Aquarium Smells! How to get rid of smell?

AquaLady

I have a strong odor coming from my tank and its smelling up my whole room! How do get rid of it and what could it be caused by?
 

marshal

Probably, maybe a dead fish sucked into filter
 

AquaLady

My filter is clean and carbon recently replaced. I just scrubbed the algae off the glass and laid down new substrate. Nothing dead and fish never over fed.
 

Randyk47

That's a gigantic bummer! I know new tanks sometimes smell a bit musty, versus the earthy smell of a healthy mature tank, but not sure what to tell you. All I can think of is checking the filter again and water changes over the net few days until the smell subsides.
 

AquaLady

The thing is the water and the tank isn't new so idk what the heck is going on. The fish seem happy and healthy though. My tiger barbs are even going through mating rituals in this stinking mess.
 

Junne

Was it sudden or was tis something that has been getting worse over time?

You could try activated carbon in your filters if everything else checks out okay ( no dead fish, plants, etc )
 

Randyk47

Beats me. I know I'd be upset and concerned. Back in the olden days they didn't have, or at least I couldn't afford, the test kits we have today. You could test pH relatively easily but you kind of relied on healthy fish, clear water, and that earthy smell as an indicator of a healthy tank. I still kind of trust my senses first and the test kit second but that's just old age and how I got started in the hobby. Have you done anything else in the house that might be messing with your senses? Maybe something at work? I was in a hospital a couple of weeks ago that had undergone a deep sanitation because of a Norovirus outbreak. They used something new and different than I'd smelled before. Spent several hours there and it messed up my sense of smell a bit for a couple of days. Really messed with how food tasted.
 

AquaLady

Lol people that come over complain of the smell. I have new activated carbon and I just tested and everything is normal. This is also why I wanted a uv sterilizer. The smell gotten worse over time.
 

EricV

Have you made sure the tank itself is what is causing the smell as opposed to say water splash or moisture causing mold or mildew behind it?
 

AquaLady

Yea mon. I went crazy disinfecting the area just to be sure. When I opened up the lid to feed them...peeew! Its definitely coming from the tank.
 

EricV

Odd. Carbon usually takes care of that
 

troyvsc

Good luck, try doing a few water changes over the next couple of days. Sometimes it takes a couple of extra changes mixed in to catch up with stuff. And new water never hurts, right?

What is you lighting like. Maybe too much lighting is causing too much algae?
 

AquaLady

I have the stock hood with florescent lighting. I have it on from 8 am to 8pm.
 

Randyk47

I have the stock hood with florescent lighting. I have it on from 8 am to 8pm.

That's a lot of light. Took me some trial and error but 8 1/2 hours is about the limit for my tanks. While none of my tanks are really near windows we do have nice sunny days here so there's plenty of natural light. Since I prefer to be able to see the tanks in the evening up until bedtime or close to it I run my lights from 2 PM until 10:30 PM.
 

Kuddos 2 U

Maybe the water that's evaporating and dries out from the light bulbs??? Anyways, that sucks and by that I mean by your situation. My fish tanks used to smell bad (a little) but now they smell like a rainforest or wet rain and it smells good now.

That's a lot of light. Took me some trial and error but 8 1/2 hours is about the limit for my tanks. While now of my tanks are really near windows we do have nice sunny days here so there's plenty of natural light. Since I prefer to be able to see the tanks in the evening up until bedtime or close to it I run my lights from 2 PM until 10:30 PM.


Not really a lot of light; if you have a lot of plants, that is a good thing. I turn my lights on when I wake up (around 7-11am) and off when I go to sleep(9pm-2am)
 

Mamajin

Carbon will help absorb odors, but that will only put a bandaid on or hide a more serious underlying issue. A healthy tank should smell similar to freshly tilled soil, and you shouldn't be able to smell it unless you put your nose right up to the water line.

Give the tank lid a good cleaning (rinse real good without soap), and wipe around the rI'm of the tank around the edges and where the waterline is normally at on the glass (in case food or other detritus splashed up there and dried out). Also be sure you're cleaning the substrate as best as you can. You can also back off a bit on how much you are feeding, or even temporarily feed every other day for a while to see if it's just an overfeeding issue.


Can you try to give us more detail on what the tank smells like exactly? Does it smell like rotten eggs, rotten fish, or something else?
 

troyvsc

Carbon will help absorb odors, but that will only put a bandaid on or hide a more serious underlying issue. A healthy tank should smell similar to freshly tilled soil, and you shouldn't be able to smell it unless you put your nose right up to the water line.

Give the tank lid a good cleaning (rinse real good without soap), and wipe around the rI'm of the tank around the edges and where the waterline is normally at on the glass (in case food or other detritus splashed up there and dried out). Also be sure you're cleaning the substrate as best as you can. You can also back off a bit on how much you are feeding, or even temporarily feed every other day for a while to see if it's just an overfeeding issue.


