Keeping a fish tank is like having another pet: it’s an ongoing responsibility with regular maintenance. Keeping your fish tank clean and healthy is important for keeping your fish happy and healthy. Not to mention, the last thing you want after going through the trouble of setting up a tank and purchasing some lovely little fishy friends is to have guests stop by your home based on their nasty experience with the smell of your tank! Ugh! Gross! Unfortunately, cleaning a fish tank isn’t as easy as cleaning other types of home aquariums. You can’t just scrub away algae or remove debris from plants. The gravel needs to be cleaned without harming your pets. Fortunately, there are tricks and tips that will make this process much simpler than you might think.
How To Clean A Fish Tank Without Removing The Fish
- Keep the tank clean: The first and most important step is to keep your tank clean! This means making sure your fish have plenty of space to swim, that there’s a good amount of water circulation and that the water is always at the right temperature. It’s also important to make sure there are no dead leaves or plants in the tank. If you notice any plant matter floating around, it may be time to replace it with new live plants.
- Keep the filter running: A fish tank without a filter isn’t worth anything! You need to make sure that your filters are running at least once a week. You can use a sponge or sponge pad when cleaning your filters or purchase one of those fancy little mesh bags with holes on them so you can just rinse out your filter without having to take out all of the gravel and plants in order to get everything clean.
- Don’t overfeed: Overfeeding will result in fish waste build-up inside your tank that will affect how well they swim and how happy they are overall. Also, overfeeding can cause algae growth which is even worse than having too much waste build up in your tank! If you notice any changes in what seems like a small amount of fish waste build-up, it may be time for an adjustment on how often you feed them (or not feed them at all!).
- Clean out bad smells: Fish tanks can get pretty smelly if you aren’t cleaning them out well enough. If you notice a fish tank that smells very bad, chances are it will continue to get worse unless you take care of it.
- Clean the filter: It’s important to clean your filter regularly as well! If you notice any algae buildup on the inside of your filter, it may be time to replace the filter media and/or clean out all of the debris in the tank so that your filters can work properly.
- Use a sponge or sponge pad: Don’t ever use a brush when cleaning your tank! The bristles on brushes can damage the walls of your aquarium, which will lead to leaks or worse yet, dead pets! You can also use a sponge with a little bit of water in it and soak up some water with each wipe. This will help remove debris from your gravel without causing any damage to what’s already in there! In order for this step to be effective though, it is important that you rinse out all of the water as soon as possible otherwise bacteria can grow in there which could cause some nasty illnesses for your pets! Also, don’t forget about using some kind of microfilter if you have an under gravel filtration setup or if you have live plants in there (like I do!). This will keep bacteria from growing under those rocks too!
- Use a special cleaner: If none of these tips seem like they are working, you may want to invest in a special pet cleaner! There are plenty of different options out there to choose from. Just make sure that whatever you get is not very strong and only use it on your tank once a month or so.
Change Your Water
- If you have a gravel-based aquarium, be sure to change the water often. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a lot of algae.
- If your gravel is made of ceramic, make sure to change the water when it starts to get cloudy.
- If you are using aquarium-safe tap water instead of distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water, make sure to change the water every 3–4 days.
- Never use tap water for fish tanks!
- Change your pH balance every month if your pH is above 7! Also, add a little salt and/or calcium carbonate if necessary (a few drops each time).
- Do not use tap water for fish tanks unless you have tested it for bacteria and decided that it is safe for your fish tank! It can contain harmful pathogens that could kill your fish! Even if it is safe for other purposes like washing dishes or bathing, it could still contain harmful pathogens that could kill your fish! Use distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water instead if possible!
- Use a filter in your tank to remove any unwanted particles from the air in your home so that they don’t end up in the tank with the fish! You can also use an air pump inside the tank to create bubbles which will help remove any particles floating around in there as well as help keep oxygen levels high so that nitrifying bacteria can thrive.
- Cleaning the Gravel of Your Fish Tank. Keep a very close eye on your fish tank and remove any dead fish, fry, or other unwanted species that you find in there!
