A large part of keeping your fish healthy and happy is ensuring you keep the condition of your tank optimal. Regular cleaning is key to keeping the aquarium safe for your fish and easy on the eye for you and your visitors.
An aquarium can be a beautiful addition to your home, with crystal water, vibrant plants, colorful coral, and striking fish. However, it’s a bit of an eyesore when the tank gets dirty, with mucky water and overgrown algae. What’s more, the water in your aquarium can easily become harmful to the fish if it’s not properly maintained. Poor tank maintenance is one of the main reasons fish die too soon.
Fortunately, more and more people realize the importance of the topic “how to clean aquarium.” Below, we explore the best ways to clean your aquarium and address some important questions.
How Often Should You Clean Your Aquarium?
Several factors affect how often you should clean your aquarium, including how many fish you have, how messy they are, the size of your aquarium, and the filter system you have. Interestingly, smaller tanks build up waste quicker than larger tanks.
Generally, you should change 25-30% of the water every two to three weeks. It’s not recommended to change all the water because it will remove beneficial bacteria in the aquarium and reset the nitrogen cycle, which could kill the fish. A partial water change is optimal if you clean your aquarium regularly.
Must You Remove the Fish When Cleaning?
It’s best to leave your fish in the aquarium when you clean. Removing them can really stress them out, and you risk accidentally hurting them. And it’s not like you can give your fish CBD hemp oil to calm them down. While some studies exist on the effects of CBD on aquarium fish, there is no evidence that hemp products can benefit them.
It’s also unnecessary to remove the fish because you can work around them, and since you don’t completely drain the tank, there is plenty of water for them to swim around in.
How to Clean Your Aquarium
Now for the important part; the matter of how to clean aquariums. Here is a step-by-step guide for you to follow.
1. Clean the Interior of the Aquarium
To begin cleaning your aquarium, start by unplugging the filter, lights, and heater. Also, close any valves if you have a sump, so it doesn’t overflow.
Next, use an algae scraper to clean the inside glass. A blade attachment makes it easy to remove any tough algae spots. Magnetic algae cleaners can also work well. One magnet goes on the inside of the aquarium, and the other attaches to the outside. You then move the outside magnet around the glass, and the inner one follows, gently removing the algae.
Alternatively, you can use a clean face cloth to clean the glass. You can use many different tools to clean the inside, so shop around. But keep in mind that the ideal cleaning device depends on whether you have a glass or acrylic tank.
2. Remove and Clean the Decorations and Rocks
Remove the large plants, rocks, and other decorations from the aquarium, and take them to the sink to clean. Clean them using running water and an algae scraper or similar tool. Don’t use soap or other cleaning products because it can be deadly to your fish.
If you’re struggling to scrub the algae off, you can place the items in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Boiling water will kill the algae and loosen the grub to come off more easily.
3. Siphon the Gravel and Remove a Portion of the Water
The next step of “how to clean the aquarium,” involves using a siphon to vacuum away the debris and dirt. Several types of siphon kits are available to purchase at pet stores, but they all work in pretty much the same way. Typically, the kit contains a vacuum head attached to a plastic tube to easily clean the gravel and remove water.
The vacuum stirs up the gravel and removes debris, fish waste, and uneaten food from the tank. It’s also used to remove dirty tank water. Be sure to only remove around 25% of the water, and place it in a bucket for later disposal.
4. Clean the Filter
It’s also important to clean the filter at least once a month. The filter is basically like a trash can that collects waste, and it needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent it from becoming clogged up and overflowing.
To clean the filter, rinse it in the bucket of water that you removed from the tank. You should never run it under tap water because chlorine can kill good bacteria.
5. Clean the Outside Glass and Fixtures
Use aquarium-safe spray cleaners to clean your tank’s top, light, hood, and outside the glass. Regular glass cleaners contain ammonia, which is harmful to fish. Vinegar and cleaners designated for cleaning aquariums are safe options.
6. Refill the Aquarium with Fresh Water
Finally, the inside and outside of your aquarium are clean, and it’s time to refill it with fresh, clean water. First, make sure you have placed the plants, rocks, and other decorations back into the tank.
Next, fill a bucket with tap water to replace the amount you removed in step 3. Use a thermometer to adjust the water temperature to be the same as that in the tank. Then, add de-chlorinator into the bucket of freshwater – the dose depends on the volume. Read the instructions on the product label for precise dosing.
It’s good to use an aquarium testing and treatment kit to check you have the right balance of ammonia, pH, and nitrates in the water. This way, you will know what other substances to add for an optimally functioning aquarium.
7. Turn the Equipment Back on
Once you have completed the cleaning process, you need to turn the heater and filter back on. The debris will settle down within about an hour or two, and your aquarium will look sparkling clean. Wait a few hours to turn the lights back on to reduce the impact of stress on your fish.