Why is cloudy water in aquarium?

помутнела вода в аквариуме

If the water in the aquarium is cloudy, it indicates an unfavorable microclimate of the room pond. In addition to the fact that this sight itself is not very pleasant, it can also be dangerous for the inhabitants of your home lake. Especially if the water has turned cloudy, which previously it was clear as a teardrop. This situation sometimes requires emergency intervention in the ecosystem of the artificial pond.

With all the various causes described on many forums, they can all be summarized into basically just two main mechanisms that can cause your pets’ habitat to become cloudy.

Turbid water in the aquarium basic mechanisms

  1. The first mechanism is the safest, which is the agitation of the smallest soil particles.
  2. The second mechanism is more varied, variable, and dangerous to your pets. This second mechanism, which can cause the aquarium environment to become cloudy, is referred to by the phrase “biological imbalance”.

Each of these mechanisms can be further subdivided by the timing of the problem, viz:

  1. The water in the aquarium turned cloudy right after it was started.
  2. The water in an aquarium with a long-established biological balance has turned cloudy.

Let us first consider the simpler and safer case. The medium may become turbid due to the lifting of tiny soil particles from the bottom.

The water in the aquarium has turned cloudy due to sludge stirring up.

These particles are so fine that they can remain in suspension for days. They cause the crystal-clear environment to become cloudy. More often this problem occurs after the launch of a new aquarium, if at its bottom was laid poorly washed soil. By the way, even the ground, bought from the counter of the pet store from manufacturers with a worldwide reputation, also requires a thorough washing before use, which can be learned by reading the instructions for the use of the ground.

Such turbidity is safe for the inhabitants of the underwater world. But it is also desirable to get rid of it. Firstly, some species of fish do not tolerate turbidity well. Secondly, turbidity does not add aesthetics. To prevent such a situation as mentioned above should be thoroughly washed new ground before use, regardless of whether it is bought in a store or picked up independently at the bottom of the nearest stream.

If, however, insufficiently washed soil has been placed on the bottom, it is sometimes possible to get rid of mechanical turbidity with the help of a powerful mechanical filter. After some of the turbidity has settled to the bottom and the other finer fraction has been filtered out by the filter, its filter element should be properly rinsed under pressure.

If you keep fish that like to dig, such as various varieties of goldfish or American cichlids, they can pick up more and more fine mud from the bottom for a long time. If the mechanical filter is powerful enough, this is safe and does not require any emergency interventions on your part. Although the environment may only become crystal clear after a few weeks.

Water in the aquarium is cloudy due to microbial growth

It is much more dangerous if the water has turned cloudy due to a disturbance in the biodiversity.

Again if this is right after starting a new biotope, it is generally safe for your pets. This is because water is not sterile and chemically pure. It always contains some amount of mineral as well as organic compounds, being a weak solution of these substances and some amount of bacteria.

помутнела вода в аквариуме
Зеленоватое помутнение говорит о бурном росте водорослей

Even if you use it from the tap, it is not sterile, nor is it made up solely of H2O molecules. It is free of pathogens as well as toxic substances, but it still contains some organics and harmless microorganisms. Once in your artificial lake, these harmless bacteria begin to proliferate, absorbing organic compounds from the solution. Bacterial growth can be so vigorous that the medium becomes cloudy, usually whitish, as if a small amount of milk had been poured into it.

After microorganisms have consumed all organic compounds that are edible to them, they will be left without a food base and will quickly die off. But they will die off partially. Their number will remain at a level that will be sufficient to process the organics coming with food for fish. A so-called biological equilibrium will be established, which can be maintained for years if the room pond is properly organized and cared for.

Forced simplifications of the presentation

The processes of establishing bioequilibrium are greatly simplified here for the sake of brevity. In fact, there is more than one bacterial strain, and sometimes there are several dozens of them. In addition, different strains can successively replace each other, compete with each other, with unicellular algae, as well as with protozoa.

After starting up a new vessel, the bio-equilibrium is established independently in two to three days. There is no need to take any additional measures for this purpose. Moreover, active actions can only delay the establishment of biological balance. So beginners, often seeing the turbidity in his underwater living corner a few days after its launch, rush to change the water completely or almost completely and the process of establishing biological balance, not having time to complete, starts again. And the hapless beginner, seeing that the liquid, which yesterday was poured crystal clear, has become cloudy again, changes it again, preventing the completion of the processes of establishing biological equilibrium.

How to accelerate the establishment of bio-equilibrium?

In order to establish a biological balance as soon as possible in a new aquarium or in the event of a forced restart, it is best to fill it with a part of the water from the old aquarium, which already has an established biological balance. This will accelerate the reproduction of exactly those harmless microorganisms that are necessary for your living corner. These harmless microorganisms will compete for a food base with other bacteria that can cause disease in fish and will not allow them to multiply by depriving them of food.

As a rule, if the water in the aquarium is cloudy two to three days after its launch, you only need patience to combat this phenomenon. In another two to three days, the biological equilibrium will come, the environment will again become clean, transparent.

Turbid water in the aquarium due to bioequilibrium disturbances

More attention from your side will require a situation when the water in an aquarium with previously established biorhythm will turn cloudy.

