How to Properly Clean Your Fish Tank?

Has your fish tank recently become cloudy? Is peering through the tank’s glass difficult? If so, you should clean your fish tank. Your fish tank might have become hazy CZ of pollutants like nitrates building up over time. It’s crucial to hand-clean your aquarium even if you use a fish tank filter.

To clean your aquarium, you need to follow a few essential steps. First, remove any fish or plants and transfer them to a temporary tank or container. Next, drain the water and remove any decorations or substrate. Use a scraper or brush to remove any algae or debris from the sides of the tank. Clean the decorations and substrate, and rinse everything with clean water. Refill the tank with dechlorinated water, add a water conditioner to remove any harmful chemicals, and return the fish and plants. Finally, turn on the filter and monitor the water parameters to ensure a healthy environment for your aquatic pets. It is important to follow proper cleaning procedures to prevent harm to your fish and maintain a healthy aquarium environment.

A Fish tank can be cleaned easily, therefore in this article, I’ve put up a step-by-step tutorial that you may follow when you want to clean your tank. It includes all the necessary materials that you’ll require to make your tank look spotless.

How to Clean a Fish Tank?

Cleaning your aquarium shouldn’t entirely destroy all of the helpful bacterial colonies that remove animal waste. In order for your fish to remain content and healthy, your aquarium has to be cleaned properly.

How to Clean a Fish Tank

How often Should I Clean my Fish Tank?

The size of your aquarium, the quantity of fish, the kind of fish, and the filter system you use will all affect how frequently you need to clean your tank.

However, it would be advantageous to adhere to a basic cleaning plan.

Daily: You shouldn’t need to clean your tank every day, but there are several observations you can make to determine how frequently you should clean it to maintain the health of your fish.

Simply keep an eye on them for a little while to make sure they are acting normally and aren’t gasping for air or seeming lethargic. No matter, how long it has been since the last partial water change, if they do, you might need to perform another one.

Weekly: If you have a very big tank, you might be able to get away with doing water changes a little less frequently, but for the majority of average-sized tanks, doing water changes once a week can be very good for your fish’s health and wellness.

To do this, you need to replace the water in the tank with purified water by taking out about a fifth of its volume. You may clean off any ornamental things you have in the tank using a scraper or sponge, and you can vacuum the gravel thoroughly to get rid of any dirt or debris.

Monthly: Once a month should be plenty for monitoring the ammonia, nitrate, and pH levels in your tank, which are vital to monitor.

Keep a record of your readings somewhere secure so that you have something to compare them to in the ideal world when they should be fairly consistent from month to month.

Cloudiness, a change in color, or fish acting strangely might all be signs that there are issues with the quality of your water. Additionally, you must clean your filter cartridges once every month.

Bi-Annually: Two times a year, you should properly clean your tank and all the related equipment. To check if everything, including filters, pumps, lights, and other components, is in functioning order, it is necessary to detach and inspect everything. Use your tools to remove dirt, dust, and other debris, and repair anything that is damaged or broken.

When Cleaning the Tank, Do You Remove the Fish?

Leave your fish in the tank, please. There will be plenty of water remaining in the aquarium because you won’t be totally empty. Additionally, capturing those will cause the fish more stress than gently cleaning around them will.

When Cleaning the Tank, Do You Remove the Fish

How Long Should Water Sit Before Introducing Fish?

This outdated piece of advice stems from the fact that sometimes there is added chlorine in the tap water which is poisonous to fish. But the chlorine will dissipate if the water is left out for 24 hours. Nowadays, tap water is frequently treated with chloramine, a more durable type of chlorine that doesn’t evaporate over time. Instead, you must add a water conditioner to the water to make it safe for fish. Once the water has been de-chlorinator, you may use it right away in your aquarium.

Related Post: How to Clean Fish Tank Filter?

What Cleaning Supplies are Necessary?

If this is your first aquarium, you might need to get some maintenance items, such as:

  • Test equipment for aquarium water
  • Bucket to hold the dirty tank’s water.
  • Algae cleaner (for glass or acrylic)
  • Blade for an algae scraper attachment (for glass or acrylic)
  • Brush to remove algae from plants or decorations
  • Pruning shears for plants
  • Dechlorinator (also known as water conditioner)
  • Window washer
  • Towel for wiping away water spills
  • Cleaning glasses with a cloth or paper towel
  • For aquariums, a siphon (also known as a gravel vacuum)

How to Clean a Used Aquarium?

