Cloudy Water in a New Fish Tank

Cloudy Water in a New Fish Tank

So you’ve set up your fish tank and you notice that you have Cloudy Water in a New Fish Tank. Kind of like smoke or milk was poured into the fish tank.

This is perfectly natural.

You didn’t do anything wrong and you have nothing to worry about.

But there are some things you should know and be able to deal with to help your fish through this stressful time.

Nature is growing bacteria to make the fish tank a suitable environment for the fish to survive.

Typically this occurs between a few days or weeks after setting up a brand new fish tank.

I think this is the first hurdle of the aquarium hobbyist.

This is the stage where either they love the hobby and will enjoy the tank or when they get frustrated and pack it up and sell it off in a garage sale.

But there are some things to consider.

When I first came across this situation I thought I did something wrong so I took everything out of the fish tank and cleaned it thoroughly but then it happened again shortly thereafter.

I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong until one day I found in my research the reason for this to happen and when I can expect it to clear up.

What was going on?

Cloudy Water – The Nitrogen Cycle

The nitrogen cycle is inevitable and a necessary process to achieve a healthy environment for your fish.

It’s a process where beneficial bacteria becomes established in your tank and filter media. Once fish are added to a new fish tank, their waste begins to build up, creating a toxic amount of ammonia.

In order to complete a cycle, the toxic ammonia needs to convert to a less toxic nitrite, then the nitrites must convert to nitrates which are by far less toxic.

To complete the Cycle, either plants consume the nitrates and/or water changes are done to remove the Nitrates.

During the Nitrogen cycle, beneficial bacteria capable of converting toxins in your aquarium will begin to grow. This is what causes the fish tank to become cloudy.

Once the fish tank has enough beneficial bacteria to convert wastes to non-toxic nitrates, the tank will become clear and the ammonia and nitrites will go down to healthy levels.

When does the Cloudy Water Clear up?

Typically it takes up to 8 weeks to completely cycle, Of course, depending on the number of fish and plants you have, whether or not you help it out with beneficial bacteria and the size of the tank, it could be more or less time.

What to Do When Your Water Gets Cloudy

During the nitrogen cycle, toxins can get pretty high in the fish tank. This can cause some issues with your fish. The fish can get stressed, breathe hard, get diseases easier, some may even die.

  • Reduce Feeding to Once a day until the water test turns out good.
  • Add plants. The Java Fern is a hardy plant and is a great choice for a cycling fish tank.
  • Do nothing – If the fish are handling the cycle okay
  • Do NOT Break down your fish tank and remove all the gravel and clean it all up. This will drive you crazy if you let it.