Aquarium (fish tank) Care

Preparing to clean your tank.

Wash your hands and put on gloves 

Before you get started cleaning your tank, wash your hands (no soap) and put on a pair of disposable gloves (If you decide not to put on gloves, wash your hands afterwards). This protects you from bacteria in the tank and washing before helps prevent the tank from catching any bacteria or germs on your hands.

Prepare fresh water 

Tap water is full of chlorine and other substances that can be toxic to fish, so you need to prepare the clean water you’re going to put in your aquarium ahead of time. Fill a clean bucket with as much water as you need and add a commercial aquarium water conditioner SEACHEM PRIME FRESH AND SALTWATER it is considered one of the best water conditioners and is the one I personally use.  according to the package directions. Alternatively, you can simply leave the water uncovered for 24-48 hours, which is long enough for the unwanted substances to disperse.

Turn everything off 

Your fish tank should have a heater and filter. Turn these off before you start cleaning, along with any other electrical items, such as lights and bubblers. 

Steps to clean a fish tank

Remove algae 

Use an algae scraper to remove any algae you see growing inside the tank, they are less risky than some chemicals that you see in the market. There has been a lot of cases about algea chemical removers killing off fish, it could be that they dosed it too high but it still seems risky. There are different types of algae scrapers for both glass and acrylic tanks, so choose accordingly to avoid scratching or damaging the aquarium. For glass and acrylic tanks we suggest the Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets Glass/Acrylic it is a great option. Other options such as UV aquarium lights to keep your aquarium algae free are very good but need to be installed in a specific way because if not they can harm your fish so, we suggest this submersible UV filter from COODIA Internal Green Water Killer Aquarium Filter Tank U-V Pump, which is completely safe for your fish and requires no added instructions for it’s use. There are other options but this one works for up to 75 gallons and it is the one I use for my 20 gallon, it works great.

Clean gravel and siphon water

Use a gravel vacuum or gravel siphon to clean the gravel substrate of your betta fish aquarium. Dropped food and fish waste can settle in the substrate and breed bacteria, so it’s important you clean it. Gravel siphons clean gravel and siphons off the water at the same time. You’re doing two jobs at once — cleaning the substrate and removing the water that you’ll replace with your clean prepared water.  In smaller 5-gallon tanks, you may need to remove more like 25%-40% since more waste builds up in a smaller area.

Remove and clean tank ornaments

You don’t need to clean ornaments every time you clean your betta fish tank, but look out for algae buildup and clean them when necessary. Remove the ornaments from the tank slowly and carefully so you don’t stress your fish and clean each one with hot water and a clean toothbrush. Avoid using soap or cleaning products as these can be toxic to fish. Oh, and ornaments usually have helpful bacteria.

Refill the tank

Slowly refill the tank with the water you prepared earlier. You should have left it out long enough for the water to reach room temperature, though if you’re doing a large water change, you should gently heat it to the same temperature as the water in the tank — this should be 75-80 degrees for betta fish.

Turn everything back on

Now that the tank’s clean and topped up with fresh water, it’s time to turn your filter, heater and any other electronic items back on. 

The steps to managing your fish tank.

1. Cycle the Tank Before Adding Fish

In case you’ve never heard the expression before, “cycling a tank” means taking the steps necessary to bring the water conditions up to where they are healthy for the fish. This is something that should be done before you ever add fish to your tank. In other words: You should not purchase your fish tank and your fish on the same day!

Cycling involves the growth of healthy microorganisms within the tank, which will break down waste and help keep the water safe for fish. This takes a little time, and most experts recommend letting the tank run for at least a week before adding fish.

It is important to start a new aquarium the right way. Many new aquarium kits come with a little packet you can use to add the necessary elements for cycling, or you can purchase it separately at the pet store, I personally use SEACHEM STABILITY. It’s the one use and it works very well. You can also cycle the tank simply by adding a little fish food, which will begin to break down and kick off the process.

What you should never do is attempt to cycle your tank with fish already in it. This is very unhealthy for the fish, and until the water parameters are safe, they can easily become ill and die. It’s the equivalent of a person trying to live in an atmosphere of noxious gas and not very kind to your fish.

2. Test and Monitor Water Parameters

So how do you know when the water is safe for your fish? It’s smart to purchase an inexpensive water testing kit and monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and the pH of your water. I recommend the API Master Test Kit. This is the testing kit I’ve used over the years. It’s easy to manage and the results are very clear. If you test the water weekly, one kit should last you quite a while.

Ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites are natural chemical compounds that result from the lifecycles in your tank. They are fine at low levels but left unchecked they can build up to unhealthy amounts. Follow the instructions on the test kit and take the necessary steps to keep the water parameters correct.

You can also test the pH of your water source with the kit. Most fish can adapt to most pH levels, but if the water is very hard unfortunately it may be necessary to bring the pH down with chemicals.

3. Perform Regular Water Changes

If you find your water parameters out of line there are over-the-counter products that will help keep these chemical levels in order. But, in my opinion, clean water is usually a better answer than adding even more foreign chemicals to the tank.

