Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Marine Smelly Water

Related Articles: Captive Seawater Quality, Nutrient Control and Export, Water Changes/ChangingUnderstanding Calcium & Alkalinity,

Related FAQs: Marine Water Quality 1, Marine Water Quality 2 Marine Water Quality 3, Marine Water Quality 4, Marine Water Quality 5, Marine Water Quality 6, Water Quality 7, RO/DI & Distilled Water 1Environmental Disease,

Stinky water after Halimeda algae die off

Stinky reef stuff     10/11/17
Hi Bob and Crew. I thank you in advance for your time. You have answered my questions before and have been a huge help to me.
I have a 65 gallon reef tank. I had a 60 for maybe 8 years and switched to this 65 a few months ago. At your advice I got rid of most of her purple mushrooms, they were everywhere! These are the only corals I have, maybe 20 purple mushrooms. I have had a blue jaw trigger and a clown for 8 months now? (Estimate) and added a dwarf angel 2 months back. I also have a random ugly goby that hides most of the time, he's been with me for 7+ years. That is it for stocking. A tiny bit of black sand. Some live rock. A few faux coral inserts, Tsunami brand. I feed 3 cubes of Mysis a week. New life spectrum pellets everyday. I use Selcon. I have an amazing skimmer that pulls lots of dark yuck and a hang on the back filter that I use with a filter cartridge with carbon. I rinse a few times a week, replace every few weeks. Sometimes I just cut a blue bonded filter to fit.
<This protocol should be fine>
It captures so much, If I don't use the filter my glasses sides get filthy, takes many rinses of the filter to get all the brown out. The tank is near a window, no direct sunlight. I switched to a led fixture at the time of the tank change, has 30 watts. Now for the question, I hope I have not bored you. My rocks and faux coral inserts keep getting covered in brown yuck. I'm assuming diatoms.
<Could be>
It smells awful. Awful. I took one of the inserts out yesterday to rinse and the smell is horrific. I'm used to gross stuff with my tank, I've been cleaning out that skimmer cup for years, it's hard to gross me out, but this is otherworldly. My whole house smelled, my daughter in her bedroom, yelled about the smell. What is this?
<Likely a mix of Protists... dinoflagellates, diatoms as you mention, plus other microorganisms... could be the source of the smell alone; but am wondering re the faux corals as well. If it were me/mine, I'd pull and
lightly bleach, wash these and let them air dry for a week; and use a unit of Chemipure in your filter flow path>
I've dealt with every type of algae out there, this I don't know about. It comes off very easily. Is there something I am doing wrong?
<Can't tell from here>
Have you had any experience with this? What is this that smells so bad?
Thank you for any insight you can provide.
<Please do keep us informed of your actions, observations. Bob Fenner>

Water stinks! New water make-up      7/8/12
I have an RO/DI unit for water. I mix in a Brute trash can, as recommended. I raise the temperature to about 75F during mixing, use power jets to agitate, and generally age the water a bit. My water tends stink (light mildew odor?),
<Can't say, but I'd likely be adding a good carbon filter here... If this doesn't do it, bleaching the whole apparatus occasionally>
and also has marine buffer precipitate (per the packaging, this could indicate "poor ionic balance").
Recently I left a full vat of water (with salt mix) for 2 days without aeration or heat. I thought I'd save some power, as I was not due for another water change for a week. After I noticed a much stronger stink, and for 4 days have used power jets/heater but the odor has not diminished (and the precipitate is far worse than normal).
<Summat growing there it seems>
Testing yields 7.9 ph and no measurable ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/phosphate.
Do I have anything to worry about in using this water?
<Not likely>
Could mildew or "poor ionic balance" cause a problem in the main tank?
<Some small chance of both, yes... I would be investigating what the source of both troubles are and fixing. For the latter, review the use of alkaline earth materials (additions of Ca, Mg...) and their counter effects on alkalinity/pH. You're likely fighting yourself here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Water stinks! Premix syn. and water qual. f's    7/11/12

