Turbidity Caused By Algae

Discoloration and cloudiness of aquarium water occur most frequently in newly established aquariums. Fresh water, whether from the tap or from other sources, contains numerous microscopic algae and protozoans as well as sufficient mineral substances for their continued reproduction. Turbid water is therefore a common phenomenon in new aquariums, although this cloudiness usually disappears within 5 to 10 days and does not return. For the first few weeks the water should not be changed or added to, as the

Many fishes, like this breeding pair of Haplochromis burtoni, stir up and dig into the substrate in search of possible breeding sites. It would be a great mistake to put them In aquariums with delicate plants.

Many fishes, like this breeding pair of Haplochromis burtoni, stir up and dig into the substrate in search of possible breeding sites. It would be a great mistake to put them In aquariums with delicate plants.

A colony of Paramecium and other dilates. Photo by Dr. R. Geisler.

new water will contain more organisms and a fresh supply of nutrients. The cloudiness will thus reappear.

If the initial turbidity lasts more than a couple of weeks, the filtering can be increased. This removes the turbidity but not its causes. If the excess growth of algae and protozoans is caused by an overly rich planting medium or by excessive fertilizing of the substrate or water (whether by natural or artificial fertilizers), the turbidity immediately reappears as soon as filtration is stopped. This will continue for as long as the surplus nutrients remain in the water, which may be months. This is one more reason for using plain sand for the bottom material.

Turbidity in older aquariums is generally of a seasonal nature. Summer often brings a green coloration caused by dense growths of unicellular green algae stimulated by excess light. This turbidity is sometimes beneficial but also curtails the transparency of the water and is therefore largely disagreeable to the aquarist. This heavy growth of green algae is in fact a sign of sufficient light but at the same time indicates a superabundance of nutritional substances in the water. As soon as the algae have consumed all the available mineral nutrients, they die off en masse and their bodies

Rotifers occasionally appear along with protozoans and algae in a tank Photo by C.O. Masters.

enrich the water, providing organic substances on which protozoans can feed. When the green turbidity becomes gray or brown, it is no longer even marginally beneficial but may be dangerous. The turbidity is now composed of protozoans and other minute animals which remove large quantities of oxygen from the water, possibly causing suffocation of the fish.

In extreme cases such as this a substantial part of the water can be changed, but it should not be replaced by water containing additional nutrients. Only distilled water, rain water, or water from a clean aquarium should be used, A prompt use of increased filtering helps also, if the filter is powerful enough to remove the cloudiness within 2 or 3 days. If turbidity caused by protozoans is left for more than this time, it almost certainly will prove dangerous.

Cryptocoryne petchii

Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia var. sarawacensis

Enlarged photo of Eichhomia crassipes showing the swollen petioles of this plant.

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