A New Fish Tank Has Cloudy Water, What Do I Do?

Milky or cloudy water is a common concern among new aquarium owners. To what extent does this mean As to why this occurs And what should I do to correct the situation? Fortunately, cloudy water in a brand-new aquarium isn't always cause for alarm. It turns out that diagnosing and fixing cloudy


Milky or cloudy water is a common concern among new aquarium owners. To what extent does this mean As to why this occurs And what should I do to correct the situation?

Fortunately, cloudy water in a brand-new aquarium isn't always cause for alarm. It turns out that diagnosing and fixing cloudy water are much easier than you might think, and we'll go over them all below.

My new aquarium's water is cloudy; what gives?

The water in your brand new aquarium suddenly clouded up after being crystal clear for the first few days? Don't freak out On Day One, there is very little if any life in a brand new aquarium. Different kinds of tiny organisms will soon be colonizing the tank. Since the water-filtering, equilibrium-creating nitrifying bacteria haven't had time to colonize the system yet, the first week or so is a bit of a free-for-all. The cloudiness is caused by a wide range of free-floating bacteria and other microbes that feed off the minerals and nutrients in the water and multiply out of control. When hobbyists add a large number of fish suddenly or overfeed the tank, they provide an additional food source for these microbes, exacerbating the problem.

Solutions Most Likely to Work When Aquarium Water Is Stained

To want to "do something" is a normal human response. Something is clearly "wrong" with the tank, and we need to fix it. It is much more effective to take precautions to avoid cloudy water in the first place rather than try to get rid of it once it has already formed. You should let the cloudiness in a new aquarium clear up on its own. Keep reading for more advice.

Should I just let things play out as they may?

  • Yes As long as ammonia and nitrite levels are stable in a brand-new fish tank, doing nothing is the best course of action. Filter cleaning is pointless because it kills the few good bacteria that have started to grow in there. They will eventually starve out the cloudy water bacteria and decompose their bodies.
  • Although water changes seem to work immediately, the cloudiness returns within a couple of days, and is often even worse than before. As a result, the cloudy water bacteria population booms whenever new water is introduced.
  • Cloudy water bacteria, if left alone, will use up all the available nutrients in the water and die. This occurs naturally as a result of the cyclical nature of the universe.

Should I include a few potted plants or some probiotic

  • Yes The "good" bacteria and other microbes that live plants harbor are essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem in an aquarium.
  • Microorganisms that contribute to cloudy water can be starved out by live plants due to competition for nutrients. Also, during the day, they release oxygen that helps break down dead fish, uneaten food, and bacteria in cloudy water. The third advantage aids in bringing the fog away.
  • Until the nitrifying bacteria settle in, ammonia from fish waste and uneaten food can build up in a new aquarium.
close up of green aquarium plant

Do I need new filter media or a new filter?  

  • No When dealing with cloudy water caused by "New Tank Syndrome," the most important thing to remember about the filter is to leave it alone.
  • The good bacteria that are trying to establish themselves in a brand-new filter can be lost if the cartridge or media is cleaned or replaced too soon. If the filter pad or media needs to be replaced within the first 30 days, you may be overfeeding, overstocking, or both.

Should I be doing more frequent water changes?

  • No Aquarists should do regular partial water changes, but not when they have New Tank Syndrome. Although water changes can help the water look clear for a short time (up to 24 hours), the cloudiness will return once the nutrients in the new water have had a chance to multiply.
clear looking fish tank

Aqueon's Three Keys to Success Number One: Don't Overfeed Your Fish!

In their panic, inexperienced aquarists often overfeed their fish several times per day. The cloudy water bacteria thrive in this environment because there are so few nitrifying bacteria to decompose the waste and uneaten food. And if that weren't bad enough, potentially dangerous levels of ammonia and nitrite could start to build up. In the wild, some fish species, particularly predatory ones, may only eat once or twice weekly, if at all. There has never been a fish that starved to death in less than three days.

Second, don't crowd the fish tank.

If there are more fish in the water, there will be more waste to dispose of and more food for the microbes that cause the turbidity If you put too many fish in a brand new aquarium, toxic levels of ammonia and nitrites could rise.

Third, put some activated carbon media—either loose or carbon pads—in the filter.

To clean the water and remove the nutrients that encourage the growth of bacteria, activated carbon media or activated carbon pads can be added to the filter.

The Fourth Step: Seed the Aquarium

Gravel from another aquarium that is already established and healthy can be used to "seed" the new aquarium with beneficial bacteria and hasten the cleaning process. In order to help new aquarium owners get the biological balance going, some aquatic stores will send home with new setups filter cartridges, bio-sponges, and wheels that have been floating in stocked aquariums. The effect is the same as if gravel were added to an already-existing tank.

5. Have the aquarium's water checked.

As soon as cloudiness appears in the aquarium water, have it tested for ammonia and nitrite. The levels will typically be nil, indicating that there is no need for alarm.
We know it's unsettling to open a new aquarium to find cloudy water. The best piece of advice, however, is to be patient and wait it out. Please refrain from adding any new fish, feed only once daily, perform a water test, and let the filter rest for the time being.

Another issue with an established aquarium is cloudy water. Please get in touch if you need help.

Do you want to learn more about how to maintain a healthy environment for your fish?

Three Essentials for Healthy Fish in This Video

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