Routine Aquarium Maintenance

Taking care of your chosen fish means ensuring that the aquarium they inhabit is up to standard. Aquariums require routine maintenance to ensure they are providing a safe environment for your fish to live and thrive in. A lot of your aquarium maintenance will depend on what fish you have, but here are some of the basics you should be considering when performing your routine aquarium maintenance.

Glass Tank Cleaning

Glass cleaning is one of the easier parts of the cleaning process, ensuring you remove any algae that has begun to grow and giving it a thorough cleaning. There are also many tools on the market that can make this an even simpler part of the process; items such as an algae magnet or glass scrapers help to efficiently remove algae from your glass tank without you having to even get your hands wet!

It’s often best to start with the tank’s glass, as some of the algae may drop to the gravel and you can easily clean this up afterwards.

Aquarium Gravel Cleaning

Now it’s time to clean your gravel. Cleaning your aquarium gravel will get rid of any of the algae that fell to the bottom of the tank when cleaning the aquarium glass. Gravel cleaning will also remove waste debris from fish and plant life which if left, can build up, causing water quality issues within your aquarium.

There are now quite a few ways that you can clean your gravel. The traditional method is to remove the gravel bit by bit from your tank and clean it in a bucket. Alternatively, newer technologies like the Fluval ProVac Powered Aquarium Gravel Cleaner, acts as a vacuum cleaner for the gravel. Not only does it mean you don’t have to remove the gravel to clean it, but it allows you to access every corner to remove all harmful waste particles without having to remove your fish from the tank.

Aquarium Water Change

The water in your aquarium goes through a lot; it homes your fish, holds their food and even ends up being their toilet. That’s why implementing regular water changes is so crucial for the health of your fish  – if not, waste will become stagnant and it will be an unhealthy setting for your fish to live. Changing your tank’s water removes the unwanted waste, increases the aquarium’s oxygen levels and stops the build-up of toxic chemicals.

Regular water changes can be weekly or bi-weekly, as long as they’re recurrent and routinely done. It’s advised you only remove approximately 15-25% of your tank’s water each time, but this should be tailored to the size of your aquarium and specifically what your species of fish require.

The water you remove must be replaced with treated water. Tap water can contain chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals which can be very harmful to the tank’s ecosystem, so it’s important to treat it before you use it in your aquarium. Treatments like our Tetra Aquasafe, NT Labs Aquarium Tap Water Safe and so many more of our range will eradicate any of these harmful toxins from your tap water and condition it to be safe enough for your fish to live in.

Aquarium Filter Maintenance

The question ‘how often you should clean your aquarium filter?’ doesn’t have a simple enough answer for us to provide, as the numerous options available to you and the requirements of each tank type means it would be too long of a guide to read! The best way to know if it’s time for your filter to be cleaned is usually when the flow of your filter seems to have reduced and it is having an effect on the tank.

Cleaning Internal Aquarium Filters

To clean your internal filter you need to take it out of the tank and disassemble it. Make sure to clean all foams and  media with tank water so as not to damage the precious filter bacteria. The filter itself should also be given a quick once over making sure to use a small sponge or brush to get right into the smaller inlets and outlets. This will ensure that nowhere is blocked up and that it’s nice and clean.

Cleaning External Aquarium Filters

The great thing about external filters is that they don’t need to be cleaned as often as internal filters. However, when they do need to be cleaned, it’s a bit of a bigger task.

Once you’ve disconnected the filter and taken it to where you want to clean it (most likely outside), disassemble it and you’re ready to go! Again, make sure you’re using old tank water to clean the filter out, removing media and where needed getting a smaller brush into those harder to reach places. Remember, you’re not looking for your filter to be gleaming, just to be free of blockage and visible waste and good for use!

The best way to ensure you’re on top of your aquarium maintenance is to be making those small daily checks, keeping an eye out for damage to your tank or changes in your fish’s behaviour. Weekly checks will be when you decide whether your water or gravel needs to be changed and cleaned.

Well established aquariums with healthy fish need their water testing once per month for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels. Keeping a record of these is always a good idea as you will be able to keep track of the health of your aquarium. If your fish look stressed or the water begins to look cloudy then we would suggest checking the water more frequently.


When do I clean my fish tank filter?

We would advise cleaning the fish tank filter on a regular basis. One thing to take into consideration is when you last cleaned the fish tank, as we would advise you wait a week for the fish to adjust to the environment. As there are a variety of fish tank filters, it is important that you follow the cleaning tips/instructions for your filter.

  • Mechanical Filters – look to cleaning or replacing the sponge or foam pad that sits inside the filter. Cleaning should take place using water from the aquarium.
  • Chemical Filters – chemical filtration such as carbon need changing on a regular basis, generally once every 3-4 weeks or when the water appears to be cloudy.
  • Biological Filters – these filters don’t need to be cleaned quite as often as we want the bacteria to remain in the filter. However if you do need to clean it, use the water from within the tank to rinse it out.

Why do I need to put gravel in my fish tank?

Gravel isn’t just a way to make your fish tank look nice, it also provides biological filtration to your aquarium. This means that the gravel is home for beneficial bacteria, this bacteria eliminates waste products in the tank. Without gravel you will find that you have to change the water more often.

Not only this but gravel creates a perfect habitat for fish, meaning they will be less stressed and much healthier in the long run.

How do I clean a fish tank after a fish dies?

When it comes to finding a tragedy in your fish tank then it is important you sort the situation as quickly as possible to stop bad bacteria and infection spreading. We have put four tips together to help you solve the problem and save your other fish.

  • Remove any dead fish from the tank, it is important you remove them quickly as the body will begin to rot, releasing waste and bad bacteria into the water.
  • Examine the corpse to ensure all is intact and identify cause of death if possible.
  • It is important you test the water in your fish tank when a fish dies, as water quality is one of the biggest causes of death. If results show that the water is quality poor, carry out a partial water change and seek further advice from an aquatic outlet.
  • If the water quality tests ok then this would suggest that the fish are suffering from a parasite or bacterial infection. Therefore it would be advised to carry out a suitable treatment to combat the outbreak. If you are not confident on this, we would advise seeking expert advice from an aquatic specialist.

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