High Phosphates Over 1000 & Cloudy Water

by Kelly

I have never had this phosphate issue in 14 years and now all of a sudden I have them, and it's at 1,000. After putting in 3 bottles of remover, I can't see the bottom of my pool.

Yes I vacuum and yes, I backwash, but the minute I start to vacuum, everything just moves around and I cant hardly vacuum it out. I have had it and ready to throw in the towel.

I have wasted so much money trying to get it clear, that I can't turn it around. They keep telling me not to add chlorine that the phosphates thrive off it.

I just want my pool back to normal and after going to two different pool stores they keep telling me the same BS. Can I just add a bunch of chlorine and hope that helps?

I am ready to put the cover on it and call it a day and buy a new liner next year! They tell me once I have them in my liner, they will never leave!!

I have a vinyl, 10,000 gallon in ground pool with a sand filter. I cry every time I leave the pool store, for I feel like they are handing my a death sentence. Can you suggest anything for me to help turn this pool around?

We only have three months of nice weather here in Chicago, and I have already wasted a month not being able to swim in a milky pool.



Thanks for the question Kelly

Pool owners like you are the reason
why I put this site up in 2009. I really and truly feel sorry for pool owners when they get into this situation, and it's completely avoidable.

Here's the truth.

Phosphates are food for algae, not the other way around. Your questions says "They keep telling me not to add chlorine that the phosphates thrive off it." The phosphates thrive off of chlorine? That's completely bogus. ALGAE thrives off of phosphates.

Chlorine is the sanitizer for the pool and the chlorine kills the algae. Pools should between 1.5 - 3.5ppm chlorine. If you keep the chlorine level between 1.5 - 3.5ppm, that's good enough to kill the algae and bacteria in the pool. There's no algae and bacteria in the pool, right? All of it is gone.

Phosphates, even a slightly elevated level, are safe to swim in. By keeping the chlorine level between 1.5 - 3.5ppm, and there's no algae because the chlorine kills it, and even though I may have a slightly elevated, BUT SAFE, phosphate level, then why do I need to phosphate remover?

There's your answer. You don't need a phosphate remover. You can use regular bleach instead of pool chlorine. Bleach was nothing more than watered down sodium hypochlorite?



There are only two thing you can do. The first is a partial or full drain and refill. 2nd is to keep filtering and back washing. There's no chemical to get rid of phosphate remover.

Again, sorry to hear about your situation, but the above 2 solutions are the only ones available at this time.


Comments for High Phosphates Over 1000 & Cloudy Water

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 02, 2020
Need Help
by: Anonymous

I have been struggling with my pool for weeks now started out with an algae issue that turned into a metal issue. After using multiple metal treatments it raises the phosphate levels to above 4500. The levels are slowly going down After using pho's free max and then Adding seaklear phosphate remover.....the entire pool is cloudy milky white and had not changed for days. I've been adding clarifier as well as chlorine which is just getting eaten up as the chlorine levels aren't even changing. Please help not sure what to do thinking of closing the pool as we are four weeks in and a few hundred dollars in chemicals.....

Hello. First is to stop adding chems. The chems balance the water, the filter clears it. Chems will never clear the water, regardless of what anyone says. Without a full set of chem numbers, your pool size and filter type, it's a guessing game. Pools go cloudy and/or green for various reasons. We take the tests and then the results determine how we approach the pool.

While I'd love to offer each person individual attention who might be experiencing this particular issue, it's simply time prohibitive. I receive no less than 700 questions pertaining to green and cloudy pools and how to clear them up. Due to the high volume of questions I receive during this time of year, I prefer to keep website questions to those that can be quickly answered with one answer. Clearing up a pool is a process with many variables and can take some time to figure out exactly what your situation is and how to clear up the pool.

I offer many valuable resources that can be found on my resources page. eBooks, detailed video series, and personal 1-on-1 consultations and coaching are available for your consideration.


Please look them over, decide if you'd like to partner with me, and then choose the one that's best for your personal situation.

Thanks and have a wonderful day.


