Asking For Help With Water Clarity


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Aug 15, 2022
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Hello everyone,

First off, I'm not sure if this is in the right area - I couldn't find a specific place for questions about water clarity, and while I am talking about a planted tank, I don't know if the planted-ness of it is in any way related. So I thought I'd put it here, by my apologies if that wasn't the right choice! Feel free to move it, if you can :)

Anyway, I'm looking for some help with the clarity of the water in my 24G planted tank. I've attached a picture...

Tank - Cloudy.jpg

... and as you can see, the water is definitely 1) a little tea-colored, and 2) a little hazy/murky/cloudy. The actual parameters are perfectly fine and the fish seem to be doing well, btw. I don't mind the tea color at all (which I assume is leeching from the driftwood), but I would really like to get the cloudiness under control. However, so far nothing has worked well for me, and I'd love to get some feedback. Things I've tried so far:

I had another filter with some space for filter floss, and I put that in, but it didn't seem to do much and the filter had some other features I didn't like, so I traded it out for a new one (Aqueon Quietflow 30) that doesn't have a good spot for any filter floss. I could try and stuff some in right at the mouth of the filter so water trickles over it - would that be helpful?

I've also added a capful of Seachem Clarity, but it didn't seem to make much of an impact. Would it be okay for me to try and dose again, or is there a danger in adding too much too soon?

In addition, I have a bag of activated carbon stuffed into the mouth of my filter right now - I also haven't seen any big changes from that either though.

So between these three things, I haven't seen much improvement. But when I go to the local fish store, I'm blown away by how clear their water is despite sharing the same substrate, bioload, etc. So I really can't figure out what I'm doing wrong - I almost wonder if, by trying all these methods, I'm somehow having them all "cancel out." Does anyone have any advice for anything else I could try, or some tips on what I might be doing wrong? Ultimately, as long as the fish are healthy, I don't mind where it's at right now. But if it would be possible to make it as sparkling clear as I see in the local fish store, that would be wonderful. Any tips at all appreciated! Thanks :)


Supporting Member
Tank of the Month!
Feb 25, 2009
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A few things to mention. not ever use any "clarifier" like Seachem's Clarity. Most of these work by binding together microscopic particulate matter so it can more readily be removed by the filter media (sponge/foam is best for this clarity). Problem is, the chemicals in these products also bind the gills of the fish. Cloudiness like algae should be dealt with naturally, not with chemicals. I know, I fell into this trap many years ago and nearly lost the tank of fish.

Second, the sources. Tannins are not dangerous to fish, and should be ignored. The branchy wood seems to be stronger when it comes to tannin but just let it be. The fish in the photo will not be harmed in any way by this. The tetras in fact will benefit.

Other cloudiness may be due to a bacterial bloom, diatom bloom or organic bloom. In themselves, each is harmless, though unsightly. Water changes may help, or they may make it worse. Same with filters--more is not the same as better here.

I had two tanks with an internal Aquaeoun Quiet Flow and they were as clear as could be. It is the biological system, not the filter. Don't overfeed, don't overstock, keep the filter well rinsed, vacuum the open substrate...these can help.

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