Keep Your Fish Happy: 8 Aquarium Cleaning Tips

aquarium cleaning

In the United States, 7.2 million households have fish tanks. Have you just joined the ranks and purchased some new fish for your home? Then you may be wondering how to take care of them.

One vital thing you need to do is routinely clean your aquarium. But it’s not as simple as dumping out the water, scrubbing the tank, and refilling it with more water.

To keep your fish happy, here are 7 aquarium cleaning tips you should follow.

1. Keep Things Clear With an Algae Pad

Whether you have a freshwater or saltwater tank, you may get a buildup of algae on the insides. Not only does this obstruct your view of the fish inside, but it can upset the balance of the water, which can cause some fish to get sick.

To keep things clean, first drain out about 10% to 20% of the aquarium’s water. Then, use an algae pad to scrub the algae off. If there are any stubborn bits, you can try using a razor blade or plastic blade to get them off.

We recommend wearing some gloves while you do this since your skin may be sensitive to things like synthetic salt mixes.

Also, make sure the scrubber you use is for the tank only. If you share sponges or scrubbers from your kitchen, you risk transferring harmful chemicals from the sponge into your tank.

2. Do a Small Water Change Weekly

This may sound like a huge hassle, but it’s easier than it seems. Changing the water all at once may be too jarring for your fish, so it’s best if you change out a little every week.

In general, you should change around 10% a week; a more ideal amount is 25% to 50%. If you find that the nitrate and phosphate levels are constantly high in your tank, you may way to bump up the numbers for both the frequency and amount changed.

The rule of thumb is this: if you only change a little bit, you’ll have to perform this job more often.

All you have to do is siphon the old water into a bucket; make sure the bucket is free of chemicals, meaning you’re not reusing something like an old laundry bucket.

3. Do a Big Water Change Monthly

If you don’t have the time to do small water changes every week, or they’re very minuscule jobs, you’ll want to do a bigger water change every month.

Follow the same directions laid out in tip #2, but instead of siphoning out a small amount of water, you’ll want to go for 40%, 50%, or even more. This lets you get rid of a significant amount of nitrates and phosphates.

If you have fish that are sensitive to changes in the water, we recommend you do medium water changes weekly. That way, there’s not as big a shock to their system as there would be with a major monthly water change.

4. Clean the Gravel

For this job, you’ll need a gravel vacuum. While doing your water change, run the vacuum through the gravel, ensuring you clean at least one-third of it. Make sure you disturb the small pebbles so you get any waste that’s trapped underneath.

If you have some small fish in your aquarium, you may risk sucking them up on accident. To avoid this, you can put a fishnet at the end of your vacuum so your tiny fish are protected.

5. Clean Any Decorations in the Tank

Decorations also need to be cleaned, since algae grows on them too. While you’re wiping down the sides of your tank with the algae pad, make sure you give your decorations a once-over too. Never use soap, as this can be dangerous for your fish.

For any decorations that have stubborn bits of algae on them, soak them in a separate bucket with a water and bleach mix. After 15 minutes, take them out and rinse them thoroughly to get all the bleach off. Then, you can place them back in the tank.

To help with algae growth, you may want to consider adding algae eaters to your aquarium, such as plecos, true flying foxes, or otocinclus.

6. Refill Fresh Water at the Tank’s Temperature

Not only are fish very sensitive to changes in pH and chemicals in the water, but they’re also sensitive to different temperatures as well.

Take the time to measure the temperature in the tank and compare it to the new water you’re adding in. The difference shouldn’t be more than 1 degree Fahrenheit. If it’s too cold, let it sit out for a while so it can reach room temperature or higher.

7. Add an Aquarium UV Sterilizer

You may already have a filtration system for your tank. But as you’ve probably already experienced, the aquarium still gets dirty from bacteria, parasites, and algae.

An aquarium UV sterilizer can help maintain the clarity and cleanliness of your tank. As its name suggests, this sterilizer uses a UV light to get rid of the nasty things in your aquarium.

There are 4 different types you can choose from in-line, hang-on, internal, and external. You can also pick between horizontal or vertical units. The type that’s best for your tank will depend on where you want to position them in the aquarium.

The great thing about these sterilizers is you can use them for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. With an aquarium UV sterilizer, you won’t have to clean the tank as often, since it’ll be doing that job for you, 24/7.

Aquarium Cleaning Made Easy

While it may seem daunting at first, aquarium cleaning is actually quite easy. Once you’ve done your research, bought the appropriate items, and actually tried it, it’s a routine that you’ll easily fall into.

By taking our 7 tips into consideration, you can make your aquarium a happy and healthy place to live in for your beautiful pet fish.

For more information about keeping pets, please check out our other articles!

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