Fish Tank Water Cloudy and Foamy – What’s Wrong?

Clean and transparent water in your aquarium is not only important for your fish’s health. It’s also very important for your admiration of the water life. If the water is cloudy, you will not like the way your aquarium looks. Also, you will have to do something if you see foam on the top of the water. This makes the whole picture even less attractive.

The fish tank should look good. But still, the first priority is to ensure that your fish and other water animals are OK and they live in an optimal environment. Anyway, cloudy and foamy water is something you should deal with immediately. But it doesn’t always mean that something is wrong with the aquarium. Today, we’ll tell you how to deal with cloudy and foamy water in a fish tank. We’ll also give you tips on how to avoid this problem.

Here are some important points in our article:

  1. Why is foam formed in a fish tank?
  2. Why can water be cloudy in an aquarium?
  3. Should you worry about some changes in the water?
  4. How to avoid contamination of the aquarium water?
  5. When should you take action as soon as possible?

Let’s get started!

Do you see foam on the top of aquarium water?

Foam is a bad sign in all cases. You should react to this as soon as you see some foam. But what’s a foam that is actually dangerous for your fish? We would start panicking if we saw a really thick layer of white-with-yellow foam on the surface of our fish tank. If the water is just a little foamy, it may not mean anything bad.

We know many cases when foam can be formed. For example, if you pour new water into your aquarium while making a partial water change, you can pour it too quickly and some foam will be formed with water bubbles. Also, sometimes the air pump will send too much oxygen and it will be the reason for forming white foam in restricted quantities.

But the foam may be the sign of some dangerous changes in your tank, in these cases:

  • a lot of white foam you can find on the surface of the water, it starts going up to the edges of the tank;
  • the thick foam has some yellow, brown, or even black parts in it – it’s the sign of bad troubles;
  • all the surface of the water is covered with a thick layer of foam that may look differently;
  • the color of the foam is not white – this means something really bad happens in your fish tank;
  • the foam smells like a rotten fish or something like that – any bad smell should warn you about problems;
  • the foam keeps floating on the surface of the water for a very long time, not just after the partial water change;
  • the amount of this foam increases and it starts taking more and more place on the surface.

These are the signs that something went wrong. This foam will not allow the fish to live happily and be healthy. Sooner or later, fish will die or get some problems with health and you’ll have to act quickly. Better do something before it’s too late. And you’ll have the opportunity to avoid problems.

Well, for dealing with the situation, you have to know the reasons why this foam may be formed in your aquarium. We’ll give you some hints:

  • the aquarium is very dirty and needs proper cleaning;
  • there is too much protein in your aquarium, food leftovers should be removed thoroughly;
  • some fish or other animals died and you should extract them from the tank;
  • the water has some chemicals in it and it needs to be changed;
  • some water plants give foam – you need to remember what you’ve added recently;
  • your filter may fail to clean the water and this brings excessive foam forming.

Actually, you need to remember what has changed with your aquarium recently. Maybe, you started using some new type of food or you have brought new pets. Maybe, you replaced the filter. Possibly, the problem is hidden in these changes.

Cloudy water – what’s wrong with your fish tank?

Cloudy water is an even worse situation. Sometimes, the water in your tank may get so cloudy that you basically don’t see any fish. If so, quick actions should be taken.

But again, it’s not always a big problem. Sometimes, cloudy water is OK. Especially, if you have just recently added some water or completed the water change in your aquarium. It may have influenced the soil or other matter that is presented at the bottom of the tank. After an hour or two, the water should be clean again.

If not, you should check for some possible reasons. We would start panicking in these situations:

  • the water is cloudy for too long and it doesn’t get better at all;
  • fish and other creatures start acting in a strange way;
  • the water is colored in an unnatural way (green, red, blue, etc.);
  • the transparency gets worse every hour or every day;
  • the aquarium glass gets dirty very quickly from inside;
  • fish or any other animals die in the aquarium;
  • the cloudy water changes its condition sharply in just one day without any action on your side.

In these cases, we would try to fix the situation as soon as possible. The best way is to organize a quarantine tank and put all your fish and other pets there. After that, you can check whether the water will be normal again.

If not, you should check for some other reasons. We’ve come up with the most probable reasons for this:

  • your filtration system is not working properly – change the filter or service the system;
  • some food leftovers weren’t taken out and they contaminated the entire aquarium;
  • some fish or other animals died and contaminated the tank;
  • there is some bacteria growth in your aquarium, so you need a quick water change;
  • a sudden increase in nutrients or nitrates became the reason for bacteria growth;
  • some new animal in your aquarium constantly digs up in the soil and makes the water cloudy.

After you find the reason why it happens, you can deal with the problem. Actually, we would start with something we’ve changed recently in our aquarium and we would also check the filtration system. Very often, these are the two things that lead to cloudy water in a fish tank.

Sending your fish to a quarantine tank is important because the cloudy water may eventually be dangerous for some fish. For example, if it’s because of the quick growth of bacteria, some fish may just die or get ill because of this.

Will water change always help from foam and cloudy water?

Unfortunately, the water change will not always help. Also, any chemical products will not always help. Because the reasons for cloudy water and foam on the surface may be different. For example, the problems occurred because a big snail died in your tank. You may change the water every day, but at the end of the next day, it will be cloudy and foamy again.

So, changing the water is a good idea, but before that, you should make sure that you know the reason why the water became dirty. Knowing the reason is very important – this may save the life of your animals.

Here is the algorithm which we would use to deal with such problems:

  1. Check the filtration system.
  2. Make sure that all water creatures are alive and feeling good.
  3. Check if there are some food leftovers in the aquarium, and extract them.
  4. Provide the water change if you don’t see any obvious reasons for the problem.
  5. Think of what you have recently changed in your aquarium.
  6. Put all your fish and animals into a quarantine tank if you have this possibility.
  7. Consult with a specialist if you can’t find the reason.

The biggest mistake, in this case, is the hope that tomorrow everything will be fine. You should do something to prevent problems with your aquarium. If you just wait, nothing will happen. But observe the foamy or cloudy water for an hour after you notice it. If it’s OK after an hour, it may be that the problem occurred because of the water change or something else. And it’s OK now.

Be careful and always pay attention to the quality of water in your fish tank. Otherwise, your pets will die and you’ll have to rearrange the water tank and spend a lot of time and money on it.

Final words

We believe that foamy and cloudy water in your tank almost always shows some problems. You should react to this situation and do everything you can to protect the animals you have in the aquarium. If you do nothing, tomorrow it may be too late. We recommend using our checklists and also using our step-by-step guide to deal with foamy and cloudy water in a fish tank.