How to Clean a Fish Tank?

A clean aquarium not only looks fine and great but also it preserves the fish’s health and happiness. In the aquarium, nitrates and metabolites can build up that can be harmful for your fish if it is over the amount. Although most aquarium owners have a filter to clean a fish tank, it is not sufficient until you manually clean some stuff. Even, best aquarium filter can’t do everything in cleaning a fish tank. So want to know how to clean a fish tank properly?

 In this fish tank cleaning guide, I will go through how to clean a fish tank without killing the fish and beneficial bacteria. Keep it reading

What do you need to clean a fish tank?

  • Algae Scraper
  • Filter media and brush
  • Water siphon
  • Bleach and lime remover
  • Razor blade or plastic blade for acrylic tank
  • Old bath towels
  • Paper towels
  • Aquarium water conditioner

What you have to clean in the fish tank

  1. Inside the Glass
  2. Decorations
  3. Gravel
  4. Outside the glass
  5. Filter
  6. Filter media

Cleaning Inside the glass

How to Clean a Fish Tank? - 01

Clean inside the aquarium glass thoroughly with an algae pad. There are different types of algae scrapers available on the market from long handles to magnetic scrubbers. But, It is a good idea to collect algae scrapers from pet stores instead of housewares department stores as it may have soap or chemical residue in the body. Although they may look pretty same, you should not use the algae scraper from the housewares departments of a regular store. However, this residue doesn’t matter when you use it on the kitchen sink, it is lethal to your pet fish.

If you have stubborn residue inside the glass, use a razor blade to remove it and make sure you are taking care of you during the cutting. If you have an acrylic tank, use a plastic razor blade instead of standard razor as it can scratch your acrylic tank.

Cleaning the Decorations

How to Clean a Fish Tank? - 02

Once the glass cleaning is done perfectly then keep away the artificial plants, rocks and other decorations to scrub them. The decorations may have extreme algae and dirt that needs to be cleaned. don’t use soap or detergent to scrub the decorations because it is harmful to your fish. You should use warm water in order to clean the rocks, plants and other types of decorations.

To clean the particularly stubborn in the aquarium, you can use a 10 percent bleach solution. And you have to soak the aquarium decor for 10 to 15 minutes.

Scrub the remaining residue entirely by rinsing them running tank water and let them dry to get rid of residual bleach. Don’t put the decor in the aquarium while the chlorine smell is present. You can use dechlorinator (sodium thiosulfate) mixed water to clean the tank decor. The dechlorinator is efficient to remove the chlorine.

To clean the algae from live plants, you can use bleaches but the main body of the plants are not tolerant to the bleach. You can use 5 percent of bleach solution to clean plants. First soak the plants for a few minutes and rinse them carefully.

While vacuuming the gravel, keep away the plants, rocks and other decorations from the tank. Otherwise, the debris will remain and none of the waste is stirred up from the gravel.

Make sure the bucket you are using for keeping plants, rocks and decorations is particularly taken for the aquarium and it is soap and detergent free. If you use a bucket that has soap or detergent mixed can cause fish death from unwanted chemicals.

Cleaning the Gravel

How to Clean a Fish Tank? - 03

Clean the gravel using a water siphon. Water siphon can make the task easy to vacuum away the debris from the gravel. Though there are different types of siphon available at the market, all of them work in the same way. The efficient gravel vacuum should stir up the gravel entirely and take out the debris and waste from the gravel thoroughly which makes sure there is no rubbish remaining.

The water that comes with debris while vacuuming should be treated with dechlorinated water and performs a partial water change. Here you have to keep in mind that the water temperature should be the same as your present aquarium water. 25 percent of water changes is good for remaining beneficial bacteria. And don’t forget to unplug the heater as it drops the water. 

Cleaning outside of the glass and attachment

Aquarium Cleaning

When it is done to clean inside the aquarium, it is time to clean outside of the aquarium and its attachments. Clean aquarium hood, light, top and other attachments. Don’t use regular glass cleaner as it contains ammonia that is harmful to your fish. Even standard lime cleaner is also toxic for fish. So it recommended using vinegar or a dedicated aquarium cleaner that is safe for aquatic creatures. And Clean the outside of the aquarium glass with the damp cloth.

Cleaning the filter after two weeks

How to Clean a Fish Tank? - 05

When everything is clean, the rocks, gravel, plants, lights, and heater may be returned to the tank. Now it’s time to wait a couple of weeks to clean the filter. Because during cleaning the aquarium, some of the beneficial bacteria colonies would be damaged or destroyed which takes time to grow.

