How to Remove Foam from a Garden Fountain

“What causes the water in an outdoor fountain to look foamy? I have a concrete fountain in my garden, and the water appears full of foam or suds. Any advice?”
-Judy

Foam is a common problem in both outdoor and indoor fountains, usually caused by an excess of proteins and other organic compounds left behind by bacteria, plants, or animals. The compounds form a slick layer on the surface, which is then churned up into foam by the splashing water. Here are some ways to reduce the formation of foam in your garden fountain:

  • Change the water in your fountain regularly to keep it fresh.
  • Move your fountain out of direct sunlight – the sunlight increases evaporation, which increases the amount of material left behind in the water.
  • If possible, use distilled water in your fountain to discourage mineral accumulation, algae, and bacteria.
  • If the foam persists, you can also try products such as Jungle Laboratories No More Foam for Fountains or Crystal Clear Foam B Gone. These nontoxic additives help to dissolve the substances that cause the foam buildup.
  • Clean your fountain with a scrub brush and water, or with a fountain cleaner, every couple of months. Never use regular soap or bleach – not only can these products harm the birds and creatures who may drink from your fountain, but they can also soak into porous concrete or stone and create foam of their own.

Julie

21 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the advice. I just installed a new outdoor fountain and have been a little concerned about upkeep on it. I love it so much, and wouldn’t want it to get mold, algea or anything! I’ll have to try the distilled water.

  2. I just cleaned and repainted my fountain (it hangs in our entryway) and I can’t seem to get rid of the foam. I’ll buy some of the product you mentioned but I can’t help but wonder what’s causing it. None of the solutions you suggest apply.

  3. I have a water feature /pond with 7 koi fish. We started to get foam last week. Never before and we have had our pond 9 years. Our pond is about 17 ft long and 8 ft wide. In the morning the foam is there in the late afternoon it is almost gone. Any suggestions?
    Thanks, Pat

  4. The water in my beautiful new outdoor fountain is covered in foam. I have gone to the retailer, and to 2 nurseries, with no helpful advise. I will order some of these products and hope it works. Can not for the life of me figure out why this condition was such a mystery to my contact. Thanks for your help.

  5. I just bought a better homes &garden fountain. I filled it with distilled water, made sure the water level was above the pump and from the very start, I have bubbles. I emptied it, rinsed it completely then refilled with distilled water again, and still have bubbles! Do you have any suggestions? Could it be drawing air from anywhere if the water level is above the pump?

  6. I set up a bamboo and ceramic pot fountain over the weekend and the foam has begun. Also noticed the foam building up on an exposed river rock forms a skin of whitish scum. In the past I used 3 types of drops that prevented algae, foam and mineral deposits and they worked fairly well. No mosquitoes and safe for wildlife when used as directed. Think I got it at the local big box mart.

  7. Ive put bleach in my outdoor waterfall and now all I have is white foam. How can I reverse this situation? No fish or vegetation are present in the pond/waterfall. is there something I can add to water to eliminate the foam?

  8. I have the same situation. A brand new concrete fountain that foams even with distilled water. It’s not in the sun and no matter what I do it keeps on foaming. Any other suggestion?

  9. Also put Clorox in mine to clean foam like crazy. I put fabric softener in it worked good but noticed foam back today gonna add more softener today.
    Note just a fountain not birds drink from it or no animals. Bees must not like the smell they never came back…., still trying it is a large 3 teir and husband will not take it down to hose out. I did have a alge tablet in it think that was the cause of all this foam. Of to get clothes softer in it. Maybe I’ll try Downey! :)) wish me luck

  10. I put liquid tide in my fountain to see how it looks.. will it hurt anything? also, if I wish to get rid of the suds, what can I do besides drain and clean the fountain?

  11. I use a product called ‘foam down’ in my hot tub – maybe good for fountains to?? Also I change the water every 4 months

  12. I’ve noticed this problem too, and always wondered why foam formed. I thought it was pretty interesting that it mostly comes from organic compounds. I wouldn’t have even thought about that. I’ll try these methods, thanks!

  13. Thanks for the tips. I have had the hardest time getting my fountain to not have the ugly white foam in it. I think I will try and drain it, and then scrub it out. I will also try filling it up with distilled water. I usually just use my hose. I do have pretty hard water, so that could be an issue. I hope that works for me.

  14. Ponds and fountains usually only foam a small amount in heavy rains and downpours. this is due to the stirring up or splashing and mixing effect of the proteins and algae in the ponds. do not put bleach into your fountains or ponds this will weaken the cement just as salt will creating a pitting effect. Suggesting you clean and empty, refill with fresh water and keep out of direct sunlight.

  15. Vinegar. How much, for my 3 gallon fountain plastic 1001 1002 1002 3 oz or so, changed the ph made water hard. no more suds of foam. Also vinegar rinse for your clothes removes built up detergent, your hair will shine with a vinegar rinse, if you have soap in a large outdoor fountain like halloween prank add a gallon of vinegar.

  16. My solution to the irksome foam in my garden fountain was simple:
    Put a pound or two of coarse salt into the water that is being recirculated and the foam will disappear. Add more salt is necessary until the foam formation stops.

  17. I have a natural stone water fall with a black plastic type liner. The 1st two years I had no problems. Then last year foam started appearing. This spring we drained it and I poured bleach over the rocks as advised. Foam explosion! was probably three feet of foam. I kept skimming it off, added vinegar and still have foam on the surface. Help!

  18. I’ve had my 3-Tier fountain outside in a courtyard for over 10 years. I cleaned out bugs and leaves 3-4 times per week with a fine strainer and put bleach in it weekly. Never had any foam. After hurricane Irma it got filled with so much debris, and it took a couple of days until I was able to clean it. The water was a gross pink color. I did my usual to clean it and the foam won’t stop. I hosed off the foam and emptied most of the water. So now the foam is almost gone, but a little keeps returning. Now I’m afraid to put bleach in again. So I will try vinegar. Thank you for your article!

  19. I’ve had my 3-Tier fountain outside in a sunny courtyard for over 10 years. I cleaned out bugs and leaves 3-4 times per week with a fine strainer and put bleach in it weekly. Never had any foam. After hurricane Irma it got filled with so much debris, and it took a couple of days until I was able to clean it. The water was a gross pink color. I did my usual to clean it and the foam won’t stop. I hosed off the foam and emptied most of the water. So now the foam is almost gone, but a little keeps returning. Now I’m afraid to put bleach in again. So I will try vinegar. Thank you for your article!

  20. We have a barrel fountain in our living room. It isn’t in the sun. Just cleaned it good and put just plain water in it and had 3 ft high foam in it immediately. What can we do?

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