How and How Often Should I Clean my Tank?
Owning a pet requires a great deal of responsibility and cultivating a fish tank is no exception. Not only will you need to ensure that your tank is equipped properly and that your fish receive a healthy diet, but you will also need to clean your tank on occasion. Unless you have problems with excessive algae build-up, you should never have to perform a large-scale cleaning on the entire tank. You will, however, need to perform regular water tests and routine water changes in order to keep your tank water clean and clear. Fortunately, cleaning your aquarium is a relatively easy task thanks to the variety of tank cleaning equipment available online and in pet stores.
Cleaning Your Tank
Over time you may experience a build-up of algae on your tank walls and decorations. Unless your tank is going through a full-on algae bloom, algae can usually be cleaned up fairly easily. To remove algae from tank walls all you need is a basic algae scrubber. These tools are usually inexpensive and typically come with a long handle which makes them easy to use. Simply grip the algae scrubber by the handle and insert it into the tank. Scrub at algae growths on the tank walls and let the loosened debris sink to the bottom of the tank – any algae left floating in the water will eventually be sucked up by your aquarium filter. If you prefer not to get your hands wet while cleaning your tank, try using a magnetic algae scrubber. These tools consist of two magnets, one of which is affixed to a scrubber pad. All you have to do is place the scrubber pad inside the tank and use the other magnet on the outside of the tank to move it around, cleaning up algae as you go.
Another important aspect in keeping your tank clean involves performing weekly water changes. While scrubbing your tank walls is necessary to keep the tank itself clean, water changes are required to keep the water quality in your tank high. To perform a water change, use a gravel vacuum to siphon dirty water from the tank then replace it with freshly dechlorinated water. When siphoning aquarium water, dig the head of the vacuum into your substrate where solid wastes and uneaten fish foods are most likely to accumulate. Move the vacuum around the tank, concentrating on the areas around and beneath tank decorations, to remove as much waste as possible. If you are using sand as the substrate in your tank simply move the head of the vacuum an inch or two above the surface of the sand to siphon away debris. Unlike gravel, sand compacts and accumulated waste remains on the surface rather than sinking into the substrate.
How Often to Clean Your Tank
Keeping your aquarium clean involves more than just scrubbing the walls when necessary. In order to maintain high water quality in your tank, you must perform a water change of 10% to 20% of the tank volume once a week. Many aquarium hobbyists also recommend performing a larger 25% water change once a month. As water evaporates from your tank, some of the chemicals and toxins present in the water may be left behind – if you simply add more water to your tank without removing any of these toxins your water could become hard over time and the water quality may decline. Removing and replacing tank water on a weekly basis is the best way to ensure that the water chemistry in your tank remains stable and the water itself stays clean and clear. To keep an eye on the water chemistry in your tank it is wise to perform weekly water tests using an aquarium water test kit. Record the results of your tests in a notebook so you can get a feel for what the “normal” levels are for your particular tank.