Why Does My Fish Tank Have Bubbles on the Sides? (Exposed)

If you like aquariums, you might have seen drops on the flanks of your fish tank. You might be asking, why does my fish tank have bubbles on the sides?

When you put tap water in your aquarium, it has gases like oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide are dissolved in the water. Over time, these gases can build up in the water and turn into bubbles. In addition, when your aquarium filter operates, it can cause turbulence in the water, which leads to the formation of bubbles.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most common reasons why you might see drips forming on the sides of your aquarium, as well as how to solve this issue.

Understanding the Science Behind Bubbles in Fish Tank

You should know a few things about drops in a fish tank. First, bubbles in a fish tank are made when gases move from one place to another. Carbon dioxide is produced by fish, which is then traded for oxygen at the water’s surface. It generates leads, which float to the top and burst. The filtration system is the second thing that can make drops in your tank. A lot of modern aquariums have filters that work by making bubbles. These dots help keep the water clean and oxygenated. There are several types of current aquarium filters available in the market. Some of the popular ones are:

  • Hang-on-Back (HOB) Filters: The mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration is done by these filters hanging on the back of the aquarium.
  • Canister Filters: They go outside the aquarium and use a pump to move water through different filter media stages.
  • Internal Filters: The ones above go inside the aquarium and work best for smaller aquariums. They filter both mechanically and biologically.
  • Sponge Filters: As mechanical filters, these filters use a sponge, giving good bacteria a place to grow for biological filtration.
  • Power Filters: These filters use a motor-driven impeller to move water through different filter media stages for good filtration.
  • Fluidized Bed Filters: For biological filtration to work well, these filters use a fluidized bed of sand or other media.
  • UV Sterilizers: These filters use UV light to kill bacteria and parasites in the water that are bad for you.

Different Types of Bubbles in Fish Tanks

Not every bubble in a fish tank is the same. The kind of drops you see in your fish tank can tell you a lot about how well your fish are doing.

  • Tiny, transparent bubbles: are common in any healthy fish tank. The exchange of gases in the water makes these drips, which show that everything is working right.
  • Large, cloudy bubbles: are a sign that your filtration system isn’t working right. This drop is usually caused by too much organic matter in the tank, such as uneaten food or fish waste. If you see giant, cloudy dots in your tank, you should fix the problem immediately to keep your fish from getting hurt.
  • Foam on the surface is another sign that something is wrong with your filtration system. Most of the time, this foam is caused by too much protein in the water. That can happen if you feed your fish too much or don’t clean your tank often enough. If you see foam on the surface of your water, you need to do something to fix the problem.

Why Does My Fish Tank Have Bubbles on the Sides? (Factors)

  • Air pump: Drops on the sides of your fish tank can be caused by many different things. The use of an air pump is a common reason. If the air pump puts out too much air or isn’t working right, it can stir up the water too much, which can cause dots to form on the tank walls. If the air pump is not working exactly, there may be too many bubbles in the water, which can then gather on the sides of the tank. To avoid this problem, you must check your air pump often and ensure it’s working right.
  • Improper water flow: can cause drops on the sides of your fish tank. If the water flow is too strong or weak, it can create turbulence in the water that leads to the formation of bubbles. You can adjust the flow rate of your aquarium filter to see if that resolves the issue. In some cases, you may need to add additional filtration or use a different filter to achieve proper water flow and reduce the appearance of drips on the tank walls.
  • Protein buildup: When protein breaks down in your fish tank, it can create foam that rises to the top and causes drops on the tank’s sides. It can be widespread in tanks that house many fish or aquatic creatures. Changing the water and using a protein skimmer regularly is essential to prevent protein buildup and bubbles on the tank walls.
  •  Temperature changes: Drops can form on the walls of your fish tank if the water temperature changes too quickly. It can happen if the tank’s temperature is controlled by a broken heater or set to the wrong temperature. To avoid this, check your tank’s temperature often and ensure the heater is working right.
  • New tank syndrome: When you set up a new aquarium, it may undergo a nitrogen cycle. During this time, good bacteria grow in the tank and break down harmful substances like ammonia and nitrite. It can cause drops to form on the sides of the fish tank. To avoid new tank syndrome,” it’s important to cycle your tank correctly before adding fish or other aquatic creatures. The following can take a few weeks and involves adding a source of ammonia to the tank and keeping an eye on the water until the nitrogen cycle is finished.
  • Oxygenation: Bubbles can form on the sides of your fish tank if there is enough oxygen. These dots show enough oxygen in the water, which is traded for carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then released and forms drops. If your tank has live plants or many fish, you may see more bubbles on the sides of the tank. That’s because plants and fish use oxygen and release carbon dioxide. For the health of your aquatic animals, you must ensure enough oxygen. So, ensuring your tank has enough air flow and circulation is essential to keep the oxygen levels healthy.

