Cloudy white water, what gives?! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2016, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Cloudy white water, what gives?!

My recently set up, stocked 75 gallon tank has been experiencing cloudy white tinged water for about two weeks now. It's not silt from the sand, that settled down in the first week or so. Tanks been going about a month and it only clouded up once livestock was introduced. My question is, is this a bacterial bloom or other water issue? I'm doing frequent wcs and removing detritus with the python. What's the correct fix? I cleaned my ac 110 today in tank water and added a few extra cloth pads to hopefully catch more particulates.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2016, 09:22 PM
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What are your water parameters? If your ammonia and nitrate are fine, I would slow down on the water changes and just give the tank a chance to settle out.

Sometimes all the tank wants is a bit of stability for things to hammer themselves out.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2016, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcimedes View Post

Sometimes all the tank wants is a bit of stability for things to hammer themselves out.
This!

My suggestions are:

A. Let the tank do what it does and settle (if bacteria bloom)
B. Use 1 tsp charcoal in filter per every 5 gallons or so for 1 week
C. Use Accuclear or similar.(works better with carbon in filter)

And I'd do it in that order.

I find that the accuclear type products are rarely necessary.

Aren't we all just living in a giant fish bowl?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2016, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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Cloudy white water, what gives?!

Roger that. Good advice thanks. Ammonia and nitrates are fine so I'm assuming bacterial bloom/ new tank syndrome. I m doing mad wcs so that's prob hurting more than helping. I'll cut it back to small wcs and let it sit for a while.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-28-2016, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dingleberry View Post
My recently set up, stocked 75 gallon tank has been experiencing cloudy white tinged water for about two weeks now. It's not silt from the sand, that settled down in the first week or so. Tanks been going about a month and it only clouded up once livestock was introduced. My question is, is this a bacterial bloom or other water issue? I'm doing frequent wcs and removing detritus with the python. What's the correct fix? I cleaned my ac 110 today in tank water and added a few extra cloth pads to hopefully catch more particulates.
i've had the exact same happen to me a while ago. it dissapeared after a while. in my case it was bacteria.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2016, 01:36 AM
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Ammonia and nitrates are fine so I'm assuming bacterial bloom/ new tank syndrome.
New tank syndrome is no or low population of nitrifying bacteria. Tests will show ammonia and nitrite, and fish will die.

Heterotrophic bacteria grow fast enough to make the water cloudy. Do not bother doing water changes to try to clear it out. When their food is gone, they will reduce their population down low enough not to cloud the water.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2016, 04:19 AM
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I would recommend doing water changes when dealing with a huge Heterotrophic bacterial bloom though. I know they do multiply crazy fast and so the cloud would reappear shortly, but they are converting organics into harmful ammonia, often at way too fast of a rate that risk of poisoning fish is too great. So with water changes, it will remove/dilute the ammonia levels. Vacuuming organics out of the tanks is also recommended, since the organics are what the Heterotrophic bacter are feeding on/converting to ammonia. That way, the cloud/bloom and ammonia problems will subside faster.

To OP, from the sounds of it, since the blooms just started happening after adding fish, it does sound as if your tank isn't fully cycled/ not enough autotrophic beneficial bacteria. In either case, you should be getting readings of ammonia. Maybe you made a error in cycling, like not enough ammonia, or maybe accidentally killed some off in the process (starved bacteria or accidentally used chlorinated tap water), resulting in not enough nitrifying bacteria? The nitrifying bacteria populations will grow with time.

If there is truly no nitrogen spikes, then maybe it is just a mechanical cloud of particulates. You sure the water changes aren't kicking up all the "silt" from the substrate?

I have heard about "precipitation" clouds when doing water changes, but I don't know too much about that.

TIP: Don't clean too much of your biomedia at a time (no more than 50%). And also don't remove/clean (with chlorinated tap water) too much of your mechanical filtration media. You would be surprised actually how much of your filter's beneficial bacteria actually reside on the mechanical media. So removing/cleaning the mech media can potentially remove quite a lot of beneficial bacteria causing mini cycles until the bacterial colonies repopulate.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2016, 05:20 AM
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I always give the internal tank glass a good wipe down to redistribute bacteria after fitting new media.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Hi. I'm back.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-29-2016, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Cloudy white water, what gives?!

Thanks for all the replies. Upon retest the ammonia levels are showing approx zero. My test is for a range and I'm in the lowest bracket so I guess their could be some ammonia. Cloudiness is down a little today but I will continue to monitor it.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-03-2016, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Cloudy white water, what gives?!

