How Often Should I Clean My Fish Tank

Many newbie aquarium hobbyists do not know how frequently they should clean their tanks. Many even assume that since their fish tanks have filters then they are not supposed to clean them because they are clean by the filters.

However, as any experienced aquarium hobbyists will tell you, you need to clean your tank frequently whether it has a powerful multistage filter or not. You need to clean it even if it is a self-supporting aquarium. 

This is because if you don’t clean your fish tank often, you will make the conditions in it unsuitable for your fish. This will make your fish stressed and could affect their immunity. So if you want your fish to stay in a clean and healthy environment where they can enjoy their life, you need to clean your fish tank often. 

In this post, you will learn how often you should clean your tank. 

How Often You Should Clean Your Tank

There are no strict guidelines or rules on how often you should clean your fish tank. There are no rules because fish tanks are very different. Some are big, others are small. Some are freshwater tanks, others are saltwater tanks. Some have powerful filters, some don’t.

Some have sterilizers, others don’t. Some have one fish, others have multiple fish. All these many differences affect how often a fish tank should be cleaned. For example, a fish tank without a powerful filter should be cleaned more often than a fish tank with a powerful filter. 

However, with the above said, you should do a bit of cleaning at least once every week and you should thoroughly clean your tank every month to be on the safe side. 

If you want to know exactly how often you should clean your tank based on its size and other factors, check out the general guidelines below. 

Daily

Cleaning your fish tank daily is not really a good idea. In fact, it could be detrimental to your fish. Because if you clean your tank daily you will probably prevent beneficial bacteria from thriving inside your tank. And this will make your tank less capable of eliminating ammonia and other toxic fish wastes. So do not clean your tank daily.

The one thing you can do daily is to inspect your tank for signs of trouble. By inspecting different aspects of your tank every day or every other day, you will become familiar with everything in it. This will make it easy for you to notice any change or changes for further inspection. 

The things you should inspect daily or every other day in your tank include the color of the water, the condition of the plants in the water, the condition of the gravel, the condition of the décor, and the condition of its walls. 

In addition, you should also inspect the behavior of your fish, the color of your fish, and the condition of your fish’s scales, fins, and tail. 

As mentioned, by inspecting different aspects of your tank and your fish daily, you will be able to quickly discover any emerging issue and address it quickly. For instance, if you notice any sign of too much ammonia in the water, you can do a fractional water change and inspect your filter to see if it is working right.

Weekly

As mentioned earlier, it is best to clean your tank every week. This is regardless of whether you notice any issues in your tank. 

You should particularly make it a mission to clean your tank every week if you have a five-gallon or ten-gallon tank. This is because the water in such small tanks usually becomes dirty and toxic much faster than the water in bigger tanks. This is because of the small volume of such small tanks.

So if you do not want your fish to swim in dirty water or to be affected or killed by toxic and harmful chemicals, you should clean your tank every week.

The weekly cleaning should at the very least include a change of water. The change should obviously be partial to avoid eliminating beneficial bacteria. It should also involve scraping algae on decorations and tank walls. 

As mentioned, if you don’t clean small water tanks often, you could quickly end up with a dirty and toxic tank that will be very dangerous for your fish. If you have a tank that is bigger than ten gallons, you don’t need to clean it every week. However, it is good practice to do so because it prevents the buildup of toxic ammonia and detritus in your tank.

If your tank is bigger than 60 gallons, it is best to clean it every two weeks as cleaning it weekly is not really necessary.

Monthly

You should make it your mission to clean your tank thoroughly every month. This is regardless of whether it is small or big in size. Because cleaning your tank thoroughly every month eliminates toxic ammonia and other chemicals. It also eliminates detritus and debris and prevents the buildup of fungi and algae. 

So if you want your fish to stay in a clean and healthy environment that will not make them susceptible to common fish diseases, you should thoroughly clean your tank every month.

A thorough cleaning session should at the very least involve a 50% water change, the scraping/ wiping of every surface inside the tank, the gentle cleaning of filter media (to avoid eliminating beneficial bacteria), the replacement air stones, and the testing and recording of water parameters including the pH, nitrate, and ammonia levels. 

So it is definitely a lot of work. Nevertheless, it is very important work to make sure the ecosystem you have built remains balanced and conducive for your fish. 

It is also good practice to check whether your fish food, your water conditioner, and your test kits have expired at the end of every month. Because if you don’t, you could end up unintentionally harming or killing your fish in one way or the other.

Quarterly

You should do a deep clean of your tank every quarter of the year. 

Deep cleaning is much more time and energy consuming than thorough cleaning but it is absolutely necessary every three months of the year. This is because it ensures everything is sparkling clean and everything is working optimally in your tank. 

To deep clean your fish tank, you should begin by scooping your fish and plenty of water with a fishbowl. You should then switch off every equipment/ system supporting your fish tank. After switching off every system, you should proceed to unplug them and inspect everything. 

If there is something that needs to be repaired, you should repair it or replace it. After repairing and replacing equipment, you should thoroughly clean everything in your tank. This should at the very least include taking out and scrubbing everything inside your tank including ornaments, the inside walls, and so on.

When thoroughly cleaning your tank, you should avoid killing all beneficial bacteria. Because if you do, it will be very problematic for your tank. The best way to avoid killing beneficial bacteria from your tank is to avoid doing a 100% water change, to avoid disturbing the filter media (only remove the debris), and to avoid disturbing the gravel too much. 

How to Clean Your Tank

To clean your tank, you should begin by cleaning your hands thoroughly to remove all pathogens and bacteria. You should then rinse your hands to avoid introducing any harmful detergent chemicals into your aquarium.

You should then proceed to scoop aquarium water into a bowl and then to fish your fish using a fishnet and quickly put them in the bowl.

After removing your fish, you should use a scraper to scrape off algae from the glass of the tank. You should also scrape off algae from any other surface in the water.

Next, you should pick fallen leaves and uneaten food from the bottom of your tank and clean the top of the gravel without disturbing it a lot.

Next, you should do a water change. A 30 percent water change is usually advised during monthly cleaning sessions. So remove 30% of the water in your tank and add the same amount of water (make sure it is conditioned).

At this point, you are basically done. You should pour your fish and the water it is in back into the now-clean aquarium.

Final Word

You should clean your tank weekly to be on the safe side. Doing a thorough clean every month is recommended for all types of tanks. A deep clean is recommended every quarter to ensure that everything is working right and the environment inside the tank remains conducive for fish.