How to get rid of aquarium smell


Is your aquarium smelling bad? So, Are you worried about that? Ok, Let me clear it as a professional aquarist.

Every aquarium has its smell (Most of the time, pleasant smell), but it is only noticeable when you keep your nose closer to it. Unless you will keep your nose directly on it or give attention to it, you can’t feel that. This is the nature of a healthy aquarium.

If you notice that your aquarium smells strongly bad around the room and is like rotten eggs, sulfur, or something like that, there is something truly wrong with your fish tank. The tank is probably building up so much water bacteria, the chemical is dissolving improperly, or the filter is working poorly. That’s why your tank is smelling bad.

However, besides this, there are some other reasons to smell a fish tank. Before getting rid of this smell, you have to know all the possible reasons why a fish tank smells and from where it comes.

Why Does A Fish Tank Smell?

A healthy aquarium is not likely to outstretch the smell around the room. It is a sign of an unhealthy aquarium that is not being maintained properly. Most of the time the odorous scent is produced for a decomposing biological substance such as bio-waste. When the bio-waste is not cleaned out appropriately, it may extend the bad smell. Besides, other reasons may have to smell bad in your aquarium.

There are some reasons why a fish tank smells bad:


Once you understand what ammonia smell is like, you will be able to recognize it for the rest of your life. Its scent is just like pee-filled babies’ nappies. If your fish tank smells something similar, there might be something wrong, and you should take it seriously before being it more crucial.

The ammonia level might be increased in the aquarium for overstocking or overfeeding. So it is important to make sure the ammonia level is accurate to the aquarium if you want to keep away the aquarium’s bad smell.

Dead Fish

This is the most common reason for a fish tank smell. If an aquarium fish is dead, but the owner doesn’t notice, it may go into the filter and get trapped in it. Besides, the dead fish might be hidden in the aquarium corner and leeches proteins and oils to the aquarium. This protein and oils release gas that creates an odor in the aquarium.


No one wants to keep their fish starving, but it mostly happens aquarium owners overfeed their fish. It is one of the rudest things fish owners do mistakenly. Fish food that is uneaten falls to the bottom of the aquarium and creates an odor.

Typically uneaten food is fallen into the depths where the bacterial colonies get produced. And this excessive food forces it to create more and more gases that have a bad smell.

Fish poop

Bad smell in the aquarium might be caused by fish poop if you don’t maintain your aquarium regularly. If your tank has adequate fish but doesn’t clean it regularly, the poop can be made up. That’s why when your fish tank is smelling, take a closer look at fish poop.

When you find the tank is smelly, you have to perform regular maintenance before the poop begins to smell. You should keep in mind that the more fish you have, the more poop your fish produce. So, keeping this in mind, your maintenance routine should be.

Rotten plants

Though this is not common, rotten plants can emit a bad scent in the aquarium. Dead plants are easy to identify. After death, they change the color into brown or black. It is important to keep away the dead plants immediately as they can also worst the water quality.

If you notice that any plants have few plants, then take a close look and prune it as soon as possible. And, remember, algae are also plants, and it also emits a horrible stench.

Dirty filter

Normally, an aquarium filter becomes dirty quickly because it sucks organic matter, food, dust, and dead plants that can be stock and therefore rot. Although the filter job is to clean the aquarium water, it sucks everything in the water. Which means sooner or later, the aquarium can be smelly.


If you notice that your aquarium is smelling like rotten eggs, consider that it can come from your used substrates that have faults recently. Though it is tough to understand exactly which substrate of your aquarium is liable, here is an explanation to make it easy.

Typically sand or gravel are used in the aquarium for a long time; that’s why it can be compacted over time and produces zones where actually no oxygen is available. Then the waste gets traps in it and is converted into smelly gases.

Water conditioner

It is less common but can happen. The conditioner you use during the water changes can be liable for a smelly tank. Though this smell is not permanent like other reasons, it is better that you choose the best one before buying a water conditioner.

How to get rid of the aquarium smell?

Before trying this step, make sure you have identified the main cause of smell from where it comes. If you can’t remove the main cause, the following method may not work for you.

There are steps to get rid of the aquarium smell:

  • Wipe the glass
  • Clean substrates
  • Keep away dead leaves off plants
  • Clean rocks and decoration
  • Clean filter inflow and outlet
  • Change water partially
  • Rinse filter
  • Add a carbon filter (non-compulsory)
  • Keep up a regular maintenance

Every tank is differently setting up, and the maintenance steps are unique to your tank. If you find any rotting gunk that does not belong to your aquarium, get it out immediately!


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