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Deep cleaning aquariums is something many aquarists try to stay away from. We’re used to spring cleaning when it comes to our garages, patios, and cars, but aquatic habitats are certainly different situations because you should always provide the least amount of disruption to your species. Completely emptying out a fish tank so you can scrub everything off will involve taking out fish, plants, and invertebrates, and this is something you should avoid. It’s always better to deep clean in various stages so species aren’t bothered as much. Here are some recommendations on how you can give your saltwater or freshwater aquarium a nice spring cleaning without disrupting the ecosystem too much.
Give Yourself Two Days
Instead of completing the deep cleaning project in one afternoon, it’s better to do it over a period of a couple of days. You can dedicate the first day to the plants, rocks, and decorations, which can be left soaking in treated water overnight, before taking care of vacuuming, scraping, and changing the water the next day.
Prepare Buckets of Treated Water
All items you’ll be taking out of the aquarium should be thoroughly rinsed before they’re returned, and this means you should have plenty of conditioned water standing by. Don’t use tap water to rinse off plants—use tap water only for rocks or decorations.
Always Start with the Plants
If the plants need to be trimmed, make sure to do so while they’re still in the tank. After all, you want to see how they’ll look afterward. If you’re introducing new plants, you can test the placement after rinsing off with treated water. Rooted plants shouldn’t be removed unless you don’t want them anymore.
Clean Rocks and Decorations
This is a pretty easy step that should be completed with clean brushes and scrub pads that are specifically made for the aquarium industry so they don’t cause harm and are previously soaked in conditioned water. Never use soap or vinegar, only hot water. When dealing with pesky algae growth, you can try soaking the items in boiling water or scrubbing with a solution that’s 90 percent water and 10 percent bleach, but this will require extra soaking and rinsing with treated water that’s highly dechlorinated and has been placed in the sun for a few hours.
Clean the Aquarium Glass
Since you’ll be vacuuming the substrate toward the end of the spring cleaning, you can take your time and split this task into four sections for each of the walls. You can use a scrubber or an aquarium scraper to get rid of algae, but only on glass tanks. If you have acrylic surfaces, you can only use scrubbers or scrapers that are specifically designed for acrylic. You can clean or replace the tubing at this time, and don’t forget to check the condition of the biological filter media.
Vacuum the Substrate
When you do this, keep a close eye on the water level because you should never go below 50 percent (leaving 60 percent is best and less stressful for the fish). Once you’ve completed vacuuming, add treated water and deposit a dose of bottled bacteria just in case. Watch for rising ammonia levels.
Cleaning is only one aspect of properly caring for an aquarium. You’ll also need several important fish tank supplies, and you can find everything you need at Aquatic Warehouse, either by ordering from our website or coming to our store located in Kearny Mesa. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 858-467-9297 and one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives would be happy to assist you.