In this article we are going to describe the best way on how to clean a betta fish tank without killing the fish

Required materials :

(1) Filter brush

(2) Old bath towels

(3) Paper towels

(4) Algae scraper/pad

(5) Razorblade (plastic blade for acrylic tanks)

(6) Bleach

(7) Bucket (use a new bucket that is for aquarium use only)

(8) Chlorine remover (aquarium water conditioner)

(9) Water siphon (gravel vacuum)

Steps on how to clean your aquarium :

(1) Your first step Is to start by giving the glass a good cleaning on the inside with an algae pad. You should take into consideration that there are a wide variety of algae scrapers on the market, which includes the long-handled scrubbers and magnetic scrubbers.

Note: (1) Make sure you buy algae pads at a pet shop instead of the housewares department of a regular store. Although they may look the same, the housewares pads can have soap or chemical residue in it. Meanwhile, the rubble doesn’t matter if you are cleaning your kitchen sink, but it can be detrimental to the health of your fish.

(2) For stubborn residue on the glass using a razor blade to scrape it off, then take care not to cut yourself in the process. If your aquarium is acrylic, make sure you use a plastic razor blade because standard razors will scratch the acrylic.

(2) Your second step involves cleaning the decorations and rocks inside the aquarium. Now once the inside glass is clean, remove immediately all the rocks, artificial plants, and decorations that have significant algae growth or are noticeably dirty. It is advisable not to clean them with soap or detergents. It’s challenging to remove any soapy substance altogether; even a trace can be harmful to fish. Usually, a perfect scrub with an algae scraper in warm water will remove the algae and dirt from rocks and plants.

Note : 

(1) For particularly stubborn cleaning problems make sure you prepare a 10 per cent bleach solution and soak the items for 15 minutes max then scrub any remaining residue off after that you’ll rinse well in running water then let air-dry to eliminate residual bleach. Make sure you don’t put them back in the aquarium until there is no more chlorine smell present. Also, you can rinse them in water that has dechlorinator (sodium thiosulfate) added to it to remove the chlorine. A live plant can also be bleached to remove algae from them. However, those stem plants are not tolerant of bleaching. To bleach live plants prepare a 5 per cent bleach solution, then soak the plants for two to three minutes, After that then you rinse well.

(2) Leave all rocks, decorations, and plants out of the tank while you vacuum the gravel. With that way, none of the debris stirred up from the stone will settle on them. Be sure to get a brand new bucket and designate it for aquarium use only. If you use a bucket that has had soap or detergent in it, then you could introduce unwanted chemicals into your aquarium which are very harmful to the fish.

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How to clean fish tank gravel

Cleaning with a vacuum kit :

A siphon vacuum gravel cleaner is mostly used to vacuum aquarium gravel. It works mainly by using gravity and hydrostatic pressure to suck dirt from substrates and help dispose of outside the tank. To use a siphon vacuum kit effectively, ensure that :

(1) The siphon tube is always higher than the aquarium being cleaned to allow water and dirt to flow out on gravity easily. 

(2) Get a clean bucket to empty the dirty solution you remove from the tank.

(3) No air bubbles must form in the vacuum tube; otherwise, the kit won’t work correctly.

(4) Let the tube get filled with all the dirt before you remove it from the tank.

Steps on how to vacuum your gravel

(1) Unplug the heater, filter, and air pump but leave your tank decorations, plants, and fish in the aquarium. Generally, the process should be quick and should not stress your fish too much.

(2) Get your aquarium gravel vacuum cleaning kit, and the old water bucket then places the bucket below the aquarium level then immediately you start the vacuum process by submerging the equipment in your tank. Make sure the siphon vacuum tube is wholly inside the tank.

(3) Start moving the tube inside the water in small up-down motions for about 2-4 inches above the gravel until water starts flowing through the pipe into the bucket below.

(4) Once you’ve established a flow, move the tube over the whole gravel surface, making sure you get all the grime. For more complete clean on your tank, move the gravel vacuum further into the substrate itself. The tube might suck in a few pebbles, but they should fall back once you raise the line.

(5) Once the water level has dropped to around 25-30 per cent of the water removed, meaning your tank is about 75% full, turn your gravel vacuum tube up while still inside the water, then take it from the tank and let it drain out through the tubing. The box might fill up before you get to the desired water level, empty the gravel vacuum and continue the vacuuming till you reach the desired level.

(6) When you are confident the gravel is reasonably clean, clear the cleaning area then put your heater, filter and air pump back into the tank.

How to clean tank gravel without a vacuum kit

Cleaning fish tank gravel without a vacuum is not easy, but it is not entirely impossible too. It’s not hard just that it consumes more time and effort. Plus there are some cons associated with this method. For one thing, you’ll need a lot of time plus you also need to move your fish to another tank and pour out the gravel. Which is quite stressful and disrupts the useful bacteria that have been found in your tank.