Can you try to give us more detail on what the tank smells like exactly? Does it smell like rotten eggs, rotten fish, or something else?

Second the reduce feeding until you can figure things out. I know its one of my biggest weakness is giving in to the stares I get by the tank saying feed me feed me. Hope you figure out what's going on.
 

AquaLady

Ok I did a pwc and it seemed to calm the smell a bit. I just hope I get a natural scent of an aquarium.
It smells like a pet store where the rodents would be kept and I clean my hood when I do wcs.
 

Mamajin

Ok I did a pwc and it seemed to calm the smell a bit. I just hope I get a natural scent of an aquarium.
It smells like a pet store where the rodents would be kept and I clean my hood when I do wcs.

Id do a 50% water change tomorrow to see if that further helps.

What are you using as a substrate?
 

AquaLady

I switched my gravel/sand substrate because of the smell before and the gunk that gets trapped in the grwvel to black TMS.
 

juscallmej

strange, maybe your new sand is covering up some decaying matter/detritus from when you made the switch and you can't get to it with the vacuum now. Maybe lightly till the sand so you don't get any dead pockets which can cause the release of sulfide gases from anaerobic bacteria.
I would keep going with the water changes, and decreasing feeding and see how it goes.
 

AquaLady

When I did the change, I took out all the previous substrate which was packed with worms, I rinsed off all the plants and decor, wiped off the glass with salt, cleaned filter, and added new filter media. The only thing I didn't rinse so thoroughly was the heater because it has algae on it anf my oto seems to like it.

Hmm sorry for posting here but I'm trying to rule out what's making my tank smell and it kinda smells like prime. Before I used prime I smelled like it.
 

horsin1787

The smell of prime dissipates within a few seconds for me. So I doubt your tank stinks because of that.

(decided to answer you here instead of on the other thread.)
 

AquaLady

The smell of prime dissipates within a few seconds for me. So I doubt your tank stinks because of that.

(decided to answer you here instead of on the other thread.)

Thanks Horsin1787. But what's funny is its smells like prime. Before I knew of or used prime it smelled. And yet and still, it smells like...idk what and it's quite upsetting when I have guests, they tell ne a tank shouldn't smell like that and grab the spray.
 

horsin1787

Your profile says you have 2 black mystery snails-have you checked them recently and are they still alive? Snails really really stink when they die-when my really big one died, I could tell right away when I walked in first thing in the morning.

Edit: as they are made up of mostly water, they decompose really quick-if it were one of them, they really should have only smelled for 1-2 days tops.
 

esoper

Hmm sorry for posting here but I'm trying to rule out what's making my tank smell and it kinda smells like prime. Before I used prime I smelled like it.


In your profile it says you use a whole bunch of chemicals, but it doesn't say you use a test kit, or what your water tests like. How do you know what chemicals to put in your water if you don't test it? To help identify the smell, it would help if you could post your current test results--PH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. Also, I wouldn't recommend using any chemicals other than Prime, and maybe fertilizers if needed. The rest are a waste of money at best, and potentially harmful to the fish at worst.

Emily
 

AquaLady

My snails are alive and eating everything in sight. Uneaten food or anything dead like leaves or fish are gone in a flash.
 

horsin1787

This is my last idea, I can't think of anything else after this for the moment.

First, you mentioned you cleaned absolutely everything and added new filter media-did you keep the old? Is it possible that your tank is re-cycling?

You said your previous substrate was packed with worms-is it possible some found their way into the filter and have now died?

I just had to clean my entire filter and toss all the old media because of this--eew.
 

AquaLady

The reason why I stripped the tank in the first place was to rid the odor. When I first smelled it, the tank was cycled and even had tiny life forms in it. I rinsed the 2 filter media with tank water and added 2 new ones. My filter holds 4 packs of the carbon/ceramic thingys. I keep forgetting what they're called. Thanks again for trying to help solve this smelly mystery.
 

horsin1787

Is there a place in your filter the worms could have gotten into? Like where the impeller is or something?
 

AquaLady

I took the filter apart to make sure. When I clean, I do it ultra thoroughly.
 

Mrb

I was having problems with my tank smelling out of no where. I tried increasing my water changes and feeding my fish less and it was still there. I went out and bought activated charcoal and it still stunk. I think it took me 3 weeks to figure out it was a specific food I was feeding them. Once I stopped feeding them the sinking shrimp pellets the smell went away.
Maybe your problem is caused by something your feeding them
 

AquaLady

In your profile it says you use a whole bunch of chemicals, but it doesn't say you use a test kit, or what your water tests like. How do you know what chemicals to put in your water if you don't test it? To help identify the smell, it would help if you could post your current test results--PH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. Also, I wouldn't recommend using any chemicals other than Prime, and maybe fertilizers if needed. The rest are a waste of money at best, and potentially harmful to the fish at worst.

