This post was written by a guest author.
When I was young, my starter pet was a goldfish. When its tank became clouded, I was clueless on how I should go about cleaning it. After doing some research, I figured out how to clean the tank and keep it pristine.
How does one uncloud a fish tank? In a new tank, cloudiness is part of the natural cycling process and will go away on its own. In an existing tank, reduce the amount of light the tank is getting, the amount of food you’re feeding, and change your tank’s water more often.
Raising one goldfish, or even an aquarium full can be a fun and rewarding experience. It is important to maintain the cleanliness of their home so that both the owner and the tank’s inhabitants are satisfied.
What Causes a Cloudy Tank?
There are many factors that can cause your tank to become cloudy and troublesome. The most common issue is a dirty tank. If your tank’s water takes on a gray or yellow cloudiness, then it is very likely that it is time to clean the tank.
Tank water gets dirty very fast, especially if you have multiple fish in it.
Goldfish are messy eaters and tend to leave leftover food particles behind after feeding time. Their waste will build up and get out of control if you don’t clean their tank regularly.
These issues are magnified if you are the type to overfeed your goldfish or keep too many in the same tank.
If you have been cleaning the tank properly and the water is turning green, you may have an algae problem instead.
The presence of some algae is beneficial, sometimes even essential to the health and nutrition of fish and the other inhabitants of a tank. Too much algae, however, can quickly turn your tank into an unsightly mess.
Algae blooms like this happen for two main reasons:
- The most common reason is that you’re giving your aquarium too much light. Try cutting back your light to 8-10 hours per day to make it harder for the algae in your tank to thrive and create massive blooms or grow all over everything.
- Algae can also get out of control because of too many nutrients in the water (read: fish waste). Regularly clean your tank and change out a portion of the water to help resolve this part of the algae problem.
There are other things that you can do, such as buying a UV sterilizer or using a chemical treatment. If you’re not treating the cause of the problem, these will only be temporary solutions.
If the water has no color and takes on a foggy, frosted appearance, this is the result of a bacterial bloom.
Bacteria, like algae, can also be beneficial to fish if kept at moderate levels but become detrimental if unregulated. Excess amounts of bacteria are caused by algae as well as uncleaned waste and other particles in the tank.
Bacteria can also be introduced to clean tank water if the water that a goldfish lived in prior to its purchase is introduced to the tank. This means that you want to do the acclimation process as normal before putting in the new fish, but net the fish and throw out the water.
Getting Rid of Cloudiness in Your Goldfish Tank
If your tank is cloudy because of excess waste polluting the water, it’s important to perform regular water changes. (Weekly 10-15% water changes are a good start.)
You can also take this opportunity to use a gravel vac to clean the bottom of your fish tank. (You may or may not want to do a deep cleaning of the gravel instead of lightly vacuuming the top, depending on your situation.)
If you’re using a cheap hang-on-back filter with replaceable cartridges, you might want to replace it with a filter that has more media (and thus more surface area to help clean your water). A good example of this is the Aquaclear, though any similar filter will work.
Adding a sponge pre-filter to your existing filter’s intake tube will also help improve the quality of water your filter is giving you. This will only cost you a few dollars (one time) and is a good investment.
Furthermore, avoid overfeeding your fish.
Through evolution, wild goldfish have lost the need to eat often due to the scarcity of food in their environment. Your goldfish can live on one light feeding a day. (What they can eat in 30 seconds.)
Adding too much food to the tank not only pollutes your tank’s water but also puts your fish at risk of overeating, which can cause health problems in the long run.
Consider buying a second tank or limiting the number of goldfish you keep, to avoid overcrowding.
Cramming too many fish into one tank makes it more susceptible to unsanitary conditions and cloudiness. An overcrowded tank is also a breeding ground for fatal toxins such as ammonia and nitrites.
For bacteria blooming, you will need to put in a bit of extra labor to eliminate the issue. The tank will need to be treated – you can use something like Melafix that is designed for treating bacterial blooms.
Bacteria-related cloudiness is more stubborn than other factors, so it could take a few weeks for the tank to go back to normal.
Do not give up though, the antibiotics will work in their own time as long as you taking care of your water and following the instructions on whatever product you decide to use for treatment.
Maintaining the Tank’s Clarity
Clearing out initial cloudiness is the easiest part of taking care of your goldfish. However, the challenge comes in maintaining a clean, clear tank with a maintenance regimen.
Keeping your tank clean is the most important part of keeping the water clear, as this reduces the risk of unwanted bacteria and algae. It is recommended that fish owners change 20% of the water in the tank at least once a week. Also, make sure that the tank’s filter cartridge is replaced as soon as it becomes dirty. As an extra precaution, consider investing in tank clarifying treatments and water conditioners and using them in the tank regularly. Clarifiers work to bind together waste and leftover food particles floating around the tank, causing them to float to the bottom or into the filter. Water conditioner has chemicals that neutralize tap water, making it safer and cleaner for use in a tank.
To maintain a safe number of algae in the tank, purchase a few algae eating fish and snails. These bottom feeders go around the tank consuming algae and preventing buildup.
If you are looking for algae eaters to purchase, some of the most popular and reliable species are:
- Siamese algae eaters-An algae eater popular for its ability to eat a diverse range of algae as well as control the presence of flatworms and leftover waste.
- Otocinclus catfish– One of the most favorable forms of algae eater due to its small size, the otocinclus clears tanks quickly and efficiently. They do require more care than the average algae eater, however.
- Live-Bearers– This category includes well-known fish such as mollies, platys, and guppies. These fish are easy to find in your local pet store and reproduce quickly, so be cautious of any potential overcrowding.
- Mystery Snails-These snails are popular and readily available. Not only do they consume algae, but they also eat decaying plants and any leftover fish food particles.
- Nerite Snail– Nerites do not breed in the aquarium, making them ideal for the prevention of overcrowding as well as algae production. They are popular for their diverse shell colors and patterns.
- Malaysian Trumpet Snail– This species of snail is coveted, especially in aquariums with a variety of plants in it. They not only eat algae covering the surface of the tank, but they also burrow under the substrate to eat plant and protein matter. This makes them useful in the cultivation of plants as well as the overall cleanliness of the tank. (Note: This type of snail can multiply out of control and take over your tank if you’re not careful.)
While these creatures assist in the process immensely, they should not be considered as a replacement for manually removing algae from the tank., make sure to add scraping the algae and the usage of algaecides to your cleaning regimen for optimal clarity.
Keeping algae and sanitation at bay in your tank is enough to prevent bacteria from clouding the habitat. All of the factors mentioned have an adverse effect on each other, so it is imperative to stay on top of all of them and perform the recommended procedures in order to prevent any type of unwelcome cloudiness in the tank.
What are the Consequences of Not Unclouding a Tank Properly? While the appearance of the water will not kill the fish, the conditions causing it will if left untreated. Algae overgrowth has the potential to take oxygen from the tank and suffocate your fish. Bacteria build up creates toxins in the tank that are fatal to its inhabitants.
How Long Will Goldfish Survive in a Clouded Tank? A goldfish left in unfavorable conditions have a shorter lifespan of two to three years, sometimes even shorter depending on the severity of tank conditions. This is very short in comparison to the fifteen to the twenty-year lifespan of a healthy goldfish.