Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A.Tues): Smelly Saltwater Tanks

by Mark Callahan · 24 comments

in Equipment,Reef Enthusiast,Reef Junkie,Tank Dabbler,Terrible Advice Tuesdays

Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A.Tues): Saltwater aquariums smell bad

The rest of the story: Can saltwater aquariums smell bad?


Do they normally smell bad?


If your saltwater tank smells bad, the first place I would look for the problem is water quality. A tank with poor water quality (high ammonia or nitrates) will likely smell bad. And a tank with poor water quality probably has something driving the poor water quality such as a lack of chemical filtration (namely activated carbon) or little or no surface skimming.

Even a protein skimmer cup that is full of nasty skimmate should not be noticeable when you are standing in front of the tank.

Simply put, a smelly saltwater tank means something is wrong.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark September 24, 2013 at 5:52 am

I will sometimes get an odor when I turn off the pumps to feed the fish. Is this normal? I have a wide range of healthy corals (soft to hard) and fish, sump, oversized protein skimmer, media reactor with activated carbon and GFO and a UV sterilizer.

Brian September 24, 2013 at 6:17 am

The wife stopped him from having a tank over this? That stinks.

Nik September 24, 2013 at 6:28 am

Looks like we got a troll under our bridge.

alejandro September 24, 2013 at 6:33 am

If you don’t like it then don’t read it. I think I speak for most people that listen to mark,so far with his advice I have had great success.keep up the good work mark. Don’t listen to idiots like this guy.

jason September 24, 2013 at 6:35 am

i have a 200 gallon tank in my living room and you smell nothing

Jimbo September 24, 2013 at 6:36 am

My Saltwater-Reef Aquarium has no odor to it i just Love it. I agree poor water Quality – any dead fish etc… yes then one can have a big problem..

Angel September 24, 2013 at 7:01 am

More like there is something wrong with the marriage.
We as “Men” get the Dame if you do and dame if you don’t.
We stay at home more tending to the tank and showing a present rather
than going out with the boys (or girls if you know what I mean) drinking and doing things that might require bail money.
Get the tank and MAN-UP..

dave September 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

i was watching deadliest catch and I think it might be the same thing that the cornelia maries capt said. “crab farts” lol just wanted to make people smile

Tony September 24, 2013 at 7:25 am

My wife smells more than my tank does, tell him to watch out, after the perfume wares off there are some smells a skimmer would not take away! Take the tank, over woman! They stink! (woman)

Rich September 24, 2013 at 7:35 am

I believe aquarium enthusiast sometime tend to get so busy with there lives that along with the lax of routine checks and balances of there system maintenance program that turns into a smelly stinky situation that even the wife can smell

Chris September 24, 2013 at 8:01 am

I believe that aquariums putting off a stink, couldn’t be further from the truth! As a matter of fact there are times when I stand above my tank maybe close my eyes, i can almost fool myself into thinking that im standing @the beach, getting some of that salt air! Just do it man! Prove her wrong!!

Arthur September 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

Yes, I was about to say it! The tank might smell like the beach, salt in the air. Have your wife go see a friends tank and shell realize they don’t stink. I wouldn’t piss her off and end up sleeping on the couch. I would just not give up and try to prove to her they don’t stink. My wife thought the same then I put a 130 gallon saltwater aquarium, 55 gallon freshwater ,30 gallon freshwater in our living room and it didn’t smell. Good luck and don’t give up!

Beetle Bailey September 24, 2013 at 9:29 am

Take the advice man,find a friend with a tank and drag the other half over to check it out,and dont forget why women wear make-up and perfume , cause they’re ugly and they stink ! LOL,dont tell my wife I said that

Steve Dodd September 24, 2013 at 9:39 am

I agree , my tanks smell like the beach and I love the seaside with a icecream so wots the problem.
Mind you I am in the blissfull state of being divirced so i can have my tanks how and were I want. Heaven

Barbara September 24, 2013 at 9:43 am

Men think only men have this hobby.

Andy September 24, 2013 at 9:47 am

People, people…. Read between the lines! Don’t harsh on the wife all she’s saying is “GOOD HUSBANDRY” has more than one meaning!

John L September 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

The only thing that stinks around here is me on a Saturday morning after finishing up the weekly chores for the tank.

So I put the RO/DI wastewater to good use and I use it as bathwater :)

Joel Rosen September 24, 2013 at 10:57 am

Interesting timing to this topic. Just the past weekend, I noticed a bad smell while standing in front of the tank. Immediately checked underneath and the skimmer was full to the point of overflowing. I’d cleaned it a couple days prior, it’s usually a once a week task. The skimmate was lighter than usual. Emptied it, check for anything amiss in the display tank and the sump, found nothing. Problem has not recurred since. Never had a sudden spike like that before. Whatever caused it seems to have resolved. Even when I’ve had fish die, I haven’t had a skimmer fill like that. I usually can’t even find the remains before they’re consumed.

Any thoughts?

melody miller September 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Ya good husbandry! Shes probably thinking it will be like all the other smelly things he has laying around the house. That she has to clean.

Mayja September 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Ha ha! Right on, Barbara!!

Alisha September 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm

You go girl! Lots of lady reefers…my husband doesn’t ‘get’ my hobby but he supports me and helps me when I have issues(like plumbing and moving the 120 gallon tank)

Calvertbill September 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm

There are no uglier words in English than “My wife/husband won’t let/allow me.”

The author of that quotation is a spineless Cnidaria whose wife’s error was not in banning his hobby as mush as allowing him to draw breath.

Unwillingly submitting to a spousal mandate is the worst form of communication failure and one of them should be euthanized (I don’t care which).

Jerry September 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

My tanks have that clean ocean smell, to me. The Mrs would take one of my Calloways to them!

joel September 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Ever herd of skimmate smelling good? Mine does and before you shrug your shoulders and say idk about this guy I have smelled other peoples sm and yukkk! Mine almost smells like sweet ocean sented deoderant. LFS freind asked if my armpits were getting into the tank lol. No but really I would like to know if you ever heard of this.

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: