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Cloudy water?

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Wondering if there's a cause/solution for cloudy water that has begun recently? It's not horribly cloudy, but up until this point, the water has been crystal clear.

I started a fishless cycle about 3 months ago, then added two fantails (have been in the tank for 2 months). Details: 35 gal tank, Fluval 307 canister filter, two air stones, poppy pipe for extra surface agitation, live plants (java fern, anubias, moss balls), weekly 80-90% water changes with Prime, readings have consistently been fine once the cycle finished (pH 7.5-8.5, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5).

I feed them once a day (15-20 sinking pellets, which they eat within a few minutes - is that too much?). A couple times a week I've given them shelled peas. I also have gel food to start working into their diet, but want to fix the cloudy issue first. Since adding the fish, there has been brown algae build up each week. I wipe it clean every couple days and do a thorough cleaning of all the plants, rocks, etc at each water change. I guess that's another issue of whether the algae can be better controlled, but the tank does have indirect sunlight exposure so I may need to live with it. 

At the most recent water change I replaced the carbon and quick-clear water polishing pads in the filter. All other media was rinsed in tank water as usual. 

Thanks for any insight! 

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Hi there! Generally speaking, cloudy water is usually due to excess nutrients causing a bacterial or algae bloom, and is usually harmless.

In a healthy tank with no meds you don’t need carbon, so do feel free to leave those filter additives out. My guess is that something in the gel or possibly pellets is being excreted and not well digested, so even though they’re eating, the waste is still leaving too much to break down in system (almost like having excess uneaten food, effectively). Try cutting the feed volume in half for two weeks and do nothing but your normal water changes, see if that clears it at all. Don’t disturb the substrate or filters, but do siphon out any poo piles you find that aren’t getting shuttled well into the filters. 
 

If that doesn’t solve it, we can look at other solutions. But it could just be too much food or one that isn’t playing nicely with your fish or filter. That usually does resolve on its own if it’s not excessive amounts, though, which is why I want to test the quantity of the feeds first :)

Also, do leave algae on any surfaces you can, at least rocks and plants if it isn’t excessive. I find having a good algae population makes for better water quality, more waste consuming and nitrogen fixing activity is always better!

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1 hour ago, Arctic Mama said:

My guess is that something in the gel or possibly pellets is being excreted and not well digested, so even though they’re eating, the waste is still leaving too much to break down in system (almost like having excess uneaten food, effectively). Try cutting the feed volume in half for two weeks and do nothing but your normal water changes, see if that clears it at all. Don’t disturb the substrate or filters, but do siphon out any poo piles you find that aren’t getting shuttled well into the filters. 

Thanks so much for the information! It may be hard to tell, but in the picture there is some cloudiness (not a lot).

I had not considered that even though they were eating the pellets quickly, perhaps they weren't being digested well. I will decrease the food volume and see what happens. So 10 pellets per day for 2 fish is enough? 

One thing I have started doing recently was soaking the pellets before feeding, for easier digestion. Is that recommended? 

Question about siphoning - The python works great for water changes. However, I am not getting enough suction to actually "vacuum" out any poo sitting on top of the sand. If I place the Python right on top of the sand with debris, the debris will float up a bit but not actually get vacuumed out. Do I have a problem with the suction power? I was thinking it would be more powerful. 

1 hour ago, Arctic Mama said:

Also, do leave algae on any surfaces you can, at least rocks and plants if it isn’t excessive. I find having a good algae population makes for better water quality, more waste consuming and nitrogen fixing activity is always better!

Ok, got it. I was cleaning the brown algae completely off the rocks (and as best as I could off the plants) at each water change. I'll try leaving it there, but won't it negatively impact the plants by blocking light? I'll still probably clean the algae off the sides of the tank so we have a clear view of their cuteness. :)  I haven't noticed them eating the algae like others have commented. 

You can see the algae build up on the driftwood, rocks, airline and at the base of the tank above the sand. Also - the tubes for the intake/outflow pipes develop a lot of brown algae after about a week! Normal?

I really appreciate the insight! I want to make sure these little "water piggies" are happy...

IMG_20201001_093904.jpg

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Oh you’re soaking? Did the cloudy water start before or after that? The reason I ask is because soaked pellets often give off more sediment in the water (because they’re already softened to falling apart) than dry, and those could conceivably be causing some of the water quality issues too.

