Cloudy Aquarium Water – Causes & Solutions

dirty aquarium

The morning religion dictates that you confirm all your household dwellers are up and fine until you meet a cloudy aquarium and the world stops. 

For beginners in the aquarium industry, this can be quite a shocker and can even be tempted to replace all the water in the tank for the safety of their fish, which would be a terrible mistake. 

Professional fish keepers know they have to dig around to find the cause of the sudden fog in their fish tank. The causes of a cloudy aquarium are many that need to be dealt with immediately before your fish and other aquarium dwellers are harmed. The relief part is that the condition is reversible, but it will also take a lot of effort on the aquarium owner, to make sure that they are not a catalyst to the phenomenon. 

Type of Cloudy Aquarium Water

We will, therefore, discuss the causes of cloudy aquarium water and the effective methods that you can adopt to make the water clear again. 

1. White cloudy water

There are many reasons to why your aquarium water is cloudy some of which are man-made and result out of important steps but can still be reversible. For example, whenever you get a new substrate from your pet store it is paramount that you thoroughly rinse it off before you put it on the floor of your fish tank. 

You might be tempted to think that since the gravel is new from the pet store then it is ready for use? Well, that’s not the case because, even in the pet store it wasn’t being used, so it must have accumulated dust, and the pushing and tossing made it grind against each other. 

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How to make the water clear again

Now that the damage is already done, you will be forced to excise the patience that you initially didn’t have and here you will have to empty the tank, take the gravel out and rinse it thoroughly. Another option is to do a 50% water change with the aim of getting rid of some of the dust. Another option is performing the superfine mechanical media filter, a process will help trap the particles. 

2. Bacterial bloom 

cloudy water in your aquarium should give you chills especially if you haven’t recently added any substrate. Bacterial bloom is normally caused by overcrowding, overfeeding, poor filtration, over-cleaning the filter or the presence of dead fish in the tank. So what happens is that the water at first becomes polluted with waste, the latter is food for the bacteria that will now cause it to bloom.

Your aquarium water always contains bacteria only that they are dormant, and here we are not talking about the beneficial bacteria that are responsible for the ammonia in your fish tank. But rather the heterotrophic bacteria which will not make your fish sick, but will make the water toxic, which will then affect your fish. 

The heterotrophic bacterium, therefore, consumes the dissolved organic substances and releases a lot of toxic waste, which is in form of ammonia. 

cloudy aquarium 2

How to make the water clear again

The first process is to reduce the amount of food that is fed to the fish so that you can also minimize the production of waste, and the amount of leftover foods. Water changes will also be necessary at this point and this should be done frequently to get rid of any existing organic compounds from the substrate and water. 

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The Heterotrophic bacteria have the ability to deplete the water of oxygen, so as you strive to get rid of the cloudy water be sure to aerate the water so that your aquarium dwellers are able to derive oxygen. 

However, if your tank is fishless then there is no need for worrying because the heterotrophs will feed on all the organics in the tank and die off because no waste is being produced. 

3. Leaching tannins 

You might notice that after adding driftwood in your fish tank, there developed some yellowish like color. Don’t develop a scowl just yet, and don’t shove the wood out of the window in a hurry, because the tannins are not harmful to your fish. 

How to make your water clear again

Just like any other aquarium decoration that you want to invest in, always ensure that you soak your driftwood first for a few days before you place it inside the fish tank. Noteworthy is that you have to make sure that you don’t use detergents because they will be harmful to your fish. 

But now that the damage is already done, the best way to make your water clear again is by carrying out water changes and with time the driftwood will stop leaching tannins. 

4. Green aquarium water 

If your aquarium water turns green you don’t need to panic because it will rarely harm your fish. Green water is caused by the free-floating microscopic algae, which is very different from the type of algae that coats your aquarium décor and glass. 

How to make your water clear again

The above is caused by excess nitrates, phosphates, and light. Too much light either from the sun or the artificial aquarium light will definitely lead to an increase in the levels of algae in the fish tank. You should, therefore, move your aquarium from the effects of direct sunlight. You could also connect a regulator to your aquarium light so that it can be turned off at specific set times. 

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cloudy aquarium

5. Nitrates 

Fish has its own natural way of getting rid of waste when first introduced into water, and this they do by releasing nitrates. So, if you are not keen on tank maintenance then expect the levels of nitrates to rise. If you also overstock your tank with fish then expect the levels of nitrates to rise; this condition should not be taken lightly because you risk damaging your fish’s gills. 

How to remedy the nitrates problem

The first step would be to keep a reasonable amount of fish in an aquarium, make sure you carry out regular cleaning exercises and incorporate the right amount of water for the aquarium size. Also, don’t feed your fish a lot of food because it will just end up as waste and raise the levels of nitrates.

6. Phosphates

The only way that you can determine if your fish tank has high levels of phosphates is by using a test kit. There are a number of methods that can be employed to get rid of phosphates in your fish tank and the first is by reducing the amount of food that you feed to your fish, carry out frequent water changes or buy a phosphate remover and insert it in your fish tank. 

The methods that you could adopt to get rid of cloudy water in your fish tank are numerous most of which are do it yourself. But as the saying prevention is better than cure goes, it would be best if you could avoid the condition at first.