Why Is My Turtle Tank Cloudy? – Ways To Fix It

Turtles are lovely and calm pets as they are elegant and live long lives, so they are ideal companions. Owning a turtle is as easy as falling off a log there, as you have to provide them with an adequate diet and proper environment. As a turtle keeper, you know that they love to bask, and they spend most of their time in the water.

To ensure your pet remains healthy, try to keep your turtle tank as clean, clear, and optimal as possible. If you notice your turtle tank aquarium is dull, this question might arise in your mind “why is my turtle tank cloudy.” Turtle tank cloudy water indicates your turtle’s health is compromised. Proceed with the reading if you want to fix this issue.

Why Is My Turtle Tank Cloudy?

Following are some reasons that cause your turtle tank aquarium to appear cloudy:

Unbalanced Water

Unbalanced water composition is the culprit behind cloudy turtle water tanks, similar to fish aquariums. Whenever a turtle basks in the turtle tank, it consumes its oxygen and excretes its waste in water, changing its natural cycle. Due to all this hustle and bustle, the water’s natural cycle gets disrupted.

Water Changing & Cleaning

Too much water changing and cleaning can be the root cause of cloudy water in the turtle. Excessive water shuffling causes the good bacteria to go out of the water, leading to the tank syndrome. I recommend not to change more than 20% of water in the shuffling attempt to ensure that the ecosystem of the tank did not get affected.


Always use a right-size turtle tank filter as turtles are fairly large creatures compared to fishes, so they need a big filter to suck impurities from the aquarium. Keep in mind that too big a filter can eliminate an excessive amount of waste from the water, and it leads to unbalanced water conditions. Always clean the filter pads with water taken out of the turtle tank.


Feeding your turtle unduly can be the root cause of dirty turtle tank water. As when the turtle is full, it will not eat, resulting in the waste of food given in the aquarium. My recommendation is never to feed your pet in a turtle tank but if you can not do that, then give a small amount of food in the water.

What Causes The Turtle Tank To Appear Cloudy?

If you look into your turtle tank and notice that the water is cloudy, then you might be curious about what is causing it. Tank syndrome is the primary reason for cloudy water in the new aquarium. Water changes can also result in tank syndrome as the natural cycle of water gets disturbed.

You can add tap water to the aquarium to balance the water composition as it does not contain chlorine. Bacteria are necessary for the natural filtration process in the aquarium, so tap water is suitable for water changes. When your turtles excrete wastes in the water, the ammonia (nitrate) level increases, nitrite levels drop down, and vice versa. 

If the turtle aquarium is new, then let it go through this process as it helps build the natural habitat inside the water for your turtle. When good bacteria are germinated in the tank, they will automatically balance the nitrate and nitrite levels of the water. Whenever your turtle excretes waste in a new water tank, do not worry. It is a natural process.

why is my turtle tank water cloudy

How To Keep Turtle Tank Water Clear?

How To Clear Cloudy Turtle Tank Water? If you want to clear the turtle tank cloudy water, then follow these steps:

Tap Safe

Tap safe water includes a small quantity of chlorine. I know chlorine is responsible for killing the bacteria, but it can be disastrous when its percentage goes high. Chlorine can disrupt the natural water cycle, making it harmful for the turtle. To balance the water chlorine amount, you can add tap water safely as it is an inexpensive way to clear cloudy turtle tank water. 

Clean The Filter

While cleaning the filter, try not to allow the filter pad inside it to run underneath flowing water. As a result, both good and bad bacteria are killed because running tap water contains chlorine that causes tank syndrome. 

From the above discussion, you can understand it is disastrous for your turtle and aquarium. I suggest you clean the turtle tank filter in the water you have put out while making water changes. Doing this will prevent the good bacteria in the filter from being killed by chlorine.

Air Pump

Aquarium water can not move as it is surrounded by its walls, causing the water to become stagnant. With every passing moment, the water loses oxygen content as air can not enter it. To solve this issue, you must break the water surface to ensure it remains oxygenated. An air pump can be handy in this situation as it artificially mixes air bubbles in the tank’s water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Is My Turtle Tank Green?

Green water indicates that algae are developed inside the aquarium. There is nothing to worry about as algae are not harmful to your turtle because they are neither bacteria nor viruses. You can clear the green water by cleaning the algae using the algae remover.

Why Is My Turtle Tank Water Red?

Red-colored water is due to the high oxygen percentage in the water. Discoloration (redness) is caused by the excessive amount of iron and other minerals dissolved in the water. Change the water and add tap water to change the overall composition. I am sure it will work for you.

How Often Should You Clean A Turtle Tank?

Clean the turtle aquarium once a month, but you can increase the frequency if the tank is placed on the spot where debris effortlessly enters it. You do not need to drain and clean the aquarium thoroughly. If algae grows on the sides, use an algae scrubber to remove it in no time. Remove 25% of water to eliminate the scrubbed algae from the tank.

Why Does My Turtle Tank Smell?

The turtle tank aquarium starts to smell if you do not clean it regularly. Following are some solid reasons behind it:

  • Algae
  • Derbies
  • Food particles
  • Turtle wastes

Why Does My Turtle Tank Get Dirty So Fast?

Turtles are messy creatures. They leave their shells and go about the world looking for food, sometimes requiring a bit of a clean-up. But why does your turtle tank get so dirty so fast? Here are some reasons why you might find your turtle tank seems to be getting dirtier than normal:

  • Voracious appetite
  • Excess food
  • Water quality issues 

Final Words

Water quality is one of the most important aspects of turtle keeping. Ensure your turtle tank aquarium has the correct water parameters for your turtle. If your turtle tank water seems to be cloudy, then it indicates that the water is not good to bask for your turtle. 

Follow the above-discussed guidelines to clean your turtle tank to affect the natural water cycle. These products will come in handy if you want to clean cloudy turtle tank water:

  • Turtle Tank Water Cleaner 
  • Odor Eliminator For Turtle Tank
  • Turtle Tank Sludge Remover
  • Turtle Water Test Kit

You may also like: Do Turtles Need Heat Lamps?

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Hey, I've done my Ph.D. in Marine Biology. I'm a turtle enthusiast and have been owning turtles for the last 22 years and dedicated to sharing my experience to help you in pet turtle upbringing.