How to clean fresh water fish tank?All You Need to Know

If you have a beautiful aquarium full of charming and enticing fish and are wondering How to clean fresh water fish tank? You’ve come to the right place. This is your one-stop destination for acquainting yourself with an easy and handy procedure.

A clean fish tank is appealing to the eye and creates a comfortable environment for your fish. It’s critical to keep your tank water conditions perfect in order to keep your fish healthy. This necessitates regular cleaning and care to help sustain the fragile ecosystem in the tank.

If your aquarium’s water isn’t kept clean, it can quickly become toxic to your fish. You will never need to go for a complete water change if you maintain and clean your fish tank properly.

In fact, by opting for complete water changes, you often end up eradicating all of the beneficial microorganisms that have accumulated in the tank; the right approach is necessary.

Furthermore, even if you are a complete beginner, cleaning your fish tank can be as simple as walking in the park with the appropriate knowledge.

Therefore, to comprehend how to clean fresh water fish tanks, what tools you’ll need, the advantages of cleaning your fish tank, and the best technique to clean fresh water fish tanks, dive into this article and obtain a thorough insight. 

How to clean fresh water fish tank?

how to clean fresh water fish tank

In order to obtain a healthy existence of your fishes, it is absolutely critical to ensure a steady and clean atmosphere within the aquarium. Follow these steps to receive a handy freshwater fish tank cleaning experience and get your aquarium back in shape in no time.

Preparation is the first step.

To begin the cleaning process, gather the supplies listed below.

  • Glass Scraper or Razorblade (plastic blade for acrylic tanks)
  • Paper towels/Old bath towels
  • Filter media
  • Water Conditioners
  • A Large bucket (ensure it is only ever used for cleaning your aquarium so that the households chemicals don’t get into your tank)
  • Algae scraper/pad ( a magnetic cleaner is generally recommended)
  • A siphon gravel vacuum
  • Water (the quantity and type will depend on how much you need to replace and whether you have a saltwater or freshwater tank)
  • Filter Brush
  • Glass cleaner (made for aquariums)
  • The Fish Net

Unplug all of your aquarium’s electrical components, including the heater, filter, and any pumps. Remove any huge ornaments or decorations. Remember to proceed slowly so as not to disturb any debris at the bottom of the tank.

Artificial plants can be removed if they need to be cleaned, but live plants should never be removed because the root growth would be disrupted.

The next step is to extract the water.

Every 2-3 weeks, you’ll need to replenish 10-20 percent of the water in your aquarium. Because the majority of aquariums are too heavy to carry, you’ll need a siphon to remove the water from the tank and a bucket to replace it.

Small bits of gravel should be sucked up with the siphon; the waste, along with some water, will be pulled into the bucket through the tube, and the gravel will fall back into position.

Slow down the siphoning process by blocking the tube’s end with your thumb, and make sure no gravel gets into the tube. This procedure removes the water and cleans the gravel by eliminating a lot of the waste that has accumulated over time.

Step Three, Get Rid of the Algae

To keep a clear view of your fish, scrub the tank walls with an algae scraper. Slicing through any severe algae patches should be a piece of cake if you have the blade attachment.

Just be careful not to catch any substrate underneath the algae scraper; otherwise, the glass or acrylic will be scratched.

The next step includes Cleaning the Rocks and Decorations.

Remove any pebbles, artificial plants, or decorations that have considerable algae development or are visibly unclean once the inner glass has been cleaned. Abstain from the use of soap or detergent to clean them.

Soap is difficult to eliminate entirely, and even a trace of it can kill the fish. Algae and grime are usually removed from rocks and plants with a good scrub with an algae scraper in warm water.

Prepare a 10% bleach solution and soak the goods for 15 minutes to solve extremely persistent cleaning challenges. Scrub away any leftover residue, rinse thoroughly under running water, then air-dry to remove any remaining bleach.

Please don’t put them back in the tank until the chlorine smell has gone away. You can also remove the chlorine by rinsing them in water containing a de-chlorinator (sodium thiosulfate).

While vacuuming the gravel, remove the rocks, decorations, and plants from the tank. This will ensure that none of the gravel’s debris settles on them.

