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Old 11-17-2013, 03:21 PM   #1 
beano129's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Manly, Australia
Help! Water Turned Cloudy / Milky White after change

Morning all,

Ok so I'll start with history and status.

Tank = 15 Litres / 4 US Gal
Age = 1 Yr
Ammonia = <.25
pH = 7.4
Nitrate = (currnetly 0) was 20 prior to change which led to the reason for this post
Fish = Small Fighter (approx. 3cm body length and 6mm diameter - excluding fins)
Heater = Yes, but not at the moment as it's summer in Australia so ambient temp in the water is 23 Degrees C
Filter = Yes, only small (no bio-media or carbon, just a little sponge) running 4 Hrs a day to churn the water up a bit. I used to run it 24 Hrs a day but I read that Beta's like still water and do not like currents which is why I only run it for a small amount of time a day.
Water changes = 20% every 2 week

Ok so all was very well until my tank was starting to get gummed up with brown algae around the tank walls so I decided to do a big change and give everything; including the gravel, a clean.

I removed everything from the tank and washed the gravel by scooping it up with one hand and then rubbing the gravel between my hands before washing it back in the water that came out of the tank.

After I finished washing the gravel I threw most of the water away but left some so it wasn't a 100% change.

I then replaced the gravel and put a lot of new fresh water (probably 80% new water); as I mentioned this was the 1st ever big changed I'd done, I'm very regimented and changing smaller amounts more often. However the water was a cloudy / milky white colour after the cleaning session.

Initially I thought it was dust from the white gravel I'd washed that was still in the water I left to put back into the tank (being as it seemed to somewhat to settle on the little plant and the decrative bus I have in the the tank) but it seems to be hanging around... so against my better jedgement I did another 20% change which seemed to help but not cure.

So, I'm worried now and taken the fish out and placed into a bowl with water from my large tropical tank that's beautifully clean and well maintained (did a change on that as well yesterday) and has good parameteres all round while I get some advice to fix the problem.

the fish did seem to be less 'chirpy' and a bit distressed which is why I took him out and placed him into some known very good water...

From here I was thinking of replacing all the water in my beta tank with water from my larger tropical tank so at least my beta has some excellent filtered water to get back into but I'm worried for all sorts of reason.. most of all infection or bacteria...

What advise can I get guys?

Additional - having now spent some time reading some other posts I'm wondering whether the volume of fresh water might be in line with this post?

Last edited by beano129; 11-17-2013 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:42 PM   #2 
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lilnaugrim's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Rhode Island
Most likely you're experiencing a bacteria bloom. Sponge filter's should be left on 24 hours, it really doesn't create a current like a HOB or internal filter would do so it would be best if you just left it on.

Also, a water change every two weeks isn't going to cut it for a 4 gallon, that needs to be done at least once a week with 50% ideally. Done with a gravel siphon so you can suck up all the stuff on the bottom of the tank and not stir everything up so badly.

Anyway, what most likely happened is that with all the water change, you lost a lot of Beneficial Bacteria which holds your Cycle. BB doesn't live in the water so using water from another tank isn't going to do anything, no matter how good of parameter's you have. However the dead bacteria can float in the water. There are two types of bacteria though, one that lives on the surfaces of everything in your tank, the BB and another type which I don't remember the name that does live in the water but it doesn't do anything. So a bacteria bloom is just a bunch of bacteria dead and alive floating around your tank. It's not harmful, just unsightly and it will clear up in a few day's.

I suggest you try to change at least 50% of the water each week to keep your parameter's good, ammonia should be at 0 at all times. And it will help for the future and so your tank doesn't get too nasty as well and then something like this happens.
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