WHY Is My Fish Tank Cloudy (And HOW To Fix It?)

Susan Dorling | October 2019 |

Among so many benefits of having fish, the most interesting is that it reduces stress.

Fish are an excellent company to have when you are so busy doing chores,

BUT…

Sometimes things might become stressful for you and your fish, like a cloudy fish tank.

Why is my fish tank cloudy and how to fix it? Dust particles, newly set up tank, decorations in the tank, bacterial bloom, chemicals, overpopulation and overfeeding, algae bloom, and driftwood can make your fish tank water cloudy. For each cause the solution is different.

Water clarity is a common problem that fish keepers might face.

You might get upset when the water in the aquarium turns cloudy, and you are unable to see your loving fish.

Of course, it does not happen on its own, there are several reasons.

A cloudy fish tank can be a result of any mistake.

Once you get to know what makes the tank water cloudy, you will surely be on the safe side for the next time.

Cloudiness in the tank can be white or green.

The reasons for being either white or green are different.

I am sure once you become an aquarium hobbyist, you become smart and patient automatically.


Reasons for a Cloudy Fish Tank

1. DUST PARTICLES MAY BE THE REASON BEHIND YOUR CLOUDY AQUARIUM

If you have recently set up your tank and the water in it has started becoming cloudy.

Then you can quickly know what would the reason behind it is.

The gravel of the aquarium has sand or dust particles mixed in it.

These dust particles are so small that one cannot see them with the naked eye.

But

It can be problematic.

If the gravel of the aquarium is not adequately cleaned, then the particles inside it will mix up with the clean water of the tank leading it to become cloudy.

The Solution: 

As it is a common problem, so it is not very difficult to solve it.

First of all:

Change some of the water, so the dust particles floating on it are removed.

Do this 2 or 3 times.

There is an easy way to get rid of it if the cloudiness which is caused when the tank is recently set up.

The second way to get rid of the cloudy water is to WAIT…

YES, I REPEAT… YOU SHOULD WAIT.

The filter in your aquarium will be of great help at this time.

If the water in the fish tank is cloudy.

So

Within some time, the dust particles will be trapped by the filter leading the stream to become clear.

Once the dust is gone, the water in the newly set up tank will remain clean.

2. NEWLY SET UP TANK MAY ALSO BE A CAUSE OF CLOUDY AQUARIUM

The newly set up tanks work in a different way.

The cycle makes the tank ready so that the filter handles the fish tank

During this time, the water in the tank might turn cloudy.

SOLUTION

Don’t get UPSET.

Just stay calm.

And once again I will ask you to WAIT.

Have some patience, your tank water will automatically clear up after some time.

Adding chemicals during this time would be of no use.

Do change some water.

This will help to lower the cloudiness as soon as possible.

3. DECORATIONS IN THE TANK CAN BE THE SOURCE OF CLOUDINESS IN YOUR AQUARIUM

Like gravel, decorations in the tank can also make the tank water cloudy.

Dust in the decorations mix up with water and makes it cloudy.

SOLUTION

The only way to prevent cloudiness if caused through this way is to wash the decorations thoroughly.

Once they are completely washed, you can put them into the tank.

At least if the decorations are washed, then you will be sure that decorations aren’t  the reason behind water cloudiness

Secondly:

Before buying any decoration, check  whether they are appropriate for your fish tank or not.

4. BACTERIAL BLOOM- MAY BE THE REASON BEHIND THE CLOUDY FISH TANK

The above three causes of cloudiness are to some extent, related to each other.

Now, this cause is different.

The cloudiness caused by bacteria is a bit different.. it’s like a thick white fog.

Not one bacteria is not visible, of course.

Now you know that only one bacteria cannot make the water cloudy.

So yes…

There are like MILLIONS of bacteria in the tank, making it appear cloudy,

This is called BACTERIAL BLOOM.

The level of cloudiness depends on the number of bacteria in the fish tank.

The more the bacteria in the fish tank, the more it will have a milky appearance.

Okay.. so rather than panicking now you need to know that it’s a common problem

You may witness this cloudiness when cycling your aquarium

SOLUTION

CYCLING a tank is the solution.

You don’t have to do anything.

Within a week you can get rid of the cloudiness.

But being a fish owner, taking proper action on time is important.

Otherwise, you will lose all of your lovely fish.

If you don’t cycle your tank on time, then the worst can happen.

The bacteria increasing in the tank are due to a reason, and I am sure you know it.

They grow because of fish poop, decaying plants, and rotten fish food.

So partial water change is also essential.

DO NOT overfeed your fish

Having said that, sometimes you have not added any fish in your tank, but still, the fish tank becomes cloudy…

5. CLOUDY FISH TANK EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO FISH IN IT

It’s very normal and not a SURPRISING thing

It happens because of the bacterial bloom due to new tank syndrome.