Thank you. I noticed a fresh batch of RO water in a separate mixing vat, that had aged had no odor. I added salt, let it age, still no smell. It must have been the brute mixing vat I had been using.
<Rubbermaid "Brute" brand? Never had an issue w/ this fine line>
Likely from cooking live rock previously.
<Ahh! Assuredly this will do it>

This confirms for me that vinegar scrubs may not be adequate. And yes, I was fighting myself (what else is new).
<You are wise here: answer, "not much">
I filled it with water, added a 1300gph powerhead, a cup or so of bleach, and let it go for an hour plus. I then rinsed it three times.
What can I do to ensure any bleach residual is fully neutralized?
<Rinse, rock salt rinse of the polyethylene, air dry and/or sodium hypochlorite ("DeChlor" or such) dechlorinator use in spades... A week of air-drying will do it>
 I will add Seachem Prime to dechlorinate, but is that adequate?
<I'd let air dry, but enough of the Prime will be adequate... You can get/use simple "free chlorine" test kit/s... from the pool/spa outlets otherwise>
 I see this mitigates the chlorine, but there is discussion on the web that sodium hydroxide may remain?
<This is simple to rinse out. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Water stinks!   7/11/12

<Big J>
Oh the wars I wage on myself...What kind of chemistry nightmare have I caused...
<Heeee! Relative to what?>
Is it possible to ruin a brute trash can for water mixing purposes!?
<Not really; no... Our companies and many other petfish/ornamental aquatics, heck, institutions, put these durable products through use-hell... They really last and put up w/ abuse>
Well I see the air drying has at least eliminated all liquid. But, there is clouded precipitate left throughout the interior. It seems to be etched into the polyethylene. Perhaps a 24 hour vinegar soak and heavy scrubbing?
<I'd just leave the precipitate... not worry. BobF>
Re: Water stinks! 7/11/12

Thanks! Well, at least I find myself amusing!
<A good sign of mental/emotional stability/hlth.>
I forgot to point out that the precipitate was not at the water line of the bleach rinse, but at the previous mixing water line (i.e., the putrid cloudy concoction that arose from RODI, fresh salt, and buffer in the bad polyethylene). Not sure if that matters.
<Not really; no>
Now I better get back to punching myself in the face...
<Literally only please. B>

A Stinky Situation- Reef Odor: That Marine Fish Tank Smell. 6/23/2010
<Hi Joe.>
Thanks again for your admirable (and perhaps saintly?) dedication to the hobby!
<Glad you find it useful.>
This is a question that I was not able to find on the site and it does not relate much to the hobby- maybe I should try Martha Stewart's page!
I have the most amazing reef tank thanks to Bob and the crew. Truly, it would not be a success without your wisdom and guidance. The corals are growing wonderfully and all specimens are flourishing. However, the last
guests to view the system were not knocked down by its beauty but by its smell!
<Ahhh yes...>
Ok, it is not that bad but a distinct odor is noticeable. The smell is hard to describe but it is NOT the smell of the ocean.
<I actually live next to the ocean and it can be pretty smelly from time to time.>
I test the parameters every week and have not noticed anything out of the ordinary (did not think numbers were needed in this email).
<That's fine.>
Water changes are performed weekly with RO water and skimmer is cleaned often. I also have a tight fitting lid that covers 99% of the surface area.
<Do you have a collection bottle for the skimmer?>
Any idea where the source would be and how to rid the smell?
<The first thing to keep in mind is that ALL marine tanks have a odor, which can vary from a clean, briny odor, to something slightly worse than rotten fish. In a well maintained system, the odor isn't that bad, but can bother some people. There are a few different sources for the stink, the skimmer, trapped water growing mold\mildew, and the tank itself - particularly if you have algae - even desirable macroalgae can have a distinct 'funk' to it.>
I use a fan for cooling and have lots of circulation within the room which does not seem to help regarding the odor. I would prefer not to use air fresheners as I know that the tank can absorb these.
<True. Avoid air fresheners if at all possible>
One possibility is that water got in the carpet and it needs to be wet/dry cleaned but this is my only hypothesis.
<A 'sniff test' on the carpet can confirm or deny that quickly enough.>
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Again, thank you for all that you do!
<There are a few things you can try. First, start running carbon in your system. If you already are, try changing it frequently. Second, keep the skimmer clean. If you are using a collection bottle for the skimmate, plug the opening with a sponge (which still allows the drain tube to enter) and cover the sponge with carbon. Lastly, adding ozone to your skimmer can help greatly. It not only helps keep your water quality high, but the ozone that isn't 'burned up' in the skimmer gets off gassed into the room.
This can deodorize a room pretty quickly.
Joe W.

