Why is my aquarium water orange? - (2023)

Aquarium water is usually colorless and clear, but sometimes it can become tinted or cloudy. The orange color in your aquarium water does not necessarily indicate a problem. However, it is critical to investigate and resolve any issues to ensure your fish are safe.

Your aquarium water is orange due to high iron content or tannins leaching from driftwood. The particles collect under the gravel at the bottom of your tank and contribute to the growth of orange algae. It is common for the algae to grow six weeks after setup in a newly installed aquarium.

This article discusses the causes of orange algae and ways to remove and keep it out of your tank. Let's start!

Contents hide

1 Why is orange algae growing in my aquarium?

1.1 Too much light.

(Video) Deadly Orange Algae Overwhelms My Aquarium & Kills My Fish and Snails 🟧 ☠️☠️☠️ EP #11: TANK TALES

1.3 Not changing the water regularly enough.

2 Are orange algae dangerous?

3 How to get rid of orange algae in an aquarium.

3.1 1. Give it time

3.2 2. Clean the tank

(Video) Before And After Tannin Removal From My Waterfall Tank

3.3 3. Introducing algae eaters

3.4 4. Use a chemical algae remover

4 How to prevent orange algae.

5. Conclusion.

6 related articles:

Why is orange algae growing in my aquarium?

Why is my aquarium water orange? - (1)

Orange algae grow in your aquarium due to the environmental conditions of the tank. Algae thrive in an environment rich in nutrients, light and water, making an aquarium the perfect breeding ground.

Causes of algae in aquariums include:

(Video) Remove Yellow Tannin Water from Aquarium

  • Too much light
  • Excess nutrients
  • Not changing the water regularly enough

In the following paragraphs I will discuss each of these causes in detail.

Too much light.

Why is my aquarium water orange? - (2)

Sunlight, LED lighting and fluorescent light promote the growth of orange algae. While all light sources improve algae growth, LED lights cause the most algae growth and are the most popular because they are affordable. Therefore, it is best to avoid exposing your aquarium to natural or artificial light for long periods of time.

Excess nutrients.

Orange algae grow rapidly in the presence of excess nutrients and minerals. These nutrients are contained in the following substances:

  • Leftover fish food
  • Dead wise
  • Rocks and corals
  • Phosphates from tap water

Do not overfeed the fish, remove food scraps immediately and use stones and corals sparingly to prevent the growth of orange algae in the aquarium.

Not changing the water regularly enough.

It is critical to change your tank's water regularly to remove fish food residue. The build-up of phosphates and calcium in the water also forms a rich breeding ground for algae. If your tap water is high in phosphate or magnesium, consider filling the tank with distilled or magnesiumreverse osmosis waterinstead of.

Are orange algae dangerous?

Orange algae are not dangerous to your fish unless they grow in excess. It is an aquatic plant whose shapes, forms and dimensions enhance the aesthetics of the aquarium. During respiration, algae also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which helps maintain pH levels in the aquarium.

However, unrestricted algae growth can affect your fish and aquarium in several ways.

  • Breathing:Without sunlight or artificial light, algae respiration is similar to that of animals. It uses oxygen and emits carbon dioxide. The result is a rise in the pH level in the water, making it acidic and uninhabitable for fish.
  • Analysis:Dead algae decompose in the aquarium and consume oxygen. In turn, the deficiency or lack of oxygen causes the death of the fish in the tank.
  • Muddy Looking Water:Excess algae makes the water look dirty and ruins the beauty of the aquarium. Cleaning the tank takes a lot of energy and time to maintain its beauty and the health of your fish.

How to get rid of orange algae in an aquarium

Orange algae grows quickly and can be challenging to remove. If left unattended, it can ruin the ecosystem in your aquarium. However, with proper care, you can maintain the health of your aquarium.

Here's how to get rid of orange algae in your aquarium:

  1. Give it time.
  2. Clean the tank.
  3. Introduce algae eaters.
  4. Use a chemical algae remover.

The following sections explain these steps and show you how to complete each step.

1. Give it time

Orange algae occurs naturally in about six weeks in a newly set up aquarium as the aquarium establishes its nitrogen and bacteria cycle. It should go away on its own as the cycle stabilizes. Also, plants in a new tank grow more slowly and absorb less nutrients than those in an older tank.

