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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm at my wits end with the cloudy water in my low tech planted 37g column. I know this comes up all the time and I am hesitant to make a new thread about it. But I've researched all the usual causes and done everything I can think of to determine the cause. Everything I try gets no results.

Thought it was bacteria bloom or mini-cycles from too much gravel cleaning and too large of water changes, switched to doing nothing but 10% biweekly water changes. Still cloudy.

This is my first tank setup in new home, thought it might be sediment/fines in the water or other water chem issue (though water was crystal clear when I did initial setup). Started changing large portions of water with RO/DI water and added finest mechanical filtration I could find. Still cloudy. (EDIT: Bought a TDS meter, tap water is around 130PPM and tank is around 160PPM)

I usually only use mechanical and biological filtration. Tried adding chemical (experimented with carbon, zeolite, Purigen, Fluval resin). Still cloudy.

I'm using Biohome biological media for the first time. Thought problem could be related to that. Changed it out for traditional ceramic media. Still cloudy.

It's definitely a white cloudiness, not green water. Even then, I've tried blacking out the tank to see if it had any impact. Still cloudy.

I know those water clarifying chems are generally a band-aid that don't fix the root issue. Tried the Tetra one anyway just as an experiment. Made the water super milky, so it was definitely binding to something. The water would then clear up a little, but in a day or two would be back to cloudy.

Everything I've tried I've given several weeks to adjust, so it's not like I'm waiting a day and saying "nope didn't work" and moving on. Tank only has 4 fancy guppies and is fed very sparingly. All the water parameters are perfect. Fish are doing great, as are plants. I dose some API Leaf Zone but not as often as recommended on the bottle. Nothing else added to tank.

Any ideas on what else it can be? I'm really running out of ideas. Thanks in advance for any help.
 

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I'm at my wits end with the cloudy water in my low tech planted 37g column. I know this comes up all the time and I am hesitant to make a new thread about it. But I've researched all the usual causes and done everything I can think of to determine the cause. Everything I try gets no results.

Thought it was bacteria bloom or mini-cycles from too much gravel cleaning and too large of water changes, switched to doing nothing but 10% biweekly water changes. Still cloudy.

This is my first tank setup in new home, thought it might be sediment/fines in the water or other water chem issue. Started changing large portions of water with RO/DI water and added finest mechanical filtration I could find. Still cloudy. (EDIT: Bought a TDS meter, tap water is around 130PPM and tank is around 160PPM)

I usually only use mechanical and biological filtration. Tried adding chemical (experimented with carbon, zeolite, Purigen, Fluval resin). Still cloudy.

I'm using Biohome biological media for the first time. Thought problem could be related to that. Changed it out for traditional ceramic media. Still cloudy.

It's definitely a white cloudiness, not green water. Even then, I've tried blacking out the tank to see if it had any impact. Still cloudy.

I know those water clarifying chems are generally a band-aid that don't fix the root issue. Tried the Tetra one anyway just as an experiment. Made the water super milky, so it was definitely binding to something. The water would then clear up a little, but in a day or two would be back to cloudy.

Everything I've tried I've given several weeks to adjust, so it's not like I'm waiting a day and saying "nope didn't work" and moving on. Tank only has 4 fancy guppies and is fed very sparingly. All the water parameters are perfect. Fish are doing great, as are plants. I dose some API Leaf Zone but not as often as recommended on the bottle. Nothing else added to tank.

Any ideas on what else it can be? I'm really running out of ideas. Thanks in advance for any help.
How long has your tank been up and running? What substrate are you using? Did you rinse it out thoroughly before you added it?

Some substrates will cloud the water for a good long while if not rinsed thoroughly. Seachem Flourite is one of them. If you haven't already tried, adding filter floss to your filter can help clear it if it's solid matter like substrate dust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tank has been setup for about 6 months now. I did a fishless cycle (water was clear all throughout that). Water started to cloud a few weeks after I added the 4 fancy guppies.

Substrate is National Geographic black gravel from Petsmart. It's a pretty fine grade. I did rinse it very thoroughly. When I filled the tank everything was crystal clear. Only thing I can think of there is they put something (coating?) on the gravel that is now breaking down and clouding the water?

