Man cleaning fish tank

How to Clean a Fish Tank

Keeping your tank looking its best doesn’t have to be a major chore. You should be enjoying your fish not a slave to your tank and we have some quick tips to help you accomplish that.

  1. Understand the Nitrogen Cycle
    A tank keeping basic you want to master is the nitrogen cycle. During proper cycling process ammonia is converted into nitrite by bacteria present in your aquarium. Both ammonia and nitrite are substances that can become toxic to fish but a solid presence of good bacteria helps to convert the harmful compounds to nitrate, a much less harmful substance that can then be removed through regular water changes.
  2. Remove Organic Compounds
    Organic compounds are made up of carbon and hydrogen and most often broken into two categories; dissolved organic matter (DOM) and particulate organic matter (POM). These two categories include naturally occurring waste by-products from fish excrement and excessive food that is not eaten. Like ammonia above, organic compounds can be broken down by efficient colonies of good bacteria if they are present as well as used by some plants.
  3. Replenish Minerals
    Water quality that is degrading can mean a lack of minerals that could prove harmful to your fish population. One of the leading causes of death is osmotic shock which starts from osmotic stress. If you use RO or heavily filtered water this process can also remove necessary essential minerals that your aquatic environment needs to sustain life. Know what you are using and if it could be deficient. If it is, there are a number of additives on the market that can help eliminate this issue.

Cleaning 101
When it comes to tank maintenance, we suggest a weekly routine. Being faithful here will bring you more tank enjoyment than you realize. To start, test your water  for pH, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia at the bare minimum with salinity added to the list if you have a saltwater tank. There are a number of great test kits on the market that make this task simple. Log your results so you can see any trends or easily identify an issue if it arises. Then conduct a brief check of your equipment including filters or light systems to ensure that all everything is working as it should. More tank issues start from a clogged hose, broken pump impeller or filter issue than people realize. Once you water starts degrading, if you don’t resolve the issue, things can turn ugly quickly. Finally, do a minimum 10% water change each week. It’s a smaller amount of water than waiting and doing a larger one less often and will be less disruptive to the fish population. Use a gravel vac to remove the water and clean your gravel at the same time. Be sure to work in quarter of your tank sections so you can remember which one is next the following week. Be sure to use a quality water conditioner that not only makes your water save from Chlorine, Chloramine and Ammonia, but also provides some slime coat replacing properties to keep the natural armor of your fish healthy.

Always remember, the two things that most impact your tank’s water quality is over feeding with lower quality foods and lack of regular maintenance. Stay on top of these two things and you can eliminate many of the issues fish keepers deal with regularly.