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Everything you need to know about how to clean fish tank

Watching a healthy school of fish freely swimming in your fish tank must be a relaxing and exciting experience for everyone ornamental fish hobbyists. Taking care of these colorful pets demands a high level of cleanliness and meticulous care unless they may become ill and die soon. If you are a beginner and have never […]

Published 13 May 2022
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Watching a healthy school of fish freely swimming in your fish tank must be a relaxing and exciting experience for everyone ornamental fish hobbyists. Taking care of these colorful pets demands a high level of cleanliness and meticulous care unless they may become ill and die soon. If you are a beginner and have never cleaned the water tank before, this topic is useful for you. Cleaning a fish tank should not focus on the quality of the water inside the tank only, there are several details that need your regular check. Cleaning experts from Sparkling and Beyond have listed everything you need to know about how to clean fish tank, as well as how to clean a fish tank filter and how to clean a fish tank glass.

Preparation – What is needed to clean the fish tank?

Depending on the size of the water tank and the number of your fish, here are some tools and devices you’ll need: 

Appliance and tools:

  • Bleach (Aquarium cleaner). 
  • Plastic blade (uses acrylic tank).
  • Algae pad or scraper.
  • Filter media.
  • Bucket (clean, non toxic chemical, use for aquariums only).
  • Glass cleaner or lime remover for aquariums.
  • Paper towels.
  • Chlorine remover.
  • Water siphon.
  • Water testing kit.
  • Powerhead and heater (saltwater aquarium).
  • A salinity probe (saltwater aquarium).

Replacing water: You should prepare an amount of water which is equal to 20 – 30% of your tank’s volume. 

  • Freshwater Water Preparation: If you use tap water, leave it out for a day in advance to make sure the chlorine completely evaporates before pouring it into the fish tank. If you are punctilious or your fish is vulnerable, you can use a conditioner to clear the heavy metals, chlorine and toxins out of the water.
  • Saltwater Water Preparation: Changing the saltwater is much more complex than freshwater one. You’ll need to concern yourself with three parameters – salinity, temperature and pH. If you are not aware of it, asking an aquarist for advice is the best option. 

Starting cleaning – Cleaning each component of the fish tank

Before you clean the fish tank, remember to unplug all the electrical devices and remove all of them along with all the ornaments apart from the living plants. To save microorganisms, which are necessary for the fish tank, living inside the filter, soak the filter in a bucket of water that you get from the fish tank.

Important: Removing things slowly so that you won’t stir any dregs on the bottom of the tank. 

1. Clean fish tank algae:

Algae is the most basic life form on earth that only needs water and light for living. However, it is

Algae is the most basic life form on earth that only needs water and light for living. It can bloom anywhere onthe surface as well as the light is available.
So, how to clean a fish tank glass?

Tip: There is a kind of magnetic algae cleaner which has two pieces of contrary magnets with a soft felt covering. Placing one magnet on the inside of the aquarium, and another on the outside of the aquarium. One magnet is attracted by another so when you move the outer magnet, the inner one will move parallelly and clean the algae. Magnetic algae works better for the glass tank. 

If the pad or scraper can not remove all the dirt, use a plastic blade to remove the remaining algae (especially for an acrylic aquarium) so that it won’t scratch your tank. 

Magnetic algae cleaner (Source: Internet)

2. Remove waste and clean fish tank gravel and sand: 

Using a siphon to vacuum the debris from the bottom of the tank. There are a lot of siphon designs in the pet shop but remember to choose a siphon which can function to remove debris not the gravel or sand. 

Siphon to vacuum the debris (Source: Internet)

3. Clean fish tank glass and other decoration:

As we mentioned, if you have fake grass and some plastic or stone decoration, move it out of the tank, they will have separate cleaning. 

To clean fish tank glass and clean fish tank decoration, you can use an algae scraper and soap it with a little bleach. Then, wash again with clean water and air dry before putting them back into the aquarium. 

4. Clean fish tank filter and other devices

No matter the quality and the type of the filter you are using, clean it and change the medium sometimes in your water filter. Let’s follow how to clean a fish tank filter as below.

Sponge filter is the most preferable filter as it is easy to use, change and the price is reasonable. Having removed it out of the tank, you should rinse this filter by the water that is contained in the tank (that you store in the bucket). Doing this will help the filter to remove dirt but does not kill the beneficial bacteria building up inside it. 

For some kinds of filter which contain carbon, ammonia absorbers, or ion-exchange resins it will need replacing every couple of weeks because it will no longer be able to absorb materials.

Finally, clean other parts of the tank, such as tubing, the exterior of the tank,… and return it to the tank as quickly as possible to avoid losing the bacteria colonies.

Clean the filter (Source: Internet)

5. Replace the water

Replacing fish tank water does not mean you will replace the whole amount of water inside. As you prepared replacing water previously, check the temperature of that water before adding it into the tank. Make the temperature the same as the remaining water inside the tank so that it won’t affect your fish. 

  • For freshwater Water Preparation: replace 20 – 30% of the water each time. 
  • Saltwater Water Preparation: replace 10% of the water each time. 

How often should I clean the fish tank?

The regularity of cleaning and water changes will entirely depend on the size of your tank, and the amount of fish you have in there. Out of this, you need to check the status of your aquarium usually, in case there is any “strange visitor” appearing. If they come, it is time to clean it, too. 

Cleaning a fish tank (Source: Internet)


Breeding a fish takes more time and effort than taking care of a dog or a cat since the underwater biodiversity is vulnerable and easily killed by a minor change in the environment so cleaning a fish tank has never been a one-step process. Water partially changing won’t harm the microorganisms inside, which are essential for your aquarium.

With the mission of helping people to have work-life balance, we encourage our customers to enjoy their lives and let us take care of their house cleanliness. We have collected a range of tips and provide House Cleaning Service. Contact us immediately, experienced staff of Sparkling and Beyond are waiting for you!


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