Should My Aquarium Filter Make Bubbles?

Aquariums are closed systems with no link to larger water bodies, so it’s crucial that you regularly filter the water to remove biological waste and properly aerate your aquarium. A surefire way to do that is via an aquarium filter.

An aquarium filter does a great job by purifying the water that your fish colonies are breathing through. It keeps your aquatic life safe and helps them thrive by cleaning out all plant matter, moving sediments, uneaten food, and fish waste from the water.

Most aquarium filters operate using air to pump the aquarium water in and filter out clean water.

And if you’re aquarium filter is making bubbles, there is nothing to worry about. Since these filters use air, it is quite common for some large bubbles to appear from the filter. However, these bubbles quickly reach and dissipate to the top of the surface of the aquarium water and pop, leaving fresh oxygen for your fish.

However, if your filter is producing an abnormally large number of bubbles, then yes, it could be an issue that you might need to look into and address right away.

It is a sure-fire sign of your filter not functioning properly, and a non-functioning filter could endanger the life of your tank specimen by not properly filtering breathable water.

Should My Aquarium Filter Make Bubbles?

As mentioned above, you are always going to see some bubbles in your aquarium water. All air-driven filters cause air bubbles to form, and air stones create an outpour of tiny bubbles that essentially move water around the aquarium and prevent it from being stagnant, which helps aerate it.

However, these bubbles are harmless as long as they pop quickly, don’t cover the entire water surface of your aquarium, and don’t look frothy.

In fact, these oxygen bubbles actually help oxygenate and aerate your aquarium, allowing your aquarium plants and fish to live comfortably in it. They make for a good biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration process.

If your aquarium filter is blowing multiple tiny bubbles that spread all across the water surface, then you need to address the problem. Too many bubbles might disrupt your fish’s normal behavior, might obstruct their view and distress them, especially since most aquarium fish prefer relatively calmer waters.

Too many bubbles will also stir up the sediment lying at the bottom of your aquarium and make the water appear cloudy. Bubbling might take place because of a malfunctioning filter, which is definitely not something you want as that will leave you with unclean water, which is inhabitable for fish.

So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the most common reasons why an aquarium filter might produce more bubbles than usual so that you can solve the issue accordingly.

Reasons Why Your Aquarium Filter is Blowing Excessive Bubbles

Bubbles themselves are not too threatening for your aquarium environment; however, identifying the underlying cause of bubbles is necessary as that could be a cause for concern.

So, you need to figure out the underlying issue and fix it as soon as possible to maintain the healthy environment of your aquarium.

So, let’s discuss 6 common reasons why your filter might be blowing excessive bubbles:

1. A Soiled Filtration Unit

An aquarium filter may cause unnecessary bubbles if it is dirty. A dirty filter is one that has a lot of protein buildup, including plant matter, uneaten food remnants, fish waste, etc.

Water that is high in such protein causes air to stick together and forms multiple bubbles when it comes out of the filtration system. These bubbles then disrupt the surface of your aquarium water.

The simplest solution to fix this issue is to thoroughly clean out your filtration system. Take it apart, properly clean the filter media, wash out the water tubes, and double-check to see that there is no solid waste stuck in any of the components of your filtration system.

2. High Protein Content in Your Aquarium

The previous point talks about high protein content that is jammed in your filtration system. However, the issue might be deeper than a simple obstruction that you can wash out. Your whole aquarium water could have too much protein content in it. This issue is not that common in freshwater tanks, but it is a common occurrence in saltwater tanks.

Once the high protein water goes into your aquarium’s filter mechanism, it will cause air to fuse together and come out of the filter in a frothy and bubbly mass. To prevent this occurrence, make sure that you clean out your tank on a regular basis.

To effectively clean your tank, you need to clean your aquarium’s substrate and remove all uneaten food remnants, decaying plant matter, and fish waste. This will take care of the protein build-up in freshwater aquariums.

As for saltwater aquariums, you can do all this and additionally, you can look into using a protein skimmer – a tool used to eliminate protein from aquarium water. It will help reduce the bubbles.

3. Old or Clogged Filter Medium

Your filter might also start producing more bubbles than usual because there might be an issue with its medium. This especially rings true for mechanical filter media such as sponge or foam pads. Sponge or foam filters tend to get dirty way too easily.

Mechanical filter media prevent solid waste from flowing toward the filter and remove it from the aquarium. However, as these media get old and wear out, they can clog up.

A clogged mechanical filter medium will prevent water and air from properly passing through the clogged areas, which in turn will force the water and air to pass through the unclogged parts in a rapid succession of bubbles.

However, mechanical media can be cleaned easily, so more often than usual, the problem occurs when you don’t clean your filter medium. So, make sure to properly clean your mechanical filter media, and if it’s too dirty to clean and unclog, just replace it with a new one.

4. Cascading Water from Hanging Filters

Hanging filters or hang on back filters can also cause bubbles to develop in your aquarium water. Hanging filters are the ones in which the filtered water cascades down the surface of the aquarium water.

If the flow of your hanging filter is too high, the filtered water pouring out of it will hit the surface tension of the aquarium water and force a large amount of air under the water surface, which will create multiple bubbles.

This could also happen when the water level of your aquarium is too low as compared to the height from which the filtered water is dropping down.

So, the easiest way to counter this is to reduce the flow rate of water pouring out from your handing filter so that it does not hit the surface with too much force. You can also raise the level of your aquarium water so that there is less space between the surface and the falling filtered water.

5. Using Soap To Clean Filters

Many aquarium keepers know not to use soapy water to clean their filtration unit. However, a novice aquarium enthusiast can make this mistake. If you have used soapy water to clean out the parts of your filtration system, then you can rest assured that it is the cause of the bubbles erupting from your filter.

In simpler terms, don’t use soapy water to wash out your filter and its components.

In the event that you have done so, you will need to remove the filter from your aquarium and thoroughly rinse it out with plain water until you are sure that you have cleaned out the entire soap residue. This is important to do since soap can be quite harmful to the health of your aquarium plants and fish.

6. Wrecked Filter Components

A broken component of the filter could be another reason why your filter might start blowing surplus bubbles. The component may have worn out over time and may be causing problems.

A worn-out diaphragm in the air pump is a very common cause of air bubbles. It allows air to bypass through your entire filter system, forcing air bubbles to come out of the other end of your filter.

Many filters have repair kits available in the market; they contain suitably sized diaphragms that you can replace your old, broken one with.

A broken impeller could also be responsible for air bubbles. A defective impeller will cause constant loss of prime, which will create air bubbles and force them through your filter system.

If your filter’s impeller is beyond repair, you will have to replace it with a new one. However, most often than not, the impeller is simply clogged and you can easily clear it with a tiny brush.

It is normal for aquarium filters to form some bubbles. However, if your filter is producing more bubbles than it usually does, then it is a cause for concern.

Using the guide above, identify the cause of the bubbles and nip the problem in the bud!

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