Jun 26, 2020
Cloudy pool
by: Anonymous

I have a sand filter and had the same issue- started with a green algae filled pool and got it to blue, but cloudiness refused to go away. Two weeks I battled with no change. One pool store said, just keep shocking it! The other said you have a filtration probables but offered no suggestions. Was so frustrated. Went to a third store and they said I probably had phosphates and for some reason most pool stores don’t know about it and don’t test for it. Mine were at about 1000. They gave me a bag of DE powder, told me to put it in my skimmer basket, wait , then eventually backwash. I did this and within an hour I started to see the bottom! In three days my pool was clear! You just add a quarter cup at a time , check the pressure (the goal is to get it 1 lb above your normal) then stop adding when you reach that. It will all come out when you backwash. The trick is the DE powder is more fine than the sand and rougher. Grabs those tiny particles your sand filter can’t. I still have the actual phosphates in the pool, but the tiny debris they made is gone! Magic!

Apr 01, 2020
by: Clayton

I am very upset spent $35 at a pool place because my phosphates are 1500ppb and should be around 100 so dumped it in and now my pool is super cloudy. Everything else in the readings was good ph was a little high at 8. I have cleaned my filter and am waiting for it to be clear again. What should I do now. I just dumped 20 oz of miriatic acid in it will that help..... I’m so upset the only thing wrong before I went in was that the chlorine was super high. I have shock treatment should I shock it and when should I do that with the other chemicals.

Hi Clayton. Keep filtering. The water will eventually clear up. Once a chemical is in your pool, it's in. In your situation, there's no chemical to reverse what's been done. Adding acid will only lower the pH and TA and will do nothing to help with the clarity of the water.

To expedite the process, only a partial drain and refill will suffice. And don't worry about the phosphates. If the chemicals are balanced and filter is good, there's no reason to use a phosphate remover.

I have many resources available as well which can be found here:


Hope this helps and have a great day.


Jul 14, 2017
Help !!
by: Linda

Hi my name is Linda and I have high phosphates in my above ground pool , we used a phosphate remover and evrything came to the bottom , but the minute we vacume the pool it clouds back up . we have triedthis three times ready to throw the towel in !! What are we doing wrong ? thanks

Hi Linda. There could be one or multiple issues going on. The chemicals may not be balanced. The filter might be compromised. Without knowing the type of filter you have, it's difficult to troubleshoot and be specific.

You might have large amounts of organic matter in the pool such as algae.

Or it might be a combination. Without more info. it's simply a guessing game.

First thing is to understand that phosphate removers, while they do serve a small and restricted purpose, are generally not needed.

If you need to get your pool back and perfectly balanced, I offer eBooks and personal phone consults for your convenience.

You can find the links to those resources right here:

Clear Blue Pool eBook
How To Clear Up A Green Pool eBook
Learn To Clear Up Your Pool


Jul 05, 2017
by: Blayne

I hate ohosphates. I am literally $100s out because of trying to get rid of them. I am now on my last try with Poolige Back to Blue. Phosphate level is at 500 and water blue and cloudy cant see bottom. Have done everything - acid - chlorine - phosphate removers - what else can I do?

Hi Blayne. As this comment section states, do not concern yourself with phosphates. They're food for algae, but not the only food source. And a proper and effective FC level will take care of the algae spores and the rest of the organic matter in the pool.

Poolife Back To Blue is nothing more than regular calcium hypochlorite. There is absolutely nothing special about it and you will have no better results than using unscented regular grocery store bleach.

There could be several reasons for cloudy pools such as bad or wrong pool chemistry, faulty filtration system, adding too many or too few chemicals, not chlorinating correctly and/or inconsistent chlorination, onset of algae, etc...

Due to these facts, I have several resources available such as eBooks that go into these details, how to fix your issues, and how to properly maintain a pool. I also have a brand new video series that teaches you all you need to know about clearing up and maintaining your swimming pool.