How to Get Rid of Bubbles on Fish Tank Sides? 

  • Adjusting the air pump: is one way to eliminate bubbles on the sides of a fish tank. If the air pump produces too much air, it can create excess turbulence in the water, which leads to the formation of drops. To adjust the air pump, you can either reduce the airflow using the valve on the air pump or use a smaller air stone to diffuse the air more evenly. If you don’t use an air pump, add one to increase oxygenation and reduce the number of bubbles on the tank walls.
  •  Checking the water flow: Checking and taking care of the filtration system is another way to eliminate bubbles on the sides of a fish tank. If there is a blockage or other water flow problem, it can stir up the water and cause bubbles on the tank walls. Ensure the water pump and filter are working correctly, and the tubing and filter media are not clogged. You might have to clean or change the filter media to improve water flow and reduce the number of drips on the tank walls.
  •  Performing regular water changes: Dots on the sides of a fish tank can be easily gotten rid of by changing the water in the tank often. Over time, organic matter and trash can build up in the water. That can make the water more turbulent, and cause drops to form. You can remove this debris and keep the water clean. It will make the water less rough and stop bubbles from forming on the tank’s walls. Try to change 10–20% of the water in your tank once a week or more often if you need to, depending on how many fish you have and how big your tank is.
  •  Using a protein skimmer: is another way to get rid of bubbles on the flanks of a fish tank that works well. A protein skimmer is a piece of equipment that takes out organic matter and other pollutants from the water before they can break down and make too much turbulence in the tank. By getting rid of these things from the water, protein skimmers make it less likely that drops will form on the tank walls. Protein skimmers are especially useful in saltwater aquariums but can also be used in freshwater aquariums. They come in many sizes and styles, so it’s essential to choose one that fits the size and shape of your tank.
  •  Monitoring and regulating: Getting rid of bubbles on the flanks of a fish tank also depends on the water temperature. Changes in water temperature can make the water move around, which can cause drops to form on the walls of the tank. Ensure the water temperature stays the same and in the proper range for your fish. Use a good thermometer to keep track of the temperature and make changes as needed. Consider using a heater or a chiller to keep the temperature of the water stable, especially if you live in a place where the weather changes a lot. By controlling the temperature of the water, you can help stop drips from forming and keep your fish happy and healthy.

Why are Bubbles in Aquariums a Problem?

Drops may seem harmless in aquariums, but they can cause several problems. First, bubbles can make it hard for fish to breathe because they take oxygen out of the water. Also, the drips can look bad and ruin the aquarium’s look. Lastly, if there are too many bubbles, they can make much noise, which can be annoying.

What to do if Bubbles Continue Forming on a Fish Tank’s Sides? 

Bubbles on the flanks of a fish tank are a common issue for people who like to keep aquariums. You can get rid of or lessen them by taking specific steps. If you have already tried the above solutions and drops are still forming, here are some more things to try:

  • Check the placement of the air stone or diffuser: If it’s too close to the tank walls, it may be causing excess turbulence that creates dots. Move the air stone or diffuser to a different location in the tank, ideally in the center or away from the walls.
  • Consider using a different air stone or diffuser type: Some types may create more drops than others. Experiment with different kinds until you find the best for your tank.
  • Reduce the intensity of the air pump: If the air pump is too powerful, it may create too much turbulence in the water. Adjust the air flow rate or use a regulator to reduce the intensity.
  • Use a surface skimmer: A surface skimmer is a device that removes debris and protein buildup from the surface of the water, where drops often form. By keeping the surface clean, you can help reduce the formation of bubbles on the tank walls.
  • Consider: adding a filter or powerhead. A filter or powerhead can help improve water flow and reduce turbulence, which can, in turn, help reduce the formation of dots.