2. Clean the tank

The most effective way to get rid of orange algae is to manually clean the tank. Use scrapers to scrape down the tank walls and sponges to wipe them down.

Thoroughly clean the leaves and stems of your aquatic plants. Remove and clean all your tank decorations as well.

(Video) 5 Reasons Your Aquarium Looks Cloudy (And How to Fix It!)

You can use a 5-10% bleach solution to soak the plants and decorations to destroy the algae. Soak them in water to neutralize the bleach and rinse them thoroughly before putting them back, as bleach is harmful to fish.

3. Introduce algae eaters

Algae eaters are an attractive, chemical-free way to remove orange algae from your tank, especially if you have non-aggressive fish and a freshwater tank. Algae-eating shrimp, snails and fish all have unique habitat requirements. Therefore, you need to choose what is compatible with your tank or adjust your tank conditions accordingly.

The Flying Fox is a prolific algae eater and is good for a community tank.You can read an article I wrote about them here.

It is advisable not to add algae eaters to your new aquarium too early. Wait until the conditions in the tank have been established and the algae are more clearly visible.

4. Use a chemical algae remover

If all other methods fail and your tank still has excess algae, you can treat it with chemicals to kill the algae and inhibit future growth.

  1. Drain the tank completely and clean all surfaces
  2. Fill the tank with clean water
  3. Add the chemical algae remover.

You can get the chemical pellets at your local fish store,or from Amazon here. They are necessary because some algae can remain even after you empty your tank.

How to prevent orange algae.

All aquariums have some algae and it is often almost impossible to remove. However, there are ways to control orange algae growth in your tank.

  • Check the placement of the tank.Place your aquarium away from windows to reduce direct sunlight. Minimize your lighting intensity if it is artificial and only run the lights for 8 - 10 hours a day.
  • Watch out for excess food.Excess food, minerals and nutrients encourage the growth of orange algae. In general, if the fish don't eat the food within five minutes, the portion size is too large and you should reduce it.
  • Change the water.Over time, phosphate and nitrate build up and promote algae growth. While you should not change all the water in the aquarium at once, a change of up to 50% per week will keep nutrient levels balanced.
  • Test the water.Check the pH, mineral and nutrient levels in your aquarium and make any necessary changes. A new tank should be tested regularly, while an old tank can be tested regularly to maintain a healthy system.
  • Add live plants.Aquatic plants use the same nutrients as algae, so fewer nutrients for the algae. About 25% of the aquarium's ecosystem must be made up of living plants for the water quality to change.
  • Invest in a water filter.You must take extreme measures to control algae growth if it persists through water changes. Don't underestimate your tank's filtration requirements. Provide a filter system that is about one and a half times the size of the aquarium.
  • Think algae eaters.Some aquarium animals eat the algae and inhibit their multiplication. Before buying them, make sure their needs are compatible with your fish.
  • Use chemicals.Algae kills and other chemicals, such as copper sulfate, prevent algae growth. However, it is best to use them in moderation as they can harm or kill your fish.


Orange algae in an aquarium is unavoidable, but you can control it with proper preparation.

The best way to prevent overgrowth of orange algae is to properly maintain your tank. You can do this by changing the tank's water regularly, introducing plants, and monitoring the amount of light the tank is exposed to each day.

Related articles:

Why is aquarium water BROWN?

Why is my aquarium water GREEN?

Can you use a magic eraser on an aquarium?

What Causes Algae in an Aquarium?



How do I clear orange water in my fish tank? ›

Because both ammonia and nitrite are potentially lethal to fish, take steps immediately to lower them. 1 Your quickest course of action is to do a large water change. A 50 percent water change will dilute the concentration of toxins in your aquarium by roughly half.

Why does my fish tank water go orange? ›

Orange colored water could be due to tanins leaching from drift wood or high iron content in the water. In either of the cases you dont have to panic. Make sure that you have activated carbon in your filter media. You can do a water change of 70% to begin with.

What color should my fish tank water be? ›

Typically, tank water is clear and without color. In some cases though, your aquarium water can become clouded and discolored. Aquarium water can become yellow or brown due to tannins that leak out of driftwood or aquarium soil. Another reason could be rotting debris or blooming bacteria or other microorganisms.

