While observing aquarium life and feeding are fun, fish tank cleaning and water changes are not among the favorite activities of aquarists. It’s just a job that has to be done. However, cleaning the aquarium can be limited by appropriate measures.
Useful aquarium cleaning equipment and accessories
- Two buckets or bowls – one for fresh water and the other for aquarium water. They should be made of a material that will not cause any chemical reaction with clean water;
- A bowl or other container in which we will place decorative elements and devices taken out of the aquarium. As in the above point, they must not react with the contents in any way;
- A brush for cleaning decorative elements (stones, roots, etc.) and a sponge for gentle cleaning;
- Descaler to collect sludge from the bottom of the tank;
- Window cleaners;
- Clean towels and cloths to wipe off spilled water.
How often should an aquarium be cleaned?
Many factors determine how often one should clean and wash an aquarium. The first is the tank capacity – the larger the aquarium, the less work is required. In aquariums richly planted with greenery there is a need to remove dead fragments (leaves, roots), while water needs to be changed much less frequently. Both of the above aspects have a simple justification: in large aquariums heavily planted with plants, it is easier to maintain a state close to biological and natural balance.
Plants act as water filters, absorbing many harmful compounds, including fish metabolism products. Water quality is largely influenced by the efficiency of the pump filter. However, it has become evident that the aquarium should be cleaned at least once every two weeks. This includes silting the bottom, cleaning the filter and removing algae from windows and equipment. Sometimes it is also necessary to clean the aquarium from the outside.
The water is changed in stages (every 1-3 weeks – depending on the size of the aquarium, equipment and requirements of the fish kept). No more than 1/3 of the tank capacity should be replaced at any one time. Counteracting the above may harm the fish or even lead to their death (the development of bacterial microflora is very important). The water should be left for about twenty-four hours beforehand. It will reach room temperature and at the same time it will be less hard (chlorine will escape). Water from the topping up (preferably poured with a slow stream on a glass, large stone or root) sometimes needs to be treated with appropriate preparations.
Step-by-step aquarium cleaning guide
In small aquariums, fish and living organisms are usually taken out before any cleaning steps are taken. However, this is both labor-intensive and unfavorable for animals (stress, temporary change of conditions, risk of damage to scales). In medium and larger tanks the aquarium is usually cleaned, taking care not to hurt curious fish.
It is worth to start by cleaning the tank using algae panes.. The procedure is best performed during the day in sunlight or when the lights are on, as long as the opening in the lid allows for a free operation with a cleaner.
The next step is to clean the filter. The simple, spongy ones are cleaned very quickly, in larger ones, e.g. outside hanging, it is necessary to take care of several filter layers. The cleaned equipment, after filling the water, often requires a start-up in order for the pump to suck in the water well. It is best to use a rubber hose (which must be sucked in) with a purifier to clean the bottom and change the water. While working, be careful not to suck in floating fish at the bottom, snails or even clogging stones.
After the work has been done, water is poured into the tank (possibly treated with preparations). For the nearest 24 hours after cleaning the aquarium, it is best not to feed the fish.
How to reduce the maintenance of the aquarium?
- Attach the aquarium equipment as low as possible into the aquarium so that organic waste from the bottom can be sucked in well.
- Keep the aquarium away from the window. Instead of sunlight, the tank should be illuminated (at least 10 hours) with artificial light.
- Feed the fish wisely, the food should disappear 1-2 minutes after placement in the tank.
- Focus on effective plant cultivation. Sometimes you need to experiment with this topic in order to find a group of 3-4 species that will work well.
- Breeding fish and snails that feed on algae in an aquarium – that’s just additional support, of course.
When asked: how to clean the aquarium? – There should be only one answer: with your head. Aquarium cleaning should be based on general principles, but also take into account various factors, those indicated in the article and others, and after some time use your own experience. Sometimes it turns out that excessive zeal in this matter will do more harm to the fish than help.