Why Is My Turtle Tank Cloudy?

why is my turtle tank cloudy

One of the turtles’ important needs, especially aquatic turtles, is water. They need clean and ammonia-free water to stay healthy. Although turtle is messy reptile and create a lot of mess, they love it when provided with a clean environment.

When turtles find the water they are swimming in is cloudy, they try to escape from there. Also, they can rarely see in cloudy water, so they sometimes can’t find their food, creating food scarcity and increasing fights among them.

Cloudy water also has some adverse effects on turtles health. Your pet turtles’ health should be your top priority as a turtle owner. So let’s try to understand why the turtle tank water becomes cloudy and how to fix it.

Related Article: How Often To Clean Turtle Tank?

Why is my turtle tank cloudy?

There are many reasons for the tank water of your turtle to become cloudy. Below mentioned are a few of the most common reasons for the tank water’s cloudiness.

1. Frequent water change

Sometimes out of concern, you keep changing the tank water. You think it will result in clear water for your turtle, but this is not true!

Too much water change affect the pH balance of the water. It causes too many beneficial bacterias to be taken out of the tank water. You need to change only 10-20% of your water at a time from the water tank and not take the entire water out again and again. If you clean the water very aggressively, it removes the beneficial bacteria, resulting in pH imbalance.

On the contrary, if you do not clean the aquarium often, it can lead to too many bacterias in the water. This will facilitate a rise in ammonia and nitrite, which is unhealthy for the turtle. It is very important for you to do small but regular water changes to keep the water clean for your turtle.

2. New tank syndrome

If your tank is new and doesn’t have any beneficial bacteria, it is a cause of concern. The beneficial bacteria consumes much of the mess that turtles inevitably create while eating and defecating. This is called “New tank syndrome”, which usually occurs when your tank is new.

Bacteria are needed for the natural filtration process of the water. The bacterias break down the turtle waste and the decayed food particles. These beneficial bacterias are usually found in your turtle tank water. Hence, it’s essential not to change the water too frequently as you remove both good and bad bacterias.

When the turtle produces waste, it increases the ammonia level in the water. When the ammonia level drops, the nitrite levels rise, and when nitrite levels drop, the nitrate levels rise. An increase in ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank water increases the risk of disease in your pet turtle. Hence you must do regular water changes and check if the filter works fine.

When your turtle tank is new and does not have the beneficial bacteria in it, the turtle waste remains as it is, and it causes the nitrite and ammonia levels to rise, resulting in cloudy water.

3. Waste in the turtle tank

The turtles usually prefer eating in water and inevitably create a lot of mess in their tank. This leads to a build-up of waste from the turtle leftovers.

This leftover needs to be removed often by using a water vacuum. If it’s not removed regularly, it results in the cloudiness of water due to an increase in ammonia and nitrite levels.

4. Unclean Filter

Another reason for the water to turn cloudy is the unclean filter. Along with water, you must also clean the filter. It’s necessary that you choose a very good quality filter. Aquarium turtle BIO-filter works great and is available on amazon.

If you do not clean the filter regularly, it starts getting dirty. When overrun, it can push out the waste it contains into the water, leading to cloudiness in the turtle water tank.

If your filter is not working, it needs to be replaced immediately because it plays a vital role in keeping the water clean. It also balances the water.

How long does cloudy water last in a turtle tank?

The cloudy water can last from a few days to a few weeks to get clear. If you do not clean or remove the water from the tank, it will automatically get clear with time. If you are not in a hurry and can see cloudy water for a few days, this will work for you.

Do not keep changing the water because it decreases the chance for the good bacteria to develop and multiply, resulting in an increase in ammonia levels. This creates a pH imbalance in the water. The ideal pH level for water is 6-9. If the pH level is below 6, ammonia cannot metabolize properly. The nitrite level needs to be below 0.5ppm, and the nitrate level should be less than 40ppm.

It’s necessary to check the pH level of the water in the tank as the imbalance in pH level can cause serious health complications in turtles.

How to fix the cloudy turtle tank water?

1. Use UV sterilizers

If you often face the issue of cloudy water in your tank, then use UV sterilizers or bacterial supplements. The UV sterilizers such as Aquarium Sterilizer work great by eliminating bacteria and algae’s reproductive potential through the UV light that passes through the water. You can also use bacterial supplements. They remove the ammonia and chlorine if you dissolve them in water.

2. Feeding turtles in different places

You can use a different container for feeding your turtle. Since turtles like to eat inside the water, a watered container is a good idea. You can keep them in this container and feed them inside of it. Keep them in the container until they eat their entire food or defecate. This will keep your turtle tank clean and will not make it cloudy.

3. Clean your filter

As mentioned above, cleaning the filter that you are using is as important as cleaning the water tank. Filter facilitates the breaking down of waste into less harmful forms. You need to remove debris that gets collected in water. Using filters regularly will help reduce the appearance of a cloudy turtle tank. You need to clean your filter so that it does not flush out its waste inside the turtle tank and create more cloudiness.

4. Vaccum pump

The vacuum pump sucks up the debris trapped underneath the surface. However, it’s not advised an overuse of vacuum pump as it partially changes the water every time you use it. The vacuum pump stops your water from becoming stagnant.


As the most important part of turtle’s life, water needs to be provided clean for them. Your turtle tank water appears cloudy due to several factors such as frequent water changes, an unclean filter that you are using, New tank syndrome or waste created by the turtle. If the water is changed frequently, it removes beneficial bacteria that decomposes the turtle’s waste, so it should be avoided. An unclean filter can also cause cloudiness in the water. Another reason for cloudy water could be the new tank, as it does not have beneficial bacteria, leading to a rise in ammonia levels and cloudiness in water. The waste created by the turtle and food particles floating around is also a major cause of cloudy tank water. You can resolve this issue of cloudiness of water by using a vacuum pump, UV sterilizers, cleaning the filter regularly and feeding the turtle in a different place.