The fifth step is to clean the outside glass and fixtures. 

Clean the hood, light, tank top, and outside glass after cleaning the inside of the aquarium. It is strongly advised that you use vinegar or an aquarium-safe cleaner and that you thoroughly rinse the surfaces with a clean moist towel.

Cleaning the filter is the sixth step. 

The pebbles, plants, and other decorations can be returned to the tank once the outside surface has been thoroughly cleaned.

After that, wait a few weeks before cleaning the filter, wondering Why put it off any longer? Well, beneficial bacterial populations on plants, rocks, and gravel were disturbed by the thorough cleaning you just completed.

Fortunately, many beneficial bacteria live within the filter media, so the ecosystem hasn’t been completely disrupted. However, changing the filter at the same time could result in a severe ammonia increase because there aren’t enough good bacteria left to clear the toxins.

Avoid using tap water to clean your filter since it will eliminate the good bacteria that has built up and is important for your tank. You may need to clean and replace the media in your water filter (determined by the variety and quality of the filter you use).

If your filter has carbon, ammonia absorbers, or ion-exchange resins, it will need to be replaced every few weeks because it can no longer absorb materials. Cleaning the rest of the filter, including the tubing, should be done with a filter brush.

The final step requires refilling the water tank. 

Finally, you can fill the tank with fresh, clean water that is the same temperature as the existing aquarium water.

Because human fingertips can detect temperatures to within one or two degrees, simply adjust the faucet until the tap water is the same temperature as the hot water. Fill the bucket with tap water after emptying the old tank water (which can be used to feed indoor and outdoor plants).

The container’s content can be dechlorinated with de-chlorinator (dosed based on bucket volume) or straight to the aquarium (dosed based on aquarium volume). You can also add liquid fertilizer and root tabs to the substrate at this time.

How Often Should You Clean Your fresh water fish tank?

There are no outright rules when it comes to cleaning your fish tank on a regular basis. It is dependent on a number of parameters, including the size of the tank, the filter system, and the number and type of fish.

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However, you should strive to make a partial water change in your fish tank every two to three weeks, or more frequently if you have a high number of fish in your tank.

Because it can impair your tank’s PH levels (and more), as well as be stressful for your fish, a complete fish tank water change should be done only when absolutely necessary.

Furthermore, A magnetic tank cleaner can be installed on the glass walls of your fish tank and used to clean away the algae off the side of your tank if you find that your fish tank walls are building up with a level of algae. You can accomplish this as often as you like because it poses no risk to your fish.

Nevertheless, enlisted below are some basic rules to follow that will assist you in creating a schedule that is appropriate for your aquarium. 


Cleaning the tank on a regular basis isn’t necessary, but making daily observations might help you assess whether the tank is being cleaned frequently enough to maintain your fish health.

For a few moments, assess the fish to ensure that they all appear healthy and are acting normally, with nice color, clean scales, and fins that are not clamped, slimy, or ragged. Remove any dead fish immediately.

Even if it’s been less than a week since the last cleaning, if your fish appear anxious, sluggish, or gulping for air, it’s time to undertake a partial water change.


It may be reasonable to change the water every other week or even once a month in large, well-established aquariums, but in most circumstances, water changes should be done once a week to keep the fish tank clean.

Approximately one-fourth of the water should be removed and replaced with purified water. Clean the gravel with a gravel vacuum and remove extra algae off ornaments using a sponge or scraper.


Once your tank is properly established and your fish are healthy, you only need to test the water for nitrate, ammonia, and pH levels approximately once a month. Please keep track of the same and ensure they’re consistent on a monthly basis.

If the levels begin to fluctuate, your fish appear stressed or ill, or the water gets hazy or colored, it’s the indication and time to test more frequently.

Once a month, clean the filter media or cartridges using the replacement water that was removed during the water change. Check for build-up on air stones and clean or replace them by boiling them in clean water.


Twice a year, turn off and unplug all of the equipment and properly inspect it (clean it if required). Hoods and light fixtures, tank pump, filter, as well as aquarium heater are all included.

As needed, replace light bulbs and filter media, and double-check that everything is in working order. To remove dust, grime, and wet spots from the hood and pump housing, wipe them down.

