Bubbles in Turtle Tank: What Causes Them and How to Fix Them

bubbles in my turtle tank

Do you have bubbles in your turtle tank? If so, it is important to find out the cause and take corrective action. While bubbles are not usually life-threatening to turtles, they can affect their health if left untreated. In this article, we will discuss the possible causes of bubbles in a turtle tank and how to fix them.

Related Article: How To Clean A Turtle Tank?

Why does my turtle tank have bubbles?

The bubbles in your turtle tank are the white foam that is usually caused by one of the following reasons:

  1. Ammonia buildup
  2. Chlorine water
  3. Water agitation
  4. Protein buildup
  5. Water change
  6. Soap residue inside the tank
  7. Turtle medication

Let’s try to under each point in more detail.

White foam in turtle tank due to ammonia buildup

If you see bubbles in your turtle tank, it could be a sign that the ammonia levels are high. Ammonia is a chemical that is released when turtles excrete waste. It’s extremely harmful to turtles and can cause them to become sick or even die. The bubbles are created as the ammonia rises to the surface and creates foam.

It often occurs when your water filter is not doing its job efficiently or the filter is new. A new filter sometimes doesn’t have enough microbes to break down the ammonia into less harmful forms. This causes a rise in ammonia and eventually more bubbles in the tank. However, the problem will get solved in a few days as the filter accommodates more microbe colonies.

White foam in turtle tank due to chlorine water

If you are using chlorinated water in your tank, it can also cause bubbles. The bubbles are created when the chlorine combines with other chemicals in the water to form foam. The use of tap water is one of the common causes of this type of issue. Tap water contains chlorines, it is harmless to humans but to turtle, it may cause eye irritation or other health issues.

One quick solution for this is to use de-chlorinated water or by using turtle tank water conditioners. Below are our suggestions for some of the best water conditioners available in the market. For a more detailed guide please check our article best water conditioner for turtle tank.

Image Product Price Purchase Link
API TAP Water Conditioner $7.29 Buy on Amazon
API Turtle Sludge Remover $7.79 Buy on Amazon
REPTISAFE Instant Terrarium Water Conditioner $6.44 Buy on Amazon
Fluker’s Eco Clean All Natural Reptile Waste Remover $5.04 Buy on Amazon
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Aquatic Water Conditioner $3.59 Buy on Amazon

White foam in turtle tank due to water agitation

The bubbles in your turtle tank can also be caused by the water being agitated. When you move the water around, it causes bubbles to form. This is often the case when you are cleaning the tank or when you are adding new water to the tank. The water filter can also cause bubbles when water is unrested due to continuous filtration for a long time.

If you are experiencing bubbles when you are adding water, the best thing to do is to wait until the tank water calms down. This usually happens after a few minutes. You can also try to reduce the bubbles by adding less water to the tank at one time or by using a bigger container to mix the water in.

If your filter is creating water agitation, then turning it off for a while maybe the greatest option. You can also try to place the filter in a different location so that the water would not be disturbed as much.

White foam in turtle tank due to protein buildup

The bubbles can also be caused by the buildup of proteins on the surface of the water. This usually happens when there is too much organic matter in the tank. By organic matter, I mean leftover foods or decaying plants.

If your filter is not cleaning the water properly then there is a good scope of protein buildup in the tank water. Check your filter if it is clogged or any other issue. Remove all of the debris and leftover foods from the bottom of the tank. Turtles often leave food that got stuck in the substrate or gravel. Over time it gets decaying and causes protein buildup.

Another common reason for protein buildup is dead pants. These plants are the major source of protein in the tank. Make sure you are removing them regularly and not letting them decay in the tank.

Bubbles after water change

One of the most common causes of bubbles in your turtle tank is when you are doing a water change. This happens because you are adding new, clean water to the tank and the bubbles are created when the old water and new water mix together.

The best way to avoid this is by adding the new water slowly to the tank. You can also try to stir the water a bit before adding it to the tank. This will help to mix the water together before the turtles get a chance to swim in it.

If you are having a lot of bubbles after water changes, then you may want to try doing the water changes less often. This will help to reduce the bubbles in the tank.

Soap or detergent residue causing bubbles to form

If you are seeing bubbles forming in your turtle tank, it is possible that there is soap or detergent residue in your tank, substrate, or on other devices inside. This can often be the case if you are using a cleaning agent such as soap or detergent to clean your tank.

If you suspect that there is soap or detergent residue in your tank, the best way is to change the water completely. Sometimes the residue might get stuck inside the filter mediums so it is important to clean the water filter thoroughly.

If bubbles are still appearing after you have cleaned the tank, then it is possible that the bubbles are being caused by something else. In this case, you will need to do some further investigations to determine the root cause.

Medication is given to the turtle causing white foam

If your turtle is receiving medication, it might cause bubbles to form in the tank. This is because medications often contain compounds that can cause bubbles to form when mixed with water.

If you are giving your turtle medication, make sure to check the ingredients list to see if bubbles are listed as one of the side effects. If they are, then you will need to take some extra steps to prevent bubbles from forming in the tank.

One way to reduce bubbles is by giving your turtle medication in a separate tank or container. This will help to prevent bubbles from forming in the main tank.

How to identify the cause of bubbles in your turtle tank?

If you’re seeing bubbles in your turtle tank, it’s important to identify the cause before taking steps to fix it. Bubbles can be caused by a variety of things, from poor water filtration to leftover turtle food.

Here are a few steps to identify the cause of the bubbles in your turtle tank:

  • Look at the bubbles themselves. What shape are they? Are they large or small? Where do they seem to be coming from?
  • Check your water filter. Is it working properly? Is it dirty or clogged?
  • Examine the water level in your tank. Is it too high or too low?
  • Inspect your turtle food. Are you feeding your turtles too much? Are they eating all of their food?
  • Check if the water has chlorine in it.
  • Check if the filter is causing water agitation
  • Inspect the substrate for any leftover food under it. Also, check if any decaying plants are there in the tank.

Once you’ve identified the cause of the bubbles, it’s time to take steps to fix them.

Here are a few tips:

  • If your water filter is dirty or clogged, clean or replace it.
  • If your water has chlorine in it, then consider using a water softener or conditioner.
  • If your turtles are leaving food uneaten, then consider removing it manually or feeding them in a separate container.
  • Remove any decaying plants and clean the substrate thoroughly.
  • Clean the tank, filter, and substrate with plain water to remove any soap or detergent residue.

Once you have identified the cause of bubbles in your turtle tank, it’s much easier to take corrective action. Bubbles can often be fixed by making a few simple changes to your tank set-up or routine.


Bubbles in my turtle tank can be caused by a variety of things. Thankfully, they are easy to fix. In this post, we looked at the most common causes of bubbles and how to correct them. Bubbles in the turtle tank can be a sign that something is wrong, so it is important to address them as soon as possible.