Here’s how you can get Rid of the Fishy & Foul Smell from your Swimming Pool

My sister has a swimming pool and whenever I visit her house, the water in the pool smells like fish. I’m not sure if it’s because she is using too much chlorine or something else but that smell gives me a headache. And the thing is, this smell isn’t new. As a Matter of fact, this stench is present in all of the pools I have been around in the humble amount of house parties I visited. It’s subtle but it’s there and for someone to live in a house adjacent to such a pool is like having a rotting vegetable lie barren on a table for eternity. Me being the Pool Enthusiast I am, I went digging and tried to figure out the root cause of this problem and put appropriate reasoning behind this not so uncommon problem. Here’s what I found:

What Causes that Fishy / Foul Smell in your Swimming Pool?

The most common cause of the fishy smell is when you are adding more than 1/2 cup of bleach per 10 gallons of water. This will kill all bacteria in your pool and also kill any algae that was growing on the walls. When you add more than 1/2 cup of bleach, there is no need for chlorination as the chlorine level is already high enough to keep the water safe for the swimmer’s eyes.

Other causes of the fishy odour can be when you have used a lot of soap or detergent to clean the pool. Also, if the pool filter is clogged with debris, then the water may become cloudy and dirty due to the lack of oxygen. The other causes of the fishy odours include:

  • Overuse of pool chemicals
  • Improper maintenance
  • A leak in the plumbing system

If you notice the smell right after cleaning the pool, then it means that the pool chemicals were overused. If you see the smell even after several hours of being cleaned, then it means that either the pool filters are clogged or there is some damage to your pipes. You should call an expert immediately to fix these issues before they worsen.

The Complete Guide to Eliminate the Fishy Smell from your Swimming Pool

Some people do not realize that the chlorine in their pool actually makes the smell worse. Usually, chlorine is added to the pool at the beginning of summer. However, sometimes, people use less chlorine than required so the chlorine levels remain low throughout the entire season. In such cases, it is better to add more chlorine to make sure that the chlorine levels stay above 0.5 ppm.

  • It is recommended that you add about 2 tablespoons of hypochlorite (bleach) per 10 gallons of water every week until the chlorine levels reach between 2 and 5 ppm. Once you achieve this, you can stop adding more chlorine and just maintain the same amount.
  • Another way to reduce the smell is by adding a few drops of essential oil to the pool water. Essential oils come in different scents including citrus, lavender, and peppermint. To make sure that the scent lasts longer, you should apply them once every day. Some people also recommend adding a few drops of vinegar to the pool water to help neutralize the bad smell.

In case the smell persists despite everything, then it is best to contact a professional who specializes in pool care. They will know how to treat the problem effectively and prevent it from happening again.

Some Swimming Pool Cleaning Tips to prevent the Fishy Smell from Recurring:

To avoid getting the fishy smell, use only one type of chlorine at a time. For example, if you are using both regular and liquid chlorine, then use only one kind at a time. If you are using only regular chlorine, then gradually increase the dosage each week.

Most importantly, never leave the pool unattended while it is filling up with water. Make sure that you always have someone supervise the process.

  • You should also check the pH levels regularly. If the pH level is too acidic, then you should add some borax to lower the acidity. On the other hand, if the pH level is too alkaline, then you should add baking soda to raise the pH.
  • Make sure that you change the filter every month. If you wait till the filter becomes clogged, then you will have to replace it sooner rather than later.
  • It is important to clean the pool thoroughly. You should also use a brush to remove any algae that have grown on the walls. If you want to use a chemical solution, then you should follow the instructions carefully. DO NOT pour the chemical directly into the pool. Instead, spray it onto the wall first. Then, rinse off the chemical with fresh water.
  • If you suspect that something is wrong with the pool heater, then you should turn it off immediately. This will ensure that no harm comes to your kids or pets.


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The fishy smell from a swimming pool is caused by bacteria that thrive in warm waters. The good news is that there are ways to eliminate the odour without having to buy expensive chemicals or hiring professionals. All you need to do is read the article carefully, take note of the tips mentioned, and try applying them.

I hope that these tips helped! Happy Swimming!

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