Fish are arguably the simplest pets to have: They don’t must be walked, they don’t eat quite a bit, and so they don’t take up very a lot room. Plus, aquariums add life and coloration to any house—when maintained correctly, they’re mainly residing artwork in your residence. But if you happen to suppose all it takes to look after a fish tank is a weekly water change, suppose once more: Cleaning and sustaining one isn’t so simple as it sounds. So earlier than you rush out to purchase a complete aquatic setup on a whim, learn on to find all the pieces it’s good to find out about correct fish tank upkeep (full with a step-by-step information on methods to clear one).

The Setup

When excited about the place to park your fish tank, there are just a few factors it’s good to think about. For one, water might be fairly heavy (nearly 10 lbs. per gallon!)—so an aquarium ought to relaxation on a really sturdy floor or stand. Even the slightest overhang may cause the container to crack or break underneath undue strain.

Secondly, keep away from inserting your tank in direct daylight, which may promote algae development. (Algae are crops that thrive in locations wealthy in mild, water, and vitamins—so when you have quite a bit in your tank, it’d imply you’re exposing its contents to an excessive amount of solar, overfeeding your fish—i.e.,greater than a pinch a couple of times a day—or not changing the water typically sufficient.)

Choose a location close to a grounded outlet, since most aquariums require electrical energy to run (and to ease the water-replacement course of, don’t decide a spot too removed from a sink). Last however not least, to maximise viewing pleasure, you should definitely decide a spot the place you spend loads of time!

The most necessary takeaway for aspiring aquarists? “Don’t assume one size fits all,” Hess notes. “Different fish species require different tank sizes and have different water requirements. Consulting an aquatic specialist will help ensure your fish has the right environment.”

How to Clean and Maintain a Freshwater Tank


  • A water changer or a gravel vacuum (plus a five-gallon bucket if you happen to’re utilizing a syphon)
  • A water conditioner (to take away chlorine from faucet water)
  • A take a look at equipment that checks for pH, ammonia, and nitrate/nitrite ranges
  • An algae scraper
  • Filter media (mesh bag, activated carbon, filter fiber, and filter pad)
  • Beneficial micro organism (for brand spanking new tanks)
  • A towel

    Step 1: Remove algae

    Use a long-handled brush or cleansing pads to wipe away algae buildup on the edges of your tank. Gently use your fingers to scrape off any algae from reside crops to make sure you don’t injury them within the course of. (Now’s additionally a very good time to prune any useless leaves off crops.) Remove any decor items which have algae development and use a toothbrush and heat water to scrub them.

    Step 2: Change the water

    It’s essential to alter the water in your fish tank frequently to curb the waste by-products (corresponding to ammonia and nitrites) and guarantee its pH stage stays inside secure limits. “Keeping the water clean helps maintain your water quality within the recommended parameters,” explains Dr. Laurie Hess, Director of Veterinary Medicine at Petco.

    Use a water changer or gravel syphon (coupled with a bucket) to interchange 10% to 25% of the water in your tank each two to 4 weeks. Direct the vacuum tube in an up-and-down movement, permitting it to select up and softly agitate the gravel in order that the detritus (fish feces and uneaten meals) goes up the tube and out of the tank. (Note that in case your aquarium accommodates sand, you’ll be able to’t use a water changer or syphon to scrub the ground mattress, because the superb grains will solely get caught within the tube.)

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    Lift the tube to launch the suction in order that the gravel drops again down. Move the vacuum tube barely over and repeat the method till your total aquarium has been cleaned. Don’t transfer the vacuum tube in a sweeping back-and-forth movement, since that can dislodge the detritus into the water and make it tougher to take away.

    Add dechlorinated water again into your tank, guaranteeing it’s on the identical temperature as the present water. Don’t permit your tank’s temperature to fluctuate greater than two levels inside a 24-hour interval to keep away from disrupting the fragile ecosystem. “Drastic temperature changes can be dangerous to the fish’s health,” Hess cautions.

    If you’ve gotten changed 20% to 25% of the tank’s water and haven’t completed going over the gravel, cease and refill the tank, then wait two weeks earlier than treating the remainder (since over-cleaning gravel can take away useful micro organism).

    Step 3: Add dietary supplements

    Mix in any extras, corresponding to reside plant meals or freshwater salt (which boosts gill operate).

    girl using a chemical test kit to measure the quality of water in a home aquarium

    Elva EtienneGetty Images

    Step 4: Change the filter

    Replace your tank’s filter as soon as a month. (Follow the directions offered by the product’s producer, since they range.)

    Step 5: Wipe up surrounding space

    Use a towel to shine away any water spots or spills. Be certain to scrub your palms earlier than and after dealing with your tank to keep away from contamination.

      How to Clean and Maintain a Saltwater Tank

      Additional Materials for a Saltwater Tank

      • Premixed saltwater (or aquarium salt mixed with reverse osmosis deionized water)
      • A five-gallon bucket
      • A refractometer or hydrometer (to measure salinity)
      • A submersible heater
      • A container with a powerhead (to flow into the water)
      • A protein skimmer

        Complete step 1—however for Step 2, comply with under as an alternative:

        Pour dechlorinated water right into a clear bucket and set the submersible heater to the temperature of the water in your tank. Having a powerhead contained in the container will assist combine the salt and facilitate fuel alternate. Hydrometers are temperature-sensitive when gauging particular gravity (or relative density), so minimizing diploma fluctuations is vital.

        Add marine salt based mostly on the producer’s directions for the quantity of water being changed inside your tank. Premix saltwater the night time earlier than a water change, guaranteeing that the particular gravity in your premix matches that of the water in your tank. Never let the water’s relative density change greater than .001 in a 24-hour interval. “Always make sure all the salt is fully dissolved before adding the water back into the aquarium,” Hess says.

        The knowledgeable additionally recommends investing in a protein skimmer, a supplemental system that filters out dangerous chemical compounds and natural waste. The helpful device deposits all of the gunk into a group cup, which must be cleaned weekly. Finish steps 3 via 5 as described above.

        Keep your fish tank in tip-top form and your superb finned mates will thanks—and your houseguests can be captivated!

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