This situation may indicate that over the past few days or weeks you have made some kind of mistake when caring for your underwater kingdom.

First of all, it is necessary to determine what color this mud is.

  1. If greenish, there is likely to be a rapid proliferation of unicellular algae.
  2. Brownish coloring can be caused by humic and tannin substances contained in peat or poorly prepared driftwood.
  3. The whitish color of the turbidity indicates a rapid bacterial growth.
  4. If the color coincides with the color of the ground or with the recently dragged and dropped to the bottom of “such a beautiful pebble”, then the turbidity may be due to the ground stirring swarming fish or the fragile structure of the object that you considered a stone and recklessly dropped to the bottom of your vessel with fish.

Again we repeat the turbidity of the fine fraction of the soil is not a pleasant thing, but, as a rule, it is safe. A mechanical filter of sufficient capacity can easily cope with such turbidity.

You should be wary if the turbidity is clearly bacterial in nature or if it is due to unicellular algae.

Turbid water in the aquarium? Check the nitrates

As a rule, this can be caused by an increase in the amount of nitrates. Their increased amount promotes the rapid development of nitrifying bacteria. The bacteria themselves are safe, unless their pathogenic species got inside the jar. Much scarier is the reason that caused their rapid growth. Namely the accumulation of waste products of your pets – nitrates, nitrites. Unfortunately, by the time of the appearance of turbidity in this case, the most delicate or least hardy fish are already dead.

помутнела вода в аквариуме
здесь был плохо промыт грунт

It is urgent to replace half of the water volume with fresh water of the same temperature. This is not the case when you should wait for spontaneous establishment of biological equilibrium. If you have a simple filter, you should wash its filter element under a powerful jet. The biofilter may also need to be restarted. If there is where, you need to transplant the surviving fish in a clean vessel. In the following days, you should also replace 1/3 of the water, fresh, tempered. In this case, turbidity is only a sign of rapid multiplication of bacteria or unicellular algae. And their rapid growth is an indicator of pollution by a large amount of organic residues. Unfortunately, you cannot rely on this indicator. When it is triggered, it is often too late.

You can buy kits for nitrates, nitrites, total ammonia in aquarium stores. If you plan to breed fish or your indoor pond is overpopulated, you need to buy these kits, learn how to use them and periodically control contamination with the above substances.

A few simple recommendations

Amateur, so that the water in the aquarium does not turn cloudy, should adhere to the following recommendations.

  1. Before laying the soil on the bottom, it should be thoroughly rinsed of mud.
  2. Do not overpopulate your underwater world. It is better to adhere to the population norms for aquariums that are not equipped with filters or artificial aeration. The more inhabitants, the more difficult it is for the artificial ecosystem to cope with their waste products.
  3. It is desirable to choose a vessel of large size. The larger its volume, the faster the bio-equilibrium is established in it and the easier it is to maintain.
  4. Do not overfeed your pets. After feeding, you should clean up any uneaten food. Food particles left on the bottom can rot. As they decompose, they will strongly disturb the biological balance, providing food for bacteria, which will rush to multiply.
  5. It is desirable to equip the tank with artificial additional aeration, as well as filters mechanical or biological.
  6. Not a rule, but a recommendation. To use chemicals to correct the aquatic environment of an artificial pond, you should have a clear idea of what you are doing. Thoughtless use of chemicals can do more harm than good.
  7. Not a rule or a recommendation. Thoughts aloud. Earlier, at the dawn of aquaristics art consisted precisely in the ability to create a closed volume of balanced ecological system, which could itself maintain balance for years. Today, we increasingly rely on the wonders of technological progress. However, no super-powerful, super-modern filtration systems and chemical reagents will not replace your knowledge and experience. Let your stolitre aquarium serves as a home for only a dozen medium-sized fish, but let them be comfortable there. And as you gain knowledge and experience, you can increase the number of fish for the same volume, using technical means and chemistry.

Let’s summarize a few things. Turbidity is the result of bacteria or single-celled algae growth. Their rapid growth is caused by the accumulation of organic substances that are unsafe for your pets. Bacteria and algae process harmful substances, so it’s not them that you need to fight. Their rapid growth is just a consequence, and you need to eliminate the dangerous cause. But by the time they multiply in sufficient numbers to process harmful substances, some fish may already be dead.

помутнела вода в аквариуме
коричневатое помутнение может вызвать плохо подготовленная коряга

Therefore, it is necessary to monitor the increase in the concentration of harmful substances, and if this happens, take all measures to reduce their concentration and make the right conclusions for the future. Sometimes it is possible that certain strains of bacteria develop rapidly, while organic nitrate-containing compounds are normal. Then you should look for dead, rotten plant parts or dead fish.

To avoid cloudy water in the aquarium, control the accumulation of nitrates, nitrites, ammonia compounds. To do this, populate the aquarium at a rate corresponding to its volume, moderately feed its inhabitants, timely remove the remains of food, as well as dead, rotten parts of plants. In the absence of biofilter necessarily once a week replace one-third of the water with fresh, tempered. It is necessary to replace, not to refill evaporated. Then your aquarium will bring you only joy.

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