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Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

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  • Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

    Questions: Why is my tank so cloudy? Should I stop adding Stability daily?

    Day 1: I have re-started a 55gal tank for tropical fish, which had been in dry storage. Started with tap water and new gravel, conditioned with AmQuel and Ammo Lock as directed for tap. Reusing a Fluval 403 canister filter, rinsed media clean (with tap water). No fish, just water and old media + SeaChem Stability.

    Day 2-3: No fish, tank is getting a little cloudy. Adding 3 caps of Stability each day.

    Day 4: Ammonia levels were getting unhealthy, so the local fish store advised a 20% water change. I did this, and being the DIY'er that I am, I also added fresh zeolite granules (no charcoal) to the canister filter intending to calm down the ammonia. Also added aquarium salt, thinking I would be adding fish soon (25 tbs).

    Also, not sure about this, but the LFS, knowing the somewhat high ammonia level of my empty tank, advised we add flake fish food to help with the cloudiness. Would adding excess food just raise the ammonia level?

    Day 5: Still cloudy. Now, reading online, I am thinking the zeolite may have been a mistake. I'm not sure where the tank is in its cycle.

    Day 6: Today, still cloudy, wondering what my next step should be. I really want this tank to be ready for fish. My kiddos are counting on their first fish to live.

    Also, my wife purchased another product called StressZyme, a biological booster. If you are familiar with this product, would you advise this considering the Stability has already been used?

    Any advise would be appreciated!

  • #2
    Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

    Since you are reusing previous equipment you will likely cycle the tank before you even add fish. The old equipment tends to carry enough waste for the cycle to begin. The cloudiness that you are experiencing is due to the bacteria growing to consume the waste. This is a good thing.

    What is you pH running? The toxicity of ammonia depends on the pH. Adding food at this stage will just further increase the ammonia level.

    You should expect a rise in ammonia, and then nitrite and finally nitrate. Once your ammonia and nitrite levels come down to 0 then you are safe to add fish. I would recommend to continue with the Stability. It will help consume the waste. It is not causing the ammonia that you are experiencing.

    As far as adding other bacteria starter products that is up to you. I will tell you that the type of bacteria that is in Stability is completely different than what is in most of the competitors products. Our bacteria are not the normal nitrosomas and nitrobactor bacteria. Those bacteria are always active, they do not go dormant like Stability. So to try to keep these bacteria alive until they reach you they have to add food (waste) for those bacteria to consume. So if you get a really fresh bottle you will have a lot of bacteria in there but there is also a lot of waste. If you get an older bottle there might not be any bacteria left because they easily starve to death when they run out of food. There will not be any adverse reactions between the two types of bacteria.

    It would be beneficial if you could have your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels checked and let me know the results. Along with your pH, this will allow us to see where you are at in the cycle.

    Be patient, it is easier to deal with a cycling tank that has no fish than one that has fish. (Especially with kids around) Once your tank has finished this cycle you should not have much of a problem after you start adding fish.


    • #3
      Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

      Great news! I appreciate the fast reply. I will reply next with the results of the water tests.

      I am not sure of the exact pH at this point, but at last check, the only thing that didn't pass the LFS water test was the ammonia level. They didnít recommend fish yet for that reason alone. Were intending to stock with freshwater community fish, so we plan to keep the water neutral to slightly acidic, and soft to medium hard.

      I did not know there was so much difference in the bacteria between Stability and the others. That explanation is great, and very helpful. I think I'll take the other product back, and get some more Stability. I'd rather be safe and keep my variables to a minimum at this point.

      Do you have anything to comment on the zeolite media additive? This is a crushed rock product marketed specifically as an ammonia reducer. I was concerned that I should take this out ot the filter. It's not easy, but if recommended, I could do this. I donít know if this will throw-off the cycle enough to make a difference. Any comment you have on this will likely be very helpful.



