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Important Information about
Cloudy, Foamy, or Smelly Aquarium Water

This page explains briefly why your fish's water is cloudy, foamy or smelly and what to do about it.

Cloudy, foamy, or smelly water will almost always cause stress and disease to your fish, so you should immediately take action to clear the water.

Why is the Water Cloudy, Foamy, or Smelly?
Each of these three problems is caused by a high concentration of bacteria in the water.

Uneaten fish food or fish waste in the water provides nourishment for bacteria, that are floating in the water, and feeding on the waste in the water.


These bacteria often cause Signs of Stress and Disease in the fish.

Click here for more about some of the Signs of Stress and Disease in fish.

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Pet Fish Talk a Podcast about keeping pet fish in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds.  
Click here to hear a Special Interview on Pet Fish Talk about the EcoBio-Block Family of Products, which are very effective at keeping aquarium water clear.

1. Get Rid of Cloudy, Foamy, or Smelly Water.
Start by thoroughly cleaning your fish's home. Depending on what kind of home your fish have, click on one of the topics below for more details.

   ●  How to Clean Your Fish Bowl
   ●  How to Clean Your Cool Water Aquarium
   ●  How to Clean Your Warm Water Aquarium
   ●  How to Clean Your Pond


2. Change Some Water Every Day.
Change some water every day.
We recommend that you change 20% of the water. Changing more than 20% of the water in one day is risky to your fish.

By changing some of the water, you'll remove some of the dissolved waste and begin to starve the bacteria.

But don't get impatient and change too much water, because that can harm the fish.

Click here for more details about changing water.

You can put the water from your aquarium on the plants in your yard, so you won't be wasting water.

Once the water clears, you can go back to changing water twice a week instead of every day.


3. Reduce the Amount of Food.
Too much food often causes Cloudy Water, so reduce the amount of food, and be sure your fish eat all the food that you feed them.

Remove uneaten food after 10-minutes.

Click here for more information about feeding your fish.

4. Add these Chemicals to Your Water.
   ●  Aquarium Salt. The dose is on the box.
       Click here for information about Aquarium Salt.
   ●  Water Conditioner. The correct dose is on the bottle.
       Click here for information about Water Conditioner.
   ●  Quick Cure. Add a half-dose as a preventative.
       Click here for information about Quick Cure.
Do not add
any other chemicals or medications to the water.
Add the Aquarium Salt just once, but repeat the Water Conditioner and Quick Cure every day until the water clears. 

Be careful to use the correct doses of each chemical because more will not be better. All three of these items are available in most stores that sell pet fish.


Generally speaking it is not safe to mix chemicals.

Some knowledgeable advanced aquarists may be skeptical about mixing Water Conditioner and Quick Cure, but we have been assured that these two chemicals are compatible.

Do not add other chemicals that may not be compatible.

Do not assume that other chemicals can be mixed unless you have checked with the manufactures of those chemicals. Mixing chemicals can be unsafe.

Click here for more advice about Safety.

5. If your Fish's Home has Gravel.
Get a handful of gravel from an established aquarium with healthy fish and sprinkle that gravel on top of the gravel that you already have.

The beneficial bacteria that are living on the handful of gravel will quickly multiply to cover the surfaces of the rest of the gravel in your cloudy aquarium.

The beneficial bacterial will digest the waste in your water, and the water will quickly clear.

Click here to read more about Cultured Gravel.

The water in my small pond got cloudy, about a week after I started to feed the fish. My pond had about 1/4-inch of gravel.

When I noticed the Cloudy Water, I added a handful of gravel from an established aquarium with healthy fish.

My pond water cleared-up about 36 hours, after I added the handful of gravel.

Click here to read more about my cloudy pond water.

Where can you get a handful of gravel from an established aquarium with healthy fish? Often you can just go to a local fish store and ask for a handful of gravel, and they will give it to you.

You might offer to pay. Ask them to get the gravel from an aquarium that has been trouble free.

For example, you certainly wouldn't want to get gravel from an aquarium that recently had a case of the disease called ick.

Click here to read more about ick.

The fish store may also offer to sell you several different products that will solve your Cloudy Water problem.

Just tell them that you'd like to try the handful of gravel first.

If your water is cloudy or was recently cloudy and is now clear, be sure to check your fish for Signs of Stress and Disease.

Click here to read more about these signs.

Click here to read about a Recommended Treatment for fish with Signs of Stress and Disease.

6. Avoid the Problems in the Future!
Don't feed your fish more than they can eat.
Learn to feed your fish so there isn't any uneaten food left over. Carefully watch your fish eat and then remove any uneaten food after 10 minutes.

Click here for more about how to feed fish.

Be sure to clean your fish's home once a month and change 20% of the water twice a week.

Click here for a complete schedule of maintenance tasks.

If you have an aquarium, it should have the correct type of filter that's clean and working properly. We recommend a power filter with a BIO-Wheel. The BIO-Wheel is very important.

Click here for more information about aquarium filters.

A layer of gravel 1/4-inch thick will help keep the water in a fish bowl clear. But an aquarium with a bio-wheel filter doesn't need gravel.

If you like the appearance of gravel, make sure it's only 1/4-inch thick. Always stir the gravel gently just before you change water.

Click here for more about gravel.

Click here to go on to another page in this website with Customer Comments and our Replies about Cloudy Water.
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