We’ll see you soon!

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