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How do I Clean an Aquarium?

How to clean a very dirty aquarium with a lot of algae?

Fish are great pets. First, they don’t require walks or a lot of attention. Second, they are beautiful! Third, they are incredibly easy to maintain compared to other types of pets. However, that doesn’t mean you can overlook them. This is where the aquariums come in, and that you should clean and look after them just like your fish.

In addition to feeding your fish once a day, you must also clean their aquarium at least twice a month (if your fish lives rather in a bowl without a filtration system, it will have to be cleaned every week). Over the days, your fish waste and food build-up, which can lead to an unhealthy environment. Fortunately, cleaning an aquarium is not that difficult, no matter what type of aquarium you have. Here are some tips on how to clean your aquarium to keep your fish happy and healthy.

How to maintain your aquarium over the days?

Daily maintenance of the aquarium

Every day, in addition to feeding the fish, you will have to remember to remove the waste with a nipple and check the water temperature.

Weekly maintenance of the aquarium

Once a week, check the water by testing it to make sure it is not polluted by nitrates or ammonia. In addition, take the opportunity to clean the windows and remove the waste at the bottom of the aquarium. Finally, every week you have to change one-fifth of the volume of water in the aquarium.

Monthly maintenance of the aquarium

Every two weeks, or once a month, the aquarium and its components should be cleaned. This can take time and you need to know how to be organized so as not to harm the fish.

Aquarium on Bookshelf by Andrey Nikitin

Before cleaning your aquarium

The day before the aquarium cleaning chore, remember to fill enough containers with tap water, which you will let stand without closing them overnight. This will allow the chlorine in the tap water to evaporate. Products specifically designed to neutralize chlorine are also sold in pet stores.

The day of cleaning your aquarium

Provide a tank that can hold your fish or fishes, and where the water will be at the same temperature as that of your aquarium. This will prevent them from suffering a thermal shock. Once your fish are in the tank, it’s time to unplug the aquarium and its components.

Steps in cleaning an aquarium

Cleaning an aquarium is done by following a logical sequence of steps:

  • Empty the aquarium: first, remove the decorations, then empty the water but not completely. Do not change more than 30% of it. Then, using a skip or a small shovel, remove the gravel.
  • Cleaning the glass: to clean the walls, do not use cleaning agents or detergents. Indeed, a damp cloth and cotton swabs are enough. Rub the entire glass surface of the aquarium, and use the cotton swabs for the corners.
  • Remove algae: if algae and lime have invaded the walls of the aquarium, use a shower squeegee or a spatula to remove them.
  • Clean the filter: To clean the filter, you must avoid killing the good strains of bacteria present there and necessary for the health of the fish. Clean one half of the filter, the other half will be cleaned during the next cleaning. Simply rinse it under lukewarm tap water and wring it out until it is clean.
  • Wash the gravel: to clean the gravel, simply pass it under hot water and drain it well.
  • Clean the decorations: just pass them under hot water, but without using chemicals or detergents. If they are very dirty, rub them with a small soft brush.

Eliminate algae in an aquarium

If algae form in your aquarium, take this seriously. Start by removing the algae manually or with a shower squeegee if they have caught on the windows. Then test the water parameters. If necessary, clean the pump and the rotor using a toothbrush. It may be necessary to replace 25% of the aquarium water and have the fish fast for 3 or 4 days. Fast-growing plants can be added to the tank to reduce the appearance of algae.

What to do if the aquarium water is cloudy?

If your aquarium has recently been installed, wait a few days before taking action, this could be normal and the situation could recover on its own. Otherwise, try to clean the decorations and the gravel. However, if your aquarium is not new, it is possible that microscopic algae have invaded your aquarium. Make it good maintenance as mentioned above.

Man changinging water in aquarium using siphon by hedgehog94

How to clean a very dirty aquarium?

If you have recovered a very old aquarium and it is clogged with algae and limestone, it will practically have to be disinfected with fish. Start by emptying it well and removing all of its components. Then fill it with water to which you will add hydrochloric acid and leave it on for 48 hours.

Empty the water, rinse and fill again, but this time by adding bleach. Leave to act for 1 hour. You can take the opportunity to scrape the windows and the bottom with a shower squeegee to remove as many algae as possible.

Empty the aquarium and using a sponge, clean all surfaces well. You could put a drop of liquid dish soap on your sponge. Then, rinse thoroughly 2 to 3 times, to thoroughly remove the detergent residue.

Alternatively, you could also use a steamer to thoroughly clean the aquarium, but without the use of chemicals or detergents. The components of the aquarium, including the decorations, could also benefit from a good steam cleaning. Otherwise, just pass them under hot water and scrub them with an old toothbrush. Some, if too dirty, will have to be changed for new ones.


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