how to clean aquarium

Do I Need to Remove the Fish When Cleaning My Aquarium? (Step by Step Guide)

You don’t need to remove the fish when cleaning your aquarium. Removing fish from the aquarium is very stressful for your fish. Overtime, you will eventually kill your fish if you subject them to being transferred every time you clean your aquarium. Cleaning your aquarium is a simple process that does not require removing fish from your aquarium. Below is a step by step guide on how to clean your aquarium and some frequently asked questions on aquarium cleaning.

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How Do I Clean my Aquarium without Removing Fish?

Clean your aquarium by carrying out partial water changes every one to two weeks. Below is a step by step guide on how to easily clean your aquarium without removing fish from the fish tank.

Step 1: Clean the Aquarium Gravel using a Gravel Cleaner

Use a Gravel Cleaner to safely remove aquarium water during partial water changes. You don’t need to remove the fish when cleaning the aquarium with a gravel cleaner. It’s safe to keep the fish in the aquarium.

Follow the instructions on how to get the suction of the gravel cleaner started. Once the the water is flowing, collect the dirty aquarium water in a bucket. The gravel cleaner will suck up uneaten food and gunk that have accumulated on the substrate.

The water flow from the Gravel Cleaner is not strong enough to suck up the gravel. However, keep in mind you can uproot the plants in your aquarium so be mindful when your gravel cleaner gets too close to the plants.

I’ve used several aquarium gravel cleaners, I recommend this gravel cleaner from Amazon. It’s safe to use around fish. It’s also easy to get the suction started. Plus, I like that I don’t have to submerge my hands in the water. My hands stay dry during the entire aquarium cleaning process!

Step 2: Remove only 10% of the Aquarium Water

When using the gravel cleaner, keep an eye out on how much water you are removing from the aquarium. Don’t remove too much water. You don’t want to disturb the ecosystem that has been established in your fish tank. Your goal with partial water changes is to remove just enough toxic chemicals so it doesn’t build up in the aquarium. I recommend only removing approximately 10% of the aquarium water every time you do partial water changes.

Step 3: Clean Your Aquarium Filter

Clean the aquarium filter only if it looks dirty and affecting the performance of the filter. You can tell the filter is not performing properly if the suction looks weak and the water flow is not as strong. The reason why you don’t have to clean the filter every time you do partial water changes is that you don’t want to disturb the beneficial bacteria that have been established in your aquarium filter.

Clean your aquarium filter by rinsing out the sponge in the water taken from the fish tank. Never wash your filter sponge under tap water! You will get rid of all the beneficial bacteria! And never use soap or other chemicals to clean your filter! Just use the old tank water to squeeze out the accumulated dirt on the filter media.

Step 4: Add Water to the Aquarium

Refill your aquarium with clean tap water. Make sure you add water conditioner to the tap water first. The water conditioner will remove harmful chemicals and chlorine from tap water. Also check that the water temperature is roughly similar to the water in the tank. Adding water that is too hot or too cold will cause stress to your fish. Pour water into the aquarium in a controlled manner so you don’t uproot plants.

FAQ on How to Clean Aquarium

Is it Better to Do Partial Water Changes or to Clean the Entire Aquarium?

It is definitely better to do partial water changes than to clean the entire aquarium. You don’t need to clean out the entire aquarium when you have an established fish tank. Frequent partial water changes is enough to keep your fish healthy. Partial water changes will remove harmful chemicals but will not disturb the ecosystem that has been established in your aquarium.

How Much Aquarium Water Do I Remove During Partial Water Changes?

Remove 10% of the aquarium water during partial water changes. It’s not an exact measurement, if you remove a little more, don’t worry. Do be careful though and don’t remove more than 25% of the aquarium water. This will cause an imbalance in your aquarium’s ecosystem and will be harmful to your fish.

How Often Should I Change Water in My Aquarium?

You should change the water in your aquarium every 1-2 weeks. Do a partial water change by removing 10% of the aquarium water.

How Long Does It Take to Do a Partial Water Change?

Partial water changes should only take 15 minutes. It is a simple task that is not complicated. If you have to clean your filter during the partial water change, then add 10 minutes to the task for a total of 25 minutes. Remember, cleaning your aquarium is easy with the right tools (gravel cleaner, algae glass scraper). Changing the water is an essential task for maintaining optimal water quality in the aquarium.

What If Water Evaporated from the Aquarium? Should I just Add Water or Do I Need to Remove Some Aquarium Water before Adding More Water?

If water evaporated from the aquarium, you should remove some aquarium water before adding new water. This will ensure that you remove the buildup of harmful chemicals in the aquarium. If you top off the aquarium without removing aquarium water, the buildup of toxic chemicals in the aquarium will remain in the fish tank and will be harmful to your fish.

Do remember to add water conditioner to tap water before adding it to your aquarium. Also, do be mindful and don’t change more than 25% of the aquarium water. If some water evaporated, just adjust the amount of water removed so it’s no more than a 25% water change.

When is it Necessary to Clean the Entire Aquarium?

Cleaning the entire aquarium is only necessary if all the fish in your fish tank has died. You will need to clean the entire aquarium by draining all the water, disinfecting the aquarium decorations, cleaning the aquarium and throwing away old filter media. By cleaning out the entire aquarium, you will ensure that your new tank is ready for your new fish. You will have removed the organisms that may have caused all your fish to die.

Do I Have to Clean All the Algae in the Aquarium?

You don’t have to clean all the algae from the aquarium. Some algae is good for your aquarium since algae helps remove substances that are harmful to fish. Algae is also a source of food for some fish. Plus the oxygen given off by algae is beneficial.

How Do I Remove Algae from Aquarium Glass?

During partial water changes, remove algae from inside of aquarium glass with a long handle algae glass scraper. You should also use a microfiber cloth to wipe the outside of the aquarium. Don’t spray aquarium glass with Windex or other glass cleaners!

Do I Have to Clean All the Aquarium Decorations whenever I change Aquarium Water?

No, you don’t have to clean all the aquarium decorations every time you make a partial water change. A little bit of algae on aquarium decorations is normal.

Visually inspect aquarium decorations. If aquarium decorations look dirty, take them out and scrub it with a brush under running water. Make sure the brush you use is a clean, dedicated brush that have never been used before for cleaning. The brush should not have any residual chemicals (toothpaste) and cleanser. These chemicals will harm your fish.

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