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Here are the following steps :

(1) Prepare a clean tank where you’ll move your fish while you clean the gravel. Then use a siphon or a cup to drive about 50% of your tank water to the holding tank.

(2) Transfer your fish into the new tank using a net. However, if you keep fish that have flowy fins like bettas, then you may need to use your hand to move them. Flowy fins and tails easily get tangled up in the net threading and could hurt the fish.

(3) Remove your heater, filter and air pump from the tank. Unlike when using a gravel vacuum kit, here you’ll also need to remove your plants and decorations then unplug electrical equipment like aquarium lights.

(4) In this step, there are two ways you can go about it. First, you can use a cup or a reasonably sized container to measure out the dirty gravel out and place it in a sieve for cleaning, or if your aquarium is not too massive, you can take the remaining water level dow enough then slowly pour the gravel into a holding pen.

 Rinse the dirty gravel in your sieve with running water or use a giant hose to do the washing. If you have your gravel in a holding pan, fill it with water and use your hands to move the gravel around then tip the pan slightly while shielding the gravel with your hand to pour out all the dirty water then rinse the gravel. Either way, make sure you don’t clean all the gravel reason because the portion that remains uncleaned will help keep nitrifying bacteria which will then recolonize your tank once it has been re-established.

(5) Once the gravel is clean and dry mix it with the portion let unclean then put it back into your tank then add your equipment and decoration then plug back electrical equipment then you prepare clean water set in the perfect conditions for your fish tank and refill it making sure the water is at the correct temperature.

(6) Add your fish back to the tank in the same way you removed them.

How to clean a tank without killing the fish

(1) Change 10-15% of your water every week to help expel excess dirt, including ammonia and nitrates from your tank. But if you have a reasonably clean tank, then you can stagger the schedule and instead do 20-25% water changes every 2weeks.

Note : (1) Make sure that the conditions of your water column remain the same even after the water change. As such, it is useful to note that maintaining your water parameters is especially a challenge if you decide to go the 25% route.

(2) Ideally, you want to make sure the water you use to refill your tank has a temperature akin to the column already in the aquarium. To do this, make sure you use lukewarm water to fill a tropical fish tank, albeit cold water is still useful when keeping fish that prefer water on the cooler side.

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(3) Another thing you do not want in your tank is excess dissolved elements and chemicals like chlorine, so make sure you consider using RO water during your water changes.

(2) Your substrate harbours the most dirt in your tank, even more than plants, rocks, and driftwood.

You, therefore, want to keep it clean by vacuuming it regularly. Luckily, using a gravel siphon kit is the furthest thing there is from technical. You only need to pass it over your substrate, making sure you target any visible dirt patches and debris.

(3) Clean your aquarium filter media. If you do not have a schedule for cleaning your tank filters already, then you may want to start by establishing one. I recommend cleaning the filter media at least once every month, coupled with a massive water change. Ideally, this monthly cleaning should also include vacuuming your gravel and washing your plants, decor, and aquarium glass. If you need to change your filter media, then it would be wise to do that at that time.

(4) Bleach your plants. Bleach dip your plants for 5 minutes in a concentration with one part bleach and 19 parts water. In case you have fragile plants like dwarf water lettuce, a 3 minutes dip is better to clean them, but also keep the plants alive.

Note : (1) Alternatively; you can opt to use vinegar to clean plants and decor as it is safer and perfectly reasonable and should not get into your tank by accident. Still, make sure you use vinegar sparingly as too much will buffer you aquarium temperature, something you do not want, especially with sensitive tropical fish like a discus.

(2) I have seen many aquarists who are not convinced that bleaching their plants and decor is always safe for fish, but it is. Bleach is especially helpful when dealing with algae and parasites in your tank. All you have to do is ensure your plants are thoroughly rinsed before you reintroduce them into your fish tank.

(5) Use algae scraper plus vinegar on your glass. This is the last tips for cleaning your tank with fish inside is concerning glass surfaces. This is especially important because algae notoriously hang on the wall and can be quite hard to get off quickly. Another common challenge, more so on aquarium covers is limescale, which appears as a white film on the glass surface.

Starting with your cover, splash a little vinegar solution from a spray bottle on your aquarium lid, then use an old (but clean) toothbrush to scrub any white residue on the glass surface. For better results, target the calcium patches directly then once you’ve removed all the limescale, you can do a final wipe with an aquarium sponge or algae scraper for a more refined finish. The scrapers also come in handy once you move to clean your fish tank walls, particularly when you have algae of whichever kind on there; including green spot algae and the likes. 


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