How to Clean Your Fish Tank

Have you started to notice green slime creeping up the inside walls of your fish tank? Are there bits and pieces of food and debris floating around in your fish tank? Has it been a while since you last did a water change in your fish tank?Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ If you’re thinking it’s time to give your fish tank a good cleaning, you are probably right.

Maintaining a healthy and clean aquarium environment is essential in the care and lifespan of your underwater pets.�¯�¿�½ Typically you should clean your fish tank once a week, and complete a partial water change every two to three weeks.�¯�¿�½ The first step in maintaining a healthy fish tank is to do a simple cleaning once per week.

Try not to disturb your fish as you clean. Cleaning your fish tank can actually cause stress for your fish. Be careful not to bump, frighten, or bury any of your fish. Know where your fish are, as well as all tools you are using to clean your tank with, in order to avoid injury to your underwater pets. Your weekly cleaning should consist of the following:

  • Scrape algae growth on inside walls-use a downward motion applying pressure from above to remove algae from the inside walls of the aquarium. Algae can grow in a variety of colors, including but not limited to green, blue, red, orange, or yellow.
  • Clean allÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½plastic plants and other structures- remove all traces of algae growth.
  • Vacuum or net any floating debris or food particles.
  • If you have algae growth on the gravel or sand, you need to do a complete cleaning of the aquarium.

This weekly cleaning will keep your fish tank crystal clear in between complete cleanings and water changes. If you notice the algae growth has also taken over the gravel�¯�¿�½or sand in your aquarium then it is time to do a complete cleaning and water change. Typically a complete cleaning and water change should be done every 2 to 3 weeks.

When doing a complete cleaning of the fish tank you should also perform a water change.�¯�¿�½ Begin by doing the following in consecutive order:

  • Remove all plants, large rocks, and other structures from the fish tank and clean them under hot running water. Use wire brushes to clean small crevices in rocks. Wipe algae from plants using a scrub pad or soft cloth. Let the rocks and plants dry completely before you put them back in the fish tank. Doing this will ensure that the algae growthÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½has been stopped.
  • Take the hood off the aquarium and wash any algae growth awayÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½with hot water and a scrub pad or scraper. Make sure that you do not use harsh chemicals to clean any part of your fish tank. Doing so may cause your fish to become ill or die. Hot water that produces steam is usually enough to kill any algae growth. Replace when fully dry.
  • Leaving the light source on top of the fish tank, scrape algae growth on inside walls. Use a downward motion applying pressure from above to remove algae from the inside walls of the aquarium. If you remove the light source you will findÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ the algae growth has become almost invisible. If you are unable to keep the light source on top of the aquarium try using an alternative light source such as a lamp or flashlight.
  • If you have sand or gravel inside your tank push it to one end of the tank. Be careful not bury any of your fish.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Once the gravel or sand is piled at one end, remove it and place it in a bucket.
  • Now that the fish tank is empty of all plants, gravel, sand, stones, and other structures you will want to vacuuming. Wait for most or all of the floating particles and debris to sink to the bottom of the aquarium. Doing this will enable easier vacuuming of the fish tank.

After you have completed these steps you are ready to perform a water change. When changing the water in your aquarium remember never to take all the water out of the tank. When performing a water change only�¯�¿�½about 1/3-1/2 of the water should be removed from the tank.�¯�¿�½ Fish build an environment within your aquarium. When you remove too much or�¯�¿�½all of the�¯�¿�½water you also remove beneficial bacteria that the fish need to maintain life.

After you have removed no more than half�¯�¿�½ of the water in the fish tank, you will need to replace it. You can either use tap water that has been conditioned to remove chlorine, lead, and other chemicals, or you can use filtered water. Either way, the water needs to be the same or close to the same temperature of the water in the fish tank. After you have refilled the tank�¯�¿�½ with clean water you can add any medications or water cleaners you choose.�¯�¿�½ Using fish medications will help coat and protect the scales of your fish. Medications can also help heal and ease the pain of cuts and bites. If you choose to use a water cleaner it is best not to mix it with the medication. Follow the instructions on the packaging.

Before replacing the plants and other freestanding structures in your aquarium you will need to clean and replace the gravel or sand. If you have sand that was overtaken by algae growth it is best to throw it away and start with a new batch of sand. If you are using gravel it can easily be washed in a sink using steaming hot water and a screen. Place the gravel on top of the screen under hot running water. As the water washes over the gravel scrub away the algae growth.�¯�¿�½ It is best to let the gravel dry for 24 hours before placing it back in the tank.

When all the plants, rocks, and gravel are dry you can place them back into your aquarium.�¯�¿�½ It is best to let everything dry completely for at least 24 hours to ensure that algae growth has been stopped. To reduce stress on your fish place the items back into the tank in following order:

  1. Replace the gravel or sand. Be careful not to bury any fish.
  2. Replace the plants and sinkers making sure that they are secured at the bottom of the tank.
  3. Ensure all freestanding objects like castles are secure at the bottom of the aquarium
  4. Place the rocks so your fish have caves and holes to swim in and out of. Fish find supreme enjoyment and security in holes and caves.
  5. Replace the hood and light source.

Now that your fish tank is thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom there is only one thing left. You will want to wipe down the outside of the fish tank to remove water marks and fingerprints.�¯�¿�½ Using a glass cleaner will help you achieve the best results.�¯�¿�½ Performing weekly cleaning and water changes will prolong the life of your fish by giving them a healthy and clean environment.

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