Bubbles in Turtle Tank

Bubbles in Turtle Tank

A healthy tank environment keeps your turtle happy and healthy. Many owners become worried when they see bubbles forming on the surface of the water in their tank. In today’s article, we have summarized some important causes of bubbles in turtle tanks along with solutions to fix the problem.

Why are there bubbles in my turtle tank?

The main reasons there are bubbles in a turtle tank are ammonia, disinfectant residue, movement, protein, and soap.

There is also a chance that your filter’s water pump is too strong. This is usually the case if the bubbles mostly surround the filter. If your turtle tank bubbles look like this, you should try turning down the power on your water pump.

bubbles and foam in turtle tank

1) Production of ammonia gas:

This is one of the biggest reasons for the bubble formation and foam in a turtle’s tank. This happens due to the conversion of the ammonia present in the turtle’s urine into nitrite and nitrate.

It usually occurs due to new filters because they don’t contain a sufficient amount of microbes which break down the ammonia. This is why ammonia accumulates and participates in bubble formation. Remember, with time, the filter of the tank gets populated with microorganisms and this problem will most likely go away. If it doesn’t, you should try cleaning your filter or getting a new one.

The other solution to this problem is to regularly change the water in your turtle tank. This not only helps remove the excessive ammonia from the tank, but also regulates the pH of the tank. If water changes don’t stop the bubbles from forming, I recommend checking out this strong turtle tank filter.

filter for a turtle tank

You can learn more about filters in my article on turtle tank filters.

2) Presence of disinfectant residues in the tank water:

This is also an important issue that causes bubble formation in your turtle’s tank.  It is common for chlorine to be present in tap water. If you use this water in your turtle’s tank, it causes the formation of bubbles. Remember; use a good filter, with proper pore size, and from a well-reputed brand.

You can also use water conditioners to help to remove all unnecessary gases and chemicals from your turtle’s tank. I suggest that you check out one of the conditioners listed below.

Eco Clean All Natural Waste Remover

    Price: ~$7

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Cloudy Aquarium Cleaner

    Price: ~$8

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API Turtle Sludge Destroyer

    Price: ~$17

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3) Role of water agitation in bubble formation:

 As you know, bubbles can easily form when water becomes agitated. When you vigorously fill the water in the tank with pressure, bubbles can be formed. To deal with this issue, try to fill the tank slowly so that you do not cause to much disruption in the tank. This will also prevent your turtle from becoming stressed. 

4) Role of protein in the formation of bubbles:

Protein plays an important role in the formation of bubbles in a turtle tank. The bubbles produced from protein become sticky and get attached in the form of a sticky, smelly foamy layer. This protein comes from the diet of your turtle, or from their waste. So, it is wise to remove the excess protein from the tank with the help of protein skimmers (usually present in some tanks). To deal with protein-associated bubbles, do regular cleaning of the tank, remove the dried plants (as they are the major sources of protein in the tank), and keep proper care of your filters- remove debris from your filter and replace damaged filters with a new one.

5) Bubbles due to use of soap/detergents:

Usually, detergents and soaps get into the turtle’s tank from cleaning buckets and scrubbing pads. Try to keep separate filter scrubbing pads and cleaning buckets (don’t use them for household purposes). If you suspect soapy bubbles in your turtle’s tank, immediately change the water. Try to fill the tank with unchlorinated water. You must also change filter media and the pads as they may carry some soap residue.  Always be careful while cleaning the tank and make sure that the cleaning buckets/scrubbing haven’t come in contact with soap or detergent.

White bubbles in turtle tank

The main reason white bubbles form in a turtle tank is because of protein build up. This is usually caused from excess pellets that your turtle doesn’t eat that float to the bottom. It can also be caused from the build up of debris and dead plants decomposing.


Bubbles in a turtle tank are most often found on the surface of the water and along the walls of the tank. There are a variety of causes for bubble formation in a turtle’s tank. The important reasons include the presence of ammonia in the tank water, the presence of protein and other wastes in the water, agitation of the water, and disinfectant & soap residues. To deal with bubble formation in the tank, keep an eye on your filter, regularly change the tank water, and inspect the overall cleanliness of the tank on a regular basis.


Can an undersized turtle tank filter cause bubble formation on the surface of the water?

Yes, it can cause bubble formation on the surface of the water in the turtle tank. So, try to look into this issue. Do regular maintenance of the filter. Keep in mind; the filter can be one of the major causes of the bubbles in your tank. It may be best to upgrade to a filter that has a higher gallon per hour rate.  

Can I add cleaning chemicals to my turtle’s tank?

It is important to remember that you should never use household cleaning chemicals to clean your tank or your tank filter. Try to manage the tank’s environment without using chemicals. There are many chemicals that are toxic to turtles and can cause illness and death if ingested.

Why should I add new water slowly in my turtle’s tank?

The addition of new water with splashing aerates the environment in the turtle’s tank and is a main reason for bubble formation. Try to fill the water slowly and carefully in order to avoid bubbles and keep your turtle calm.

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