Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Aquarium Maintenance and Cleaning Basics


Starting your fish tank is just the first step in your fish keeping hobby.  Proper aquarium maintenance and cleaning will help ensure that your aquarium stays clean and maintained, and your freshwater or saltwater fish alive and happy.

Regular fish tank maintenance is needed because your aquarium is a closed system.  Your aquarium has a much higher fish-to-water ratio than found in nature, and your water filtration system will never match that found in a natural ecosystem.  As a result,  without regular fish tank maintenance and cleaning, chemical buildup will occur – your water will naturally harden due to evaporation, your water pH will decrease over time due to decomposition of fish waste, and nitrate and phosphate buildup will occur.

Your fish tank maintenance and cleaning schedule will depend on the amount of time you have available.  But it is much better for your fish if you can commit to a regular and frequent maintenance and aquarium cleaning schedule for your fish tank. 

Aquarium Maintenance Supplies
Here are the basic fish tank maintenance supplies you’ll need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Gravel Vacuum with 5+ feet of tubing
  • Water quality testing kit(s)
  • Water conditioner to remove chloramines and chlorine
  • Algae glass cleaner
  • Reverse Osmosis Filter (saltwater)

Aquarium Maintenance Schedule
A proper fish tank maintenance and cleaning schedule should only require about 30 minutes a week, and will help save you money over the long run by providing a clean and well-maintained aquarium environment for your fish. Here is a basic recommended fish tank maintenance schedule for your aquarium:

Daily Fish Tank Maintenance

  • Make sure your equipment is running properly
  • Check your aquarium temperature
  • Feed your fish, observing their behavior.  Don’t overfeed!
  • Look for signs of disease or distress with your fish

Weekly Fish Tank Maintenance

  • Count your fish
  • Use a Gravel Vacuum to clean the gravel and extract 10-15% of the aquarium water
  • Replace 10-15% of your aquarium water with water prepared for your aquarium
  • Remove any dead plant material from your aquarium
  • Rinse your water filter media with water pulled from your aquarium
  • Conduct water tests – pH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia
  • Remove algae on your fish tank windows

Monthly Fish Tank Maintenance

  • Replace your filter media
  • Clean the top glass or acrylic cover of your aquarium to ensure proper lighting
  • Clean the exterior glass or acrylic with water & soft towel (after all, you want to be able to clearly see your fish!)


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  1. […] Part Three – Time to get Wet! You’ve done the research and have your basic aquarium equipment.  Now the guide helps you get setup by helping you decide where to place the tank, how to fill the tank and start your filtration, how to cycle your new aquarium, and how to conduct regular aquarium maintenance. […]

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