Many a new aquarium owner has panicked when their tank has taken on the appearance of what one such owner described to me as “a smoke filled room at a party.” In aquarium lexicon, we call such smoky appearance “cloudiness” because of its resemblance to the wispy clouds that sometimes appear in the sky. Everyone who keeps fish as a hobby wants their tank or tanks to be sparkling clean and clear at all times. Cloudy fish tanks look unsightly, and the water in these tanks can seriously harm the health of your fish. What causes these cloudy fish tanks, and what is the best way to get rid of the cloudiness?
The water clarity in a fish tank is generally affected by several factors, and the color of the water can often be a clue as to what is causing it to be cloudy. The water in a fish tank that has just been set up will often display a gray or white tint. This is called a “bacterial bloom” and it is very common in new tanks, for the nutrients and the bacteria in the water are imbalanced.
If your tank is so new that you have not added fish to it, dust from one or more of the decorations you added, or from the gravel or other substrate you placed at the bottom of the tank may be the cause of the cloudiness you see. Any item that goes into your fish tank must be made for that purpose, and you must rinse it well beforehand. When bacterial bloom appears in a fish tank that has already been established, your tank filter may not be working properly. You may be overfeeding your fish, or you may have too many fish in too small an aquarium.
A green cloudiness in your tank water means you are dealing with a sudden algae bloom. There are several reasons for an algae bloom some of which mimic the causes of a bacterial bloom. For example, when there is too much waste matter in your tank, be it left over food or the waste products from your fish, the bacteria from this waste converts into nitrates. As these nitrates grow in number, an algae bloom is imminent. Leaving the tank light on too many hours a day encourages the growth of green algae, and so does a high phosphate level in the tank water.
You may sometimes see a yellow color in your cloudy fish tanks. Decorative driftwood, decayed plant matter from aquarium plantings, fish waste, and dissolved organic carbons, often called DOC, can all be the cause of yellow cloudy water. Occasionally, you may also see a brown cloudiness in your tank water. This is caused from an overgrowth of brown algae. Brown algae can be caused by the tank not getting enough light, or from certain types of driftwood that have been placed in the tank.
By eliminating the causes of the different varieties of cloudy tank water, you can make caring for your aquarium much easier. Partial water changes of 10 to 20 percent of the water can help, as can making sure the filter on your tank is of the proper size. In order to remove the cloudiness from the water, and to make sure it does not come back, you need to see to it that your tank has a good supply of beneficial bacteria. This point confuses many newcomers to the aquarium hobby. They are so sure that bacteria are a bad thing that they balk when told it is needed in their tank! However, once they understand about good vs. bad bacteria, they are eager to know what they can do in order to maintain a colony of the good bacteria. Fortunately, there are some good solutions available. One of the best for cloudy water is the EcoBio-Block. When hobbyists learn of the advantages that go along with placing a product from EcoBio-Block in their aquarium, they agree that this is the easiest solution to the problem.
These products contain live beneficial bacteria, which multiply and make their way into the tank water every 30 minutes or so. They work in new set-ups as well as established aquariums to establish a nitrifying bacteria colony. This will take care of most cloudy water naturally, cuts down on the need for water changes and vacuuming the gravel or substrate, and will last for years. You could almost say that EcoBio-Block products are an aquarium owner’s best friend!