      • #4
        Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

        Day 7: Water Chemistry Test Results from the LFS:

        Nitrate = 2.0ppm
        Nitrite = 2.0ppm
        Hardness = 300ppm
        Alkalinity = 120ppm
        Ph = 8.0
        Ammonia =1.5ppm

        Q: When are these combinations dangerous? Specifically, I was not sure about the Nitrate and Nitrite. Also, LFS indicated the alkalinity above. Does this measurement seem to make sense?

        Other comments on changes for this day 7:
        Continuing with SeaChem Stability daily as directed.
        LFS said there was a marginal fish health risk due to ammonia level. Although, we have accepted the risk, and selected some hardy fish, adding (3) Zebra Danios & (3) Blue Danios. After one hour in the tank, they swim through the currents and rock, no signs of stress, even ate flake food already! Tank cloudiness is slightly less. The cloudiness has a slight green tint, only noticeable when lights are off.

        Day 8:
        All six fish are still great. No signs of stress. No changes made today.
        Last edited by Tropheus; 08-28-2005, 15:19. Reason: Had addional question to include...


        • #5
          Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

          As far as the zeolite goes, it probably is not making much of a difference because you have salt in the water and that is how you recharge the media. If anything it is providing an area for the bacteria to grow on. It would be fine to leave it in.

          Your pH is where I would expect it with that level of KH. At 8.0 about 5 % of your ammonia is toxic. So your toxic ammonia level is about 0.075. Which is not that harmful. The most harmful thing you have in your water right now in the 2.0 ppm of nitrite. But with the salt that you added you should be fine as long as the level does not climb to high. It appears that your tank is cycling well. As you have some ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. I would expect your ammonia to drop to zero soon. Then shortly after that your nitrite should drop to zero. Danios are rather hardy and should do fine. I would hold off on adding more fish until your ammonia and nitrite are zero.

          You said your interested in keeping your pH neutral to acidic. If your wanting to do live plants I would recommend acid buffer to decrease your KH and allow your pH to fall. This is a very delicate system and is effected by the CO2 level in your aquarium. A much more stable system is achieved using Neutral Regulator for a 7.0 pH or a combination of Neutral Regulator and Acid Regulator to achieve a pH lower than 7.0. These are phosphate based buffers and are very stable. You may have to use Acid Buffer to lessen the amount of phosphate based buffers need to overcome the existing KH. The only problem with phosphate based buffers and planted tanks is the additional light usually causes algae blooms. Just remember any pH change you do should be gradual as to not effect the fish. Also remember that if you adjust your pH be sure to find out what pH the pet sore keeps their fish in so that you don't stress the new fish. it might be best for you to adjust the pH after you get all your fish if the pet store keeps theirs at 8.0.


          • #6
            Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

            Your reply is encouraging! Thank you for explaining all of this. I am relived to find out that this is more in balance than we thought. I will provide water chemistry test results again this weekend. We will be holding off any new changes for a while, just continuing with the Seachem Stability. The kids are very happy with the Danio's, and the Danio's seem happy as well.

            We bought the larger bottle of Seachem Stability on day 7. I expect to have a lot of left over 'Stability' after this week. Can I get too 'Stable'? Or, is there additional benefit if I continue to add it daily? If not, what kind of shelf life will it have? Does refrigeration help?


            • #7
              Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

              Your tank is just going through the normal new tank syndrome. The use of Stability should speed you through this process. You can not overdose Stability.

              After you tank has completed the cycle you can add Stability whenever you do water changes or add new fish. Stability has a 4 year shelf life and does not need refrigeration.

              When you post your tanks water parameters this weekend I'll let you know how your tank is doing.


              • #8
                Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                Day 20: Water has been perfectly clear now for days. Cloudy water seems to have cleared up.

                Day 21: Replaced water due to evaporation, adding about 128oz of tap, pre-treated with Ammo-Lock2 (dechlorinator water treatment). Still adding Seachem Stability.

                Day 22: Woke up this morning, and water has become abruptly cloudy again. Noticed again about four hours later, its yet more cloudy. Far worse than before. I have assumed the added water has upset the biology or something.