How do you know your aquarium water quality is poor? ›

Below are three of the most common problems and how you can easily correct them.
  1. The water is cloudy. Cloudiness is usually caused by one of three things: ...
  2. The tank water is green. If your aquarium's water has turned green, you have excess algae. ...
  3. Your water smells terrible.
May 15, 2017

How do you fix orange water? ›

If you use a water filter and find orange bits in your water jug, it's likely to be part of the materials used in the filter itself. It's best to replace your filter and re-fill your jug if this happens.

How do you treat orange water? ›

Orange/Red Water Stains

If you are on city water and experiencing orange staining, this may be due to the presence of iron in your municipal aquifer. Cleaning: If applied quickly, lemon juice or white vinegar work well to remove iron stains before they set in.

Why does my water filter turn orange? ›

Soluble ferrous iron in water, appropriately referred to as clear-water iron, isn't visible coming out of a faucet, but begins to turn orange after being exposed to the air. High quality water softeners can remove the dissolved ferrous iron, as well as small quantities of ferric iron.

How do I lower the nitrates in my fish tank? ›

Use live aquarium plants for nitrate removal. Live aquatic plants are nature's nitrate filters, and readily soak up nitrates, and use them as fertiliser. Heavily plant any nitrate-laden aquarium with fast growing live plants, and they will remove all the nitrate from the aquarium water within days or weeks.

Should aquarium water be crystal clear? ›

Crystal clear, healthy-looking water is the aim of virtually every aquarium owner. We are drawn to clear water as a species, we like to live next to it, swim in it, and of course, drink it. But if not properly maintained aquarium water can quickly become cloudy, full of algae and discoloured.

What are the symptoms of high nitrates in a fish tank? ›

Lethargy, poor color, poor immune system and weakened feeding response are all signs of nitrate poisoning. Most professional aquarists contend that nitrate concentrations should never exceed 20 ppm but are much more safely maintained below 10 ppm.

Is orange algae bad for fish? ›

Although orange algae aren't directly harmful to your fish, they can take over your aquarium, leaving it looking dirty and staining the fish tank water a rusty color. You can help to prevent the breeding of orange algae by adjusting your fish tank lights so that they are off for at least 12 hours per day.

How do I get rid of ammonia in my fish tank fast? ›

What should I do?
  1. Complete a 25% water change and retest after a few hours.
  2. Treat with Ammonia Remover.
  3. When at a safe level of 0.0mg treat the tank with Fast Filter Start to boost the bacteria in your filter that process ammonia.
  4. Continue to regularly test your water.

How do I know if my fish tank has ammonia? ›

2) What are the clinical signs of ammonia toxicity in fish?
  1. Increased mucous production.
  2. Red or bleeding gills.
  3. Body colour darkens.
  4. Increased respiration rates and fish seem to “gasp” air at the surface of the water.
  5. Secondary infections.
  6. Death.
Jun 9, 2020

Why isn't my fish tank water clear? ›

The cloudiness you are experiencing is probably one of two things. First, overfeeding your fish can cloud your water as the uneaten food is allowed to decompose. At each feeding you should feed no more than what your fish can eat in one to two minutes. Overstocking the tank (too many fish) also can cause cloudy water.

What bacteria turns water orange? ›

The orange, fuzzy deposits in the photo to the right are called iron-oxide deposits. When iron bacteria (Sphaerotilus-Leptothrix) “feed” on iron in water, the dissolved iron reacts with oxygen in the air and forms rust-colored iron oxides.

Is Orange water safe? ›

Orange water is safe to drink and use for all purposes.

The US Environmental Protection Agency does not currently have federal MCLs (maximum contaminant levels) for PFAS compounds. It does have a lifetime 70 ppt (parts per trillion) health advisory level for the sum of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

How do you get rid of orange bacteria? ›

You may be able to get rid of pink or orange scum by simply pouring on some soda water, then brushing the grout with an old, damp toothbrush. The bubbly water helps eject the bacteria. For even more cleaning power, you could use hydrogen peroxide in the 3 percent concentration.

What is the effect of orange water? ›

Orange Blossom Water is rich in Antioxidants and B Vitamins, and it helps to lighten discolorations and dark spots that result from aging, hormonal imbalance and sun exposure. It leaves the complexion radiant and glowing. Orange Blossom Water Tones and Firms the Skin.