Now that we have answered any queries you may have about tank maintenance, the following is a step-by-step guide you may use every day:

How to Clean a Fresh Water Aquarium?

1. Gather your Cleaning Supplies

Make sure you have everything you need, including the water conditioner, before you start the cleaning process. Ensure that you have arranged your workspace, materials, and anything else on your checklist.

  • A water conditioner that can handle the necessary amount of chlorinated tap water or properly prepared water.
  • A scraper for cleaning the tank’s glass of algae (scrubby pad, straightedge, or combination).
  • A 5-US gal (19 L) bucket was made specifically for this purpose.
  • A straightforward siphon-style gravel vacuum (NOT a battery-operated gadget).
  • If you’re changing the filter this time, filter media (cartridges, sponges, packets of carbon, etc.) should be available.
  • Glass cleaning is made for aquariums or a vinegar-based solution.
  • 3-4 US gal (11-15 l) of water and 1/4 cup (59 mL) of bleach in a separate container (optional).
  • Razor blade, metal, or plastic (optional, be careful with acrylic tanks, as these scratch easier).

2. Use the Algae Pad to Scrub the Aquarium’s Sides

To get rid of algae that are adhering to the aquarium, run it along the glass and brush as needed. If you come across a particularly challenging spot of residue, scrape it off the glass with a plastic or razor blade.

Using a Magnetic Algae Cleaner

  • To do this task, you might want to put on aquarium gloves, especially if you have an allergy to anything in the tank (like a synthetic salt mix). Select plastic gloves that are shoulder-length and made for aquarium use.
  • Avoid using anything that could be covered in detergent or cleaning agents, such as the sponge or scrubber from your kitchen sink. Harsh chemicals and detergents won’t enter your tank if you use an algae pad that is clean and only used in your tank. To clean fish tank glass without getting your hands wet, use a magnetic glass cleaner.
  • You can alternatively do this step after removing between 10 and 20 percent of the water.

3. Choose How Much Water You Will Replace

When deciding how much water to change and how frequently to change it, take your tank’s bio-load (i.e., the rate of nutrient buildup) into account. Each week, try to change 25–50% of the water.

  • Larger, more frequent water changes are necessary if you want to lower the amounts of nitrate and phosphate to the absolute minimum. Additionally, you may make greater water changes (50 percent or more) less often.
  • Keep in mind that a monthly 40 percent change is preferable to a weekly 10 percent change.

4. Siphon the Outdated Water Out

Start the siphon and pour the used water into a bucket, preferably one that holds 5 US gal (19 L). The laundry room bucket or the bucket that formerly contained your dishwashing detergent should not be used again since the synthetic detergent is poisonous to fish. It is preferable to get a new bucket and use it only for cleaning your fish tank.

Siphon the Outdated Water Out

  • You may buy aquarium siphons that connect to a sink. Read the operating instructions if you have one of these. Additionally, this kind of siphon stops water from the bucket from overflowing.
  • The tank may be siphoned and filled using the same pipe.

5. Scrub the Gravel

Through the gravel, push the gravel vacuum. Fish waste, leftover food, and rubbish will all be collected by the vacuum. If you have small, delicate, or fragile fish, cover the siphon’s end with a clean fishnet.

  • Each month, you should clean at least 25 to 30 percent of the gravel.
  • If your substrate is sand, kink the hose or put your finger over the siphon’s end to lessen the flow. To collect garbage without disturbing your sand, hold the hose 1 inch (2.5 cm) or less below the surface. Run your fingers through the sand or combine it with it to help release any muck and halt the bleeding, if there are no buried creatures to disturb.

6. Remove the Jewelry/Ornaments

Algae may grow on your tank decorations as a result of nutrients in the water and exposure to light. While siphoning, clean the ornaments with an algae pad or a soft-bristled toothbrush. Soap should be avoided since it might harm your fishy buddy.

