5 Important Fish Tank Cleaning Tips for Beginners

A fish tank is a great choice for someone who wants to have a pet but isn’t ready for the full responsibility of pet ownership.

Unlike a dog, a fish doesn’t need to be walked or taken to the vet. This is probably a big part of the reason that fish are the most popular pet in the UK.

While caring for fish is easier than caring for a dog or cat, it does still require some effort. In addition to feeding your pet fish, you’ll also need to maintain their fish tank regularly.

Here are some fish tank cleaning tips to help new aquarium owners learn to maintain their pet’s habitat.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tank?

Performing a comprehensive tank cleaning where you change all the water and remove the fish can be both expensive and time-consuming. That’s why the first of our fish tank cleaning tips is to take time for regular maintenance.

We recommend spending 30 minutes every other week cleaning your aquarium. If you keep up with these regular cleaning tasks, you won’t need to do a more involved cleaning as often.

Many new fish owners don’t clean their tanks frequently because they assume that cleaning the tank requires removing the fish. For routine cleaning, however, the fish can stay in the tank.

That said, even when you perform routine maintenance, it’s a good idea to deep clean your fish tank at least once a year. This will prevent excessive buildup of minerals or algae. It will also ensure that all mechanical components are in working order.

Gather the Right Supplies

When it’s time to clean your fish tank, the first step is gathering the proper supplies. It’s important to choose your cleaning materials carefully so that you do not use items that will damage your tank or harm your fish.

For cleaning the inside walls of your tank, you’ll want to get algae pads, which can be purchased at most pet stores. You can also use a plastic razor blade for this. Be careful with acrylic tanks, however, as these scratch more easily, and can be damaged by razor blades.

You will also need a syphon for the inside of the tank. This is both for vacuuming the gravel and removing the water.

For cleaning the outside glass of the tank, we recommend using an aquarium-safe glass and lime cleaner. One of our favourite fish tank cleaning tips is that you can actually use vinegar for this task as well. In either case, make sure to use a gentle sponge or rag.

Cleaning Inside the Aquarium

The next of our fish tank cleaning tips is to always clean this inside of the fish tank before changing the water. This way, if you scrub algae or other materials off, it will come out in the water that you syphon out of the tank.

Cleaning the Walls

Start by cleaning the inside walls of the fish tank with either an algae scrub or a plastic razor blade. The razor blade can be helpful for removing particularly caked-on patches of residue.  Our recommended Fish Tank cleaning device.

If you wear rubber gloves while doing this task, make sure they haven’t come in contact with any chemicals. Also, always use dedicated cleaning materials, rather than sponges that you use for other household cleaning tasks.

Cleaning the Gravel

The next of our fish tank cleaning tips is to use a vacuum to clean the gravel. This will remove fish waste, extra food, or other debris from the tank.

If you have small fish in your tank, be very careful that they are not sucked up by the vacuum. You can take a small piece of a woman’s stocking and put it over the end of the vacuum to prevent this. Just make sure that the stockings have never been worn.

Cleaning the Decorations

Decorations make your fish tank look nice, but they also tend to collect algae. An algae pad or a toothbrush that has never been used can be effective tools for cleaning your decorations.

For a deeper cleaning, you can remove the decorations, and soak them in a 10% bleach solution. After they’ve soaked for about 15 minutes, remove the decorations, and pour boiling water over them. It’s very important to remove all bleach so as not to harm your fish.

If you notice that your decorations are covered in a lot of algae, you may want to consider changing the water more frequently. This will make the decorations easier to clean.

Changing the Water

When it comes to changing the water in your fish tank, you only need to change 10-15% of the water every two weeks. This will be enough to help remove nitrates from the water.

When you add new water to the tank, make sure it is the same temperature as the water already in your aquarium. Adding water that is too warm could harm or even kill your fish. Also, always pretreat the water to remove any chemicals or heavy metals that may be harmful to your fish.

Changing the Filter

Your fish tank filter performs many important functions. It removes excess food and debris from the water and also removes harmful chemicals. This keeps the water clean and prevents it from looking cloudy.

Typically, you should change the filter in your tank every two to four weeks. We recommend changing the filter the week after you can the water in the tank.

You might want to consider setting aside one day each week for cleaning the fish tank. During the first week, you’ll clean the tank and change the water. During the second week, you’ll change the filter, and perform any necessary spot cleaning.

Beyond Fish Tank Cleaning Tips

By following these fish tank cleaning tips, you’ll be able to keep your fish happy, healthy, and well-cared for.

For more helpful tips and advice about caring for your fish, check out our fish guides. Whether you’re a beginner or have owned fish for a long time, these guides will help you care for your pets.