How do you filter rusty water? ›

Thankfully you can remove rust in your home with water softeners, oxidizing filters and sequestration.
  1. Step 1: Connect an ion exchange water softener to your water supply. ...
  2. Step 2: Install an oxidizing filter before the water softener line. ...
  3. Step 3: Use a solution feeder to add polyphosphates to your water supply.
Feb 26, 2020

How do you treat rust in a water tank? ›

Possible solutions for rusty hot water

One solution for the rusty hot water is to drain and flush your water heater tank thoroughly through the drain valve. If the heater tank and plumbing system have bacteria, shock therapy with the chlorine, followed by flushing, should be applied.

What does iron bacteria look like in water? ›

Red Slimy Deposits

Sticky rusty, yellow, brown, or grey slime. “Feathery" or filamentous growths (especially in standing water).

What does orange filter mean? ›

An orange filter gives warm, smooth skin tones. Image by David Jubert. In portrait photography, an orange filter reduces the appearance of freckles and blemishes, giving the skin a healthy, smooth look.

How do you get rid of iron bacteria? ›

1) Chemical Injection

Chemical injection is one of the most common and effective means of removing iron bacteria in the long run.

What kills fish nitrite or nitrate? ›

Nitrite is toxic to fish because it binds with the hemoglobin in fish's blood to form methemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen through the body while methemoglobin does not, so fish in high nitrite waters may suffocate even if sufficient oxygen is present.

What removes nitrate from water? ›

There are several effective treatment technologies available for nitrate removal in drinking water including ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and electrodialysis. Ion exchange resins are like tiny magnets that attract and hold the nitrate from passing through the water treatment system.

Can fish recover from high nitrates? ›

Changing the water immediately after noticing the symptoms of nitrate poisoning can really help revive your fish. It is recommended to change 40 percent of the water on the first day and do gradual changes in the next days until you achieve an optimum nitrate level.

Is too much filtration bad for an aquarium? ›

What Happens If You Over-Filter a Fish Tank? As we mentioned above, you cannot over-filter a fish tank, but if you introduce the wrong filtration systems to your tank, you could create too much current. Filters that are too powerful for your tank could stress out your fish or keep aquarium plants from taking root.

How long until fish tank water is clear? ›

This is normal when an aquarium is first set up. It is referred to as a bacteria bloom. The cloudiness should be gone within anywhere from two days to a couple of weeks. You can do a 10 to 15 percent partial water change and gravel vacuuming after a week to speed it up.

What is the best crystal to put in a fish tank? ›

Rock crystals such as Quartz (including Rose Quartz, Smokey Quartz, Apricot Quartz, etc.), Jasper, Citrine, Jade, Ametrine, Tiger's eye, Amethyst, Agate, Black Tourmaline, and Petrified Wood are all considered safe additions to your aquarium.

Is too much water clarifier bad for fish? ›

The only exception is if you add too much water clarifier. If this is the case, your water clarifier is going to go on a clumping spree and will very likely turn your water a cloudy brown color. If you use one of our top picks, an overdose should be harmless and sort itself out in a few days.

What is the best water for a fish tank? ›

If you want to be sure your aquarium water is free from mineral and chemical contaminants, deionized water is a great choice. Deionization is ineffective against bacteria, but it does filter some contaminants that even reverse osmosis systems cannot catch.

What fish can tolerate high nitrates? ›

Beta fish, for example, can withstand an extremely high level of nitrate, which is why can survive in small containers.

What is new tank syndrome? ›

New Tank Syndrome is a term used to describe problems that occur due to the build-up of invisible, toxic compounds in an aquarium. It gets its name as the issue is most likely to occur when your filter is maturing when starting a new aquarium.

What filter media removes nitrates? ›

API NITRA-ZORB filtration media specifically works to target and remove ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates from your aquarium, all of which are harmful at high levels for your fish. Use API NITRA-ZORB filtration media if these levels consistently spike.

What color light stops algae growth? ›

On the contrary, blue and red will let the light through to be photosynthesised; green will inhibit growth the best as the algae will reflect that light back instead of absorbing it.

Why does my fish tank look rusty? ›

There are a few reasons why these patches of rust might be turning up in your aquarium. The most common reason is that the tank was newly set up, but it could also be the result of poor tap water quality, certain substrates, or light and nutrient imbalances.

Do aquarium filters get rid of algae? ›

Filtration to Prevent Algae

UV sterilizers actually kill the algae and do not require any cleaning; however, partial water changes should be done every few days to prevent ammonia and nitrite build-up. Both filters should be left on the aquarium for 7 to 10 days to ensure all algae cells have been removed.

