What Is New Tank Syndrome and What Is The Cure?

In Tank Cyclingby PaulK

What Is New Tank Syndrome?

‘New Tank Syndrome’ is used to describe the cloudy water conditions that occur in new aquariums. This often results from bacteria blooms that happen because the filter has not established enough beneficial bacteria to handle the toxins in your water. Because there are toxins in the water, bacteria will form there instead of in your filter resulting in a white cloudy fish tank.

What Is The Cause of Bacteria Bloom?

Waste from excess food and fish cause an inorganic nitrogen compound to form (NH4). If you have a high pH value in your water, then deadly ammonia (NH3) is formed. The filter needs two types of bacteria to combat the ammonia. First Nitrosomonas bacteria break down the NH3 to form nitrite and Nitrobacter bacteria need to be present to turn the nitrite into more harmless nitrate. If you have live plants, they will absorb the excess nitrate.

If these two types of beneficial bacteria are not yet established in your filter, then the result will be a bacteria bloom in your aquarium water.

This is why you should wait several weeks to properly cycle your fish tank first before you add any fish to the aquarium. The beneficial bacteria need time to establish in your filter. You need to understand the nitrogen cycle and the role of your filter in order to prevent new tank syndrome.

Best Practices To Avoid New Tank Syndrome:

  • Add some live bacteria either into the water or the filter to get the ball rolling faster. You can use Dr. Tims live bacteria or special bacteria gel balls for the filter for this.
  • Add one drop of ammonia for each gallon of water. Not just any ammonia, you should use an ammonium chloride solution. Read the instructions closely.
  • Cycle for at least a week until the ammonia and nitrite read zero using a test kit. Once the readings are zero for both ammonia and nitrite, then you can start slowly adding fish. First, start with a good hardy fish like the common guppy or danios. Maybe 6 at the most depending on the size of the aquarium. Bigger fish tanks are easier to cycle.
  • Feed them sparingly at first. Don’t overfeed.
  • Keep monitoring your water quality. You should test the water every other day or so at first just to be sure the filter is doing the job and eliminating ammonia spikes. Ammonia spikes are common at first and should be avoided at all costs. If you do experience an ammonia spike, then you need to do a 25% water change.
  • You can also use established biological media from an older fish tank that has been actively used to filter the water. It’s a faster method because the beneficial bacteria is already there and you don’t have to wait for it to grow.

How To Fix New Tank Syndrome

  1. You need to clean your fish tank at this point. Vacuum the gravel and do water changes. The bacteria bloom will eventually go away because they have nothing to feed on.
  2. Add an activated carbon filter to the media. This will help clear the water by absorbing the nutrients that the bacteria feed on.
  3. Use a coagulate solution like API Accu-Clear. It will coagulate the particles making them bigger so the mechanical filtration can filter it out of your water.

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