Intensive Cleaning 

Except in exceptional situations, deep cleaning, which involves removing everything from the tank and scrubbing it clean, should be avoided.

Cleaning the fish in this manner is not only distressing for them, but it also destroys the beneficial bacteria that digest fish waste and keep nitrate levels low.

Deep cleaning can be deterred with regular cleaning, which includes partial water changes and filter media cleaning, at least once a week. Deep cleaning is recommended only in the event of a disease epidemic that cannot be controlled by other methods.

What tools do you need to clean your fish tank?

Maintaining a freshwater fish tank is a never-ending battle that requires time and persistent effort. Suppose you want to keep your beautiful, colorful fish healthy.

In that case, you must first scrape off the aquarium algae, clear out your murky water, and ensure that the environment is suitable for the aquarium fish. In fact, you might wind up with a lot of dead fish if you don’t.

However, when it comes to cleaning out the aquarium, many fish owners are easily frustrated. And this is mainly because they don’t have access to a simple guide or the proper equipment that will lead them to a world of ease and joy.

If you’re one of them, fret not and bookmark the following Cleaning Things to simplify your cleaning procedure by assisting you in the most effective way possible:

  • The Fish Net
  • Algae scraper/pad
  • Filter media
  • Aquarium Glass Magnet
  • Lime remover/glass cleaner (made for aquariums)
  • Siphon/ Gravel Cleaner
  • Water Conditioners
  • Filter Brush 
  • Glass Scraper or Razorblade (plastic blade for acrylic tanks)
  • Chlorine Bleach
  • Bucket (use a new bucket that is for aquarium use only)
  • Old bath towels
  • Net Soak
  • White Vinegar
  • Paper towels

What is the most efficient way to clean a freshwater aquarium?

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Here is your step by step instructions to ensure an easy and optimum way to clean Fresh water Fish tank

  • Remove the heater, filter, and, if applicable, the air plug. Take into consideration the removal of any tank decorations such as artificial plants, stones, etc.; you may have installed.
  • Clean the inside of the glass first. You can buy a variety of instruments to help you with this task, but a clean face cloth will be enough. The finest motions are small, gentle circular motions.
  • Remove around 25% of the water using a Siphon or a gravel vacuum and place it in a pail for later disposal. The siphon has some suction, which you can use to remove any dirt or debris accumulated at the bottom of the tank.
  • Scrub all of the aesthetic features in your tank, including any artificial plants, with a soft brush. Rinse the filter pad well with cold, clean water as well.
  • Following this, Tap water is to be filled in your bucket halfway. Adjust the temperature with the thermometer to match the temperature inside the tank.
  • As directed on your equipment, add some water conditioner and aquarium salt, accordingly. If your aquarium is less than four months old, a living bacteria supplement should be added as well. To ensure that all of the salt is completely dissolved, stir thoroughly.
  • Slowly restock your aquarium. If you possess a power filter, now is the time to fill it with water.
  • Finally, reconnect the heater and arrange all of your tank decorations, such as artificial plants and accessories, in a suitable arrangement. Furthermore, here’s a Pro Tip: Don’t be tempted to turn on the lights immediately. You can decrease the stress on your fish by keeping it dark for a few hours following a water change and cleaning.

Benefits of Cleaning Your Fish Tank

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Some of the major benefits of cleaning your freshwater fish tank are stated below:

Nitrogen Level Regulation 

Ammonia is a waste product produced by plants and fish. This ammonia is converted to nitrite, which is then broken down into nitrate. Nitrate isn’t damaging to your fish until you let it build up to toxic levels.

On the other hand, high levels will make your fish more susceptible to disease and promote poor growth and color development. As a result, you’ll need to incorporate healthy bacteria into your fish tank.

This cleaning technique for your fresh water fish tank aids in the conversion of toxic nitrite to fish-friendly nitrate.

When cleaning your fish tank, remember to change the water periodically and remove any dead fish immediately to avoid decomposition in water and thereby release more toxins.

Aids in the Removal of Organic Particulate and Dissolved Compounds 

Carbon and hydrogen atoms make up the majority of organic molecules. Sugars, vitamins, proteins, and fatty acids are included amongst them. Furthermore, There are two types of organic matter: dissolved and particulate.

