A clean aquarium is a healthy aquarium and although your tank may have a natural ecological system working for it, a thorough scrubbing every once in a while doesn’t hurt anyone as long as you’re careful.
Once a week maintenance
Once a week, check your filter strainers for clogging material, like plant leaves, roots, or anything else that might cause your filters to strain or simply not do an adequate job. Remove whatever you find and then check for algae. With a non-soapy scrubbing pad – wipe them clean. You never want to use soap while cleaning any part of your tank because you may inadvertently pass on toxic chemicals to your fish (regardless of how well you think you rinsed everything). The only place that’s appropriate for a soapy application is the outside of the tank!
Twice a month maintenance
Check your filters and clean them according to the instructions given by their manufacturers. You’ll want to again, remove any plant leaves, roots, slime, and algae with a non-soapy scrubbing pad. You can also check under the hood of the aquarium because this area can also attract algae growth.
Now because some algae can be hard to remove with simple scrubbing, you might have success with using a razor blade to scrape it off. You just have to be careful not to scratch any part of the aquarium (or yourself) while you’re scraping because scratches – no matter how small – can become breeding grounds for bacteria.
Only in extreme cases should you replace the entire contents of an aquarium (such as if you detect or discover a disease for example). If it’s necessary to do so, pour out the old water, clean the tank with any special solutions given to you by your vet, and refill the tank with water that has set in a separate container for at least three days. If you’re changing the water for reasons other than disease, try to keep a little of the old water and put it back into the tank filled with the new water.
Don’t Go Hog Wild With Cleaning
Fish aren’t neat-freaks like some of us are and constant tank cleaning can actually be detrimental. Some of the bacteria that accumulates in an aquarium is important to its existing ecological process.
An Ounce of Prevention…
You can make things easier on yourself and minimize the time spent cleaning your aquarium by taking advantage of nature’s own way of keeping tanks clean. Live sponges for example, take care of bacteria for you while aquatic snails fancy themselves with algae.