You can find the links to those resources right here:

Clear Blue Pool eBook
How To Clear Up A Green Pool eBook
Learn To Clear Up Your Pool


Jul 02, 2015
Not Looking For Arguments Here
by: Anonymous

Hey Robert, my answer was for Kelly, not for people to come on here and argue, with their OPINION of my answer.
-The reason I said "if the algae returns" is because I recommended using the lowest dose at first.
-And - some pools have become chlorine resistant, and need to be dealt with by other means.
-Well water will not stain a vinyl pool.
I am in the business and have dealt with LOTS of different pool problems. My solution works.
Kindly find someone else to argue with. Again, my advice was intended for Kelly - not so others could come on here and make themselves appear smarter than me.
Good luck

Thanks for the follow Kenny, but I'm not just anyone, I'm the owner of the site. I understand that your comment was for Kelly. She has already been helped and I thank you for your opinion. My intention was not to argue with you. I don't give opinions, I give factual answers that I've used in the pool business since 1999. Bromide, when placed into a chlorine pool, will turn the chlorine into bromine. It's for this reason that hot tubs that use bromide as their sanitizer must have a bromine bank and prime that with chlorine.

I will assume you are a real pool guy (as I am) and have an actual pool route where you walk into people's backyards and clear up and balance their pool and are not a pool store employee (which I'm not). Pool owners must understand the meanings of the words that are used. It's not a pesonal attack against you. We need to clearly define our words. When it's said that "some pools become chlorine resistant" what exactly does that mean? Pool owners may look at that and say if I put chlorine into the pool the water resists the chlorine. Why? What's going on? Perhaps it's because the CYA is too high (above 80ppm) or low (below 10ppm) which is rendering the FC ineffective. Or maybe the pH is high, >8.2. Or maybe there's no FC, no CYA, and the pH is 8.4. That's a perfect storm for a green pool.

Another misunderstood word is "shock". Too many pool owners believe they can actually buy "shock" This is utter nonsense and has caused great harm to pools and wallets. Shock is not a product, it's maintaining a FC level high enough to kill organic matter. It's a verb, an action, not a noun. People say they bought "shock" but that's impossible. They bought chlorine to shock the pool. They say "I added 10 bags of shock". Great. You added chlorine to the pool, BUT, did you maintain a FC level high enough to kill the algae? This is when I get blank stares. They have not been properly taught and they don't have the right information, hence, they get bad results and end up spending $800 in a futile attempt to clear up and balance a 12k gallon pool.

Plaster and fiberglass pools do have a tendency to stain faster with metals, but vinyl pool can stain as well. I did a consult with a customer from MN whose pictures can be seen on my site. It shows the vinyl pool turning a clear emerald green after adding 3 gallons of chlorine. Without the use a metal sequestrant his pool could have experienced metal staining. Again, less common, but the chance is still there.

Again, this is not a personal attack against you nor your procedures. I'm not here to appear smarter than anyone, just to offer factual and real world solutions to pool owner's problems. I've made several detailed videos on clearing up and balancing green and cloudy pools. When I walk away from a pool it's clear, the the water is balanced, and the filter is working perfectly. And I normally don't spend more than $10 - $15 in chemicals per 10k gallons.

Thanks for your time.


Jul 02, 2015
No More Algae!
by: Anonymous

I am 14 years in the Pool business. Here is how I would handle it:
Dump in a full jug (2 1/2 gals) of pool chlorine. Then add a capful of powdered Treatment for Yellow Algae. Brush the pool. Let it run overnight. In the morning, vac up the dead algae. Clean the filter. Put the pump back on normal cycling, 8-10 hrs a day. You'll want to get the Chlorine in the normal range(3.0) - you can accomplish this faster by adding more "Yellow Treatment", a cap or a half cap at a time- this will bring your Chl level down in a few hours of running(and bonus, kill all signs of any remaining algae spores). After it is within range, get and add some "SeaKlear 90 day Algaecide". The price is reasonable and it works great. It is copper based, so you want to add the amount on the label, for your size pool OR it can cause blue staining if you use too much and/or have the chlorine level too high. BUT with a vinyl pool, you don't have to worry about that. If after a few days or weeks, you see a little algae returning, add a little more SeaKlear; That is ok, as you'll see on the label, you can double the dosage if you have alot of algae.
A big plus - no need to mess with the phosphates!
Hope I helped...good luck.

