Crystal Clear Aquarium Water

Magnificent Modern Fish Tanks Arts Natural Atmosphere DesignWhy does everyone else have crystal clear aquarium water and you don’t?  There are several reasons for water, whether it’s a fresh water tank or a saltwater aquarium, to appear cloudy, milky or just not quite as clear as you think it should be.  It could be that you are experiencing an algae bloom (greenish), a bacterial bloom (milky), over feeding, or perhaps your filtration needs to be cleaned or even upgraded.  There are several liquid and powder products on the market that can help with some of these problems but it is always better to find out the underlying cause and correct it rather than just throw medications and conditioners at the issue.

This article assumes that you have finished the initial nitrogen cycle and that any possible cloudiness from that is over.  Once your tank is established and the stocking of fish or invertebrates has began, beneficial bacteria must build up to handle the bio load (waste) that comes with the increased numbers of tank inhabitants.

If the bio load builds up faster than the bacteria can keep up, a bloom of bacteria can cause the tank to look milky.  The bacteria, in an bloom bacterialattempt to handle the waste from the animals or even from excess food from over feeding, will “over” multiply.  This drastic increase in the amount of beneficial bacteria will result in a milky look to the water.  This cloudiness will usually only last 24 to 48 hours…..however, if the bio load was extremely large, the effects of the bacteria could last 72 hours or more.  Typically, the milky look does not harm the inhabitants of the tank.  But, again, if the increased bio load was enough to cause the bacterial bloom in the first place, it might not be a bad idea to do a small water change to help shorten the time it takes for the cloudiness to end.

algae bloomAnother common cause of cloudiness in a fish tank is the algae bloom. Usually, this type of cloudiness manifests itself after a large bio load in conjunction with too much light.  Some times it’s just too much light.  The light can come from the aquarium lighting or even the sunlight that makes it through the window or door.  The tank can take on a green tinge or possibly a yellowing.  When this type of bloom occurs, it is a good idea to not only find and correct the cause, but to do a water change to physically remove the free floating algae before it takes hold and becomes an even worse nightmare.  Because algae, essentially, lives on nitrates and light, it is wise to adjust the light if necessary and keep the nitrates as low as possible.

Though there are a variety of products, liquid and powder, designed to eliminate much of the things that cause a tank to become cloudy or even to reverse the effects of the cloudiness, it is always better to stop the cause rather than treat the symptoms.  Many of the water conditioners like pro clear or novaqua or amquel, etc. or any similar product that claims to eliminate cloudy or murky water can themselves become a problem by lowering the available oxygen to the fish and causing false readings on test kit results.

Finally, one of the best ways to combat a cloudy tank is to do regular water changes, filter cleaning, and carbon replacement.  Carbon, in particular, can adsorb many of the medications, odors or impurities by “polishing” the water and removing organics.  If you have a saltwater tank with a protein skimmer, make sure it is running efficiently and not putting all the fine bubbles back into the tank.  Another problem can arise when using fine substrate like sand that tends to get kicked up easily by fish and currents and seems to always be floating around the tank. One way to guarantee crystal clear aquarium water is to make sure to remove anything that dies in the tank immediately so that it doesn’t break down and cause a huge fluctuation in waste, this includes any over feeding.  Also, eliminate unnecessary light (especially ambient sunlight) that can cause algae blooms.  Don’t use water conditioners unless it is absolutely necessary and run well maintained filtration that includes high quality carbon to keep that water sparkling.

Article Name
Crystal Clear Aquarium Water
Causes and solutions for typical cloudy fish tanks.

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