How long does a bacterial bloom usually last? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-28-2011, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
Angry How long does a bacterial bloom usually last?

Through the process of elimination the only thing that can be causing my 29g to be cloudy is a bacterial bloom. And I am pretty solid sure that is the case, so I wont go into detail the issue regarding the cloudiness and will get straight to my questions...

1-How long does the average bacterial bloom last for?

2-And is there anything I can do about it safely verses just waiting for the access bacteria to die off?

Thanks in advance for any help!

*They call me, Amanda*
Tank 1: (29 gal planted) empty
Tank 2: (15 gal) empty
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-29-2011, 01:13 PM
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I'm not sure how long it may last, that may depend upon what exactly it is and the reason. But I do know that doing water changes will worsen it. Advice I have read previously on this forum was to leave it alone if no distress to the fish is evident and if tests are OK (ammonia, nitrite,nitrate).

Byron.

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Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-31-2011, 03:54 PM
I believe that cloudy water is a bacteria bloom...but not the good bacteria kind, rather it is decomposition bacteria most often the result of poor housekeeping in the tank. Over feeding, over crowding, dead fish.

Solve the problem at the root cause. Clean the gravel well. Clean/replace mechanical filtration media.
I don't think water changes will hurt, since fresh water replaces cloudy water - but water changes are in vain as long as the root cause exists or continues.

I have heard some in here that believed their tank cloudiness was due to phosphates, but before adding chemicals to clear up cloudy water, personally, I would do a tear down and restart with all fresh water, preserving bio-media and re-acclimating the stock to the now new tank. (just my $.02)

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post #4 of 11 Old 05-31-2011, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
The tank was tore down in order to change substrate to sand and which to live planted just some 3 weeks ago. And upkeep is kept and everything maintained properly. I would conider the thought that it was something my fault if my second tank had similar issues, but that isnt the case.

Fortunately, as of yesterday, the tank started to clear up on its own and is only slightly cloudy now, enabling me to see all my fish and plants in the tank.

Thanks for your opinion and thoughts though, they are always welcomed and appreciated.

*They call me, Amanda*
Tank 1: (29 gal planted) empty
Tank 2: (15 gal) empty
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-31-2011, 08:07 PM
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ive had them last anywhere between a couple days to a week and a half
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-31-2011, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
Thanks! And welcome to TFK Trooper!!!

*They call me, Amanda*
Tank 1: (29 gal planted) empty
Tank 2: (15 gal) empty
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-31-2011, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by LasColinasCichlids View Post
The tank was tore down in order to change substrate to sand and which to live planted just some 3 weeks ago. And upkeep is kept and everything maintained properly. I would conider the thought that it was something my fault if my second tank had similar issues, but that isnt the case.
Oh, I missed you mentioning that you just recently switched to sand. Likely that the cloudiness is not bacterial, but "fines" (dust like particulate matter) from the sand ???

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post #8 of 11 Old 06-02-2011, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, I missed you mentioning that you just recently switched to sand. Likely that the cloudiness is not bacterial, but "fines" (dust like particulate matter) from the sand ???

That was a thought, but the tank was crystal clear two days after the switch and everything settled.

About a little over a week or two ago I added fresh carbon and put in a polishing pad in the filter(s). It didnt seem to help much. Then in the past couple of days it has finally started to slowly clear up. On a scale of 1-10 of cloudiness, when I posted this thread it was easily a 10. Now its probably a 2 or 3. So major progress is being made and I fully hope for it to be completely clear in the next week.

Another reason why I am sure it was just a bacterial bloom due to it being broken down and put back together (keeping filter media and filter walls wet along with the addition of all live plants). My best friend did the same thing to her tank the day before I did mine, and she had the same issue, but her bloom cleared up quicker than mine. (She replaced her gravel to sand and fake plants to live plants as well.) Her tank is the same size and the same stocking level for the most part.

*They call me, Amanda*
Tank 1: (29 gal planted) empty
Tank 2: (15 gal) empty

Last edited by LasColinasCichlids; 06-02-2011 at 12:28 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-02-2011, 02:05 PM
Okay, but ask yourself...if you have tore down and set up a clean aquarium, there is no bacteria to bloom...that only comes with decaying organic matter....right?

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-02-2011, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Okay, but ask yourself...if you have tore down and set up a clean aquarium, there is no bacteria to bloom...that only comes with decaying organic matter....right?
Not quite correct, please allow me to explain from my understanding.

Bacterial blooms are most common in new tanks. Established tanks rarely have them, except when the balance is disturbed. There are two types of bacteria at work in aquaria. Autotrophic bacteria use inorganic matter to synthesize its own food, and nitrifying bacteria are autotrophic (there are others too). Heterotrophic bacteria cannot synthesize its own food so it needs organic material such as waste, dead bacteria, fish and plant matter, etc.

Heterotrophs appear sooner and faster. They build many of the biofilms that all bacteria use to adhere to surfaces, and they reproduce much faster, around 20 minutes, compared to hours for the autotrophs. So if heterotrophs cause the bacterial bloom in a new tank, and yet there is very little if any organic waste yet, how? Well, when water is dechlorinated, it can suddenly support bacteria, and the "organic waste" in the water itself feeds the heterotroph bacteria and it very rapidly reproduces and clouds the tank milky white. This will occur in fishless cycling with just ammonia. It is usually less likely, or will be minimal by comparison, with live plants because they assimilate nutrients.

Unlike autotrophs which need oxygen, heterotrophs can switch between aerobic and anaerobic depending upon the environment. This is why they can kill so many nitrifying bacteria in filters when the filter is allowed to get clogged. When heterotrophs bloom in the water they switch to being aerobic and consume vast amounts of oxygen. This is the real danger of a bacteria bloom, as it can starve the fish of oxygen (if fish are present).

When the established tank's balance is thrown out, such as by overfeeding, excessive decaying plant and animal matter, excess waste from overcrowding, etc., the heterotrophs quickly reproduce by feeding on this organic matter. This produces ammonia as a by-product, and the sudden surge in ammonia overtakes the nitrifying bacteria that need time to "catch up." Live plants again help here, as they can assimilate and/or take up considerable quantities of ammonia faster. But the ammonia rise does not cause the bloom, it is the opposite.

Hope that makes sense.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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