How to Clean a Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium

How to Clean a Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium

In order to keep your fish friends healthy it is important to clean the fish tank on a regular basis. Standard fish aquarium maintenance and fish tank cleaning will provide you more ease of tank care.

Saltwater Tank Maintenance

Saltwater fish tank cleaning and aquarium maintenance requires different methodologies as opposed to freshwater fish tank cleaning and aquarium maintenance.

Saltwater Aquarium Cleaner Supplies

Ensure that you have required supplies before you start cleaning:

• Algae pad for cleaning the inside of the tank
• Large plastic bucket (5 to 10 gallons or larger) assigned for fish tank cleaning only
• Filter media (sponges, carbon packets, cartridges and so on), as needed
• Manual siphon for vacuuming gravel
• Vinegar or cleaners (fish aquarium safe)
• pH strips
• 10 percent bleach solution
• Salt mix
• Thermometer
• Paper towels
• Rubber gloves (optional)
• Hygrometer, refractometer or salinity probe
• Small fish net with handle
• Filter brush

Clean the Interior of the Fish Tank with an Algae Pad

Put on your rubber gloves as a safety precaution.  Use the algae pad or magnetic scrubber to clean the interior of the tank glass, get rid of algae that is attached to the insides of the aquarium walls.  For predominantly muggy algae, use a metal blade scrapper or plastic scrapper to carefully eradicate algae without scratching the tank glass.  For an acrylic aquarium, use a plastic scrapper to keep from scratching the walls.

Siphon Out Saltwater

Turn off the power to the tank and remove the cover glass.  For a saltwater fish tank, change 10% of the water bimonthly (every 2 weeks).  This will help eradicate nitrates from the water.  Siphon 10% percent of the water out of the tank into the designated fish tank bucket.

Also, clean filters (use filter brush), pumps and hoses before adding new salt water.

Scrub Decorations, Plants and Rocks

Once the aquarium walls are clean, take out decorations, plants or rocks and clean them well of debris/algae with an algae pad.  Persistent debris/algae can be removed by soaking the items in a 10 percent bleach solution for 15 minutes.  Scrub any remaining debris, rinse well with boiling water and place items on a fresh paper towel to air dry.

Never use soaps or detergents to clean decorations.

Vacuum the Gravel

Ensure that you use a fine mesh screen on the pump to avoid sucking up gravel or substrate.  Thoroughly vacuum clean the gravel/substrate of algae and debris.

Clean Salt Creep

As saltwater evaporates from your fish aquarium, a thin layer of white salt will deposit near the top of the tank or power cords.  Use a paper towel and dip it into fresh water and clean the salt deposits away.  Then dry with new paper towel strip.

Regularly cleaning salt creep will make fish tank maintenance a lot easier than waiting for a scheduled clean up.

Remove Water Food Debris

Sometimes there may be leftover unconsumed food items within the tank, use a net and skim the food out of the tank.  It is recommended to perform this task an hour after the fish have been fed.

Remember, unconsumed food in your saltwater tank will decay and make the water cloudy.

Wash the Collection Cup

Every week the collection cup should be removed from the protein skimmer and cleaned.  Unload the dirty water from the cup and wash it with fresh water.  Then place the cup in the protein skimmer.

As a precaution, cleaning the collection cup will allow the protein skimmer to work optimally for cleaning the water, if left dirty the cup may overflow with viscous, foamy water.

Clean Fixtures and Glass Exterior

Once the inside of the tank is cleaned, use fish safe designated cleaners or vinegar to clean tank top, hood, glass exterior and light.

Only use fish tank safe cleaners.  Place the clean and dry decorations, rock or plants into the fish tank.

Add Saltwater Solution to the Fish Tank

The process of adding water to a saltwater aquarium is more complex than the procedure for a freshwater aquarium.  It is critical that the pH, salinity and temperature of the water are all within acceptable parameters for the fish.  The night before you clean the tank, do the following:

• Place distilled or reverse osmosis water (purchase at store) into the dedicated fish tank bucket
• Heat the water with a (buy from pet store) specialized heater
• Pour in the salt mix (available at pet stores).  Use the proper prescribed ratio to add salt, based on how much water is being used. Usually, 1/2 cup of salt mix for every gallon of water
• Allow the water to aerate overnight.  The next day check the salinity with a hygrometer, salinity probe or refractometer, reading should be between 1.021 and 1.025.  Moreover, ensure that water temperature is between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 and 28 degrees Celsius) with a thermometer

Check the Water Temperatures Daily

Saltwater fish inhabit the oceans within in a fairly slim temperature range.  Keep your fish healthy and happy by checking the temperature of the saltwater aquarium daily.

Regular Saltwater Fish Tank Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your tank will ensure that your tank looks beautiful and that your fish friends remain healthy.


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