Keep Your Fish Tank Clean

12 Creative Hacks to Keep Your Fish Tank Clean

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Morgan from The ExpertAquarist has 12 very useful and time-saving hacks to share with the Fish Tank World audience on how to keep your fish tank clean and reduce the frequency of your cleanings. 


Many would agree that it’s a big headache to have to clean their fish tank at the end of a hectic week. I agree to that with all my heart, and why wouldn’t I?

It takes me a total of two hours (if not more) to make my aquarium sparkling clean. While the end result is satisfying, I worry about adding more fish to my tank because more fish equal a bigger mess to clean every week.

12 hacks to keep your fish tank clean

But with some trial and error, I have found 12 hacks to help keep my fish tank clean and make the occasional deep-clean a bit easier. I hope they will help you out! However, before you get started, make sure you don’t get carried away and over clean your tanks.

Many people do not realize that there is a fine line between clean and over-cleaning . Excessive cleaning may wipe out the beneficial bacteria that is necessary to convert the harmful byproducts of your tank into less harmful substances, which can later be removed with water.

Below are 12 quick tips that can help reduce how often your tank will need a large-scale cleaning.

1. Buy an Aquarium Water Testing Kit

Whether you have a Saltwater or Freshwater, you need to check your tank parameters once a week. To do this you will need to buy an aquarium water test kit. When you are done with the testing, record the results and compare the results from week to week. If there are any significant differences – you will know that there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.


2. Change Your Tank Water Every 2 Weeks Rather Than Monthly

I recommend regular water changes of 20% to 30% water every 2 weeks instead of doing all of the water once a month. This is a major time-saver and is better for your fishes health!

3. Use an ‘Aquarium Cleaning Pump Kit’ While Performing Water Changes

To clean your tank completely you need a gravel vacuum by your side. The gravel vacuum will pull out all the accumulated toxins, debris and solid waste products from your fish tank’s substrate and help maintain a natural balance in your fish tank.

4. Make A DIY Water Exchange System

It is time-consuming to replace gallons of water from your fish tank every time you are cleaning it. If you own a large aquarium, then the hassle is even bigger.

To make the task of exchanging water easier you can build a DIY water exchange system with PVC pipe. The beauty of doing-it-yourself is that you get to customize this system according to the size of your tank. These easy-to-find materials needed are available at your local hardware store.

5. Make A Magnetic Algae Scrubber Tool

Since we are talking about DIYs, here is another amazingly useful tool that you can make from scratch. Just purchase algae scrub pads from your local pet store (or online, if you are lazy like me). Then attach a strong magnet to it using some fish-safe glue. You can now place the scrubber inside the tank and use another magnet to pull it around. Voila!

6. Plant Hornwort in Your Fish Tank

Having any sort of plant in your fish tank is the easiest way to increase oxygen levels which in turn improves the living conditions for your fish. I specifically mentioned Hornwort because it not only produces oxygen but also absorbs the harmful nitrogen from tank water. Thus you are creating a more superior living and breathing conditions for your fish. Your fish will be whispering their thanks to you.

7. Clean Your Tank Decorations with A Bleach Solution

You may have decorated your fish tank with artificial colorful starfish, seahorses and/or stones. Over time, these pieces will accumulate algae and scale. Instead of scrubbing it piece by piece, what you can do is prepare a 10% bleach solution – soak your materials for 15 minutes in it – scrub it (the scale can be removed easily now) then rinse thoroughly with water before putting them back again.

8. Change Carbon Filter Media Every Month

Carbon filter media helps to eliminate dissolved toxins from your fish tank water. However, carbon loses its toxins absorbing ability after 3 to 4 weeks. So you have to keep changing this filter media accordingly for the greater good. Moreover, if you want additional toxin-absorbing power, take some carbon filter inserts and put them in a cut off pantyhose. Hang this pouch in your tank and rinse weekly and replace it every time you replace your carbon filter media.

9. Clean Aquarium Fixtures and Glass

Cleaning the fingerprints and water spots from the outer glass of your fish tank are equally important as cleaning the insides of your tank. Buy an aquarium-safe lime cleaner to clean your aquarium glass and fixtures. Rinse thoroughly with water before putting it back again.

10. Introduce New Friends to Your Fish Tank

To clean your tank from inside you can introduce some specific fish species that eat algae. One thing to remember here is that you should only place those species in your tank which are compatible with your existing fish. If you have a freshwater tank, introduce Sucking-Catfish, snails and plecostomus. On the other hand, if you have saltwater tanks, introduce turbo snails, Tangs and hermit crabs. These will help eat away the algae in your fish tank.

11. Limit The Growth of Algae

If you reduced the light your fish tank gets, the growth of algae will be reduced. Always remember, the more light your fish tank gets, the more algae it will grow.

12. DO NOT Overfeed Your Fish

Every time you put some extra food for your fish (because you love them, I know), you are increasing the time you have to spend cleaning your tank. This is because the leftovers that float around raise the level of toxic chemicals in water. The tip here is to watch your fish when they are feeding if they begin to slow down stop adding more food.

Final Considerations

The take away of this article is that you should understand that keeping your tank clean is an ongoing process. We all hate cleaning but it is a must (sorry about that). I hope these 12 hacks to keep your fish tank clean will minimize how often you have to clean your tank.

Before we end, let’s talk about a few traditional cleaning strategies. After all, the traditional methods help too.

Use Quality Cleaning Supplies: You sure do not want to mess with the quality of the cleaning supplies that you are getting for the tank. When I say, ‘cleaning supplies’, I literally mean everything including the water, algae pad, bleach and filter media.

An algae pad is a great way to clean the inside glass parts of your fishing tank. You can use the regular cleaning materials to clean the outer parts but when it comes to the inner areas that your fish will have access to, an algae pad is the way to go about it.

Many people worry too much about cleaning the inner parts of a tank that they forget about the outer layers. That’s a big mistake. Fortunately, it is way easier to clean the outer ends of a fish tank. Take a regular cloth and rinse it with water (or glass cleaner). Then gently use the cloth to clean the outer layers of the fish tank.

The top layer of a fish tank will always attract more dust than the side layers. I would recommend removing the dust of the top layer at least one time a week (like you do for the other furniture of your home).

Remember one thing; all these hacks will only help you if you use them on a routine basis. Aquarium cleaning is a whole lot of work if you want to do it once in a month, but if you do it weekly or biweekly, things get easier. So schedule your aquarium-maintenance-routine accordingly, and love your fish more!

What many people do not realize is that there is a fine line between large-scale cleaning and optimum cleaning. Excessive cleaning may wipe out the beneficial bacterium that is necessary to convert the harmful byproducts of your tank into less harmful substances which, later, can be removed with water. And more, it does not take all of your time. Here are 12 creative hacks to keep your fish tank clean you can use without investing all your free time.