Thanks for the comment Kenny but I'm not a big fan of putting chemicals into pools that you don't need. Treatment for yellow algae chemicals are many times sodium bromide. What you're doing, in effect, is changing the some of the chlorine you just added into bromine. The net effect for this is zero. Simply keep the FC high enough and maintain that in order to kill the algae. No need for changing one chemical into another and getting nothing from it.

Many times algae cannot be killed with one application of chlorine, hence, maintaining a FC level of 12 - 13ppm is better.

SeaKlear 90 day Algaecide is copper which is a product I would never recommend anyone using. Overuse can cause metal staining and foaming. We also need to consider if the pool is filled with well water. This normally has high copper/iron in it so all SeaKlear is doing is adding more of what we don't want. If anything, use a PolyQuat 60 algaecide during this process. The title says " No More Algae" but if you see the algae returning in a few days or weeks that means either the filter is not working correctly, the chemicals are not balanced, or a combination.

We need to look at those before adding more costly and sometimes non-effective chemicals. A pool owner can have clear water but that doesn't mean the water is balanced. What you want is a properly working filtration system and balanced chemicals. When those are combined there's a 99% chance of having clear water. No bromine, no copper algaecides. I agree with no need to mess with the phosphates.


Jan 18, 2015
Cloudy Water Due To Phostphate Remover
by: Kelly

Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it!

I had my water tested and just to recap I was the article regarding "phosphates" and the pool store had me buying remover every time I came in. I am still vacuuming and backwashing and adding water, but still no change. I have a reading and wanted your input in case I can be adding something else to help it turn over from cloudy to clear. Again, its an inground, 10,000 gallon vinyl sand filter pool.

temperature: 88
saturation index: 1.3
TDS: 1100
CYA: 30
total chlorine: 0.3
Free chlorine: 0.3
ph: 8.5
tot alkalinity: 110
hardness: 339

I know none of these readings are correct from both experience and by looking at my cloudy blue pool and after I put that darn phosphate remover in my pool I just cant turn it around.

I also cant keep chlorine in long enough to even get a reading. Not sure if I need to put in pH down to get the reading to a 7.4, then the chlorine will read? or should I put in a muriatic acid?

I honestly don't even know what half these readings are for?? Any suggestions other then your already suggestions of vacuum and backwash? As always, the pool store wants me to buy phosphate remover -



Thanks for the great follow up Kelly

Giving the readings is 90% of it all. It makes life so much easier for me. The TDS is Total Dissolved Solids. This means all of the solids and minerals that are in your pool. You are getting to the upper range.

Normally about 1500ppm and you'll want to think about doing a partial water change. Saturation Index basically means your pool or spa water chemistry, as it relates to corrosion and scale-formation with the pH, alkalinity, etc...

CYA is stabilizer for the chlorine. Total chlorine is the amount of chlorine in the water. Free chlorine is how much chlorine you have to fight bacteria, algae, etc... And you probably understand pH, alkalinity, and hardness.

There are some things you'll want to do. First is to keep the pump running 24/7 and back wash once per day. 2nd is to add muriatic acid to decrease the pH. To decrease pH 0.2ppm for every 10,000 gallons you'll use about 12oz.

Start with 12 - 15oz. of acid added to the pool around the perimeter. Sweep the sides and bottom to break up any hot spots. Acid is heavier than water and sinks right to the bottom. Dilute the acid in a bucket of water first, especially with a vinyl liner.

Swimming Pool pH Levels

Pool pH

About 2 hours later, shock the pool with liquid chlorine. To raise the chlorine 10ppm using liquid, you'll use 3 1/4 qts. per 10,000 gallons. I'd use 1 full gallon with the pump running. You can dilute this in a bucket of pool water, stir with a PVC pipe or a stick, and broadcast it around the perimeter of the pool. Again, sweep the sides and bottom well to break up anything.

Your CYA is right in the range of 30 - 50ppm. You could get a tab floater and put 1 - 2 Trichlor tabs in it. Never put tabs in the skimmer. Do this in the evening then retest everything in the morning; chlorine, pH, alkalinity, and hardness.

