How to Clean And Maintain Aquarium? – The Easiest Way

As a fish keeper, you must always have that warm attachment with your tank and the fishes. A determined fish-keeper will never keep their tank dirty. If you want your fishes to grow beautifully and live to their fullest then, you should clean and maintain your aquarium regularly.

Cleaning and maintaining the tank can get tricky at first, but once you get used to it, it is fun. Frequent water changes, regular checks on equipment, algae removal, gravel cleaning, etc. are key to cleaning your aquarium. Maintaining a tank means feeding on time, performing water tests, etc.  

Why Should you Clean And Maintain Aquarium?

If you think your tank provides shelter to only your fish, then you are wrong. It hosts millions of bacteria and other microorganisms, which may be good or bad for your fish. Cleaning the tanks also means you are removing the harmful bacteria that cause several tank diseases. The main reasons why you should clean your tank are:

To Reduce the Nitrate Level

Ammonia and nitrites are considered toxic to your fish. Every tank has bacterial colonies that convert ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrates. Nitrates are less toxic, and the main aim of regular water change during the nitrogen cycle is to remove these nitrates. If you change some percentage of water in the tank, it results in the removal of nitrates. But the bacteria colonies are not affected. This way, you save your fish from ammonia poisoning

To Remove Organic Waste

Organic waste is produced in the tank through the food remains, fish feces, dead bodies, etc. If not removed in time, these wastes allow bacteria to grow in them, affecting the fish in various ways. Timely cleaning of the tank and regular change in water can help to remove these wastes. 

To Make your Tank Look More Lively

Cleaning is not only good for fish, but it also reduces our mental stress when we observe healthy fish in a clean tank with crystal clear water. Having a well-maintained tank also benefits you spiritually, according to Feng Shui principles. 

How Should you Clean And Maintain Aquarium?

Cleaning a tank is no child’s work. You must be extra careful and precise while handling tools and stuff that you need for cleaning. A fish-tank is a sensitive ecosystem that can easily become toxic to its inhabitants if you don’t take the correct precautions. You can make your tank completely clean by following these steps:

Things you Need

  1. Magnetic algae scraper: It a gadget having two magnetic pads that are attached to either side of the glass and moved gently to scrape off the algae present on the glass.
  2. Water siphon: It is a device or usually a pipe that helps to transfer water from one container to another. In the aquarium, it comes with a cylindrical tube that, when placed at the bottom of the tank, removes unwanted debris from the gravel along with water.
  3. Buckets other containers to pour or remove water into or from the tank.
  4. A temporary tank or a small container (if you have less amount of fish) is needed to store your fish for some time while the cleaning is going on.

Step 1: Water removal and cleaning the gravel

Cleaning Gravel

You must remove about 20% of the water from your aquarium every two weeks. You can also clean the gravel every time you change the water if you have a water siphon device. The water siphon allows you to remove any kind of debris from your gravel. You can get a siphon device in any of your local stores, or you can make one at home. It is a long pipe whose one end is kept in the tank, and water is sucked out through the other end. If placed at the lower part of the tank near the gravel, it can suck debris along with water. 

Step 2: Cleaning the filter medium

Clean filter

You must clean the filter medium every time you change the water. Usually, the filter medium used in most of the tanks is a sponge. You should rinse the sponge after separating it from the filter in the same water that was removed from the tank earlier. Note that if you rinse it in tap water, then there is a chance that beneficial bacterial colonies will be swept off. 

Step 3: Algae cleaning

Clean Algae | Clean And Maintain Aquarium

The best tool for algae removal is magnetic algae scraper. If any algae have developed inside the glass of your tank, then you must use a magnetic algae scraper to remove them. Attach the bars of the scraper to either side of the glass and gently scrape away the algae. The filtration system will remove the algae. 

Step 4: Water replacement

Water Replacement

Now your tank is ready for water addition. To do this, first, pour some tap water into a bucket and then add some de-chlorinator. Then pour water from bucket slowly into your tank. Later add some live bacteria into the tank to replace the bacteria that have been removed. Finally, turn the water filter on, and then you are good to go. 

But this is just your weekly cleaning procedure. Remember that you should also clean the decorations and rinse the gravel thoroughly every two months.

Important Tips for Aquarium Cleaning

  • If possible, do not clean the gravel and the filter medium(sponge) on the same day. They both contain beneficial bacterial colonies that are good for purifying the tank. So I suggest you don’t disrupt both locations: gravel and the filter medium, at the same time. 
  • Before you begin the cleaning process, let the water rest for a day, which allows the dissipation of dissolved gases like chlorine and matches the tank temperature to room temperature.
  • You should not rinse the filter medium or gravels with tap water or chlorinated water while doing the daily cleaning process.  

Aquarium Maintenance

Cleaning your tank every few weeks is not the only parameter that makes you a good fishkeeper. You must check up on your fish now and then. You must know what you are feeding them, how much you are feeding them if they are healthy or not, and their tank conditions are fulfilled or not. I have classified regular maintenance under daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance to make it easier for you:

Daily maintenance

  • You must feed your fish two times a day and remove all the uneaten food within 5 minutes of serving.
  • Every now and then, you must check up on your fish to see whether they are behaving normally or not, have injuries or not, etc.
  • Check whether your filters and heaters are on or off. Check if the heater is set to the proper temperature.

Weekly maintenance

  • Water tests must be done weekly or every ten days. A complete water test includes a pH test, nitrate test, salinity test. You can buy a water test kit from your local pet shop and perform the test. These water test kits are simple to use. Plus they use color strips to indicate water conditions. 
  • A quick scan of the equipment must be done. You must check whether the heaters and filters are correctly wired, current level, temperature level, etc. 

Monthly maintenance

  • Every month you should change about 25% of your water.
  • Monthly, you must rinse the filter medium in the aquarium water.
  • You must clean the gravel, decorations, cut off excessive plants, and scrape off the algae.
  •  If you don’t have a magnetic algae scraper and can’t afford to buy one, then you can put some algae-eating animals like mollies, snail, Chinese algae eater fish, etc.  

Maintaining Water Parameters

There are various factors like pH level, ammonia level, hardness, alkalinity, and temperature that need to be maintained along with the hygiene of the tank. I have seen many aquarists clean their tank regularly but forget to keep these parameters and ultimately end up killing their fishes and giving up on their hobby. In my earlier days, even I have made such mistakes. But by following these instructions, you can maintain these parameters quite easily:

Maintain the pH level

Most tropical freshwater aquarium fish prefer a pH of 6.8 to 7.6. A pH below the level of 6 can kill the bacterial colonies that are responsible for the ammonia cycle. More ammonia will be present in the water of pH value more than seven, which is toxic to your fish. So you must balance the pH level very precisely. 

How to Adjust pH in Fish Tank

After performing a pH test, if your pH value is way below 6.8, then you can make it raise. To do so, you can frequently change the water, which will help raise the pH value. A teaspoon of baking soda for every five galloons is also safe for increasing the pH level. But you must do it gradually, not all soda at the same time, which might shock your fish.

Now, if your pH level is way higher than 7.6, then you can place a piece of drift-wood to lower the pH value. You can also use plants having acid pH like peat moss as a filter. 

Maintain ammonia level

The only way to maintain ammonia is to bring it down to absolutely zero. To do this, you must perform a nitrogen cycle in the tank before placing the fish. While performing regular cleaning, you should not wash away all the bacterial colonies that help to reduce the nitrogen level. To make sure that all colonies are not swept off, don’t change 100% of the water and don’t rinse filter medium with tap water. You can also add live bacteria frequently, which is available in any pet store in liquid form, to keep ammonia level low.

 Maintain Hardness

Hard water contains minerals in dissolved form like magnesium, calcium, and iron that are good for your fish. If the water from your tap is too hard, then simply, you can boil it or add some chemicals to soften it.

Maintain Alkalinity

The simplest way to keep alkalinity of most systems stable is by using a saturated lime water solution as your top off water. 2 tablespoon per gallon is enough to maintain the solution saturated for several days. The longer you need to keep it around, the more you add the solution.

Maintain Temperature

It is the easiest, yet most crucial parameter to maintain in an aquarium. All you need to do is buy a heater, set the scale to the proper temperature (according to the fish), place the heater at a perfect position, and set back. Although you must check on the heater regularly to see if it is working or not.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How often should I clean my aquarium?

The cleaning frequency and water changing rate of your aquarium depend entirely upon the size of the tank that you have and the number of fishes that are present inside. Remember that changing 10-20% of the water every 2-3 weeks is mandatory. Cleaning the decorations and glass can be done when you start noticing dirt or algae on them. While cleaning the tank, you can either remove the fish or keep it in the tank; it is totally up to you.

Do I need to remove my fish while cleaning my aquarium?

It is not always good to shift fishes from one place to another because they may get injured when you use a net, or it can be a hectic process if you want to catch them using mugs. So, let them stay inside while you slowly clean the tank, remove the water, and siphon the gravels. But if you are too insecure and very good with nets, then go ahead; remove them. But make sure to use the same water from the tank. 

Do I need to turn off my filter and heater while changing the water?

Yes, you need to turn off all the electrical equipment in your tank just to stay on the safe side. This way, you can prevent yourself from getting any electrical shocks during a short circuit case. 

How do I keep my fish tank clean without a filter?

Usually, in most of the cases, you need a filter in your aquarium. You should not keep your fish tank without a filter. Because without a filter, your tank will clog very fast, and you need to change your water daily even twice a day. Which I think is a very tedious job provided you can fix it with the mere addition of a filter.
But if you really don’t want to to add a filter, then you can set up a tank wіth lоtѕ оf рlаntѕ and some hardy fish that can ореrаtе wіthоut a fіltеr. But I suggest you add a filter on that kind of aquarium too.
Some people may argue with me that natural ponds don’t have a filter, but the fish there survive. Well, lakes are huge and have a vast ecosystem in it. The pond ecosystem has already balanced its ecosystem with time. The pond stays at the equilibrium point where all the fish excreta and wastage they produce are filtered by nature.

What is the most low maintenance fish?

My top 5 low maintenance fish are:
Bettas: They are low maintenance plus betta family has a wide variety of bright colors shades.
Goldfish: Many beginner aquarists don’t know, but goldfish need very low maintenance. You can fin goldfish in a wide range of colors and sizes. For a beginner, this is the fish to go for.
Platies: The most exciting fact about platies is they eat algae in the fish tank making tank clean. They also get along well with other passive fish.
Black Molly: Black Molly is a community and a passive fish. They are suited to a wide variety of water types and fish.
Neon Tetras: Neon tetras don’t need much care and are very easy to maintain. It doesn’t need a big tank size due to its small size.

Can you turn a fish tank filter off at night?

The direct answer is No. No, you cannot turn a fish tank filter off at night. Most people want to turn off their filter at night because it’s disturbing for some people. Some people tend to turn off filters to save electricity bills too.
Generally, you cannot turn off your tank filter at night. But if your filter has an air pump separate from the filter, then you can turn off your filter night.


Finally, I think I have covered all the queries related to how to clean And maintain aquarium. Trust me; you will get better with handling your tank and fishes with more experience. If you have read this article completely, then I am sure you will be able to take proper care of your tank. 


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