What To Do If My Fish Tank Water Is Cloudy – When it comes to cleaning, your fish tank is a lot like your kitchen sink: you have to stay ahead of the mess. Poor conditions (think: algal blooms) lead to stressed animals that are more susceptible to disease. Regular maintenance and small water changes will help your fish live a happy and healthy life.
So how do you clean a fish tank? Let’s see how to clean your freshwater aquarium and make sure that the creatures in your tank live their lives.
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Before you start cleaning, here is a list of things you need to properly clean your fish tank:
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to remove the fish from the tank during cleaning. In fact, they should be left alone because moving them will stress them out and in the worst case may harm them. Just move them slowly and carefully as you clean them.
Put on an oversized t-shirt and collect all your essentials in one accessible place. Then wash your hands and wrists thoroughly. Doctors often refer to this as “cleaning”, which helps prevent harmful substances from entering the aquarium water. Don’t forget to wash off the soap thoroughly.
When cleaning the aquarium, debris circulates around the tank and is easier to remove if it settles to the bottom rather than being absorbed into the filter. So turn this filter off while cleaning.
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Why disconnect the heater? When you take it out of the water, change the water and wipe the heater, it gets thrown into the air – and if you do it hot, it can set the car on fire. Pull it out and let it cool until you continue with the next steps.
First, you want to start working on the interior walls of the aquarium. There are many tools you can use to scrub or scrape the aquarium walls: scrapers, scrapers and more. The most important thing to remember is that you need to choose a tool that is compatible with the material of your tank. If you have a glass bowl, you can use harder, sharper tools to get the job done. If your tank is acrylic, using a tool like a razor can leave scratches on the tank – not what you want.
Pro Tip: If you’re not sure what material your tank is made of, choose tools designed for acrylic tanks that are gentle on all surfaces they touch. Some tools, like the Aqueon ProScraper Blade, come with a razor blade and plastic attachments that fit any tank.
An algae pad like Lifeguard’s Aquarium Algae Pad is a good tool to start with. Don’t forget to buy special aquarium cleaners; Other types of cleaning pads or sponges may contain soaps or chemicals that can harm fish. Again, depending on what type you have, choose a square made for glass or acrylic tanks. Even your old toothbrush can handle it in a pinch!
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Depending on your algae growth, scrubbing kelp beds may not be enough. If there is still stubborn algae after scrubbing, you can carefully scrape off the rest with a knife (an aquarium razor for glass containers; a plastic knife for acrylic aquariums).
Now it’s time to go with the interior. Remove artificial plants, decorations and large stones with algae growth and clean them. You can do this in the sink or in a special aquarium maintenance bucket with an algaecide and some warm water.
Do not use soap or detergents as these are very difficult to wash off completely and can be fatal to aquatic life.
If your decor still looks dirty after scrubbing, you can make a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water and soak the entire decoration in it for 15 minutes. Remove it from the bleach solution, then rinse everything again under running water. When you’re done, let your decor air dry to remove any bleach residue. You will know they are ready to return to the tank when there is no smell of chlorine flowing.
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Next we need to clean out the gravel – you know, the little pebbles that sit at the bottom of your tank. Here’s why: the older the tank, the more debris or decomposing remains from food scraps, fish waste and decaying particles tend to accumulate. This detritus is so fine that it can build up between small rocks and cause health problems for your feathered friends.
A gravel vacuum is your friend at this point. It is a tool for removing large amounts of dirty aquarium dust. Gravel vacuums usually consist of a plastic siphon attached to a length of pipe. All you have to do is dip the siphon in the water to create a suction that pulls the water from the tank through the flag into your bucket. (If you’ve ever seen someone put fuel in a gas tank, it’s the same process.)
How much suction is needed? It depends on how dirty your tank is. You know your cup is clean when the water flowing through the siphon is no longer cloudy, but a grey/brown colour.
Is it all over? Do not empty this bucket yet – you will use the water you just drew up in the next step.
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Pro tip: If you grow houseplants or have a garden, don’t throw that dirty water down the drain – use it to water your plants! This nutrient-rich water is essentially a liquid fertilizer and will make your plants very happy while adding useful life to your aquarium waste water.
First, squeeze the filter pad or sponge into a bowl full of water and rinse. (You can use the water you just removed from the tank.) Using tank water helps trap the bacteria that keep the water clean. Washing it down in the sink with regular tap water kills those good bacteria, or at least disrupts them.
When it’s time to replace your filter media, such as carbon, ceramic, or other material that goes into your filter and actually filters, this is a great option. Refer to the instructions on the filter media package to determine how and how often it should be changed.
Make sure you also wash the filter tube and other parts of the filter that come into contact with water.
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Important Note: If you are doing a thorough cleaning (such as scraping persistent algae off the tank walls or using bleach to disinfect the interior), skip this step for now. Heavy cleaning means you make a lot of changes to the tank, which can stress your fish. Additionally, cleaning the filter will further alter the process, potentially harming the inhabitants of your tank. Go to the next step and plan to come back in a week to clean the filter. Remember: regular light cleaning will make this process easier for both you and your fish.
Now it’s time to replace the black water pumped out of the tank with your vacuum. But don’t put plain old tap water in there! This fresh water has some special requirements:
Fill your bucket with tap water, use a thermometer to check the temperature and turn it up or down as needed. Then follow the directions on your water conditioner and add the correct amount to the number of liters you will put in your tank.
You are now ready to pour the purified water into your tank. Add it slowly so as not to shock your fish. Once all the water has been changed, you can put the heater back in the tank, turn it on and run the filter again.
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Finally, clean the outer walls of the aquarium. Although it is the outer walls, the part of the tank that cannot catch fish, it is important to use an aquarium safe cleaner here as well. Most household glass cleaners contain ammonia and other chemicals that are toxic to fish, so avoid placing them near your underwater friends.
Opt for plain white vinegar on a paper towel instead. It is inexpensive, non-toxic and leaves surfaces virtually streak-free. Afterwards, you can use a clean and dry paper towel or bath towel to give your aquarium a perfect shine.
Yes, keeping the tank clean helps keep the aquarium water clear and beautiful. But there is another important reason to clean the tank regularly: the health of the fish.
When nitrates and nitrites, byproducts of fish waste and decomposing food waste build up in your aquarium water, algae blooms can harm the health of your fish. Fish stressed by poor water quality are more susceptible to disease,
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