Fish Tank Cleaning, you mean you dont have to scrub it down with soap??

Soap!? Really? For fish tank cleaning? Heck NO!

Unless you really have a lot of time on your hands and a really nice alternative place to keep your fish, no, you definitely do not need to use soap to do fish tank cleaning. Not that you couldnt but you really dont need to.

Aquarium cleaning can yes get pretty meticulous. You could catch all your fish with your fish net, place them all in a bucket. Dont forget your air bubbles now! And top it all off with a fish net cover in case one or two of them decide to make a break for it.

A good 20 minutes of that then will sequentially lead to draining the water in the fish tank, while concurrently you washing the gravel, perhaps the filter as well.

If you get creative, you might use soap but then it will mean rinsing down the aquarium a couple of times. Once you are satisfied, you fill up the fish tank with water and then put your fish back in and it all seems nice and clean.

Well obviously you could do it that way, but also I missed a couple of critical steps of fish tank cleaning in the above description. You experienced guys would have caught it I know.

Still, even with those items I missed out intentionally, the above can take you 2 hours easy, maybe more.

Although there is really nothing wrong with doing the above (I mean people will spend 2 or 3 hours washing their cars right), who has the time these days in this fast paced world anymore?

Well its not 'nothing wrong' really.. more like not much wrong, although things could indeed go wrong! (as you can read below)

Sooooo here are my thoughts for you:

Number 1, remove the pre-conceived idea that fish tank cleaning means you need to scrub everything down, change all the water and even use soap.

Number 2, understand that cleaning an aquarium is more of removing some of the visible stains (such as traces of evaporated water on the glass) on the fish tank, maintaining the nitrogen cycle balance in the fish tank and doing all of this with as minimal stress to your fish as possible.

Number 3, of course where possible, try to remove the fish muck that may be stuck in between the gravel, driftwood or any fish tank decorations you might have.

So now the above really should change your perception, the emphasis in fish tank cleaning is not really cleaning but maintaining the nitrogen cycle balance in the fish tank while removing as much waste as possible while also not stressing your fish too much.

So how do you do that?

Well you do it, first of all by doing only half water changes. How often you ask? well that depends on your understanding of the water quality of your fish tank.

You see half water changes achieves several key things:

Point a, you dont have to remove your fish from the fish tank! This reduces stress on them, at least removing the stress of catching them and putting them in a bucket.

Point b, it helps to maintain the nitrogen cycle balance because you are not changing all of the water which means the ammonia and nitrite content will still be there and keep the good bacteria happy. At the same time, you remove half of the nitrates in the water as well. This will ensure that your filtration system will continue to work.

Point c, it saves you a LOT of time! Basically you just need to remove the water and once half the tank is empty, put back clean water in there. Of course you have to ensure that you use the essential anti-chlorine/anti-chloramine on the new water being pumped back in or else your fish might be quite dead in an hour or two.

The other aspect of course is reviewing the filter media situation which does not need to happen when you are doing fish tank cleaning but it could. You can use the fish tank water that you are removing anyway to clean the filter media.

So before I drop a summary on you guys, there are 2 thing to take note of.

Firstly, the toughest thing about fish tank cleaning is actually cleaning in between the gravel and any fish tank ornaments you might have. There are various contraptions out there which advertise that they can be pick up gravel, suck out all the fish waste, and drop the gravel back down again.

Basically they are tubes with enlarged ends. These can help, especially probably for smaller fish tanks, but for larger fish tanks, they can be a huge pain!

You may want to check with the pet store on how good these things are before you purchase them. I suppose these do work for some but I just go with the more manual method of stirring up the stuff and mopping it up with a hose!

Secondly, perhaps for some people, the toughest thing is actually removing the water. The common thing that seems to be happening is someone has the contraption I mentioned above, and empties the water out into a bucket and then dumps the bucket out.

These contraptions sometimes have their own methods to help you get the water flowing, some of them have primitive pumps that requires you to squeeze a couple of times, others ask you to shake up the tube a few times (thats right, shaken, not stirred!) and then the water will flow out of the fish tank into the bucket.

Often, with or without a contraption, starting the water flowing, involves physically having one using ones mouth to suck the water into the pipe/hose and then letting gravity pull the water out of the fish tank. I know, euuuwwwww!

Well let me let u in then on an open secret, kills two birds with one stone so to speak.

All you really need is have a really long hose that reaches your bathroom pipe. The regular plastic hoses used to water gardens are fine. What you do is make sure one end of the hose is well within your fish tank water. You then turn on the pipe in your bathroom so that water flows from your bathroom pipe into your fish tank through the hose. Takes 5 seconds really.

Once you know the water has reached the fish tank, (you will surely hear the water bubbling... this also means dont use the farthest bathroom you have from the fish tank!) simply turn off the pipe in your bathroom, remove the hose and point it down into the bathroom drain hole.

Presto! Gravity does its job, pulls the water right out of the fish tank.

No hose kissing (hmm not sure if that sounds right!) or bucket carrying required! Just sit back and let the water flow out by itself.

Of course, if you want to be more meticulous, you can direct the hose end that is in your fish tank to suck up some of the visible fish waste lying around as well.

So there you go, in summary for fish tank cleaning:

1) Do half water tank changes (again, frequency depends on your understanding of the fish tank water quality)

2) Ensure anti-chlorine/anti-chloramine is used to treat the new water going in

3) Clean up physical stains on the fish tank

4) Suck up any visible fish waste with your hose

5) Check on your filter media, if required rinse them down with the fish water being thrown out or replace with new.

6) Use the hose-from-bathroom-to-fish-tank method to use gravity to make your fish tank cleaning experience less energy and time consuming.

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