                • #9
                  Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                  Day 23:
                  2005_09_05 Monday (Labor Day)

                  The following are the water chemistry stats from my local fish store (LFS).
                  Nitrate = 20.0 ppm
                  Nitrite = 3.0 ppm
                  Hardness GH = 300 ppm
                  Alkalinity KH = 180 ppm
                  Ph = 7.8
                  Ammonia = 3.0 ppm

                  I am not sure why the Nitrate and Alkalinity have spiked. I asked if these numbers made sense considering the previous results, so they double checked the results, and agreed the spike is somewhat surprising (these results are from instant test strips, the pet store uses made by Jungle Laboratories Corp., same as the previous results).

                  The LFS advised that I do another 20-50% water change. Although, I am very hesitant since this setup is still so new. Would you advise I do this water change?

                  Also, the LFS suggested that I stop using Ammo-Lock2 tap water conditioner, and instead use SeaChem Prime. So, I purchased a bottle of Prime, and plan to use that on the next water change. Figured I would let you know about this just as an FYI. As long as I am getting advise from SeaChem, I figure you can better understand what is going on if I am using your products!

                  Water is still cloudy since the water was added a couple of days ago. Although, the water cloudiness is less than yesterday. I have not made any other changes, and nothing new has been added. All six Danio's still appear healthy, and eat well.

                  Another unexplained observation is that I see a thin layer of something (oily?) along the surface of the water. It separates when I lowered in my sample bottle. Although, the surface of the water is under constant agitation from the water supply spray bar from the canister filter (Fluval 403). I am not sure what this is about. We feed the fish TetraColor dry flake food as directed on the container.

                  Any advise would be greatly appreciated,


                  • #10
                    Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                    Adding that small amount of water should not have a large effect on the tank except when you have chloramines in your water. If can test ammonia in your tap water than you have chloramines. In this case every time you add or change water you are adding more ammonia to your system and the bacteria have to consume it. The bacteria growing in an attempt to consume the ammonia would cause the cloudiness you have seen.

                    As far as why your Nitrate has raised, it is because your tank is cycling. The complete cycle goes from ammonia to nitrite to nitrate. The fact that you have nitrate suggests that your tank is going through the complete cycle it just has not finished.

                    Your alkalinity spiking is a bit odd. I would say that either your tap water has a higher alkalinity than your tank originally tested or you have something in the tank dissolving and releasing alkalinity. Or perhaps it is just the inaccuracy of the test kit.

                    I would be hesitant to do a water change without knowing if your adding more ammonia by doing it. You may need to find a new source of water for water changes during your cycle.

                    Prime does bind up the ammonia in chloramines. But changing the water in the tank with tap water that has high ammonia will not speed up the cycle. Once your cycle has completed you should be fine using tap water and Prime for small water changes. The bacteria in your tank will be able to handle it.

                    The thin layer on the surface is most likely just proteins. This is normal and sometimes readjusting how your filter breaks the surface will remove them from sight. Also our product Purigen will help absorb them.


                    • #11
                      Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                      Day 39:
                      Tanks Stats:
                      Nitrate = 60ppm (about as high as the color scale went)
                      Nitrite = 10ppm (color off the chart, may have been higher)
                      Hardness = 300ppm (also seemed very high)
                      KH = 300ppm (color off the chart, may have been higher)
                      PH = 9 (color off the chart, may have been higher)
                      Ammonia = .1 ppm (just measured a very slight reading)

                      Same six little fish, all seem to be well, and water remains clear. The protein buildup on the surface of the water has gone away. The local fish store advised we just wait it out, and that the tank is nearing the end of its cycle. Advised against a water change. Although, despite the ammonia is low, I am concerned because some of these numbers have tripled since the last check. Nothing has been added, except flake food feedings as directed on the container. I haven't even replaced any water. I hope these stats are still okay. They looked dangerous to me.

                      On my next post, I provide stats on my tap water.

                      Thanks again for your continued help and advise. It is really appreciated and encouraging.