The bacteria starts growing fast because of the dead organisms.

SOLUTION

Adding a filter will help you lower this bacterial bloom

6. CHEMICALS

Sometimes chemicals, if added to the tank, reacts with one another and makes the tank water cloudy.

SOLUTION

Such cloudiness which has occurred because of a chemical reaction can be treated through adding certain chemicals, with that water change can also be helpful

For preventing your tank water from turning cloudy in future, you can test which chemicals react and make the water cloudy

7. OVERPOPULATION AND OVER FEEDING- MAY ALSO CAUSE CLOUDINESS

TOO many fish in a tank is always harmful to all your fish.

So one of the disadvantages of keeping more than the appropriate number of fish is that it can make the tank water cloudy

And I know you don’t want it.

If you are a die-hard fan of fish and want to own many.. so buy a big aquarium for that or by more than one aquarium to keep your loving fish.

Similarly, feeding your fish more than required can be harmful too.

SOLUTION

As said before, do not keep fish in your aquarium more than its appropriate because over crowdedness can cost you more than expected.

With that, keep proper time and limit to feed your fish.

8. DEAD FISH- MIGHT LEAD TO AN CLOUDY AQUARIUM

Not knowing that you have lost one of the fish you own and it’s still in the aquarium, can turn the tank water cloudy.

SOLUTION

I am sure once you become a fish owner, you start taking care of them and keep a check on them.

So I don’t need to tell you a solution.

You know it, whenever you find a dead fish, remove it immediately.


GREEN CLOUDY WATER

How cloudy the aquarium appears depends on the amount of the source, e.g. more bacteria will make it look more cloudy, more bubbles will make it more cloudy

SO

The color of cloudiness varies too, depending on the source of it.

Okay now coming to why do fish tank appear green and cloudy

1. ALGAE BLOOM- MAY BE A REASON BEHIND GREEN CLOUDY AQUARIUM

The water that appears green and with that sometimes it appears cloudy is because of:

The algae growth

There is not an easy way to get rid of it once it has started growing.

But for every problem, there is a solution, and to this one, I am going to recommend you to look at the cause and focus on that

CAUSES

As I have mentioned in one of my article that appropriate light and sound can be beneficial for your fish tank

In this way, inappropriate light and sound can be of significant disadvantage

Too much light directly on the aquarium leads to more algae growth

Excess of anything can be worse, BELIEVE ME.

Too many nutrients can increase the algae growth

SOLUTION

Try to keep your tank clean and focus on providing required light and nutrients

Water change can also be of great help because the nitrates produced in the tank can also increase the algae growth.

You can remove the algae once it’s grown in your fish tank.

If it’s on any rock or decoration in your fish tank.

Take it out from the tank and spray it with hydrogen peroxide.

Clean it after 5 minutes and place them back into the tank.

I DON’T KNOW WHY But cloudy green water makes me vomit rather than any other colored cloudy water, even yellow cloudy water is acceptable.

YES, cloudy yellow water does exist.

2. PHYTOPLANKTON- ANOTHER REASON BEHIND A CLOUDY FISH TANK

A tiny like single-celled plant.

They are very small not even visible with the naked eye.

They make the aquarium water green and cloudy.

SOLUTION

An excellent filter media can help you get rid of this problem, and you surely will get an excellent view to see.

However it can solve the problem, but the causes mentioned above should also be considered to prevent your fish from facing challenges.

Because I believe taking action on time is far more critical than regretting later


CLOUDY YELLOW WATER

Many times when the aquarium water is turning cloudy it’s because of your carelessness or something went wrong on your end.

But when it’s turning yellow and cloudy, then you need to relax. It’s really not your mistake.

HUH…

OKAY, so we all driftwood makes our aquarium look really beautiful. It’s beneficial too to some extent like it drops the PH of the water in the tank.

Though it is not harmful, it makes the tank water cloudy and yellow or brown like tea.

Especially the new driftwood makes it more brownish.

And it does not look good.

We all want our aquarium water to be clean and clear.

SOLUTION

Boil the driftwood before placing it in the aquarium.

SO THIS IS IT…

Temporary cloudiness is mostly cleared up by its own.

All you have to do is be patient. It can take a few hours to 1 or 2 days.

Sometimes even bubbles in the tank can make a tank appear cloudy.

White cloudinessGreen cloudinessYellow cloudiness
Dust Particles

 

Algae bloom Driftwood
Newly set up the tankPhytoplankton

Bacterial bloom

Chemicals

Overpopulation and overfeeding

CAN A CLOUDY WATER KILL FISH?

I have bad news for you.

It can kill your lively fish BUT not right after the cloudiness starts, means you really get the chance and time to save your fish

Let me tell you what actually happens

The cloudiness caused by the bacterial bloom is not harmful to the fish initially, but if it stays for about ten days, then you really have to get worried about.

