How to Clean an Aquarium


Authored by Sandy Rothra in Pets 
Published on 11-21-2009

Cleaning an aquarium does not have to be hard. However, regular maintenance is necessary to keep your fish healthy. Cleaning an aquarium on a regular schedule will ensure a clean healthy environment and an attractive tank.

Daily, observe your fish and tank. The fish should be behaving normally. Do any of the fish show signs of illness? This may show up as white fuzzy spots or unsteady swimming. Can you see any signs of dead fish or dead plants? Either one will decay and pollute your tank water. Clean these from your aquarium immediately. Check the temperature and water level. If the temperature begins to drop, replace the heater. If needed, top off the water level with prepared replacement water.

Weekly, prepare replacement water, according to the type of aquarium, and let it stand to adjust to the temperature of the room. Test your water for chemicals, nitrates, oxygen and salinity. Test kits are available commercially. Siphon about 20 percent of the water from the tank gently in order to not disturb the fish. If the water seems to remain clear and clean, you may need to do the 20 percent replacement less often. Depending on the material, acrylic or glass, use the proper tool to clean dirt and algae from the aquarium walls. Remove and rinse any decorations that need cleaning. Trim live plants that need it and remove any dead parts. Use a gravel vacuum to clean the bottom. At the same time, stir up the gravel a little while vacuuming.

Once you have cleaned the tank, siphon the new water in slowly or pour along the walls of the aquarium, in order to not disturb the water. Adding the water slowly will also help keep the aquarium temperature stable. Some cloudiness or bubbles in the water after cleaning is normal and should disappear within a few days.

Monthly, you need to do a little maintenance on the equipment. Unplug the equipment first. Check the directions for procedures to replace filter cartridges and filter media. Carbon filters will remove odors and keep the water fresh smelling. During a partial water change, rinse sponges and pads in aquarium water. If too clogged, replace them. Clean the inside of your aquarium filter components with a small brush. Remove the air stone and boil, then soak in vinegar over night. Run the stone in fresh water for several minutes, then air dry.

Every six months, these special tasks will maintain your equipment. Replace light bulbs and UV lamps. Even if still working, the wavelengths decay. If you have several, replace only one a day in order to not shock the aquarium with a sudden light change. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean debris from pumps and filters. Clean the housings and pipes and, again following instructions, lubricate with the suggested oil. After reassembling, they may need to be primed.

Although cleaning and maintaining the aquarium may seem time consuming, a regular schedule will ensure healthy and long-lived fish. Your clean aquarium will be attractive and soothing to watch.


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