Cleaning your fish tank regularly will keep your fish friends healthy and happy. Regular fish tank maintenance and fish tank cleaning are key to keeping algae, dirt and other residue at bay.
Freshwater Tank Maintenance
Keep the fish tank clean with regular maintenance, be proactive in this task as their health and wellness depend on your attendant care of them. Freshwater fish tank cleaning and aquarium maintenance requires different methodologies as opposed to saltwater fish tank cleaning and aquarium maintenance.
Freshwater Aquarium Fish Tank Cleaner Supplies
Make sure you have the requisite tools and supplies ready before you start cleaning:
• Algae cleaning pad for removing algae from the glass interior
• Allocation of water, 10% to 20% change if fish is healthy, 25% to 50% if the fish is sick
• Large bucket (5 to 10 gallons or bigger) used only for fish tank cleaning
• Filter media (sponges, carbon packets, cartridges and so on), as needed
• Manual gravel vacuum with siphon hose
• Metal or plastic razor blade/scraper (use plastic scraper for fish tanks that easily scratch)
• Vinegar or cleaners (fish aquarium safe)
• 10 percent bleach solution
• Rubber gloves (optional)
• Filter brush
• Paper towels
Clean Fish Aquarium Walls With an Algae Pad
Put on your rubber gloves. Use the algae pad or magnetic scrubber to clean the inside of the glass, eliminate algae that is sticking to the aquarium. For particularly sticky algae, use a plastic scrapper or metal blade scrapper to remove carefully without scratching the tank walls. If you have an acrylic aquarium, use the plastic scrapper to avoid scratching it.
Scrub Artificial Decorations, Plants and Rocks
Once the inside walls are clean, remove artificial decorations, plants or rocks from the tank and clean them of any debris/algae with an algae pad. If the stubborn debris/algae still persist use a 10 percent bleach solution and soak the fish tank items for 15 minutes. Scrub any residue, rinse well in running water and place items on a fresh paper towel to air dry.
Clean live plants (exclude stem plants) with a 5 percent bleach solution. Soak the plants in the bleach solution for two to four minutes, then rinse thoroughly with running water.
Never clean them with detergents or soaps as that will be lethal to your fish friends.
Siphon Out Water
Utilize a designated fish tank large clean bucket, if possible a 5 gallon bucket or bigger. Siphon out 10% to 20% of the water into the bucket, if you have sick fish replace 25% to 50% of the water. Avoid using buckets that are used for other household purposes as residual detergents can be lethal to your fish.
Clean Fish Aquarium Gravel
Thoroughly clean the tank gravel by using a water siphon to vacuum any debris. Remember to vacuum the complete gravel area, as smaller debris particles can settle at the bottom of the tank.
However, if your fish tank has a sand substrate, utilize the plastic hose and not the plastic tube to clean. Hold the hose under an inch from the sand surface to siphon waste without unsettling the sand. Also, run your fingers through the sand to ferret out debris that might have been trapped under shifting sand.
Clean Fixtures and Glass Exterior
Once the interior of the aquarium is thoroughly cleaned, use fish friendly designated cleaners or vinegar to clean tank top, hood, light and glass exterior.
Only use fish aquarium safe cleaners to clean the tank. Return the clean and dry artificial decorations, plants or rocks to the aquarium.
Add Fresh Water to Tank
Replace the old water with fresh, treated water at a hospitable temperature for the aquarium. Verify the requisite temperature with a thermometer, stay within designated temperature parameters to ensure happy fish friends.
Tap water can be used as replacement fresh water, but the water must be conditioned to remove heavy metals, chlorine or other toxins first. Fill a milk jug(s) or the large bucket of the required water, leave it uncovered for one day; this will cause the chlorine to evaporate and the water to become room temperature which is suited for the fish tank.
However, if the nitrates are really high, use bottled spring water instead (no additional conditioner) because the water has good nutrients for your fish friends.
Watch and wait for any cloudiness to dissipate, leaving clear water in its place. Avoid using market clearing agents. It is always recommended to use natural methods as much as possible to keep the fish tank clean. Also, clearing agents will only mask underlying issues.
Change the Filter Cartridge
Change the filter once a month (recommended) or as needed per the status of your fish tank. Many beneficial bacteria inhabit the filter media, so by changing it often the natural ecosystem is disturbed. Also, if the filter is changed at the same time as the cleaning, an ammonia spike might be triggered because there aren’t sufficient beneficial bacteria left to remove the toxins.
Additionally, clean any filter tubing and assembly parts with a filter brush.
Regular Freshwater Fish Tank Maintenance
Make sure to clean your fish tank on a regular basis. It is recommended to scrape the interior of the glass for algae weekly as well as on artificial rock, plants or decorations. Clean the gravel by vacuuming every time the fish aquarium water is changed.
Regular ongoing maintenance is the key to having happy, healthy fish friends and a stunning fish tank.
Author: Gaurav Bhola, Managing Editor & Director of Content