Don’t Forget The Baking Soda
- The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your gravel is clean. If it’s not, then you’ll need to remove the debris and scrub the gravel with a toothbrush.
- Next, you’ll need to remove the algae that have grown on your gravel. This could be as easy as using a net or a bucket (if there’s enough room) with water and some baking soda.
- After that, rinse the baking soda off of your gravel and let it sit for about 30 minutes before adding any new fish or plants into your tank.
- Once that 30 minutes is up, add some aquarium salt (such as SeaChem Instant Aquarium Salt ) into your tank and let it dissolve overnight before adding any more fish or plants into your tank.
- You now have clean gravel! Your next step will be to clean out the filter media in your filter tank so that it can be ready for the next time when you go to clean out the filter tank!
Use An Algae Disc Or Coarse Sponge
- The first thing to do is to remove the filter and rinse the gravel with warm water. This will help loosen any debris that has been collected in the filter. The next step is to use a fine-grade sponge or algae disc. These are made of non-absorbent materials, so they won’t harm your tank’s fish or plants. Use one of these tools to dislodge any debris from the gravel and then rinse it off again with warm water.
- Next, carefully remove any plant material from the gravel using a non-absorbent brush. You can also use a small net to do this quickly and easily, but be sure not to damage your plants in the process!
- If you have an aquarium heater, you may want to turn it off for now and allow the tank temperature to drop down below 80 degrees Fahrenheit (if it’s safely possible). This will help minimize any damage caused by excess heat while you clean your tank; this will also help prevent bacteria growth as well as reduce stress on your fish!
- Rinse all of your tools once more using warm water once you’re finished with them. Then pour some aquarium salt into a bowl and add some aquarium vinegar or plain white vinegar; mix it up until there are no undissolved clumps left in the bowl (you may want to check on this after about 30 minutes). Add about ¼ cup of this mixture into your tank and thoroughly mix it all together. This will help to remove any harmful bacteria in the water, which can be harmful to your fish.
- Next, rinse off the tank with warm water again. Then use a net or brush to remove any leftover dirt and debris from your filter. Rinse all of these tools once more using warm water and then place them in a small mesh bag so they won’t get damaged while you clean up the rest of your tank!
Add Some Fresh Air
- When you’re cleaning a fish tank, it’s important to make sure that the water is always circulating. Stagnant water will create an unpleasant environment for your fish and can cause ammonia levels to rise quickly.
- The best way to add fresh air to your tank is with a small air pump. You can purchase one for around $20 or less at most pet stores and online retailers. A small air pump will help keep your tank from stagnating and will allow the water to circulate in your tank more effectively.
- When using an air pump, you should only use the small amount of power that the pump requires; otherwise, you could cause harm to your fish if it overheats or over-pressurizes the water in your tank. Letting the air pump run on a low setting is advised when using this type of device so as not to overheat or over-pressurize the water in your tank.
- You should never use an electric heater when using an air pump because this could harm other electrical components in your home (e.g., light bulbs). If you want to heat up the water in your tank, make sure that there is no current running through electrical equipment because this can cause them to malfunction or even catch fire! Always use caution when using any electrical equipment near a fish tank! A heating pad might be a better option than an electric heater if you want to avoid any potential dangers associated with electrical equipment.
Try Using A Reptile Filter
- Place a filter in your fish tank to help remove the waste and make it easier to clean.
- A filter that is specifically made for reptiles can be purchased at pet stores or online.
- It’s important to keep your fish tank near a window, so you can check on it frequently.
- Make sure the filter is placed in an area where the water will not get splashed on anything else in your home (don’t place it near a rug).
Keeping a fish tank clean and healthy can seem like a huge ordeal. You probably don’t want to do it too often, but you also don’t want to do it too infrequently. Too often, and you’ll be stressing out your fish. Too infrequently, your tank will be a breeding ground for impurities. Fortunately, there are a few different tricks you can use to keep your aquarium as clean as possible. You should change your water every once in a while, add some fresh air, don’t forget to use baking soda, and use an algae disc to clean the tank. You can also try using a reptile filter, and if all else fails, get a cleaning service to do the job for you!