5 Aquarium Cleaning Tips

By: Emilie Sennebogen

All those fishies deserve a nice, clean home.
All those fishies deserve a nice, clean home.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

With pet ownership comes great responsibility. And as with many pets, the idea of having a lovely aquarium full of exotic fish around can sometimes sound like a lot more fun than the tasks that come along with it.

In the case of an aquarium, keeping it clean is not only a way to make sure it looks great in your home, but it's necessary for the health of your fish as well. Before you decide to throw down some hard-earned cash on an aquarium full of fish, read our five tips on aquarium upkeep so you have a good idea of what you're in for.

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5: Keep Algae in Check

One thing you'll notice pretty quickly after you purchase and stock your aquarium is the slimy green algae that begin to form on pretty much everything in the tank aside from the fish. In order to keep the algae in check, it's important to follow our other cleaning tips, but there's also a special kind of fish that will offer some additional help: the Plecostomus. It won't win any beauty pageants, but this little fish loves to eat algae. Not only that, they'll also consume just about anything, including dead fish. If you get a plecostomus to help out, you can count on it spending a lot of time plastered to the side of the tank gobbling up the green stuff.

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4: Clean the Glass

There's no point in having an aquarium if the glass is so dirty you can't see what's inside.
There's no point in having an aquarium if the glass is so dirty you can't see what's inside.
Hemera/Thinkstock

Keeping the glass in your aquarium clean is the first step to ensuring it remains a healthy environment for your fish. Buying a couple of plecostomus fish can certainly help with the maintenance, but if you have a larger tank, you're going to have to do some of the dirty work yourself. The best way to do this is by purchasing an algae scraper or scrubber from your local pet store and using it on the inner sides of the tank, before you change out your water or siphon anything out. This way you can get the glass clean first, deposit what was on the glass into the water, and then clean the water.

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3: Wash Your Water

Once a week you're going to need to "wash" your water. What you're really doing is changing out a portion of it, roughly 10 to 20 percent. Just this much water is all it takes to make the tank look nice and clean again, while leaving the right amount of helpful bacteria behind for the fish. The other benefit is that you don't need to move the fish when you do it. After you remove the water, use your siphon or vacuum to work the gravel and suck up the debris. Refill the water with de-chlorinated tap water. The remaining debris will settle under the gravel and your fish will throw a party.

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2: Clean the Gravel

You never know what could be lurking down there.
You never know what could be lurking down there.
Photos.com/Thinkstock

The gravel on the bottom of your tank is going to become a repository for anything too heavy to float -- we're talking uneaten food and fish waste. If you have a larger tank, you'll want to buy a wet vacuum that's made especially for aquariums. These vacuums suck up lighter items that fall between the rocks, without taking up the heavier gravel. If you have a small tank and don't want to bother with a vacuum, then you can wash the gravel when you do a full water change. Just continue to rinse the gravel and dump the water until it runs fairly clean. A certain amount of helpful bacteria is necessary, so don't try to make the gravel look like new.

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1: Filter Upkeep

Depending on the size of your tank, you may have one or more filters helping you keep things healthy; maintaining this filter is an important step of upkeep. Follow the instructions that come with the filter, which will likely include regular changing of certain parts. Just keep in mind that these parts become covered in helpful algae and bacteria and are part of a balance that fish need to thrive. Switching all of the parts at once will throw that balance off, so swap out one at a time and allow the water to acclimate for a couple of days. You should run all of the parts under tap water before you place them in the filter.

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Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • "Clean Aquarium Tips." Freshwateraquariumbliss.com. May 5, 2012. http://freshwateraquariumbliss.com/freshwater-aquarium-maintenanc/
  • "Cleaning Your Aquarium." Firsttankguide.net. May 5, 2012. http://www.firsttankguide.net/waterchange.php
  • McEwan, Mike. "Herbivorous Vaccuum." Aquariacentral.com. http://www.aquariacentral.com/fishinfo/fresh/pleco.shtml
  • "Saltwater Aquarium Algae Control: The Elimination of Nuisance Algae." Aquacon.com. May 5, 2012. http://www.aquacon.com/saltwateraquariumalgaecontrol.html

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