Cleaning an aquarium or fish tank should be a simple and straightforward task, which generally shouldn’t take too long to do. The more you look after your tank on a daily basis, the less cleaning you’ll have to do in the long run. Not only this but you’ll find that your fish will be healthier and happier!
If you’re a lover of tropical fish or you’re looking for the answers to your tank cleaning questions, then you’ve come to the right place.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to ‘how often you should clean your tank’. It purely depends on a variety of factors such as aquarium size, the filter system, number of fish and variety of fish you keep in your tank. We would advise creating a cleaning schedule that fits into your lifestyle and works well for your aquarium.
Daily checks can be made if you feel this is necessary for your tank and fish. Look out for the behaviour of your fish, do they look healthy? Are there any signs of damage to the scales or fins? If your fish appear to look stressed or sluggish, you may need to perform a partial water change. This needs to be done no matter when you last cleaned the tank.
In most cases (depending on the size of your fish tank), you will need to change the water once a week. To do this we would advise removing around 15-20% of the water and replacing this with treated water. If the aquarium glass, gravel or decorations also look like they need a clean, then consider using maintenance and cleaning tools such as sponges, scrapers and aquarium vacuums.
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.
It is also important that during these checks you also look to cleaning your filter cartridges and media. This can be done by using the water you have removed from the tank during the monthly water change.
Deep Clean Tips
Deep cleaning a fish tank or aquarium is only advised in extreme circumstances. This process means removing everything from the tank, including fish and aquarium decorations. This form of cleaning can be extremely stressful for fish and this is why we only advise it in limited circumstances. If you keep up with our suggested weekly checks you should not need to ever perform a deep clean on your fish tank.
General Yearly Checks
The following checks are those that need only be done once or twice a year unless they are deemed as an issue;
- A thorough inspection of all equipment – hoods & lighting, pumps & filters.
- Replace light bulbs every 6-12 months.
- Check impellers and pump housings in pumps and filters are free from dirt and debris, leaving equipment in a good working order.
- Remove dust and dirt from the hood and lighting.
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.