How To Clean A Small Fish Tank – Do It Effortlessly In 14 Steps

How To Clean A Small Fish Tank – Do It Effortlessly In 14 Steps

It is essential to make the tank’s conditions optimal to keep your fish healthy. A hygienic tank does not only look nice, but it also maintains your fish’s health and happiness. 

Metabolites and nitrates grow up with time which affects the comfort of the species and the tank’s appearance. 

However, most aquarists buy filters to keep the water clean, but even the super-quality filters of the market cannot maintain the aquarium exceptionally clean and hygienic. You have to clean it with proper check and balance, by time.

Here are some detailed steps about how to clean a small fish tank and essential things you will require to clean the tank, Such as:

  • Algae scraper
  • Plastic blade for acrylic tanks
  • Bleach
  • Gravel vacuum
  • A bucket that is for aquarium use only
  • Glass cleaner made for aquariums only
  • Filter media
  • Filter brush
  • Old towels
  • Paper towels
  • Chlorine remover (aquarium water conditioner)
  • Two fishnets
  • Temporary fish tank
  • Required quantity of freshwater

Steps – How To Clean A Small Fish Tank 

Clean your aquarium in the following order:

  • Inside glass
  • Decorations such as rocks, plants, etc.
  • Gravel (or the substrate)
  • Outside glass and fixtures
  • Filters

I have made it simpler with more detailed steps. Now, have a look at the following steps to clean your fish tank: 

1. Turn Off Electrical Equipment

First of all, turn off the electrical equipment to prevent any danger or harmful effects. It is necessary to turn off all power-driven equipment to clean a dirty fish tank.  

Unplug carefully any electric-driven decorations, bubblers, or filters, and remove them from the aquarium. Only stones and rocks (substrate matters) will stay in the tank. In this way, it will be easier to handle the next steps. 

You might damage heaters and filters during cleaning. However, keeping them in the dry air is not an ideal practice. So ensure that you have arranged some water before taking equipment out.

2. Remove Algae

Algae grow eventually with time in the fish Aquariums. The leading cause of spreading algae is the light and nutrients from the fish wastages. 

The algae growth can keep under control by regular water changes so that the nitrate level does not go too high. 

To avoid this constant growing algae problem, you can have algae-eating aquarium species like algae-eater fish, snails, or freshwater shrimp into your tank. 

Avoid placing the tank under direct sunlight. It will help to decrease the number of algae due to less light.

When cleaning your tank, removing algae is a tricky process, and do it carefully. You can remove algae from the sides of the tank with a scrubbing pad or magnetic scraper. 

You can use a special glass or a plastic safe pad to clean the sides and walls of the tank. 

However, make it a monthly routine to remove excess algae from the tank.

3. Wipe the Glass

Fish aquariums are usually glass-made. To Wiping out the glass, make sure your scrubbers are safe to use on glass, and it cannot make any scratch or marks on the glass. 

You have to be careful while cleaning the glass as glass is fragile and could break out easily. 

Do not use a bleach solution, soap, or other cleaning detergents for cleaning, as these are dangerous for fish. 

4. Prune The Plants

Trimming dead leaves and overgrown foliage is compulsory to keep your aquarium optimal. 

Cut the tall stem plants a few inches off the top and replant them into the substrate. If the plants spread into unwanted areas, prune them out and plant them elsewhere. 

If your tank’s floating plants wrapped the whole water surface, remove them around 30% to 50% so that the plants under the water surface can get sufficient light and fish get an adequate amount of oxygen.

5. Remove All Decors 

After cleaning the inside glass of the tank, removing algae, and trimming plants, it’s time to remove decorative items covered with a considerable amount of algae making their appearance dirty. 

However, it is not compulsory to remove decorative toys/plants and other accessories every time you clean. It depends on- how dirty they are.

6. Clean The Decors

Now it’s time to clean all the decorative items and accessories properly, and you should prepare a little amount of 10% bleach solution and soak the decors into it for fifteen minutes. 

To remove algae from the decors, you need to have a good scrub, an algae scraper, and warm water. Hopefully, these are enough to remove dirt and algae from the things.

You can use a new toothbrush (only used for cleaning the aquarium) or an algae pad to rinse and clean things. 

Scrub them all to clean even a slight amount of dirt and algae, rinse well in running water, and let them dry in the air to remove the remaining bleach. 

Do not try to put items back into the tank until the chlorine smell vanishes. You can add some sodium thiosulfate to eliminate the chlorine.

While doing a cleaning task, make sure your hands are clean, and no soap is left as soap is very harmful to the fish. 