Does water conditioner remove ammonia? ›

Today, water conditioners do so much more than just remove chlorine and neutralize ammonia… They also remove metals like lead and copper, help get nitrates under control and even contain additives like aloe vera that can improve the slime coat of your fish.

What naturally removes ammonia from fish tank? ›

One of the easiest and most efficient ways of lowering ammonia levels is by performing one or more water changes. Water changes will immediately remove the ammonia from the fish tank and introduce safe water that will help dilute the remaining traces of ammonia left in the system.

Can fish recover from high ammonia levels? ›

If fish do not suffer severe bacterial infections following ammonia burns, then they usually recover well and can be reintroduced into the tank within a week. Fish with advanced infections or those that are exposed to rapid rises in ammonia levels may die.

What does ammonia stress look like in fish? ›

The fish's gills will take on a red or lilac color, making them look like it's bleeding. As the problem progresses, the fish's tissues will begin to deteriorate, evidenced by red streaks or bloody patches on their body and fins caused by ammonia burns.

How do you keep ammonia levels down? ›

How do you reduce ammonia levels?
  1. Water change! The first thing you want to do is perform a water change of at least 50%. ...
  2. Add cycled filters. ...
  3. Water conditioner. ...
  4. Ammonia Levels – removing filter media.

How long does it take for ammonia to leave a fish tank? ›

This process normally takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks.

How can I keep my aquarium water clear without changing water? ›

Table of Contents
  1. Regular Maintenance.
  2. Correct Filtration.
  3. Eradicate Algae From Your Aquarium.
  4. Reduce Nitrates and Phosphates.
  5. Use a Water Treatment or Clarifier.
  6. Reduce Waste in your Tank.
  7. Maintaining Crystal Clear Water.
Oct 2, 2020

How often do you change the water in a fish tank? ›

There are different philosophies on how much and how often to change water, but 10% to 25% every 1 to 2 weeks is a good rule of thumb. Small frequent water changes are best. Don't vacuum the gravel yet, as you may disrupt the good bacteria that are just starting to colonize your aquarium.

What is the orange gunk in water? ›

What is that orange slime? The fuzzy, bright orange substance seen in the picture to the left is often a type of bacteria. This bacteria takes iron dissolved in groundwater and oxidizes it (a chemical reaction similar to forming rust), drawing energy from the process of turning it into fuzzy orange gunk.

How do I make my fish tank clear again? ›

Add activated carbon media to the filter, whether loose or carbon pads. Adding activated carbon media or activated carbon pads to the filter will help clear the water and adsorb nutrients that feed the bacteria bloom.

How do I get rid of ammonia in my fish tank? ›

What should I do?
  1. Complete a 25% water change and retest after a few hours.
  2. Treat with Ammonia Remover.
  3. When at a safe level of 0.0mg treat the tank with Fast Filter Start to boost the bacteria in your filter that process ammonia.
  4. Continue to regularly test your water.

How long does water clarifier take to work in aquarium? ›

Water clarifiers work instantly, and you should notice sparkling clear water in just 72 hours. Now that your filter can remove these particles, your water will look visibly clearer. And, it's all thanks to the water clarifier.

Does hard water leave orange residue? ›

Do you see an orange rusty looking stain in your sink or tub? These are all hard water stains. Kinetico SA wants you to be on the lookout for signs that your home is affected by hard water.

What is the orange gunk? ›

The iron-oxidizing bacteria combine the ferrous iron from the groundwater with oxygen from the atmosphere and the creek, and produce iron oxide or rust, which again is insoluble, and makes the orange gunk.

How long does it take for fish tank water to clear? ›

This is normal when an aquarium is first set up. It is referred to as a bacteria bloom. The cloudiness should be gone within anywhere from two days to a couple of weeks. You can do a 10 to 15 percent partial water change and gravel vacuuming after a week to speed it up.

What product clears fish tank water? ›

API ACCU-CLEAR Water Clarifier quickly eliminates cloudy aquarium water caused by floating particles; water will clear within several hours once it is dosed.

What chemical makes aquarium water clear? ›

Activated Carbon is by far the best known chemical filter media and is widely used to get crystal clear aquarium water. Crushed charcoal, aquarium carbon sucks up dyes and odours and locks it away inside, before being removed and replaced by the owner.


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