Jacob's Reptile info

Cloudy Turtle Tank Water: The Best Solution


A cloudy turtle tank is something every turtle keeper dreads. It makes your tank into an eyesore, and you can barely see your pet. This article explains how cloudy water happens, if it is harmful, and my secret trick to getting turtle water crystal-clear.

Why is my Turtle Tank Cloudy?

Let’s start from the beginning: why does it happen? Cloudy turtle water is something that almost every turtle keeper has to deal with at some point. Cloudy water can be caused by various things such as adding decor, performing water changes, and cleaning the filter.

Water Changes

The most common cause of cloudy water is water changes. When you change the water in your turtle tank, it disturbs the particles in the tank. These particles fly all over the tank and clump together. The tank then becomes cloudy.

Adding Decor

Water can also become cloudy when decor is added. Most decor that you buy isn’t completely clean. I have seen rocks and driftwood laying in piles of dust at pet stores. The dust-covered item then goes into your tank. Much like when you do a water change, the dust particles fly all over the tank and clump together. As you probably can figure, the particle clumps make the tank cloudy.

Cleaning the Filter

While it may not always be the case, cleaning the filter can cause cloudiness. When you take out old filter media, a lot of debris comes off and back into the filter. The debris is pumped through the filter and into the tank.

Is Cloudy Water Harmful to my Turtle?

When you see a big white cloud creeping over your turtle, your instant reaction is to assume it is harmful. But, most of the time, it is not. The particles forming the cloud are probably particles from your tank. This means that your turtle is already used to them. They are just in a different form. After a day or so, the particles will settle back and the cloud will disappear. If you are unsure about whether or not it’s harmful, ask a vet or send me a picture at jacob@jacobsreptileinfo.com.

How to Fix Cloudy Turtle Tank Water

Now, for the part that you came to this page for: how do I fix cloudy turtle water? In my experience, I’ve found that good filter media along with a water clarification chemical works the best.

Filter Floss

Most canister filters, such as Fluvals, can use different types of filter media. My favorite type of filter media is filter floss. I have mentioned this in almost every one of my turtle articles and think that every turtle owner should have some. Filter floss is basically a fluffy filling that traps small debris and particles. I usually buy filter floss at my local fish store, but I have seen it for $5 at Petco. It comes in large bags that can last you about 6 months. I put filter floss in the carbon trays and prefilter trays in my Fluvals.


Carbon also works well on cloudy tanks. It usually comes in a big jar and is sold at almost every fish store. You can also buy it in small packages, but they are costly and the carbon isn’t as good. When I buy jars of carbon, I put a few scoops of it in a teabag (sold on Amazon) so that it doesn’t mix with the other media. I place my carbon in the part of the canister that is closest to the intake. This way, the water immediately goes through the carbon.

Water-Clarification Chemicals

Another way to fix cloudy turtle tank water is to use chemicals. These chemicals combine particles in your tank to make the filter pick them up faster. My favorite water-clarification chemical is API AccuClear. With only a few drops of it, your water will become crystal-clear. It takes about a day to work and when you first put it in the water will be even more cloudy. Don’t be alarmed because this is normal. In my experience, treating the tank twice a week works great. For more serious cloudiness, I would recommend treating the tank every other day.


Now you know all about cloudy turtle water (how exciting)! Cloudy water can occur because of many different things including water changes, adding decor, or cleaning the filter. Although it is not harmful to your turtle; cloudy water makes your tank an eyesore. It can be fixed with filter floss, carbon, and water-clarification chemicals. I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions about your pet, feel free to email me at jacob@jacobsreptileinfo.com or ask in the comment section below.