One of the most asked questions in the aquarium hobby is about Getting Crystal Clear Aquarium Water. I have asked this question many times myself. So with experience and experimenting I’ve found the top 3 ways to improve your waters clarity and quality!
Many new comers into the hobby have trouble with getting crystal clear aquarium water. This isn’t surprising at all since many new tank setups get 1 form of cloudy water right away. This new tank cloudy water is usually caused by a bacterial bloom. A bacterial bloom occurs when a new nitrogen cycle has started. New bacteria begin to grow and remain free floating in the water column. That’s what gives your tank a milky white cloudy look.
Fortunately this bacterial bloom will subside on its own with time. You just have to be patient. Don’t panic by doing multiple water changes or adding unnecessary chemicals to your tank.
Once this bacterial bloom stage has passed there can be many other reasons for cloudy water.
How To Get Crystal Clear Aquarium Water
These steps have been proven to improve your waters clarity. But don’t get water clarity confused with water quality. They are not the same.
To ensure your water is clear and healthy for your fish you must have a steady scheduled maintenance plan in place. Having a scheduled maintenance plan is the foundation of how to get crystal clear aquarium water.
This article on tank maintenance will be helpful – Water Change and Tank Cleaning
1- Stop Over Feeding
Overfeeding can cause a number of issues in your tank. One definitely being cloudy water. Most beginners in the hobby tend to have this problem. We love our fish and the last thing we want is for them to be hungry. So we feed…and feed…and feed. Then we learn fish are not like other domestic animals, they’re not dogs lol.
When I first began the hobby I had to cut my feeding in half! Yes, HALF. I learned that like most pets fish are always hungry, but unlike most pets their stomachs are tiny and they will over eat which can cause Bloat, a deadly disease in fish.
Problems from over feeding
Overfeeding also causes problems in your tank water. Any excess uneaten food will deteriorate and cloud your water. It will also break down into Ammonia which will cause your beneficial bacteria to over work to convert it to the less toxic Nitrite, and then Nitrate. (The Nitrogen Cycle)
If you don’t have enough beneficial bacteria in your tank to convert the ammonia caused by the over feeding, you could have a deadly ammonia spike.
Guess what else happens when you over feed…Over pooping! That’s right, if your fish are consuming more they are creating more waste, also adding to the ammonia in your tank. Your filters have to work harder to remove this detritus floating around your tank making your water less “Crystal Clear”.
So start by cutting down your feedings and watch your water clarity drastically improve. All fish have different diets and feeding schedules but a commonly used schedule throughout the hobby is feeding once per day and maybe even adding in 1 day a week of fasting.
2- Install a Wave Maker/Power Head
A Wave Maker can be a triple benefit when used correctly.
- A – It can oxygenate your water by breaking the surface tension if positioned correctly.
- B – If you have aggressive fish, like African Cichlids, it will help lower that aggression by creating a flow they can swim against. Keeping them occupied instead of focused on each other.
- C – A wave maker will help create a circular flow of motion in your tank, keeping your water constantly moving. How does this help with water clarity and quality? Good question!
The flow your wave maker creates will help pull detritus off your substrate and cause it to move around instead of staying stuck in a dormant dead spot.
Detritus that doesn’t get sucked into your filter intakes will deteriorate and cause cloudy water. This detritus also adds to the ammonia levels in your tank by not being filtered out properly.
Here’s a great video about proper wave maker positioning to maximize your wave makers efficiency in helping you get crystal clear aquarium water.
3- Add Poly-fil
Poly-fil is one of the most used items in the aquarium hobby. Poly-fil is super fine polyester material that can catch the smallest of particles in your water. Adding Poly-fil to your filters will drastically improve your waters clarity.
Upside of poly-fil is that it is super cheap, easily accessible and replaceable. The downside to poly-fil is that it will get clogged up faster than your typical course and medium sponges. Kind of a give and take if you want that crystal clear water.
How to use Poly-fil
When using poly-fil the best application is to install some into a canister filter. There are many types and configurations of canister filters but when it comes to where to place the poly-fil its always the same.
Poly-fil is used as the final step of your mechanical filtration, since it is so fine only the cleanest water should reach this poly-fil to ensure it doesn’t get immediately clogged with course (or big) particles. Your course and medium layers of mechanical filtration should filter those.
Then the poly-fil filters out the smallest particles before the water reaches your next layer of filtration which is always biological filtration. Here are great articles on Filter Media and the Correct Order of Filtration if you’d like to learn more.
By implementing these 3 tactics you can achieve the goal of having crystal clear aquarium water. Not only will it help you enjoy your tank more. But your fishy friends will also appreciate it!
Add a Sponge Filter
A Sponge Filter is a very economic, very efficient and very effective filter.
Not only does it add mechanical filtration to your tank, which will help in improving your waters clarity, but it will also help biologically filter your water by adding more surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow on.
A sponge filter also helps aerate your tank by producing bubbles that pop on the surface. There are many more benefits and functions of a sponge filter, to learn more check out this article – Sponge Filters (All You Need To Know)
Add Chemical Media
Chemical media is not necessary in your filtration and many choose to run there tanks without it. But it can help to improve your waters quality if you want to go that additional step that will put you over the top!
Chemical media always goes at the end of your filtration process, meaning Mechanical media first, then Bio-media second and finally chemical media at the end.
Chemi-Pure Blue – is a premium, low-dust pelleted carbon. Resins are combined to create an all-in-one filter media in a nylon bag. Chemi-pure Blue significantly reduces organic compounds and phosphates while raising redox and helping stabilize pH for a healthy, crystal clear aquarium.
Purigen – is a synthetic polymer that removes soluble and insoluble impurities from water, leaving your water looking crystal clear. Purigen controls ammonia, nitrites and nitrates by removing nitrogenous organic waste that would otherwise release these harmful compounds.
If you feel there’s more room for improvement then try my Free-Ebook with multiple tips on getting that crystal clear water we all want in our tanks! Many have found the tips in this book to be very helpful and I’m sure you will too!