However, Most of the helpful bacteria reside on the filter media that’s why you don’t need to be upset about the ecosystem. If you change the filter at the same time when performing aquarium cleaning, there is a risk of triggering a dangerous ammonia spike. This is because there is no beneficial bacteria left to prevent the toxins.

Having a filter that contains ammonia absorbers, carbon, or ion-exchange resins should be changed if it has been existing for more than three weeks. Because, working for more than a couple of weeks on the filter media can be exhausting and it needs to be replaced.

Act as mechanical filter media such as ceramic rings, sponges, or filter fiber, you have to gently rinse them to remove debris. After rinsing thoroughly, they should be kept again into the filter instead of completely replacing them. If the entire process you can do carefully and the media is perfectly returned to the filter, the beneficial bacteria colonies are not disturbed.

Don’t forget to clean all the accessories of the filter such as the tube and other parts. A filter cleaner brush can help you clear out the sludge that grow in all the small crevices

Keep regular maintenance

Full family watching aquarium fish

Once you have completed all the cleaning, make sure you have kept it clean every time and try to clean it on a regular basis. scrap the glass once every week, vacuum the gravel when you perform water changes, and clean any decor such as rock, plants, and others as soon as you can see debris and waste on them.

Clean the filter once in every month by rinsing or replacing the media. While you perform any aquarium activities soak your fish net or accessories  in a disinfectant solution to keep them safe. With regular maintenance your aquarium will look attractive all the time.

Steps to how to clean a fish tank

Don’t Move the Fish: 

Never keep away your fish from the tank during the cleaning process. It may cause unexpected stress for fish and you may accidentally hurt them. You can keep your fish in the tank while you clean because you don’t need to change all the water in the aquarium.

Removing all the water during the cleaning cycle is an extremely bad idea as it kills your fish and destroys all the beneficial bacteria from the tank. Besides, after removing all the beneficial bacteria you will need to do the nitrogen cycle again, which is pretty annoying and time consuming. Cleaning the tank with partial water changes is the best option.

Aslo, when you are ready to clean your fish tank, remove the plan and other decorations if they are dirty and need to be cleaned.

Unplug the Equipment:

Before starting the cleaning, make sure you have unplugged all the accessories like heated, filter, pump, light etc.

Clean the sides first:

If your tank has algae with the tank sides, remove it first. If your tank is acrylic instead of glass, I recommend you to use a plastic scraper.

Clean gravel:

Use a siphon to clean dirt and gunk off of the gravel. You may do water changes using this siphon but make sure aquarium water contains beneficial bacteria. And remove only one portion of the full volume.

Clean decorations:

If you think that your decoration needs to be cleansed, then do it that time. Especially when you see them dirty and look ugly, you want to clean them. First, remove them from the tank and rinse them thoroughly with running water. When they are properly cleaned, you can replace them with the tank.

How often do you need to clean a fish tank?

How often you need to clean your fish tank depends on some factors, such as size of your aquarium, size of your fish, number of fish, types of fish and the filter that is working on your aquarium. However there is a rule of thumbs to clean a fish tank that you have to follow.

Is it necessary to clean a fish tank daily?

There is no need to clean a fish tank on a daily basis. However, you can take a close look at your aquarium to understand if it requires frequent cleaning to keep the fish healthy. Just see the fish to ensure they are behaving normal, aren’t gasping for air and not inactive. If you see that they do the same you may need to do partial water changes to get instant solution. 

Is it necessary to clean a fish tank Weekly?

It is best for fish health and beneficial bacteria to clean a fish tank weekly basis if you have a medium size tank. Actually large tanks have become dirtier lately compared to small tanks. If you think your tank needs weekly cleaning, do this by one quarter of water changes with the treated water. It helps you retain the beneficial bacteria during the cleaning process.

Is it necessary to clean a fish tank Monthly?

It is important to closely look at ammonia, pH and nitrate levels of the tank and test them once monthly is very essential. The ammonia, pH and nitrates are very steady that can remain month to month. So, Keeping a reading record is ideal to understand the aquarium’s dirtiness. It is necessary to clean a fish tank when you see cloudiness, changing water color, or fish are behaving abnormally. You should also thoroughly clean the filter cartridge in a month.

Besides, you have to deep clean your tank twice per year and remove all the associated parts  to clean the tank deeply.

Unplug all the equipment and make sure everything is clean and dirt-free including filter, heater, light, pump etc.

Click to read more: Why is My Fish Tank Cloudy?

Leave a Comment