  • If you’re having difficulties cleaning the decorations, take them out of the tank and soak them in a large bucket of water combined with 1/4 cup (59 mL) of bleach for 15 minutes. Before using a chlorinated water conditioner, the items should be thoroughly rinsed. Allow them to completely dry before reintroducing them into the tank if they are porous.
  • Reducing the pile of fertilizer or your exposure to sunlight will help if you have algae problems. You may move the tank away from a window, change the lighting schedule, or shut your window treatments.
  • Another option is to make larger or more frequent water changes.
  • Real flying foxes, otocinclus, or rubber nose Plecos can help control algae in larger aquariums.

7. Add Fresh Water

Replace the water you removed with brand-new, purified water that is the same temperature as the aquarium. Using an infrared thermometer is the most effective method for measuring the temperature. Maintaining your fish’s health requires that you adhere to the recommended temperature ranges. Remember that most fish cannot survive in lukewarm water.

8. Try to Avoid Filling the Tank too Much

To remove contaminants like chlorine and heavy metals that your fish cannot withstand, you must condition the water if you use tap or faucet water. Choose a conditioner with an ammonia-removing ingredient.

  • Fill a bucket with water the day before you change the water to get ready in advance. After applying the water conditioner, leave the water alone for the night. Make sure the water you use to refill the tank is the same temperature as the water in the aquarium since a temperature difference of more than 1 °F (17 °C) is highly damaging to your fish.
  • If the nitrate levels are high, you can do a water change using reverse osmosis water from the local fish store.  The addition of a freshwater aquarium buffer.
  • Observe the water. Wait a few hours for any remaining cloudiness to disappear, revealing crystal-clear water. Despite being available, water-cleaning chemicals are typically not essential. If the water is still hazy, there is a deeper issue that the agent will merely cover up, not address.

9. Wipe the Outside

Clean the exterior, including the tank top, hood, light, and glass. Glass cleaner is OK as long as you spray it onto a cloth rather than directly onto the tank; avoid getting the cleaner inside the tank or into the water. To get rid of mineral deposits, use a solution of distilled white vinegar. You may get a specific polish for your acrylic tank if you have one.

10. About Once Every Month, Replace or Clean the Filter

If you are worried about losing bacterial colonies, then you should rinse mechanical filtration frequently with tank water from a siphon or a bucket. Depending on the load and maintenance schedule, chemical media (such as carbon, GFO, or Chemi-Pure) should be removed and replaced every 2–6 weeks.

How to Clean a Salt Water Aquarium?

1. Prepare a Saltwater Mixture

Your fish must have water that is within an acceptable range for temperature, salinity, and pH. The night before you clean your tank, start this process. Purchase reverse osmosis or distilled water at the grocery store.

  • Fill a clean plastic bucket that is preferably used just for this purpose with water.
  • Using a specialized heater that was purchased from a pet store, warm the water.
  • Add the salt mixture. Pet supply businesses sell one-step salt mixtures. In accordance with the amount of water you are using, follow the instructions for how much to add. As a general guideline, use 1/2 cup of mix per gallon of water.
  • While incorporating the salt, aerate the water.
  • In the morning, use a salinity probe, hygrometer, or refractometer to examine the salinity. In fish-only systems, you might begin by aiming for a salinity of 30 g/L. In some cases, such as if your aquarium contains corals, you may need to mix the salt with seawater to a concentration of 35 g/L.
  • To determine the temperature, use a thermometer. The optimal temperature for saltwater fish is between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 and 28 degrees Celsius).

2. Get Your Cleaning Supplies Ready

Saltwater aquariums need different materials than freshwater aquariums need in addition to the basic necessities. assemble the supplies listed below:

Get Your Cleaning Supplies Ready

  • An algae-covered pad for washing the tank’s glass.
  • A 5 US gal (19 L) bucket was made specifically for this purpose.
  • A straightforward siphon-style gravel vacuum (NOT a battery-operated gadget).
  • If you’re changing the filter this time, filter media (cartridges, sponges, packets of carbon, etc.) should be available.
  • Glass cleaning is made for aquariums or a vinegar-based solution.
  • pH tests.
  • a salinity probe, hygrometer, or refractometer.
  • Temperature gauge.
  • Bleach solution 10% in a different container (optional)

3. Take the Algae Out

Use the algae pad to remove any residual algae from the tank inside. Use a razor blade or plastic blade to scrape off any built-up residue that is difficult to remove.

