At Pet Supermarket, we hear that question in stores all the time. It’s especially common in the beginning of the year, when new fish tank owners come in for help with tanks they got for Christmas. What follows is the advice we provide on how to deal with cloudy aquarium water, often called “new tank syndrome.”
How does aquarium water get cloudy?
There are a few things that can cause cloudy water, but the most likely culprit is bacteria. Keep in mind that fish tanks have good bacteria and bad bacteria. After the first setup, your fish tank will go through the Nitrogen Cycle. This is an important step that allows it to build up helpful bacteria in the water and the filter media.
The cloudiness occurs because your tank water doesn’t yet have enough helpful bacteria to clear wastes from the water. That cloudiness will clear away as the water quality improves, but it can take from 2 weeks to 2 months for this to happen.
How you can prevent cloudy water
Learn how to test your tank water and understand the nitrogen process, which is also called the break-in cycle, nitrification process or cycling. To speed up the cycling of your tank, use a product that boosts beneficial bacteria, such as Stability, Tetra Aqua Safe, Cycle or Stresszyme. Add these products daily or weekly, depending on your tank, to help balance bacteria for future maintenance as well.
Other common mistakes that can lead to cloudy water
A few other mistakes can also lead to cloudy water in new tanks. The most common are over feeding fish, excessive water changes and over populating the aquarium. To avoid these mistakes, feed your fish the amount they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t keep too many fish either or your filter media won’t be able to keep up with water filtration. Lastly, limit partial water changes to 25% to 30% a month so your tank has a chance to build up good bacteria.
Learning the ins and outs of water cycling is the first step to becoming an experienced fish owner. Let us help you get started with advice and water conditioning products.