Food waste and other organic substances are found in these natural by-products of fish. Particulate materials cannot pass through 0.2 to 1.0 um filters, while dissolved substances can.

Some dissolved and particulate matter can be controlled by freshwater plants, while the rest can be dealt with simply changing the water. Therefore, a thorough and routined cleaning is quite helpful in the Removal of Organic Particulate and Dissolved Compounds. 

Replenishing of Minerals 

There is a steady supply of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins in natural habitats. Your filter, on the other hand, will either remove or deplete these important elements as your fish tank’s dwellers use them to thrive on.

Nevertheless, a water change aids in providing the necessary fresh supply for optimum growth. Therefore cleaning proves your fresh water fish tank proves handy.

How often should your aquarium filter be cleaned? 

Mechanical, chemical, and biological filters are the three types of filters you can use in your fish tank. The frequency of cleaning is different for all three types. 

  • Biological filters: Biological filters, such as moss balls, do not require cleaning on a regular basis or at all. If you need to clean a biological filter, do it while changing partial water with water from the tank.
  • Mechanical filters: The sponge or foam pad in these filters should be cleaned once a month. Make sure you don’t do it at the same time as a partial water change, though. It’s best to do it a week or two later, so your fish don’t get two shocks at the same time. Clean the mechanical filter by swishing it around in fresh water on a regular basis. It’s not a good idea to clean it under the tap. Simply wash the dirt off with your hands before replacing the sponge or pad.
  • Chemical filters: Filters made of chemicals Chemical filters, such as carbon filters, must be replaced on a regular basis, roughly every 3-4 weeks. If your tank water becomes hazy quickly, you may need to do it more frequently.

How to Clean your fish tank after a fish dies?

This question deserves its own article, but at a high level, we can tell you that depending on how your fish died, it is the right way to proceed to give your tank a complete, thorough cleaning. Most pet owners are reluctant to acknowledge the fact of inevitable death, yet chances are you will see your fish die at some point. However, once this occurs, you’ll need to act swiftly to prevent illness and nasty germs from contaminating your tank and affecting other members of the aquarium family. 

When it comes to cleaning a tank following the death of a fish, what is the right way to go about it? To begin with, as soon as you detect a dead fish, the first thing you should do is remove it.

When a fish dies, it instantly begins to decompose, which means it will start releasing hazardous compounds into the water.

  • If the fish appears to have died of old age, a simple filter cleaning should suffice. You can clean the filter with water from your quarantine tank rather than utilizing the water from the tank where the fish died.
  • In case of death due to obvious disease, you should quarantine the other fish and thoroughly clean all the content in the fish tank. 
  • Check the quality of your water. One of the most common causes of fish death is poor water quality. High levels of ammonia and nitrate can swiftly kill fish, especially in a small tank where pollution levels can quickly rise if you don’t keep up with your normal cleaning and maintenance routine. In case the results show high levels of ammonia or nitrate, you should undertake partial water changes to help improve the water quality for the other fish.
  • If your fish has been bullied to death, all you need to do now is clean the filter and vacuum the substrate.
  • If the given cause is pathogenic microbes such as fungus, a parasite, or an infection, seek guidance from a local fish specialist or pet store on how to cure the tank best.
  • All in all, Regardless of how the fish died, if your fish tank appears to be nearing the end of its cleanliness, change the water. As you would any other time, clean the tank.

When cleaning a fresh water fish tank, everything you need to know about Changing the water.

Discus Fish, Fish, Aquarium, Fish Tank, Water

Partial water changes are vital for fish health, whether you keep coldwater or tropical fish in freshwater or saltwater. There are numerous guidelines for the amount of water you should replace each time.

Some aquarists recommend a 15% water change once a week, while others suggest a 25% or even 30% change. The optimal amount for your tank, the number of fish you maintain in it, and the type of filtration you use will be determined by the size of your fish tank.

A 10-15% water change is a decent place to start as a general guideline. Abstain from changing too much water at once because fish are delicate creatures. It can cause your fish to become stressed, as well as a result in removing too much of the good bacteria in the water. 