4. Remove the Water

Every two weeks, a saltwater aquarium has to have 10% of its water replaced. The majority of systems should be able to remove nitrates from the water using this. Allow the water to flow into a large bucket as the siphon is operating.

5. Scrub the Gravel

The gravel vacuum should be pushed through the gravel. The vacuum will catch any leftover food, debris, or fish waste. Place a fish net across the siphon’s opening if you have small, weak, or fragile fish.

If your substrate is made of sand, you may lower the flow by kinking the hose or putting your finger over the end of the siphon. Holding the hose 1 inch (2.5 cm) or closer from the surface will allow you to suction up trash without disturbing the sand. Stir the sand to avoid the development of anaerobic zones.

6. Clean Up the Ornaments

Utilizing an algae pad or a fresh, soft-bristled toothbrush and the tank water you drained off, remove the ornaments. The decorations can also be taken out of the tank and given a 15-minute soak in a 10% bleach solution. After that, give the decorations a color treatment and rinse them.

Individual tank Decorations Cleaning

7. Look out for Salt Creep

Salt creep is a crusty residue that forms as the saltwater at the aquarium’s top evaporates. Restore the lost water after cleaning it off with an algae sponge or damp cloth.

8. Fill the Tank with Water

Pour the pre-mixed water into the tank with care. Once more, confirm that the salinity and temperature correspond to the water in the tank. Attempt not to overfill the tank.

9. Every day, Check the Temperature

Saltwater fish can only survive in a small range of temperatures. You should regularly check the aquarium’s temperature to make sure the fish are healthy.

Things to Watch Out For

The size, number, sort, and diversity of fish in your fish tank, as well as the type of filtration system you employ, will all affect how regularly you need clean it.

There is no requirement to clean your fish tank every day unless the fish behave suspiciously (gasping for air or acting sluggish). If you see your fish acting strangely, think about performing a partial water change.

Weekly partial water changes may be very beneficial in keeping your fish healthy and the tank clean if you have a big or average-sized fish tank. Follow the instructions above to achieve this.

Monitoring your fish tank’s pH, nitrate, and ammonia levels are also essential. Making notes on each of these levels might help you keep track of them and make sure they remain stable over time. A level that is abnormally high or low might signal a problem and result in health problems for your fish or hazy water in your tank.

The following essential aspects should be kept in mind while determining how regularly to clean your fish tank:

  • Keep an eye on your fish to make sure they’re healthy and not having trouble breathing. You might need to make a partial water change if this is the situation.
  • Fish depend on you for both amusement and survival. Watch them for a while to discover their routine.
  • If the water in your fish tank becomes murky, you should perform a partial water change right away since this indicates a water issue.
  • Keep a watch on the water evaporation.
  • Your fish tank’s filters, pumps, and lights should all need maintenance twice a year to make sure they are in good operating condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does One Clean a Fish Tank Without Using a Vacuum?

A water siphon can be used to clean the area of the tank bottom that requires the most vacuuming. You may make them yourself or purchase them from pet supply stores.

Why Must a Fish Tank Be Cleaned But Not a Pond?

Tanks lack the “features” of ponds, such as access to rainwater, natural flora, and other animals. They are self-cleaning because they mimic a live ecosystem rather than a tank.

After a Fish Dies, How Should a Fish Tank Be Cleaned?

Remove any dead fish from your aquarium as soon as you discover them. Check it out to see if it had a sickness or died naturally. Check to see whether the water in the tank is of low quality and if the fish is swollen or looks to be sick. If so, you should make the necessary adjustments as your fish may have died as a result. If not, you will need to do an urgent water change to ensure that none of the other fish in your tank get the illness that killed the deceased fish. Take care to thoroughly clean the tank as well.

The Bottom Line on How to Properly Clean Your Fish Tank?

As you have already seen, cleaning a tank is not as difficult as it first appears to be. It simply needs appropriate content, of course, but a solid plan will help you go through the entire procedure. There won’t be any issues for you or your fish if you carefully follow each and every instruction provided in the post. Maintaining a clean tank will make it a safer and healthier environment for your fish.

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