What Do Bubbles in My Fish Tank Mean?

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You have a beautiful aquarium. You’ve taken care to provide your fish with an appropriate atmosphere that includes plants, stones, and hiding places. You clean the tank regularly, and you even use the right lights and aeration system. However, you’re starting to notice strange bubbles appearing in the water. There are many potential reasons why your aquarium is developing bubbles, and while not all are problematic, a few of them could put your favorite finned friends at risk. Read on to learn more about your fish tank and when you should be concerned about bubbles appearing in it.

When Are Fish Tank Bubbles Normal?

You’re always going to see some bubbles in water. It’s the nature of the environment. Air-driven filters can cause bubbles to develop, and air stones create cascades of small bubbles that help move water around the tank. Hanging filters can also cause bubbles to form. Put simply, if the bubbles pop shortly after forming, don’t cover the entire surface of the water and don’t appear foamy, then they’re probably nothing to worry about.

According to Petcha, some species of fish create bubble nests. Healthy Bettas and gouramis do this to attract mates. Bubble nests can look like a mass of floating orbs on the surface of the water. They can also attach to the plants in your aquarium. Sometimes, you might see debris mixed in with the nests, and that’s perfectly normal.

Have you ever noticed tiny bubbles coating every surface of the aquarium after you refill it? These microbubbles aren’t unusual either. They should go away within a few days, but you can wipe them away if they bother you.

Pearling in Aquarium Plants

Aquatic plants produce oxygen as they undergo photosynthesis. The oxygen may sit on the leaves in the form of small, jewel-like bubbles. This is called pearling and is a sign of a healthy aquarium. Fast-growing plants will do this more easily than slow developers. If you don’t notice pearling, your water may not have enough oxygen in it. If that’s the case, the oxygen created by the plants is absorbed by the water. Pearling is most likely to happen when the water is saturated with oxygen.

Foam in Your Fish Tank

What if you notice a layer of foam on the water’s surface? Foam can be caused by a number of things, says The Spruce. It’s not always a problem, but it could be. When you fill an aquarium, you create some agitation, which causes bubbles to form. It’s the same as shaking up a bottle of water. The foam should dissipate quickly. To avoid it from forming, pour the water in slowly. You can also pour it against a plate so that it splashes against the surface instead of the inside of the tank.

Bear in mind that foam can be fatal to fish if it comes from soap or cleansers. Don’t use household sponges, buckets, or equipment that has been used elsewhere to clean your aquarium. Even a little bit of residue from a cleaning solution could severely harm your fish. Furthermore, make sure that all of your family members know that they shouldn’t use the aquarium bucket when they’re washing the car or cleaning the bathroom.

Too much protein in the water of a fish tank can coat the bubbles, preventing them from popping. Protein foam is an indicator that your tank needs to be cleaned. A dirty filter and debris in the aquarium can cause this problem. Additionally, a dead fish that’s starting to decompose can lead to protein foam, so be sure to count your fish regularly to make sure that none are missing.

Water Quality

One of the most important ways to keep your fish tank healthy is to fill it with high-quality water. Chlorine can damage your fish tank within minutes. Tap water is treated with chlorine or chloramine, and both are dangerous to fish. Chlorine can be bubbled out of the water, but chloramine cannot. Fish that are poisoned by chlorine may develop redness or mucus all over their bodies. They usually die if they are not removed shortly after exposure.

If you fill your tank with tap water, use a dechlorinator to neutralize the chemical. Dechlorinators are inexpensive and easy to use. Just be sure to follow the directions on the product to determine how much to use in your tank. If your water supply is treated with chloramine, you may need to purchase a product that neutralizes that compound as well.

Proper Aeration

Fish need oxygen to survive. If your tank is loaded with toxic chemicals, like chlorine and ammonia, the fish get their own oxygen by floating to the surface and blowing bubbles. This is a sign that your fish are in danger. If you notice this behavior, you should retest your tank water and look into upgrading your current aeration system as soon as possible.


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