You could also use various internet calculators to determine how much water you need to replace and also find the frequency of how often you need to change it.

Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Fresh water Fish Tank

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It is really beneficial to learn about the fundamentals of aquarium management and cleanliness. Regular water changes, thorough cleaning, filter servicing, and water testing are all important parts of aquarium maintenance.

The fundamental purpose of routine maintenance is to keep the aquarium steady and balanced. Cleaning Your Aquarium isn’t nearly as difficult as it may seem. Setting up an organized cleaning routine proves highly beneficial.

Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly undertakings are all included in a comprehensive aquarium maintenance schedule. Here are some Pro Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Freshwater Fish Tank


  • Check to see that all the installed equipment is working properly.
  • During feeding, keep an eye on your fish. Behavioral changes might be an early warning sign of a problem.


  • Count your fish once a week. Smaller fish species decay quickly after death, causing ammonia and nitrite increases and eventually high nitrate levels.

Every Other Week

  • Check your tank water for crucial parameters such as pH, carbonate hardness, nitrite, and nitrate. 
  • Clean the aquarium’s inside walls. Filter floss is both inexpensive and effective. Commence from the lower edge and work your way up, rinsing the filter floss or scrubber frequently. 
  • The gravel should be vacuumed. 
  • 10-15% of the water should be changed. 
  • Filter inserts should be rinsed with the extracted water.


  • Filter inserts, cartridges, floss, carbon, and Algone should all be replaced timely. 
  • If necessary, rinse the entire filter. 
  • Check for proper operation of tubing, connections, airstones, skimmers, and other parts. 
  • To ensure that your tank’s lights are not harmed, clean the aquarium top.
  • Check the expiration dates on the aquarium equipment you use on the boxes and bottles. Abstain from using the products post the imprinted date. Expired test kits will produce unwanted results, prompting you to take action that isn’t essential.

For most systems, a 25% water change every 2-4 weeks, or a 10-15% water change per week, is advised. When cleaning, it’s best not to remove your fish until it’s absolutely necessary; doing so can stress them out and possibly make them sick.

Remove your fish with a net, if required, and place them in a large bucket with part of the original tank water. Furthermore, Purified water is also desirable since it contains fewer dissolved nutrients that are often the possible causative agents of uncontrolled algae development.

In case everything is working smoothly, and your fish are healthy, there is no need for big changes. Changes in any critical water parameter due to any underlying reason only necessitate careful but prompt monitoring.


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The fundamental conclusion is, there are numerous advantages to maintaining a proper aquarium cleaning schedule. Regular aquarium maintenance not only keeps your fish healthy and growing, but it also provides you the best opportunity of catching any problems before they become serious problems and may hurt your pets. Cleaning your fish tank does not have to be a tough task; regular and ongoing care is amongst the most efficient methods of keeping your aquarium clean. It’s not difficult; simply follow the step-by-step guidance!!


Why Is It Necessary to Clean Your Fish Tank?

While the ultimate goal is to maintain a steady and healthy environment for our fishes, there are other three key aims in mind, which are summarized as the three Rs.
Optimizing or Regulation of the nitrogen cycle. 
Removal of Organic substances, both liquid and particulate, 
Replenishing essential minerals.

How can I clean an egg-infested fish tank?

In case the fish has laid its eggs on the gravel, then you may just skip cleaning the gravel areas and go on with the rest of the job. Before you wash the gravel again, wait till the eggs hatch and learn to swim. If the eggs are laid somewhere else, don’t clean that area. Fish eggs hatch in about a week and thereby have no bearing on the cleaning schedule.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Fish Tank Often Enough?

Ammonia, as well as nitrates and nitrites, can have serious consequences for your fish. If you don’t clean and maintain your fish tank on a regular basis, you risk exposing your fish to these hazardous pollutants over time. Beneficial microorganisms normally prevent waste accumulation. However, as the water becomes more contaminated, the bacteria dies, leaving your fish vulnerable and your tank looking filthy. 

A reduction or lack of hunger, loss of coloring, diminished vitality, and a compromised immune system are all common indications of aquatic life in unstable water conditions. This chemical exposure can lead to death if left untreated for too long.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!