For siphoning poo, I actually like just using a little air line tubing so I can get right in there it has strong suction but a narrow tube, so it’s easy to zero in on the poo and not take in a ton of sand. Some getting removed is normal though and you can either spoon it back into the tank after it siphoning or toss it.

The algae won’t hurt the plants unless it is super thick, I wouldn’t worry. But if you’re cleaning that off just leave it in the rocks and take it off the glass and leaves you see :)

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47 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

Oh you’re soaking? Did the cloudy water start before or after that? The reason I ask is because soaked pellets often give off more sediment in the water (because they’re already softened to falling apart) than dry, and those could conceivably be causing some of the water quality issues too.

I only started soaking them about a week ago, and noticed the cloudiness a few days ago...so it could be the culprit? 

I read somewhere that soaking them helps with digestion and prevents swim bladder disease. However, they were doing just fine on dry pellets for a month...gobbled them up either way. Any insight on whether it's necessary to soak them? The info on the label doesn't say anything about soaking, so...? :idont

Either way, I'll reduce the amount I'm feeding and see how it impacts the cloudiness. 

How often do you typically rinse out the media in your filter?

54 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

For siphoning poo, I actually like just using a little air line tubing so I can get right in there it has strong suction but a narrow tube, so it’s easy to zero in on the poo and not take in a ton of sand. Some getting removed is normal though and you can either spoon it back into the tank after it siphoning or toss it.

Genius idea. I hadn't thought of doing this. I will try it. 

Thanks!

 

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I don’t really soak, even with my fish with swim bladder difficulties it didn’t seem to make a huge difference and if they’re sinking pellets, I wouldn’t bother. If they start showing buoyancy problems or constipation you can certainly revisit it, but I’d ditch that for now and see if the problem resolves.

Filter maintenance, I basically do it when my fish show symptoms of nitrates, usually some bottom sitting, or when they get above 10 ppms. In my tank that’s usually every 6-8 weeks, I just knock my filter pads against the change bucket to shake off most of the mulm and give them a few good squeezes in the water, then call it good. 

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11 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Filter maintenance, I basically do it when my fish show symptoms of nitrates, usually some bottom sitting, or when they get above 10 ppms. In my tank that’s usually every 6-8 weeks, I just knock my filter pads against the change bucket to shake off most of the mulm and give them a few good squeezes in the water, then call it good. 

Ok - I'm probably cleaning more frequently than I should! 

13 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

For siphoning poo, I actually like just using a little air line tubing so I can get right in there it has strong suction but a narrow tube, so it’s easy to zero in on the poo and not take in a ton of sand.

What do you use to create the suction? Can you manually create enough suction with gravity and air line tubing to draw out debris? Tomorrow is water change day... :)

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This is aquaria, we are lazy!  You bet I just suck on the end to get the water start up the tube and let gravity do the rest, always trying to get it going WITHOUT a mouthful of dodgy fish water 😆

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Ha! You do what you gotta do. :)

I didn't have enough extra air line tubing to create the siphon, so I'll be getting some soon to try it out. In the meantime I'll see how the reduced feedings go... 

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Update... we've got crystal clear water again! And that's without the weekly water change yet. :) I was definitely over feeding. When people told me they would "act hungry" all the time, they weren't kidding. :feedme

Also... The airline tubing works beautifully to clear out debris on sand. I didn't think there would be enough suction - so glad you recommended it, thanks! 

Now, if I could only stop the algae buildup in the filter tubing... Ah well, I may just have to live with it. As you mentioned, it's probably a good thing. 

Arctic Mama - is there media you add in place of the carbon? 

PXL_20201009_125203961.jpg

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Glad that solved it! I usually just hide my filter tubing with Vals or other tall plants if it’s bugging me. 
 

In any filter the only media I use is mechanical and biological unless there is a SPECIFIC things I am rectifying in terms of medication or water conditions, so I will use matten pads, filter floss, bags of ceramic bio rings, bio balls, etc. whatever fits.

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57 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

I usually just hide my filter tubing with Vals or other tall plants if it’s bugging me.

Ok, nice - thanks! I've been considering getting a taller plant. Have you had any luck with Hornwart? 

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Hornwort grows quickly but it never roots and tends to shed needles, you’re better off with a bulb style or even something more lush like elodea.

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