Take a sample into the pool store. If they don't charge you for it, take it in 3 - 4 times per week. Note your chlorine reading in the evening, then in the morning. Keep an actual log. The next evening and morning do the same thing. You'll begin the see the chlorine level holding more and more with the CYA staying in the range of 30 - 50ppm.

The alkalinity is fine, so don't touch that. No bicarb, alkalinity or pH up. Hardness is a bit high, so use liquid chlorine, not granules. Not only does granular chlorine have calcium (which will add to the hardness) but it has a pH of 12. Every time you use it the pH will go up a bit.

So for right now, focus on getting the pH down to between 7.6 -7.8. If it goes to 7.2 - 7.4, don't worry. It's still good and will come back up through splashing around and water movement. And shock the pool to get the chlorine in there. And, lay off the phosphate remover.

I saved the YMCA nearly $5000 the first year I was there because I cut off the phosphate remover. They were going through 3 bottles per week at $32 per bottle (1/2 gallon).

Hope this helps and let me know how it turns out for you.


Jul 17, 2014
Removing Phosphate Residue
by: Anonymous

The TH is at 100, PH I keep at 7.2 TA stays at 80 and the CYA 30-50. I keep the FC minimum at 2/4 and try to keep it around 3/6 - 5/10. The only chemical I've added is phosphate remover that was 4 days ago. I vacuumed yesterday, diverting that water to the barrels and caught a lot of the white residue. The water is looking a lot clearer today. I've inspected the filters (new) and there's no rips or other breaches also inspected the pump for any cracks.

I guess the particles are just to fine to be trapped by the filter so I'll try some clarifier. Pumping out the water into barrels is a big hassle, but does work. So far I have close to 5" of sediment I've collected in a 5 gal bucket since I started diverting the water, which is water that has been thru the filter first.

There for awhile I was thinking I had somebody throwing something in my pool because It's never been this bad before and the water is only 3 months old.

Thanks for the comment

I had a slight residue from phosphate removers when I worked at the Y. I put a stop to its use and it cleared up through filtering. Hopefully you know I'm not a big fan of phosphate removers, floccs, clarifiers, etc... for weekly pool maintenance, only for extreme cases.

Here's a cloudy pool video I just posted on YouTube. It took 2 days and $4.50 to clear up.


It sounds like you're using test strips. While they are convenient you'll get the best results from using a Taylor K-2006 kit. I also did a series of videos on how to use it.


Jul 16, 2014
Phosphate Residue
by: Anonymous

A month ago my pool turned green almost overnight. Lots of chlorine later I still end up with a fine, almost fluorescence green dust that settles overnight (algae?) It vacuums up easy but goes right thru my filter back in the pool.

I took 3 55 gal plastic trash cans and diverted the vacuum water and let it settle overnight then pump about 3/4 back into the pool. Added phosphate remover 2 days ago (400ppm), now instead of green dust in the barrel it's white, still goes thru the filter though. Is there anything that can be added to make the dust more solid so my filter will trap it?

Would a sand filter catch these super fine particles floating in my water? It's a cartridge, 1000gph pump and a 4000gal pool. yeah it's intex?


I'd like to have your complete chemical readings, the actual numbers:

Chlorine, CYA (cyanuric acid/stabilizer), pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Metals (iron and copper) and names of any algaecides you may have used along with clarifiers, phosphate removers, and/or flocs. It makes troubleshooting much easier.

Cartridge filters are the mid-road filter, between DE (filters the best) and sand. Cartridge filters are my personal preference. You may have a hole or rip in the pleats so that's something to look over.

To catch smaller particles you can use a clarifier. This binds up the particles and makes them larger so they get caught in the filter. Take the cartridge and spray it out to remove the dirt. However, clarifiers, floccs, coagulants, Pool First Aid, Pool Rx, etc... don't address what the problem is, they only cover it up.

Get back to me with the chemical numbers and we can go from there.

