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Page 2 about
Cloudy or Foamy Water


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This page contains Customer Comments and our Replies about Cloudy Water.

Click here to go back to the first page in this discussion about Cloudy Water.

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Customer Comments

Hi, I read your section on bubbles at the top of the aquarium and have a question. I have an airstone which produces large bubbles on the water surface. These stay at the surface and generally don't pop.
When the airstone is turned off, the bubbles burst in a few minutes. When the air stone is kept off, there are no bubbles on the water surface. Is this situation OK? Also, there seems to be foam when I run the diatom filter, and when I turn the filter off, this foam goes away. Maybe I have a surplus of oxygen?

Reply. Hello Mike. The bubbles and the foam are not really the problem, but the bubbles and foam indicate that your water quality is not good.

Here is a very simple test. Make sure your hand is clean, then dip just the tips of your fingers into the water in your aquarium and rapidly move your fingers back forth in the water to create bubbles.

If the bubbles don't pop instantly, your water quality is not good.

Click here for more about using your eyes, nose, and fingers to test your water.

The bubbles indicate there is waste in your aquarium water. This waste is a combination of lots of stuff including oily molecules, protein-like molecules, ammonia, etc.

Good water doesn't have these waste molecules in it. Why? Because the so called "beneficial bacteria" have digested these waste molecules.

It is the "beneficial bacteria" that biologically filter the water and make it safe for fish.

Click here for more information about biological filtration of water.

Your diatom filter is a mechanical filter not a biological filter. The diatom filter will remove particles, including bacteria, and make the water clear, but it won't remove the waste molecules, mentioned above, because those molecules are too small for a diatom filter to remove, and it's those molecules that are the most important waste to remove!

We recommend power filters with BIO-Wheels because they are the best bio-filter for most freshwater aquariums.

Click here to read more about filters. Proper filtration is the key to having good water, and good water is the key to having healthy fish.


Customer Comments

Hey. I read your comment to another question about bubbles on top of the water. You said it was caused partly by ammonia. I tested my water, and it was high in ammonia. (I don't exactly know why because I've only had fish in it for about a week and a half).
I didn't have bubbles on top. I bought some AquaSafe to lower my ammonia, and now I have bubbles on the top. Why is this? Also, the water we have in our house comes from our well. The well water has a high ph (about 9.0). I know this isn't acidic, but is it still harmful to the fish?
Thanks in advance,
Reply. Hello Scott. The bubbles on the surface of your aquarium's water are actually composed of fish waste that is dissolved in the water.

Fish normally produce waste that contains ammonia, plus some fats, oils, and pieces of broken up proteins. Ammonia is not a good chemical to make bubbles, but the the fats, oils, and pieces of protein are effective chemicals for making bubbles.

When you have one type of fish waste you usually have the others. So we rarely test for ammonia. We just use our finger tips to test for waste in the water. Click here for the details about how to do that.

Your test results indicate that your water contains ammonia, and the bubbles indicate that your water also has other types of fish waste. So now we know that your water contains fish waste, and this is very bad for your fish.

Your aquarium has contained fish for only one and a half weeks. Usually a new aquarium will have problems with ammonia and other fish waste for the first few weeks, because the so-called beneficial bacteria have not had enough time to multiply in the filter, where they digest the fish waste from the water. Click here for more details about aquarium filtration.

Since your water has bubbles you should immediately take steps to get rid of the bubbles. Click here for the details about how to do that.

Water with a pH of 9.0 is too high for most fish. A range of pH from 7.2 to 7.8 is good for most of the fish that we now offer on this website.

Water in that pH range comes from the faucets in most people homes in the U.S. Even water with a pH as high as 8.2 is not too bad, but 9.0 is too high. You should try to find another source of water for your fish, unless you decide to keep fish from Lake Tanganyika in East Africa.


Customer Comments

I have a 2 week old 50-gallon aquarium and the water absolutely STINKS!  I have checked all levels of PH, Nitrates, Ammonia, etc. ... and everything reads fine.  The water is SLIGHTLY cloudy but I was told that is typical of a new tank.  Any idea what could be causing the water to smell like cat urine???
Thanks so much!
Reply. Hello Kris. Bacteria are growing in your aquarium. These bacteria are digesting something from your aquarium water and producing a combination of chemicals that have a peculiar aroma. Click here to read more about these bacteria.

Strange aromas are very common in new aquariums. Quite often I have smelled aromas like cigar smoke or garlic. Click here for more about using your nose to test your water.

Click here for information about why your aquarium is cloudy, and how to get rid of the cloudiness, which should also eliminate the aroma.

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