Cloudy Water, High NO2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Cloudy Water, High NO2

We have had our 55 gal tank for about two months. From the beginning we have had issues with water quality.

We originally cycled the tank with 6 fish. Four died within a week. We went back to the fish store and bough 4 mollies to replace them. After a few weeks we slowly started stocking the tank, about 3 fish each time.

After the last round of new fish, two tetras and 2 silver dollars, I noticed that we now had ich. After a week and a half of treatment the ich was gone and the fish appeared fine, but the water quality has become very bad. The tank is always cloudy, and the No2 Nitrates are off the chart (No3 are fine and everything else appears fine). The fish still appeared to be fine so I did a series of water changes (between and 1/2) and the clarity appeared to be better. After a few days the water was even cloudier and the nitrates are still really high.

This has been a battle we have been fighting for about two weeks now. This morning when I came downstairs I noticed that we had lost two of our female mollies. I immediately removed them and did tank water change. The remaining fish responded immediately and are much more active; however, the water is still cloudy and the nitrates are still high. I am planning on another water change tomorrow. (We use tap water with a water conditioner/Dechlorinator for the water changes)

Currently, I have 2 Silver Dollars, 2 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 Silver Hatchets, a Cory Catfish, and my two remaining Dalmatian Mollies (one male and one female).

Any suggestions to fix this problem before I loose any more fish?
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post #2 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 12:05 PM
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Hello, first what are you using for testing your water parameters? Strip tests or liquid test? If using strip tests they are inaccurate and unrealiable. Also what is the levels of your ammonia NH3, nitRITEs No2, and nitRATES NO3? The cloudyness in the tank that you are talking about does it look milky, or does if have a green tinge to it? If it is milky than I would say that it is a bacterial bloom. Knowing what the numbers are on the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates will help in trying to figure what is going on in the tank. Also have you done any major changes recently, cleaned or replaced the filter media, if so what did you do? Also what has your water change schedule been like, how often do you do water changes and how much water are you changing out when you do them?
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post #3 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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I am using test strips. The cloudiness is definalty a milky haze.

Here are the water test results.
Nitrate NO3 - 0 ppm
Nitrate NO2 - greater than 10 ppm
Hardness - 75 (soft)
Chlorine - 0 ppm
Total Alkalinity - 80 (moderate)
pH - 7.2

I have been doing about 1/3 water changes one or more times a week along with vacumming the gravel during and since the ich treatment. Before that it was less than 1/4 every two weeks.

Could the ich treatment have caused the tank to cycle again?
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post #4 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 12:53 PM
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Some medications can kill off the benificial bacteria in the tank, not sure about the medications for ich treatments. Before the ich treatments were you getting Nitrate readings? I would highly recommend in investing in a liquid test kit like API master test kit. It has the tests for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates along with testing for ph, all of these are essential in being able to find out especially when something is going wrong in the tank. With nitrites above 10ppm that is fatal. Definitly you will need to carry out some large water changes, I would suggest 50% water changes daily to help lower the levels. You can also use a product like Prime which will help detoxify ammonia and nitrites for about 48 hours. Do you have any live plants in this tank? The white cloudyness in the tank would be a bacterial bloom, which will clear up on its own. Once you have the nitrite level back down you will want to carry out a water change any time that your ammonia and nitrites are above .25 ppm, until your tank has cycled. You will know that your tank has cycled when you are getting readings of ammonia and nitrites at 0, and a reading of nitrates. Nitrates should be no higher than 20ppm.On the water change schedule, weekly water changes are important for the health of the tank. The aquarium is a closed system and we need to make sure that we are removing the crud that builds up, not just the waste products, but also chemical phermones which are released by the fish. With your weekly water changes you should be changing out at least 30% of the water, even more is better I myself change out about 40 to 50% from my tanks, and I know of other members that change out 50% of their water weekly and have healthy tanks. Also by performing weekly water changes many common diseases can be prevented and will help the fish to be healty enough to fight off the diseases.If you have not read the following article yet on bacteria in the aquarium I would suggest it, this will help you in understanding more of what is going on in your tank, and what members mean when they talk about the cycling process.
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post #5 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Before the ich, I never had any really high nitrate readings. We had a small spike everytime we added new fish but it went down on its own after a few days and they were never this high.
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post #6 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 10:11 PM
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Tetra's ,silver dollar's,cory's, will all do fine in soft water you have according to what has been posted.
Mollie's along with platy's,guppie's,and swordtails will fair poorly in soft water and or water with high nitrate level's in my expieriences with them.
You need hard alkaline water for the mollies with pH between 7.5 and 8.0 and 12 to 15 degrees GH.
This water would not suit the tetra's,cory's or silver dollar's in the long term.
Mollies would also prefer a bit warmer water 78 to 82 degrees F than the tetra's or cory's would appreciate for extended period.IMHO

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #7 of 10 Old 09-10-2011, 10:25 PM
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I don't know but there seems to be possibly some confusion over what nitRITES and niTRATES are. NO2 is niTRITES, which you do not want in the tank. NiTRATES are acceptable in the tank of 20ppm and below nitrates is NO3. The other thing that you need to test for is ammonia NH3/NH4, which I am guessing that your strip test does not have. If you have not been having niTRATE readings at all than I would question if the tank has been cycled. Seeing a rise in ammonia or niTRITES when adding more fish to the tank is something that can be expected, because the amount of waste has increased, which means that the nitrifying bacteria in the tank needs to increase to handle the amount of waste. Sometimes this can set off a minicycle.
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-13-2011, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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We did multiple water changes over the weekend and the water clarity is better than ever. The test results are still a bit high but my fish as so much more active. I have cut back on the amount of food I am giving them as well to see if that has any affect.
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post #9 of 10 Old 09-13-2011, 09:30 AM
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Happy to hear that things are getting better and that your fish are doing better also. Continue to keep an eye on your water parameters and continue to do water changes as needed.
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post #10 of 10 Old 09-13-2011, 11:31 AM
Cloudy water is most often a 'bloom' of heterophic bacteria that exist in every aquarium. These are the decomposition bacteria that break down waste (fish poo and uneaten food). They are dependent on organic waste in the water in order to bloom and make the water cloudy. Note that sometimes there can be enough organic matter in tap water to foster such a bloom, resulting in cloudy water. The dangerous thing about heterophic bacteria is under certain circumstances, some can convert nitrates back to nitrites which is very toxic to our fish.
The following link may be helpful...
Auto vs Hetero Bacteria

So, make sure you don't over feed. Ensure that your tank maintenance - filtration, water changes, gravel vac is appropriate for your tank/stock. Don't over stock! Consider a conditioner like Prime that not only handles chlorine, but detoxifies ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. IF you will continue to test, the strips are not a reliable method - switch to the API liquid test kit.
(oh and don't forget the 'no fishing' sign - <g>

Best Wishes and Good Luck

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