I've tried several types of filter pad, all for fine polishing of the water and meant to catch finest particles. I have not tried the batting/floss type media, maybe that is next. Right now I'm using this:
 

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It sounds like you have covered all the usual suspects:
Heterotrophic bacteria
Ammonia
pH/mineral additives

Try this:
Set up several jars with samples, and some jars without samples. In most of the jars add new water, but make up this water the way you do for the aquarium (RO, tap, dechlor, anything else). In a few jars do some other water (as noted)

1) Run some tap water into a jar, but do not add anything.
2) Set up a jar with nothing but new water, set up the way you set up water for the tank. (RO, tap, dechlor, fertilizer...)
3) Take a sample of everything in the tank and put each sample in a separate jar. (A handful of substrate, a rock or two, a bit of driftwood... whatever is in the tank)
4) If there are any filter media you are suspicious of, set up more jars with each item, even if you have removed them from the filter.
5) After a few days, add some fish food to each jar.
6) Set up a jar with old water from the tank, but nothing else.

Stir the water occasionally, and start watching it.
By doing several jars you are trying to isolate and answer these questions:

1) Does the tap water with nothing added cloud all by itself?
2) Is it something you are adding to the water, perhaps reacting with something in the tap water?
3) Is is some decor, substrate or similar thing?
4) Was it the filter media you are suspicious of, and the cloudiness is just lingering from that, even if you have removed the media from the filter?
5) Is the fish food causing cloudy water?
6) If the water was left to itself, would it clear?

If you can think of anything else that could be tested this way, do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Diana, that sounds like a fantastic idea. Will go pick up a pack of mason jars and get it setup this weekend.

An additional point of info that may or may not help: the cloudiness is not completely uniform. If you look closely (at the top directly under bright LED light) you can see it kind of swirling and billowing around with the currents. I swear I can almost make out individual particles, but hard to say for sure.
 

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What's the tank temperature? Try raising the temperature as high as your fish can be comfortable. Worked for a me a couple of times.
Also, if you are using a stress coat additive with your dechlorinator, then it can gum up your filter. That will send nitrifying bacteria out into your water looking for a place to adhere. Raising the temperature and stopping the use of stress coat/aloe stuff, may just be the cure.
 

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What part of Michigan are you in? Could it simply be the notorious problems going on in that part of the country? Where did you previously live when you didnt have this issue? Was that 160 ppm TDS reading from the tank when you were using the RO/DI water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am in suburbs of Detroit (Livonia). As far as I know we (Livonia) haven't been affected by any water issues. I only moved maybe 6-7 miles to my new home, so for all I know could be same water source. When I was in my apartment tanks were always crystal clear.

160PPM TDS in the tank was when using tap. When I experimented with RO/DI the TDS got down to I think 40PPM at lowest. Didn't seem to have any effect on cloudiness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have tried the Tetra brand clarifying treatment. I am pretty sure they are all similar, if not the same active ingredient. As I understand it they are flocculants that cause small particles to coagulate/bind into bigger clumps that can be caught by mechanical filtration.

It helped some, sometimes giving me hope things were close to clearing up. But within a day or two things were back to just as cloudy. I think that is the main ding against these products, often times they are just a band-aid fix that doesn't address the true cause, only cures the symptoms.
 

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Not sure what else you have in the tank, but potassium permanganate is sometimes used to clear up cloudy water, I know Jungle makes a product which is basically premixed permanganate, the name slips me now, but you could look up dosage with google and use the PP crystals you get from the pharmacy.



the Jungle product is called Clear Water.
 

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I have tried the Tetra brand clarifying treatment. I am pretty sure they are all similar, if not the same active ingredient. As I understand it they are flocculants that cause small particles to coagulate/bind into bigger clumps that can be caught by mechanical filtration.

It helped some, sometimes giving me hope things were close to clearing up. But within a day or two things were back to just as cloudy. I think that is the main ding against these products, often times they are just a band-aid fix that doesn't address the true cause, only cures the symptoms.
I done a 30%-40% water change then added the Accu-Clear stuff. That was all. I couldn't even see from one end of the tank to the other. After the water change and treatment, everything was clear.
 

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The potassium permanganate is a strong oxydiser, it basically burns(oxydises) the hell out of organics.
 
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