Tank Smells Bad/Mmm, Pink Skunk Clown Present? 10/22/09
<Hi Cassidy>
My tank has started to smell a lot like a tidepool for the last 2 months.
Makes the whole house smell nasty. Tank is approx 2 years old. HEAVILY STOCKED - but has been for a while.
<Isn't helping matters, heavy bio loads will cause problems and is likely why you are using all the additives you mention below. I'd get this down to a manageable
bio load.>
Currently 240G + 50G Sump+Fuge. I run carbon, GFO, Zeolite, filter socks, G4x skimmer and poly in sump baffles. All socks/poly are cleaned every 3 days. Skimmer cup cleaned and scrubbed daily. Carbon and GFO run 24/7. I also have a Korallin bio-denitrator. Carbon and GFO changed every 25-30 days. I also use Prodibio supplements for over one year now.
I change 80G per week. Have started to do about 120G per week in an effort to control the odor.
The only thing that has changed is the use of ZEOvit additives and changed to Brightwell salt over the last month.
I cannot figure out why it smells. Should I double up on the carbon?
Change out carbon weekly? Upgrade my skimmer? Start skimming heavier?
Get rid of the mechanical filtration? Don't want to start changing everything around that has been working well for the last year without knowing what the issue is.
Any advise would be appreciated. Can't stand the stench much longer lol...
<Mmm, I'm thinking something is dead/rotting in your system or on the floor behind the tank. Check it out. Is the odor similar to a rotten egg smell?>
Also do you know if I should be mixing ZEOvit additives and Prodibio additives?
<I wouldn't believe mixing these products would have anything to do with the smell. You did mention that the only change was the use of ZEOvit additives, may want to temporarily discontinue,
eliminate as a possible source.>
I use the Prodibio Bioclean/and carbon source.
I use the ZEOvit Pohls Xtra 2ml per day, Sponge Power 6 Drops per day, Coral Vitalizer 6 drops per day, & Amino Acid Concentrate LPS 1 ml per day. I also add about 6 drops of vitamin C every other day.
<Mmm, why all the additives, may be a problem here. For filtration media I'd stick with one product.
Chemi Pure Elite is a media which contains several ion exchange resins, high grade carbon, and phosphate remover, and has always been my fave. Keeping calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity levels where they should be will satisfy the corals along with supplemental feedings three times per week. I personally use DT's Live Phytoplankton and am very well pleased with the results. Sponge growth has increased tremendously and coral expansion has improved. May want to stop making soup and simplify your maintenance by using one product for feeding corals.>
Thx as always,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Water Smell! 5/7/08 Good evening Crew! <Hello Ganz!> I have a 10 month old 60gal/20 gal sump/ASM Mini G/55 lbs Live rock tank, with 3 fishes about 3 inches each. I change 5 gallons of water every two weeks. <OK> Recently when I open the hood to feed, I get a bad smell. I should say I have been feeding them a bit more than before. Is the stench due to me overfeeding? <A possibility, what do your water tests tell you?> They eat all the food I feed them. <I bet, fish can be pigs!> I also see some green growth in my live rock here and there that doesn't look like coralline algae. Is that bad? <It is not usually considered desirable, it is a natural indicator of general water quality. Cut the feeding back to the level you were previously. Your fish may act hungry, but do not give in and overfeed!> As always thanks for your help! Cheers Ganz <One other point to check regarding the smell. Do look for any leaks from the past/present or condensation inside the hood/canopy/stand. Many times the condensation inside a canopy or stand can start to mildew, causing a smell that seems to be the tank itself. Good luck, Scott V.>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: