Keeping your tank in tip top shape

Practice makes perfect and the same goes for cleaning your aquarium. The task can be a quick and easy so long as you know what you are doing! Ensuring your tank is clean will not only help keep your fish safe from illnesses but also keep your aquarium looking crystal clear.

Start with a clean workspace and collect all the equipment you’ll need before you dip your hands in. To keep you from dripping water everywhere, make sure you have a towel at hand to catch the drips! For a successful clean, you’ll need:

  • A clean bucket
  • Aquarium safe glass cleaner
  • Siphon-type gravel vacuum (not a battery-operated one)
  • An algae pad
  • Thermometer
  • Properly prepped and appropriate water in the quantity you will need to replace
  • Filter media (e.g. cartridges, sponges, carbon packets) if you are cleaning your tank for the first time

Firstly, clean the sides of your tank with the algae pad – no not use a sponge or a scrubber from the kitchen sink to clean your tank as they might contain detergent residue that can prove fatal for fish. Run the pad along the glass, scrubbing as little as possible, to remove any algae sticking to the side. We recommend wearing rubber gloves whilst cleaning the tank to stop any waste getting on your hands.

Next, you will want to syphon out the old water from your tank into the bucket. If you clean your tank on regularly and your fish are healthy, changing around 10-20% of the water once a week should be plenty. However, if your fish are showing signs of ill-health you will want to change more of the water – around 25-50%. It is best to buy a new bucket when first cleaning out your tank and then continue to use that bucket only for cleaning out your tank for the first time. This due to the fact that an old and used bucket may contain residue from s soap and detergent. You can buy aquarium syphons that connect up to sink; these are useful as they prevent water being sloshed out of the bucket.

Now it’s time to focus on the gravel. Using a gravel vacuum, work through the gravel methodically – fish waste, excess food and other debris will be sucked up and away. However, if you have a sand substitute instead of gravel, you’ll want to use the hose part of the syphon instead. Hold it under an inch from the surface to suck up waste without disturbing the sand. Running you fingers through the sand (provided you do not have any submergible creatures living in your tank) will help release any gunk that may have gotten trapped under the sand.

If you have any decorations in your tank these will need cleaning too. You can wipe any excess algae that may have attached itself to your tank with the algae pad and rinse in the aquarium water you previously syphoned into the bucket. Avoid using soap as it could harm your fish. If your decorations are covered in algae this may be a sign that you are overfeeding your fish. Try feeding them less and replacing their water more regularly to see if this reduces the amount of algae in your pond. Alternatively, if you happen to have a larger tank having a pleco can help stop algae growing excessively.

Now it is time to refill the water you removed earlier with fresh, treated water at the same temperature as the water in your tank. Wait for a few hours for any cloudiness that remains to fade, leaving the water clear. If the water remains cloudy, this may be a sign of an underlying problem. Remember to leave space between the top of the tank and the water, as your fish will need that space for oxygen and carbon dioxide to exchange.

Wipe down the outside of the tank including the hood, glass light and tank top. Make sure you use aquarium friendly cleaners as the standard ones can hurt your fish.

Finally, you will need to change your filter cartridge once a month. If left unchanged the carbon inside can become harmful for your fish. You can rinse the filter out weekly in the aquarium water you syphoned out when you change the water if it appears overly dirty, but you don not want to lose whatever beneficial bacteria has set itself in your filter. Just rinsing the filter cartridge does not substitute changing it, so you will still have to change it monthly.

We hope you have found this guide useful and if you have any question feel free to call us and speak to one of our friendly staff or, alternatively, you can drop into your local Myhill’s store where we will be happy to help you with any queries you may have face to face. If you’re looking to set up your very own aquarium, read our handy blog on the topic here: Making A Splash With A New Aquarium