Causes of Too many bubbles in the aquarium

Too Many Bubbles in the Aquarium: 7 Causes and Solutions

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If you notice that your aquarium is forming bubbles it means the aquarium is healthy. So you don’t need to worry much about it. However, excessive bubbles are not so good for fishes or other living creatures. Thus you must find the reasons for it.

Too many bubbles may form due to excessive dissolved oxygen in the water. It may come into an aquarium from filters or air stones. However, in stagnant water conditions, due to bacterial growth excessive bubbles may form that are bad for aquariums. Besides this, Betta or Gourami may create bubble nests also.

When you face this type of issue then you must find the right reasons for solving it. Here I’ve described very few but significant reasons that you may face currently.

However, I faced too many bubbles in my aquarium due to other reasons too. So I want to give a clear idea about the reasons for excessive bubbles in your fish tank. Let’s dive deep into it.

Reasons for having too many bubbles in aquariums

Bubbles in an aquarium are not a bad thing. However, some types of bubbles indicate the unhealthy condition of the aquarium. Now here I’ll provide the 9 top reasons why your aquarium is facing too many bubbles at a time.

Among these, personally, I’ve faced some of the reasons and the rest of the reasons I’ve found through research. So if you know all of these reasons then it will be better for you to analyse your reasons for bubble formation in the aquarium. 

  1. Liquid fertilizer may create bubbles 

Possibility – low 

If you have a planted tank then you may use liquid fertilizer once. These liquid fertilizers are very much helpful for the growth of plants. Lots of people use these liquid fertilizers to get quick growth of aquatic plants. Due to lots of reasons aquatic plants may grow slowly. To fix that issue liquid fertilizers work as catalysts.

Now lots of planted tank owners have said that they have observed bubbles often in their planted aquarium after using liquid fertilizer. Personally, I did not face this issue but you may have faced this issue so I have kept this as a reason on this list.

However, this type of bubbles may occur due to excessive usage of liquid fertilizers in a planted tank. Not only that but due to iridescent water the bubble may create after using liquid fertilizer.

Solution – To fix this issue you must check all of the water parameters. If you observe a little bit the presence of chlorine or chloramine then you must use a water conditioner. It is because the elements of liquid fertilizer may react with the elements of water and may create unnecessary bubbles. It is better to use a water conditioner before using liquid fertilizer. The water conditioner neutralizes undesirable metals and chlorine.

You can use Seachem’s Prime to condition water. It is a recommendation from Aqualifeexpert.

  1. A large number of bubbles may appear by agitation 

Possibility – low 

You may have faced a large number of bubbles due to agitation. This is a very common form of creating a bubble. Everyone knows that liquid creates bubbles after agitation. So your aquarium may have bubbles due to any kind of agitation. These bubbles are purely formed by air. So this is not harmful to fishes or other living organisms of the aquarium.

When you pour water in the aquarium during the water changing process then agitation of water may happen. So, excessive bubbles may appear at that time. Fish may be stressed due to it. So you have to pour water very slowly.

It happened to me frequently in previous times. However, now I have checked the force of pouring water and use a plate to reduce force.

  1. Betta and gourami fishes create bubbles

Possibility – Medium 

If you have kept betta or gourami then you will get extra bubbles obviously. Betta and gouramis fishes are called the ‘Bubble Nester’. It means betta and gourami form bubbles to build their nest. They do it to protect their eggs from predators. In the wild betta live in dirty, shallow water. So they try to keep oxygen and moisture by creating bubble nests. 

Mainly male fishes build this and try to protect eggs. The female betta or gourami fishes just lay the eggs in this nest. Male betta fish carry the eggs and protect them till their spawning. Male betta or gourami can create a bubble nest without having a partner also. This is the natural tendency to create bubbles.

It means if you are noticing some deep thick bubbles at a particular side of the aquarium then you don’t worry about it. It validates that your betta is healthy enough and wants to spawn eggs.

