How to Clean a Fish Tank

Having fish can be very rewarding, but depending on the type and number of fish you have, it can also be time-consuming and complex to care for them. Many fish thrive in very specific conditions and could quickly fall ill if those conditions aren’t met. Water that’s even a few degrees too warm or cold could kill a fish, as can water that isn’t properly balanced for nitrates, nitrites, or pH levels.

No matter what type of aquarium or fish tank you have, one fact remains: you’ll need to clean it regularly in order to properly maintain the tank and keep your fish healthy.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Fish Tank

Taking the time to clean your fish tank is vital for a couple of reasons.

Protect Your Fish

The most important reason to clean your fish tank is to protect your fish from diseases, illnesses, and death. When you clean your fish tank, there are generally three ideal outcomes. The first is to reduce nitrate levels in the water, which can be dangerous to fish in high concentrations. This is done by removing some water from the tank and replacing it with fresh water.

The second goal of cleaning a fish tank is to remove any organic waste that could be dangerous to fish and that isn’t caught by your tank filter. Cleaning your tank should also help to replenish essential minerals for the well-being of your fish.

Keep It Presentable

In addition to keeping your fish healthy and thriving, a clean fish tank simply looks better. This is especially important if you keep your tank in a high-traffic area of your home.

How Often Should You Clean a Fish Tank?

There is no universal answer to the question of how often a fish tank should be cleaned. This will really depend on a number of factors, including whether your tank is a fresh-water or saltwater tank, as well as the types of fish you have. In general, you should at least be testing the water temperature in your tank daily and adjusting as needed. The gravel at the bottom of your tank should also be vacuumed at least once a week.

How to Clean a Fresh-Water Fish Tank

Gather Your Supplies

There are several supplies you’ll need in order to clean your tank, including:

  • prepared water (for replacing the water you’ll be removing)
  • a dedicated bucket for removing old tank water
  • an algae scraper or scrubbing pad
  • a siphon-style gravel vacuum
  • replacement filter (if your filter needs to be changed)

Clean the Interior Glass

Begin by wiping down the interior glass using an algae pad or scrubbing brush. You may wish to wear gloves while you’re doing this to protect your hands from coming into direct contact with algae or organic waste. Remember that there is generally no need to remove your fish from the tank while cleaning, and while it may be a bit stressful for your fish while you’re cleaning the tank, it’s still less stressful than being completely removed.

Remove Water

Next, use a siphon to remove a pre-determined amount of water from the tank. You should generally replace at least 25% of your tank water each month in a fresh-water tank. Just be sure that you have prepared the same amount to replace it; this may mean conditioning the water a day ahead of time to ensure it’s ready.

Vacuum the Gravel

Next, use your vacuum to clean the gravel at the bottom of the tank. This will remove any debris that may have settled at the bottom. If you have any decorations in your tank, this would be a good time to clean them as well.

Add Fresh Water

Now, it’s time to add fresh, conditioned water back into the tank to replace the water you took out. It’s important that the water has already been brought to the proper temperature and that it has been conditioned before you add it. In most cases, this will mean preparing the water the day before and allowing it to sit overnight. Before adding the water to the tank, it’s a good idea to test it for nitrates, nitrites, and to ensure the pH level is correct.

Monitor Your Fish

Finally, swap out your tank filter if needed; in most cases, filters will need to be cleaned or replaced about once a month. From there, keep a close eye on your fish to make sure they’re getting acclimated to the new water and that there are no signs of distress.

How to Clean a Saltwater Fish Tank

Cleaning a saltwater fish tank isn’t very different from cleaning a fresh-water one. The main differences to keep in mind are that the salinity and pH levels need to be very precise in a saltwater tank, so it’s best to use distilled or reverse osmosis water when replacing the water in this type of tank.

From there, you’ll also need to add a one-step salt mix (available at most pet stores) and aerate the water before it can be brought to temperature and added to the tank. The ideal water temperature for most saltwater fish is between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

For a saltwater tank, you should also aim to replace 10% of the water every two weeks for the best results. This will ensure that nitrates are properly removed from the water.

You’ll also need to watch for something called “salt creep” in a saltwater tank, which leaves a white film near the waterline of your aquarium. In most cases, this can be easily removed with an algae pad or even a damp cloth.

What About Your Other Cleaning Needs?

As you can see, maintaining a clean fish tank can be a time-consuming job. However, a well-kept aquarium can add beauty to your home, and caring for fish can be quite rewarding. Still, if you’re looking for some help with your other household cleaning tasks, Maid Sailors is here for you.

Reclaim some of your valuable free time by trusting our professional maids to tackle your vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and other cleaning needs. We offer regular and deep-cleanings, as well as specialized services such as move-in/move-out cleanings as well. And all of our services come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee so you can enjoy additional peace of mind with your booking.

Find out more about all that Maid Sailors has to offer by giving us a call at (212) 299-5170 today! You can also use our online form to book your first cleaning with our team in a matter of minutes.

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