My aquarium gets hazy/cloudy after every water change - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
My aquarium gets hazy/cloudy after every water change

Hello folks im new to the forum and was hoping for some help on whats going on with my tank. I have a long established (8+years) 45 gal. tank that for the past few months 1 of 2 things would happen after a water change. 1 the ph would plummet 1-2 days after the change which I would correct with an adjuster and it would stabilize, or 2 it gets hazy to down wright milky. The ph drop and depth of cloudiness seems to depend on the amount of water I change or how much vacuuming is done. My last change (yesterday) was approx. 40% with no vacuuming and the tank is hazy. I also notice a whitish film on the glass and even on the driftwood and substrate. When the ph drops the water will get a little hazy and the tips of the fins on some of my fish will turn white as well which all goes away once I raise the ph and it has stabilized. As for the cloudiness my fish seem fine colorful and active as usual. water parameters are fine and ive fought the urge to use clarifiers. Ive been keeping fish for the majority of my life and have never had this problem until recently. Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 09:52 AM
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Hi and Welcome to Tropical Fish keeping!

Do you know what the PH is in your tap water verse the tank water? What do you have in your tank decor wise? Any rocks, driftwood, what about substrate?

First thing I would do is stop trying to fix the Ph issue until we know the difference in the two waters. This can be very stressful to the fish! Can cause more problems then good.

Second it sounds like a bacteria bloom is going on. What is you maintenance route like? How often do you do water changes? Do you always vacuum the substrate? How are you feeding? Do you know what your parameters are in this tank as far as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are?

Last edited by Boredomb; 09-08-2013 at 09:56 AM. Reason: being rude...... sorry!
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post #3 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
Thanks for the quick reply. Unfortunately Im not aware of the ph of the tap water to my tanks. As for decor natural gravel, natural driftwood and artificial plants. I do admit ive been slacking on my water changes going longer than I should sometimes 2 weeks between to once a month but I dont over do it when I do the change as to avoid wiping out the bacteria culture. As for the cloudiness I assumed it was a bacterial bloom but why? Its never happened before.
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post #4 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 11:03 AM
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Bacterial blooms

These are most common in new tanks. Established tanks rarely have them, except when the balance is disturbed [explained below]. 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 15 to 60 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 obvious organic waste, 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 from organics.As was previously mentioned, heterotrophs are facultative anaerobes—unlike autotrophs which need oxygen—so they 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. Increasing aeration may be advisable.
In an established tank, a bacterial bloom is caused by something that upsets the biological balance by increasing the organic matter too quickly, such as overfeeding, excessive decaying plant and animal matter, excess waste from overcrowding, etc. Here, 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. Note that the bacterial bloom causes the rise in ammonia, not the opposite as some may think.A water change is not recommended to clear a bacterial bloom. When the free-floating heterotrophs are removed, the others will reproduce even faster to compensate, thus worsening the bloom. If left alone, they usually dissipate in a few days. In an established tank, however, the source of the problem should be removed. Clean the gravel, remove decaying matter, don’t overfeed, reduce overstocking, etc. And be aware of the oxygen shortage issue.

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post #5 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 11:18 AM
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Ammonia in your tap water?

Consider the needs of your fish before acting on your desires.
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post #6 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 11:26 AM
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It sounds like you might be having multiple problems in here - you say the tips of your fish's fins turn white? That sounds more like a fungal issue to me, though I agree with Bored that the haze in the water is likely due to a bacterial bloom. . . and it's possible that you're seeing a little bit of old tank syndrome in here, as well. . .

If this were my tank, I'd start by upping water changes - get back to once a week - it really is the best for the animals, and for maintaining healthy conditions in the tank overall. It could be that enough tiny food particles are allowed to remain on the substrate/deco for too long in between cleaning, causing the mold/fungus/protein scum that you see on the surfaces, and I know from experience that when you disturb a relatively undisturbed tank (which it sounds like yours is), it sets the stage for bacterial blooms - even if you aren't messing with the substrate.

If you don't have one already, I highly recommend you get an API Master Freshwater testing kit. These kits are cheaper per test than others on the market, and far more accurate than the strip types. A Ph test is included, I'd like to know what the Ph is coming from directly from the tap. It's usually easier to maintain stable parameters in a tank if you stick to the water you can get easily. I'm not very comfortable with chems to alter Ph, though - don't know much about it.

Here's a link to an article about the importance of water changes, with some information about old tank syndrome as well. Give it a read, it may help you out!

Hope this helps, and welcome to TFK!!!

Last edited by Chesh; 09-08-2013 at 11:30 AM.
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post #7 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
Wow thats alot to take in lol. Ok let me back up a bit. I believe I left out 1 very crucial detail. Early July my tank developed some kind of odd disease/infection after adding in 6 Neon tetras. The neons died pretty quickly followed by all 5 of my Cherry Barbs then 2 Rose line Sharks and 3 Rummy nose. All this within 3 days. The symptom was strange resembling a "bullseye" shaped chafing marking on the rear left side of the fish that died. Whatever it was it killed the fish within hours of showing the symptom. Out of desperation I went to numerous stores asking for help. None could shed any light on the problem but the majority believed it to be bacterial or some sort of parasite. Setting me up with Mardel Parashield and Maracyn-Oxy. Im assuming these made an impact on my bacterial culture??? I used a bacterial additive after the treatment to help re-establish the culture and havnt lost anymore fish. Just the ph and cloudiness issues since.
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post #8 of 20 Old 09-08-2013, 11:59 AM
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lol, it was! Sorry, we're TOO helpful sometimes! ^.^

Sad to hear of your losses. . . I'm not sure what illness matches those symptoms, either, but I'm glad it's gone - that must have been heartbreaking to watch. :(

Are you testing the water in this tank at all right now? Ph aside, if your tank isn't fully cycled, you'd be able to test for toxins in the water and know for sure, and knowing is half the battle when it comes to fixing an issue.

If you wouldn't mind, I'd appreciate if you gave a complete current stock list for this tank. To my understanding Dennison Barbs grow far too large for a 45g - if you're overstocked, and under-cleaning, the source of your haze is fairly clear. . .
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post #9 of 20 Old 09-09-2013, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
Thanks for all the extremely helpful replies folks. Currently my tank has 1 4" Rose Line Shark, 6 Cardinal, 6 Rummy Nose Tetras, 2 5-6" Royal Pleco's. I swear by over filtration and Im running 2 Penguin Biowheel 200s and a large Cascade canister (I forget the model) Ive always had huge luck with my tank even making it through almost 2 wks without electricity after Sandy only losing an Angelfish. I had all the fish that I lost from the "disease" (2 4" Roselines, 3 Rummynose, 5 Cherry Barbs) and all the fish I listed as current (minus the cardinals which are doing wonderful btw ) living happily and healthy for around 6 yrs now. I lost no fish until adding those neons which undoubtedly introduced something into my tank wreaking havoc. This is what makes me believe the treatments I put in may have affected my biological culture. No?
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post #10 of 20 Old 09-09-2013, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
I am absolutely going back to weekly water changes (work can wait lol). The haze does go away in 2-3 days max. which makes me agree its sediment or a bacterial bloom like suggested. So that leaves the ph issue. Why would the ph which is around 7-7.2 after a water change plummet into low-mid 6's 2-3 days later??? Just for the record the ph hasnt plummeted since the last change on saturday.
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