                      • #12
                        Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                        There are a few things that I noticed. Your pH and Alkalinity (KH) are slowly rising. If you have not added anything than there is something in your tank raising the KH. Things that will cause this are seashells, dead corals, limestone, just to name a few. What kind of decorations are in your tank? You can test them by soaking in vinegar, if it bubbles it is your problem and needs to be removed.

                        I would recommend a water change because nitrite at that level will actually prevent the bacteria that consume nitrite from growing. You need to get that level down. But before you do please test your tap water to see if it has chloramines in it. If an ammonia test shows ammonia than it does.

                        If your tap water has chloramines I would look for another source of water. Many grocery stores have a water machine that you bring your own container and fill up. These are usually RO filters, it should say RO (reverse osmosis) some where on the machine. That or you can invest in one of the under the sink carbon filters. They will usually pull a good bit of the ammonia out.

                        The only other thing you should watch out for is most food containers say to feed your fish several times a day. Once a day at most is all most fish need. And with your on going problem I would feed no more than once every other day.


                        • #13
                          Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                          No tank changes were made since my last post. Taking a sample of the tap water from my house, I also decided to take another tank sample (Day 41 = 9/23). This was a different pet store, and they got quite different results, and I have more faith in the new results. This tells me two things: get a reliable test kit of my own, and learn to use it. I've just about thrown out the results on day 39. I will test the rock in the tank as you suggested for Alkalinity (KH) using the vinegar method. Perhaps the pH is okay.

                          Day 41:
                          - Tank Water Stats -
                          Nitrate = 20.0 ppm
                          Nitrite = 3.0 ppm
                          Hardness = 300 ppm
                          KH = 100 ppm
                          PH = 8.0
                          Ammonia = 0.0 ppm
                          Salinity = 0.24% (purple drop test)

                          - Tap Water Stats (NW Fort Worth, TX) -
                          Nitrate = 0.0 ppm
                          Nitrite = 0.0 ppm
                          Hardness = 300 ppm
                          KH = 180 ppm
                          PH = 7.8 ppm
                          Ammonia = 0.25 ppm

                          The only other change occurred on Sunday, day 43 (after the above results), when my son grossly overfed the tank by accident, in which I gravel vac'd the tank, removing about 3 gallons of water and all the settled flake food. I refilled the tank with tap water that I had allowed to sit out uncovered in a large water bottle for over a week. I allowed the tap to air out in hopes it would make it safer for the fish, having released chlorine. I think next time I'll just go get some RO, unless you think the tap stats look okay.

                          Thanks again for your help. I sure appreciate your time!


                          • #14
                            Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                            Good test kits and knowing how to use them is a definite. Many companies strive for the easiest test kit possible even if it means that the results will be less accurate.

                            According to these results your KH is lower in your tank than in your tap. Which is very normal. The fish waste and CO2 dissolve away the KH slowly. I would not worry about your pH if the pet stores you buy from use tap water. If they use tap water their pH will also be high. Your tap water does have ammonia in it, which means you have chloramines. So when you treat the tap water make sure that the chemical you are using are for chloramines. Chloramines are very stable and don't evaporate as easily. You could add a carbon water filter to your tap, that if changed regularly would remove your chlorine and ammonia.

                            The chloramines explain why your ammonia quickly became a problem. The good thing is that the ammonia probably won't be a problem again unless you do a large water change.

                            Now its just a waiting game for your nitrites to come down and then you can add more fish.


                            • #15
                              Re: Cycling with SeaChem Stability (Cloudy Water)

                              [QUOTE=Tropheus;410]I also added fresh zeolite granules (no charcoal) to the canister filter intending to calm down the ammonia. Also added aquarium salt, thinking I would be adding fish soon (25 tbs).[/QUOTE]

                              Sorry if this has already been posted, but I saw that there were questions regarding the zeolite:

                              Mixing aquarium salt and zeolite is completely counter-productive, as far as I know. Salt causes the zeolite media to expel the ammonia that it's absorbed, and it's even recommended on my box of ammonia chips to "recharge" them after they're saturated with ammonia by soaking them in a bucket of water + aquarium salt for a few hours.

                              Hope that's helpful! :)