However, if you have betta fish in the aquarium and still it is not building a bubble nest then you have to check the filter. Due to the filter, there may be too much current on the top of the water surface. Hence, a bubble can’t be formed by betta or gourami.

This issue personally I’ve faced in my betta tank and I was afraid also like you. However, I’m assuring you not to worry about this.

  1. Soap at the decorative materials

Possibility – medium

Lots of aquarists like to stock their aquarium with different types of toys and metals. This is not a bad thing rather this creates an aesthetic view. So this is recommended to keep for decorating the aquarium.

However, the issue starts to arise when aquarists clean these toys or decorative items with soap. After cleaning when they put these toys in the aquarium then it starts to create excessive bubbles. Maybe you are now facing this issue. So you need to check it once.

Personally, I’ve faced this issue several times. First I didn’t understand the reason. After observing the while I realized that the excessive bubbles are forming after using soap. Sadly some of my fishes died due to this issue also.

Solution – You must not use soap and this is the recommendation from us. To clean algae you can use an aquarium sponge. Siphon is another good option to clean the algae on the gravels or any decorative materials. You can use a waste credit card to clean the inner portion of the glass of the aquarium also. The small toothbrush is useful for this too.

  1. Bubbles may form due to fish corpses

Possibility – medium 

If you have checked all the points that have been described here and still don’t find the right reason for excessive bubble forming then you must check this one. This is related to the fish corpses. If you have a big sized aquarium then you may not check all the places of the aquarium. This is not possible for a normal human being. Now if one of your fish is dead then you may not be able to find it quickly. It is very much possible when you have lots of small fishes in a big tank.

Generally other of your fishes will find its dead body and will consume it quickly. However, unfortunately, if they do not find the dead body then it may start decaying and the bubble will start creating with it. It is not good for a fish tank. You have to find the dead body fast and remove it quickly. The dead body will create protein bubbles.

Personally, I have not faced this issue yet. Sometimes some of my small fishes disappear and at that time I realise that fishes are dead.

Solution – Firstly you have to find the source of bubbles forming. The bubble may not form at a force. However, this is easy to find the source of bubble forming. With that source, you may get the dead body of the fish. After that, you must remove that body quickly from the aquarium. Lastly, you can change water partially also for safety purposes.

  1. Protein foam may form excessive bubbles 

Possibility – high

The top of the water surface of your aquarium may get foam-like bubbles. This is called protein foam. If the water column of your aquarium contains too many proteins then it will form lots of bubbles and appear on the top of the water surface of the aquarium. This indicates that the aquarium does not get proper maintenance. This is an unhealthy condition of the aquatic environment.

If you do not clean the aquarium once a week then protein level may increase according to the source. This may occur due to the stocking of excessive foods, debris, fish waste and so on. The combination of all of these makes the aquarium toxic and stinky. If you take this foam in hand then you can realise that these are sticky in nature. You may notice some oil slime here also.

Personally, I’ve not faced this yet. However, I have seen this condition in my friend’s aquarium. The fishes were too unhealthy and the water was sticky. This condition occurs due to a lack of cleansing of the aquarium. However, that tank was in its worst condition. You may not have faced this condition but the foam-like bubbles on the top of the water surface help you to know that your aquarium requires a good cleaning.

Solution – You must clean the water very well. You should check whether your filters are working or not. If you check it is not working correctly then immediately you should replace it with a new one. You must know that an aquarium is a confined water body and it does not have any connection with the bigger water body. So it needs a filter to remove the hazardous elements from water.

Besides this, you can use an old brush, siphon, gravel cleaner etc to clean the aquarium well. It is recommended to change more than 70% of water in the aquarium for the first time to clean the foam-like bubbles. After that, you can change 20% of the water twice per week to maintain the fish tank well. You can use a water conditioner also that has been prescribed in the previous point’s solution.       

  1. Excessive Bubbles may come from broken filter 

Possibility – high

Every aquarium must have filters. It may be canister filters, HOB filters, sponge filters and so on. The primary work of these filters is to clean the water biologically, mechanically and chemically.