Can Bubbles on the Sides of a Fish Tank Harm Fish? 

Fish don’t usually get hurt by bubbles on the sides of a fish tank. But they could signal more profound problems that could harm your fish. Here are some things you should think about:

  • If the bubbles: are caused by excess protein buildup or inadequate filtration, this could create poor water quality that could harm your fish over time. It’s essential to address these issues to maintain a healthy environment for your fish.
  • Bubbles caused: by temperature changes or new tank syndrome may also indicate fluctuations in water quality that could harm your fish. It’s crucial to monitor these conditions and take steps to maintain stable water conditions.
  • Excess bubbles: caused by air pump issues or improper water flow may create extra turbulence that could stress out your fish. While this may not necessarily harm them directly, it could lead to weakened immune systems or susceptibility to disease over time.

Overall, bubbles on the sides of a fish tank might not be dangerous by themselves, but they could be a sign of deeper problems that could hurt your fish if you don’t fix them. By taking care of these problems and ensuring your fish live in a healthy place, you can help ensure their long-term health and well-being.


Bubbles in aquariums can be annoying and look bad, but they can be easily stopped with a little care and attention. By being careful when adding new water, keeping the right balance of chemicals in the water, and keeping the aquarium clean, you can enjoy a beautiful aquarium with no bubbles for many years.


What causes bubbles to form on the sides of my fish tank?

Drops can form for many reasons, like when the temperature changes, when the water is stirred up, when proteins build up, or when the water quality is terrible.

Is it normal for a fish tank to have bubbles on the sides?

Tiny dots are typical on the sides of a fish tank because the water is moving, but too many bubbles could mean something is wrong.

Can bubbles on the sides of my fish tank harm my fish?

Drips themselves are not harmful to fish, but excessive bubbles could indicate poor water quality or a lack of oxygen, which can be detrimental.

How can I prevent bubbles from forming on the sides of my fish tank?

You can prevent drops by ensuring good water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and using a filter or air pump to improve water circulation.

Do bubbles on the sides of my fish tank indicate a problem with the water quality?

Excessive bubbles can indicate a problem with water quality, such as high protein levels or low oxygen levels, so it is essential to monitor water parameters regularly.

Can I use a filter to prevent bubbles from forming on the sides of my fish tank?

Yes, a filter can help prevent drips by improving water circulation and removing any debris or buildup that can cause bubbles.

What is the best way to remove bubbles from the sides of my fish tank?

The best way to remove drops is to perform a partial water change, clean the tank thoroughly, and ensure good water quality to prevent other bubbles from forming.

Are there any natural ways to prevent bubbles from forming on the sides of my fish tank?

Yes, you can use natural methods such as adding live plants or aquarium-safe natural products to help prevent excessive driblets in your fish tank.

How often should I check for bubbles on the sides of my fish tank? 

You should check for drips regularly as part of your routine tank maintenance to ensure good water quality and prevent potential problems.

Can sunlight cause bubbles to form on the sides of my fish tank? 

 Yes, sunlight can cause excessive drops due to temperature changes and algae growth, so keeping your tank out of direct sunlight is essential.

Can overfeeding my fish lead to bubbles forming on the sides of my fish tank?

 Yes, overfeeding can lead to protein buildup, which can cause bubbles to form on the sides of your fish tank.

Emma is the wordsmith behind the insightful articles and guides on our website. Her extensive research and passion for fishing shine through in every piece she creates. Whether sharing angling tips or delving into the latest conservation efforts, Emma is dedicated to providing valuable and engaging content.