So, never use any detergent or soap directly or indirectly for cleaning. The toxicity of soap can harm the fish, and fish will die from it.

7. Clean The Filters

Clean your filters with water and white vinegar. Then scrub it with a brush, specifically a filter cleaning brush, to eliminate any algae and let it air dry. 

Replace the filter media.

It would be best to clean the filter after two weeks of cleaning the tank because the filter system consists of some beneficial bacteria, which helps seed and make up the loss of bacteria during cleaning. 

After a few weeks, change your filter elements (especially chemical filter media like ammonia absorbers, ion-exchange resins, or carbon.) 

Finally, make sure that you have cleaned every part of the filter, including the tubing. 

The video might help you to guide aquarium filter cleaning.

8. Remove Fish From Tank

It would be best to keep your fish present in the tank during cleaning. Removing fish from the tank would be endangered stress, injuries, shock, disease possibilities, and critical complications. 

But if it is essential to remove your fish from the tank, you can remove it with some tricks and tips such as:

  • Catch your fish gently in a net, bag, or cup. If they are frightened, they can flechette and injure themselves or pull-apart their fins due to their try to get rid of a capture. This thing will make the procedure more difficult and threatening.
  • You can use a small bowl, cup, or beaker filled with distilled water as a temporary tank. Do not let the fish keep in tanks washed with soaps or detergent as it could be harmful and toxic for the aquatic pets. You can also use the small plastic bag with a zip.
  • Your fish can jump from small containers, so it would be best to cover them with a lid. If you do not have the container’s cover, you can have a layer of plastic wrap, a plate, or a dish over the container’s top.
  • Put the temporary container in a protective, comfortable, and safe place while cleaning the bigger tank. Prevent your fish from the direct sunlight that can increase the water temperature at an extreme level.

9. Scoop Out Some Of The Tank Water And Save

Carefully, Scoop out some of the tank water into a container for two reasons. First, you will reuse it to get beneficial bacteria. And second, if you remove fish from the tank, you can keep them in it. 

 It will let the fish stay comfortable and feels used to an environment with less shock in their delicate constitutions.

But be careful not to pour your fish along with water during putting back to the main tank because it can cause any injury or stress to the species.

Remember, the primary intention of saving a portion of water is to preserve beneficial bacteria.

10. Vacuum The Substrate

One of the most critical steps in your small aquarium cleaning is to vacuum the substrate in the tank. 

This step is not that hard with appropriate techniques. Just put the gravel vacuum suction near the substrate to suck out food leftover and waste. 

Also, notice the amount of food leftover you see while vacuuming the substrate. 

If there is a vast amount of extra food, consider your fish to feed less frequently or in reduced quantities.

Here is a detailed video on using gravel vacuum for fish tank cleaning.

11. Add Water Back Into The Tank

You have to use the fresh water mixing with the stored water, scooped out, and preserved because it is necessary to ensure the bacteria’s existence. 

Turn on the pump as soon as possible (follow the next step) and start flowing immediately into the tank because the fish feels happy in the flowing water. 

Check the water temperature while flowing in to ensure it is not too hot or cold for the species. 

Fix your conditioner when it neutralizes chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, and other chemicals. 

Make sure about water conditions and parameters before adding the fish back into the tank.

12. Perform Test Of Added Water

Test your tank’s water quality to ensure it is healthy. To get a reliable result, use good-quality water test kits. 

If you get the pH and other water parameters are in good condition, it is time to add fish back into the tank.

13. Turn On Equipment

However, you just finished cleaning the tank; it may look uglier than ever, with all that unsettled dust clouding up the water. 

But do not worry, turn on the heater and filter and all pieces of equipment again. Within an hour or so, the debris will settle down or get sucked up by the filter.

By this time, you proceed on adding fish back to it. 

14. Add Fish Back Into The Tank

When it’s time to return your fish to the tank, make sure you do it with care and affection (literally). 

Make sure everything is ready, and the home is comfortable & cozy for your beloved pets. 

The tank will take some duration for cleaning and post-cleaning tasks. But, the quicker you return your fish to the aquarium, the happier and healthier your fish will be.


How To Clean A Small Aquarium - Conclusion

Having a fish tank is fantastic! The cleanliness of the tank is essential no matter it is small or big.

Aquarium wastes can be harmful as deadly for your fish. So, it is utterly vital to clean your tank with time. 

Cleaning a small aquarium is relatively more straightforward. Make a cleaning routine along with your daily routine tasks. 

I hope this article will help you clean and maintain your fish tank perfectly. Do not hesitate to put your comment. 

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