Frequent water changes are the key. You need to remove about one-third of the water from your tank every week and replace it with fresh, clean water. This dilutes the chemicals in the water and makes it healthier for your fish.

In fact, if you fail to do this you will find your water parameters harder to keep under control. The waste buildup will pollute the water to the point where it becomes unhealthy for the fish.

You should also learn to vacuum the gravel in your tank, to remove the debris that has accumulated on the bottom. None of this has to be hard, and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of work every week. Water changers and siphons are available, which enable you to vacuum and remove water at the same time. There many styles of vacuum cleaners for aquariums but we suggest soemthing simple and easy to use this one here is Amazons best seller and the one I use to clean my gravel Laifoo 5ft Aquarium Siphon Vacuum Cleaner for Fish Tank Cleaning Gravel & Sand

Be aware of what you are buying when you stock your tank.  Some fish commonly available in pet stores grow much too large for most tanks. .

4. Research Fish Before Purchasing

When it comes time to purchase fish, take some time to research exactly what you are buying. Understand how big the fish will get, its temperament, its space requirements, and which fish it will get along with.

It’s a beginner’s mistake to go to the pet store and purchase fish by looks alone. The attendant at the pet store should be able to set you straight, but unfortunately, they often aren’t very knowledgeable themselves. You could end up with aggressive fish species without realizing it, or fish that simply aren’t compatible.

Better to do your own research and learn about your pet before purchase. You’d do that if you were buying a dog, right?

Along these lines, do not overstock your tank. You may have heard the “one inch of fish per gallon” rule. This advice is nonsense, and you should ignore it. Knowing what fish you are purchasing and their needs help you to understand how many fish can safely live in your tank. So do a little research about the fish you intend to purchase.

An overcrowded tank results in increased aggression, increased stress, increased disease, and an overall unhealthy living situation for your fish. It is far better to under-stock your tank and have fewer but healthier fish.

5. Avoid Overfeeding Your Fish

Rest assured, it is very difficult to starve a fish. One feeding per day is plenty, making sure you provide food items for each type of fish in your tank.

A good flake food meets most needs, but if you have many bottom-feeders you may wish to include sinking pellets. Don’t assume catfish and other scavengers will get what they need from flakes that float to the bottom of the tank. If you have algae-eating fish in your tank you’ll want to include algae wafers to supplement their diets.

Do not feed more than the fish will eat in a few minutes. Excess food is not only unhealthy for the fish and can lead to disease, but it dirties the tank and can cause spikes in the aforementioned chemicals. It can also help cause undesirable situations like excess algae growth or an outbreak of pest snails.

Many fishkeepers put their fish on a feed/fast schedule, utilizing one or more days per week when the fish are not fed. This helps to keep the tank cleaner, and the fish healthier. In simple terms, remember that what goes into a fish must come out, so the more you feed your fish the dirtier the tank will get.

Live plants can help maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

6. Manage Light in and Around Your Aquarium

One of the most frustrating things for the new aquarium owner is managing algae in an aquarium. Algae are similar to plants, and like all plants, they require light to thrive. Of course, you are going to have lights in your tank, because you want to see your fish. So how do you see your fish without growing a huge crop of algae?

One way is to manage the amount of light your tank gets every day. When you decide on the placement of your tank, try to keep it away from anywhere that will get strong sunlight throughout the day. Like any plant, algae loves sunlight and will flourish if given the chance.

You should keep the tank light on a maximum of 12 hours every day. In reality, you can probably do with much less. Remember that the light in the fish tank is for you, not the fish. The moderate lighting of daylight is plenty for them, and about what they would experience in the wild. If there is nobody home there is no point in having the light on. You can keep the light off while you are at work or at school, and turn it on when you come home at night.

Obviously, the exception here is if you have live plants in your tank. They will, of course, require a full 12 hours of overhead lighting per day. However, live plants will suck up many of the nutrients algae needs for survival, and in themselves can keep algae levels in check.

Learn as You Go

It all may seem daunting, but if you incorporate these tips into your fish care routine you’ll end up with a pretty tank full of healthy fish. Once your tank is up and running the care and maintenance required to keep it going really should not take up a lot of your time. As little as an hour a week is all that’s needed, maybe less depending on tank size.

Remember that fish are not disposable pets, and if you choose to keep them in your home they are worth taking the time to care for properly. Like any animal, your tropical fish need a clean, safe, and stress-free living environment. It’s up to you to make that possible, and it’s not as hard as it seems.

Yes, you will make mistakes and lose a few fish along the way, and everyone does. But as long as you are doing your best you shouldn’t feel bad about it. We’ve all been there.


Seachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater Conditioner 

Aqueon Aquarium Algae Cleaning Magnets Glass/Acrylic, Small, Black

COODIA Internal Green Water Killer 

Laifoo 5ft Aquarium Siphon Vacuum Cleaner

Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer 


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