Emily

I use test strips which are bad I know. But when I go tI buy master test kits they are 45 dollars or more. I have the stickies that measure ph and ammonia. According to my test strip...Ammonia is 0. Ph . Nitrate 20. Nitrite 0. GH 75. Chlorine 0. KH 0.

I feed my fish a variety of things. Live brine shrimp and worms once a week. HikarI marine food and a homemade concoction consisting of shrimp, bloodworms, salmon, broccoli, seaweed, a drop of garlic and omega one blended together. I always made this food and it never smelled up any of my friends tanks I made it for. Plus there is nothing ever leftover for more than a half an hour due to my snails and corys cleaning it up
 

Mommabear

Try going to Amazon. You can find it online a lot more reasonably priced. Other sites carry it too
 

AquaLady

Amazon has cool deals. Why didnt I do this before? Thanks. Are my readings good or bad?
 

Mommabear

Do remember to check the dates on the items. If they r old, return them
 

AquaLady

Yup. I check dates on everything. I had a bad experience with not checking dates.
 

Aquarist

Good morning,

Try taking a piece of paper and running it around the outside rI'm of your tank. Slide the paper under the rI'm if possible. I had a Palmetto Bug issue and under the rI'm is where they were hiding. What I was smelling was Palmetto Bug Poop! I added 2 large Roach Motels into my tank stand to kill them off. No more smell!

Odd, I know. These bugs are not roaches but look similar. Too, these critters can fly! eeek!!! I'm not sure if you have them in your area, but it's a good place to check.

Ken
 

marshal

I in the past had a florescent tube that got so smelly I had to throw it out. Just a thought.
How deep is your gravel? You could have something going on under it that you can't see. Push your siphon tube all the way to the glass bottom and then siphon a little and see what it looks like.
 

AquaLady

I did the paper test and no bugs. I just put the substrate in on Monday.
 

Randyk47

I did the paper test and no bugs. I just put the substrate in on Monday.

How many changes have you made to the tank in the last two to three weeks? Sounds like you're in the middle of a pretty significant overhaul and in my experience that just calls for patience to let the tank cycle and settle down. I realize you're trying to attack and solve the smell issue but it sounds like you're trying to "paint a moving train" and you may be complicating the situation rather than solve it.
 

psalm18.2

Question: Do you have well water? You mentioned a Prime like smell which could indicate poor water. My well water often smells like Prime.

How deep is the substrate? What is the substrate?
Does the filter smell?
Do you have any plants?
 

marshal

Still.... a tank that is cycling should/would not create a bad or even noticeable smell?

Almost has to be caused by some sort of decomposing matter somewhere.
 

Mamajin

I took out all the previous substrate which was packed with worms

Detritus worms in small amounts are good to have in the tank as they help keep the substrate clean. Your fish even like to nibble on them. However, if you get a massive outbreak like you mention in the quote then you have a problem. You can try to cut way back on the amount of food you're feeding, keep up with the water changes, and be super diligent at keeping the substrate clean. This should take care of the smell and prevent another outbreak of worms. If the worms don't have too much to eat in the substrate, you shouldn't get another massive outbreak of them.
 

AquaLady

Plants and fish listed in my signature. I have black TMS. I had the tank for 4 months, with gravel and pool filter sand. It started to smell 3 weeks ago and it made me clean and strip the whole tank and clean the filter. I'm using tap water conditioned with prime. Before I used prime I used tap water declorinator and a stress coat and a quick start. Its so strong its starting to seep out my bedroom into the whole house.
 

psalm18.2

Your tank is overstocked for a 20gL. Overstocked tanks will smell faster than low stock tanks.

How deep is the sand? Deep sand beds can cause bad smells if not poked or stirred to release gases that build up. I've had that happen and the smell almost knocked me out! Smelled like rotten sulfer.

I'm pretty sure it's your stock. Too much waste being produced for your filter to keep up with.
 

juscallmej

maybe your bamboo is rotting, its not a true aquatic plant from what I have read.
 

psalm18.2

maybe your bamboo is rotting, its not a true aquatic plant from what I have read.

This could be too. Good catch, missed that piece of info.
 

AquaLady

My bamboos leaves are not in the tank, only the roots. My clown pleco has recently passed so hes gone, I gave the brilliant rasbora to a friend who has a school of them the substrate of TMS is fairly new and was added on Monday, I have 2 filters in the tank, a HOB and a fluval 2 plus, and yes it does smell like rotting sulfur.
 

psalm18.2

Try stirring or poking the sand bed a good bit, sounds like bacteria or gas build up. With TMS you won't see the black bacteria growing.

Sorry you lost your pleco. Try keeping to smaller schools of fish for a 20gL. Bamboo meaning lucky or draconea, should be fine. Leaves are out of water so shouldn't smell.

Do the filters smell bad when opened?
 

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