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY.

CAN PLANTS MAKE FISH TANK CLOUDY?

Many people complain that their fish tank turns cloudy when they place the plant in it, not understanding that its not the plant that causes cloudiness but they actually disturb other things like gravel or sand which makes the fish tank cloudy.

However, such cloudiness settles by its own and if it does not then the cloudiness might have occurred because of any bacteria.

On the hand, plants are good to keep in the fish tank. They don’t contribute to making the fish tank cloudy and unless they are decaying or have disturbed the nutrient level.

HOW TO SIMPLY AVOID CLOUDY TANK?

  • Do not overfeed your tank
  • Maintain your tank and keep it clean
  • Do not expose it to sunlight much
  • Do not keep a lot of fish
  • Do test your aquarium water and the chemicals you are adding to it

BE ALERT AND ACTIVE

With being patient, you have to be active and alert.

Unfortunately, the cloudiness of the tank water cannot be caused by one thing only, there is several reasons, and that becomes stressful for a fish owner.

A person, who has just recently become the owner of such innocent creatures, would severely be stressed out because of not knowing that to one problem there can be many causes.

But you can simply save yourself from being stressed out by checking when did you set up your tank, when did you add the food…

So yup, the remaining alert is undoubtedly essential.

USING WATER CLEANSER

There are certain chemicals available that do help in minimizing the problem or apparently it does solve the problem, but I prefer taking other steps rather than using chemicals.

That’s how you can reduce your frustration when your fish is lost in the cloudy aquarium water

Just don’t forget that changing water of the fish tank is VERY VERY important in reducing the cloudiness.

It dilutes the dissolved chemicals and removes other particles, creating a good and healthy environment for the fish.

IMPORTANCE OF WATER CHANGE

The water in which you keep your fish is critical to them.

Required chemicals are provided to fish for daily functioning.

The most important thing is that it carries oxygen to them.

So for this clean water is necessary.

And with that KEEPING the water clean should also be the focus

Once a tank is established, a partial water change is essential.

Other Reasons Why Your Tank Maybe Cloudy:

CLOUDY WATER DUE TO DIRTY GRAVEL

The other reason for the aquarium water to turn into milky cloudy water is due to gravel residue. If the tank water becomes cloudy within no time just after filling the water, it is probably due to dirty gravel. Its simple solution is to drain out the tank water and rinse the gravel thoroughly.

HOW TO FIX THE DIRTY GRAVEL WATER

  • A particulate clarifier or flocculating agent such as Nutrafin’s Clear Fast may also be used to sort out this problem.
  • Additionally, you can Remove your regular filter foam and replace it with a water polishing pad.It will clarify the water in a couple of hours completely.

CLOUDY WATER DUE TO HIGH LEVELS OF DISSOLVED SUBSTANCES

Another reason for cloudy water is that there are high levels of dissolved constituents such as phosphates, silicates, nitrates and other dissolved metals. In such a case, water is tested and if it shows a high level of PH value ( i.e Alkaline), in that case treating the water with conditioners to lower the PH value is just a simple solution.

New tank syndrome

A common problem that a new fish owner might face is NEW TANK SYNDROME.

Because of new tank syndrome, many of us have lost our beloved fishy friends.

However, once you know how to deal with the newly established tank and have an idea of a process called CYCLING, then you won’t face such a problem.

Algae

I DON’T LIKE IT.

But it is another common problem.

And in every fish tank algae grows.

You can control it by controlling light and other nutrients.

Ammonia spikes

Because of dead fish, rotten food and decaying plant the level of ammonia increases.

pH levels

If a proper pH level is not maintained, it can be problematic for your fish tank.

Temperature problems

Different fish require different temperature, providing the desired temperature is essential.

If it does not happen, then it can even kill your fish

RELATED QUESTION

How often the water of the aquarium should be changed? Water change depends on many factors. Heavy tanks, having many things in it including fish require more water change than tanks with fewer stuff in it. 15 % of water change is also important once a week.

What is a dirty aquarium? Many harmful chemicals, overgrowth of bacterial colonies, algae, and other dust particles make the tank dirty and unhealthy for the fish you own.

Conclusion

Maintaining the aquarium free of cloudy water is not as much difficult as people think. The first thing that seems counter-intuitive is just to do nothing, at least for a couple of days. If the problem persists, then only carry out a few necessary steps listed below and you are free of hassle:

  • A working filter large enough according to the capacity of the aquarium should be installed for purification of water inside the tank.
  • Partially change the water inside the tank regularly like once a week.
  • Presence of good beneficial bacteria inside water tank by just adding externally
  • The aquarium is not overstocked with fishes and other creatures.

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