If you feel your situation is more complex than this, I do phone consultations for a donation of your choice. It makes things go much faster and many people have found it extremely beneficial, saving them time and money in the long run. All your questions will be answered. I have nothing to sell you so you know I'm not bias.

Pool Consultation

Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


Jul 06, 2014
Phosphate Removers Error
by: Gary

I was reading your blog in the section dealing with phosphate removers, and came across this comment from 2012....... Jan 30, 2012 Phosphate Remover by: Alex NSW.

This is incorrect, of course.......... the active ingredient in phosphate remover is lanthanum, and the active ingredient in Drano is sodium hydroxide. You may wish to consider removing that post before someone mixes something that causes a disaster. I appreciate your work here!!

Thanks! Gary

Jun 13, 2014
Phosphate High
by: Anonymous


First, I'd like to have your complete chemical readings, the actual numbers:

Chlorine, CYA (cyanuric acid/stabilizer), pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Metals (iron and copper) and names of any algaecides you may have used along with clarifiers, phosphate removers, and/or flocs. It makes troubleshooting much easier and the process of clearing up your pool will go much faster. Green water is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

Jun 04, 2014
Getting rid of phosphates
by: Frank

I have a 10,000 gallon above ground pool. During pool start-up water analysis showed that I had extremely high phosphate levels.

After using phosphate remover pool water got extremely cloudy. I ran the pump 24/7 for 3 days and backwashed once a day. Water clarity remained very milky. During backwashing on the 4th day I directed the backwash water into a black wheel barrow to prevent some ground erosion. Later that day I noticed that the water in the wheel barrow had separated into a clear upper level and an extremely milky lower level.

That gave me the idea to stop running the pump and let the same process happen to the water in the pool. I turned the pump off that night and the following morning sure enough the pool water had separated into a clear upper level and a milky level at the pool bottom. I was able to vacuum a lot of the milky stuff before the water circulation caused by the pump mixed the 2 levels making the pool cloudy again.

So to make long frustrating story short, it me 4 times using this procedure before the pool got nice and clear. Hope this helps somebody...

Jun 19, 2012
Phosphate Problem??
by: Anonymous

I have always had perfect clear water and never any algae. The pool store has started telling me my phosphate level is off the chart and I need phosphate remover, at $60. a bottle.

My water is now cloudy and my chlorine level is low even though I have the salt generator on boost. Is the phosphate level important? How long for pool clarity after the bottle of remover was added? Can this affect the production of chlorine?

Thanks for the question

As you can see from this post the phosphates are not that important, and $60 a bottle is a bit extreme.

I'd like to have your complete chemical readings:

Chlorine, CYA (cyanuric acid/stabilizer), pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and Metals (iron and copper). It makes troubleshooting much easier and the process of clearing up your pool will go much faster. You can get this done at your local pool store. It could be a simple as filtering and backwashing until the phosphate remover is gone, or it could be a chemical issue. Get the me the numbers and we'll take a look.


Jan 30, 2012
Phosphate Remover
by: Alex NSW

If you feel you must use phosphate remover, don't buy the stuff from the pool shop - what is in it? It's sodium hydroxide, about 2%. And it costs the earth.

Instead buy Draino or similar product which is sodium hydroxide 95 - 100% and costs almost nothing from the supermarket.

You need to calculate very carefully how much you should use by comparing the dosage rate of the pool shop expensive stuff and working out how much to use of your Draino or similar.

It'll be a very small amount indeed (about a desertspoon roughly - but CAREFULLY calculate it out for yourself).

And if you can't do the calculation, don't use it.

Jul 28, 2011
Phosphate Update
by: Kelly rivera

Hi Robert, just wanted to follow up and thank u for all your advice!!

I came to you with my milky, cloudy, phospate invested pool. Its been a few weeks and I am happy to report my pool is back to normal!!

I followed your directions step by step and basically it only took me about 60.00 in shock and acid to see the bottom of my pool again!!

You are a genius!

I bought myself a good testing kit and dont rely on the professional pool store folks that got me in this situation in the first place.

I just wanted to thank you... your the greatest!!

Kelly Rivera-Chicago

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Cloudy Or Discolored Pool Water.