However, all of these filters do not provide all of these three filtration processes to an aquarium. Besides this, these filters aerate aquariums by oxygenation process. These release small or big bubbles that appear and pop out in a fraction of seconds going top of the surface of the water.

Now, this is the basic and primary working process of an aquarium filter and there is no problem.

The problem starts when filters start making bubbles that do not burst at all. At that time the whole aquarium feels the presence of bubbles here and there. This provides very discomforts to the fishes. This may distress your fish too. This you must check the right reason to solve.

There are three to four primary reasons why your filters are not working properly. These are

  • Clogged filter medium 

You must check whether your filter medium is clogged by solid wastes. This problem generally comes out when your filter becomes older enough.

If you have sponge filters then your aquarium is getting excessive bubbles due to this issue. Primarily sponge filters try to wipe out the solid wastes from an aquarium. Now if its media is clogged up then the unclogged portion of this filter may create rapid bubbles that may create disturbance in the aquarium.

  • Fountaining waters from filters 

Some of the aquarists face this issue with it. It happens mainly for the HOB filters. This type of filter sends the filtered water into the aquarium by creating a fountain. Now if the water surface of the aquarium is too low compared to the source of filtered water of the HOB filter then it may create excessive bubbles in an aquarium. So you must check the height of your filter compared to the water surface of the aquarium.

  • Due to broken parts of the filter

If you are new to this hobby then you may not understand this issue just by seeing it once. Your filter’s inner parts may not work well. Basically, when filters become old then this type of issue appears.

When the diaphragm of a filter does not work well then that filter passes a huge quantity of air through it. This is why excessive bubbles appear in the aquarium. It may occur when the impeller of the filter is wrecked completely. At that time a filter creates lots of bubbles in the water surface and this is not a good sign.

Personally, my filter was clogged up a while ago and I had replaced that with a new one. My aquarium filter was too old and didn’t work properly for me. So my aquarium was getting too many bubbles at a time. So I decided to buy a new one.

Solution – As a solution, you can clean the filter if you notice that your new filter is clogged up. Otherwise, if your filter is much older then it is recommended to buy a new one. Otherwise, it may create other issues too.

For the fountaining issue only you need to reduce the height of the filter compared to the water surface and nothing else and for the wrecked part of the filter, you may replace that particular part with a new one. Otherwise, you can change the whole setup if it is too old.

Are excessive bubbles harmful to aquarium fishes?

Air bubbles are not harmful to fish or any type of living organisms present in the aquarium. However, excessive protein bubbles indicate the unhealthy condition of the fish tank. This type of bubbles appearing means the aquarium requires a good cleaning. Ammonia spikes may occur due to it. 

Air bubbles are purely formed with oxygen and these are not harmful to fishes but excessive air bubbles may distress fishes at all. These bubbles may reduce the sighting of fishes thus it is not a comfortable place to live. However, some amount of bubbles will occur in the aquarium obviously due to aeration and oxygenation. You can’t prevent it. So you don’t need to worry about it much if these are not excessive.

Protein bubbles are really harmful to aquarium and fishes. This occurs when a fish dies or from detritus and food waste. Ammonia and nitrite are two very harmful elements in the aquarium. Fishes and other living organisms may die very quickly from these elements. The ammonia and nitrite spike may arise due to excessive food waste and detritus. So protein bubbles are the initial stage of an unhealthy aquarium.


Too many bubbles may form due to several issues. But you have to know which one is normal and which one is harmful. If you see that bubbles are formed by protein then you must clean your aquarium. Otherwise, air bubbles are not harmful at all.

If you have betta or gourami fish in the tank then you may observe the foam-like bubble nest on the top of the water surface. This is a natural tendency of these fish types to create bubbles during the breeding period. Thus there is nothing wrong with it. However, if you get stinky and sticky bubbles then you must clean the tank. It is an indication of an unhealthy condition of the tank.

So best of luck & happy fishkeeping 🐟

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