White Cloudy Water Problem - likely bacteria infestation and big tank changes for all fish coming up soon.

Jan Cavalieri

Fish Addict
Pet of the Month!
Jun 2, 2019
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Topeka, KS
I've been struggling for months with a white water problem in my 50 gallon tank. I posted about this when it first started, but now some developments have come along. Anyway - it's not a new tank and all the water values measure within the proper ranges but it's completely cloudy white about 98% of the time. It's cloudy just after a water change for about 1 hour due to a substance I add to lower the PH from 9.4 to 7.0 since I don't know of any fish that can live in a 9.4 ph tank of water. We've been using this stuff for well over a year and it always causes an initial white cloudyiess after a water change. Then the water becomes startlingly clear. For about 2 hours. Then when you look again - it's back to white. Our weekly water changes are about 70%. So after coming here and finding out it was likely a bacterial bloom that there is nothing we can do about we've just very unhappily left it that way. It (or something) initially killed a few of the Rainbow fish population the first time it happened, so I quickly moved all I could catch in time to another tank that didn't have white water (but has been known too at least on one occassion - right after we moved the Rainbow fish). So what got left in the 50 gallon tank are 6 12" loaches (actually one is only about 6 inches but he hasn't looked well his entire life - I'm hoping the stress of moving him doesn't kill him (he's active and eats but is just terribly small compared to his siblings).

I'm having a 90 gallon fish tank made to house the loaches, this will fit a stand I purchased (does anybody have any idea how hard it is to find a 90-100 gallon tank with a stand that will actually fit that particular tank and doesn't cost 3K?) Anyway this company must have one worker or a lot of business because it's going to take them nearly 6-8 weeks to make the aquarium (acrylic - not my choice really but realistically far easier to find people to help move it since I think it only weighs 70lbs. but is also more expensive than glass) We already have the stand set up and for $250 it is an exceedingly high quality wood stand for a $999 TANK- so as long as my floors can handle the load we'll be fine). When that arrives I have a decision to make - either I start cycling the tank from scratch with my new canister filter I purchased or I use media from the 50 gallon tank and put it in the canister filter as well as some extra bottled bacteria and hopefully the tank water readings allow me to move ALL the DoJo loaches over to the 90 gallon tank within a week after set up OR I start completely from scratch and wait 2 months for the tank to fully cycle to make the move. My fear is that I'll bring the white algae bloom with us. I'll be using all new substrate (dust rinsed off) and 6 Dojos. That was the whole point - they are way overcrowded in the 50 gallon tank and if you've ever seen a urine dump by a large fish it is like a big yellow cloud in the cockpit of Apollo 13 just floating all over the tank almost in one big cloud of their own. In any case, after the DoJo are settled and water readings are good and stable, I may add some algae eaters or some invertebrates but I obviously love these loaches dearly so I don't want to risk anything happening to them (or I'll just have to get more). Which would you do? Do you think even if the white water algae bloom comes along on that filter material that it won't be very diluted by 90 gallons of water? I ask myself - would I shoot myself in the head if it came with them and I could NEVER get rid of it and the answer is YES.

Ok, 2nd question, once all the Dojos are out of the 50 gallon tank my plan had been to move the entire media and filter (AuquaClear 70 HOB) out of 29 gallon tank and into the 50 gallon tank all my remaining fish have some extra room (they aren't overcrowded but getting close and I like all fish to have plenty of space to engage in all their favorite little fish behaviors. Then I will retire my 29 gallon tank instead of buying more fish (I pay somebody each week to clean the tanks so I only want to keep so many tanks running - when I had 4 I was almost going broke. If I brought them over to the 50 gallon tank I probably should remove and rinse all the substrate (it's identical to the substrate in the 29 gallon tank) so I could also add the two together to get a nice thick layer for plants (you know how over time the substrate just seems to slowly disappear and it's down to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in both these tanks and I prefer a 3 inch substrate with plants. I also purchased more black substrate specifically for the 90 gallon - but it is sand because they are always losing the slime coat of their skin by trying to skid or dig underground (something they really can't do now) . The 50 gallon tank will be a mixture of sand and small gravel but none of the fish that will be in that tank are serious diggers. But they are very colorful and go great with plants. With the loach tank there really isn't any purpose to put much of anything in it because every live plant gets uprooted and may or may not get eaten. Every artificial plant gets uprooted and it takes some seriously big stones (I have slate) to build them some caves - which they adore. I am really thinking of getting the set of sponge bob decorations for them to play with - it will never be a serious looking tank as long as they are in there. So again - to what lengths should I go to to "start from scratch" with the 50 gallon if I rinse the substrate well - I mean, I have NO IDEA where this bacteria originates from - it just showed up and and never ceased ruining the look of our tanks. The 29 gallon tank that currently has fish has done the white bacterial bloom thing TWICE once, right after I rescued the Rainbow fish and then randomly a few months later. We have proved with a lot of hard work that if you do enough water changes you CAN get rid of the bacterial bloom - but it came back so I don't feel like doing 4-5 full water changes each week - plus it potentially kills off all your good bacteria too.

If I start from scratch with both tanks we're looking at 3-4 months before the moves are completed. In the meantime I'm setting up our first saltwater tank and will be pretty sick of doing water tests on all these tanks! Regardless of my health I'll be taking care of the saltwater tank/reef so I'm not spending a fortune on paying help. Plus the guy I've got isn't the sharpest crayon in the box. My previous assistant was a very good problem solver but unreliable as hell. And I pay REALLY well so I don't know what it takes to get good help. Plus my heath is rather quickly and sadly going downhill so I may be hiring housekeeping work (I already pay some body to mow but they don't maintain the flowerbeds so I need somebody for that) or I toss it all in and go to an assisted living home with one bedroom and no responsibilities. I think I would likely be dead 6 months after that - I just saw that happen to my dad when he just gave up. But I want to try to stay active as long as I can and as my pulmonologist says "even losing just 30 pounds may make a huge difference" - I think if I lost 40 lbs I'd be back to my highschool weight which would be incredibly cool except for the "gravity" factor that's happened over the last 40 years LOL. Then I sell it all and get extreme tummy tucks, face lifts, and "other" things lifted. Then I step out the door and get hit by a truck or something.

So if anybody has missed my questions - it's basically how should I move two tanks of fish to new homes without risking bringing the white algae bloom to their new home? (Oh, as I said I already purchased a decent canister filter for the 90 gallon tank - if that goes well should I purchase one for the 50 gallon tank? Will all that super filtration get rid of the white bloom forever? Or should I not bother spending the money for a canister for a 50 gallon tank (I really hate HOB filters constantly clogging but maybe canisters are worse)

Thanks in advance for reading and responding to this post. If I only was a microbiologist or even KNEW any I would ask their opinion, or maybe I need a Botanist since algae is a plant rather than an animal. Love to you all - you give me a reason to keep living!! Jan

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