Cloudiness has persisted. I did a 50% wc today and did not disturb the substrate. Placed carbon back into the filter as well after treatment for parasites. Should I keep waiting? Or add another HOB? I've got literally 9 just sitting unused.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2016, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Added an additional ac 110. Now we wait.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2016, 12:45 PM
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Perhaps I can add my similar symtoms here as well for a collective solution. I got a 125 with fx5. 10 corys, 25 neon tetras and 6 medium sized discus. Good amount of driftwood, plants etc. Tank has been running 6+ months now. last 3 months water was ncie now the white cloud is back. Yesterday I drained and fileld the tank probably 4 times and water was crystal clear. Didndt drain the filter, within 1 hour after i turned the filter back on the water was turning cloudy and this morning it is just cloudy overall.
Media is just a bunch of coarse and medium sponges and bio balls. Definitly not silt.

Is this a bacterial bloom-and from what I am reading it multiplies quickly-so the "infected" water was in the filter and the bacteria just redistributed itself and reestablished?


0 ammonia 0 nitrates 2-3ppm nitrites before WC.

i do have a large log that i did have to soak for a good 3 months to get it to sink..could it be the source of the bacteria?
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2016, 01:57 PM
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I had one of those once that I could NOT get rid of. I finally tried this:

Green Killing Machine Internal UV Sterilizer with Power Head | Petco Store



And it cleared it up in just a couple of days. They make a smaller one, but for a 75 Gallon, you probably need the bigger one. Its on sale to.

Standard 10 Gallon (20 x12x12).
Low tech, Sand substrate.
Eheim 2211, and Aqueon Quietflow 10.
Finnex Stingray LED, 20" above substrate
2 Anubias Nana Petite, Christmas moss.
4 Halequin Rasborahs, 5 RCS.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2016, 04:03 PM
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@Greg5OH

Bacterial blooms are a large bloom of Heterotrophic bacteria. Heterotrophic bacteria are always in our aquarium, but there are only large blooms (now so much bacteria that they populate the water column looking like a white hazy cloud) when there is excess organics (debris, uneaten food, etc.). They breakdown the organics into ammonia (which is why ammonia spikes are usually present). They do multiply extremely fast, so they can re-cloud a tank after a water change, IF there are still a lot of organics. Bacterial blooms are also common on new tanks (New Tank Syndrome), where there is little to no Autotrophic bacteria (the nitrifying beneficial bacteria we commonly refer to in our filters).

The water that was left over in your filter isn't really "infected", it would of had heterotrophic bacteria, but they would have always been present, they only multiply to a large enough population if their food source is in excess, which means there are excess organic matter in the tank. But the filter might of had excess organics within (mulm/detritus/uneaten food/etc.). It would help to vacuum out any organics, thus lowering the amount of food available for the Heterotrophic bacteria, resulting in less cloudy water. You can leave the bacterial bloom alone and they will eventually break down all the organics and their population will dwindle to the point the large population cloud is no longer present (clear water). However, knowing they break down the organics into ammonia, means you can possibly have elevated nitrogen levels that you should keep an eye on and deal with accordingly, with water changes to prevent poisoning to fish.

Well that is how bacterial blooms (white cloud) works anyway. From you reporting low nitrogen levels/water parameters, I doubt you have a bacterial bloom. The log wouldn't cause any bacterial bloom cloud, but it could leach tannins, making the water brown/tea colored.

So I suspect it might just be physical debris particles. If so, use fine mechanical filtration media, such as filter floss/polyfil batting, fine pore sponges, micron pads, etc. I am unsure if activated carbon/charcoal or Purigen would help clear up the water in that case. I know you have coarse and medium pore mechanical media, but fine pores are necessary to catch/collect fine particles.

I have also heard of cloudy water caused by precipitation. Some kind of reaction happening (should be harmless though), which I don't know too much about.

Green water is just algae.

UV's can definitely clear green water, but for other cloudy water reasons, I think a decent UV is necessary (not all are made the same/effective for certain uses - ie. UV clarifier vs sterilizer). But the one linked above looks like it would be strong enough (again depends on what the cloud actually is, if it is just physical debris particles/dust/silt, I don't think a UV will do anything to that cloud)
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2016, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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Ditched the extra ac110 in favor of a seeded cascade 1000 cannister. So far so good. Cloudiness has dissipated in the past 4-6 hours. I may be wrong but I believe my single ac110 had insufficient beneficial bacteria, which allowed heterotrophic bacteria to bloom in the water column causing the cloudiness. With the addition of the extra, seeded cascade 1000 I am filtering more water and I have also added more beneficial bacteria into my filtering equation. I'm hoping the extra filter with extra beneficial bacteria will outcompete the heterotrophic bacteria for available organics and kill the cloudiness once and for all. I will update tomorrow with what I see.
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