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If you have an aquarium at home, then you know that simply running the filter is not enough to keep it clean. For me, I have to completely change the water and scrub down the walls at least once a month.

The fish to which I am referring is my daughter’s white and red male beta named Mr. Captain.  She chose the name, and who am I to say it’s not a good one??

To make it easier, I have gathered some tips and included a few of my own:

  • Be sure to unplug the heater (if equipped) and the pump before beginning.
  • If you don’t have a lot of fish, you may choose to remove them for cleaning process.  I always remove my fish because I like to remove the hard water stains from the glass.  For that I use vinegar, and then I can rinse it out of the aquarium before replacing the fish.
  • Remove any artificial plants and decorations, and clean all sides of the aquarium with an algae sponge.
  • Disconnect the filter from the pump and take it, along with the artificial plants and decorations, to a tub or sink for cleaning.  Be sure to scrub these items as simply rinsing them may not remove the layer of slime that may have accumulated.  (An old toothbrush is the perfect tool for this job!)
  • Connect a gravel cleaner. This may be a siphon which attaches to a faucet, or a manual siphon used with a bucket to collect the water. Start the siphon and push the gravel cleaner into the gravel all the way to the bottom, and leave it there as debris rises into the siphon. Continue until the water starts to clear, then either pinch the tubing or partially close the valve to let the gravel fall back down. Lift the gravel-cleaning tube out of the gravel and push it back down directly adjacent to the last section you just cleaned.
  • It's time to stop when you have removed 25-30% of the water (the water level drops to 3/4 to 2/3 of what it was before you started). If you did not get through cleaning all of the gravel, you can start where you left off with the next water change.
  • Take the temperature reading in the tank, then go to the sink and adjust the water temperature to match. This is a very important (but often overlooked) step. Adding water of a different temperature can unnecessarily stress the fish, making them more susceptible to diseases.
  • Flip the faucet pump to run water into the aquarium, or fill a bucket and pour the water back into the tank to original levels. Unless you have a well, or other source of drinking water, your water will contain chlorine or chloramines, which means you need to add de-chlorinator to your aquarium water. If you are using a faucet pump, add the de-chlorinator to the tank while it’s filling. If you are using a bucket, add the de-chlorinator to the water before pouring it into the tank.
  • (What I like to do, but takes a little foresight, is to use ozone water for my tank. When using ozonated water, let it stand for at least 20 minutes before introducing aquatic creatures. To remove chlorine naturally fill a large bucket, or pitcher – depending on the size of your tank – & allow it to aerate for 24 hours. Do not cover the container, and the wider the mouth, the better for allowing the chlorine to “escape.” Once my bucket is full, and before leaving it to de-chlorinate naturally, I drop my ozone diffuser stone into the water, turn it on for 30 minutes & walk away.  When I return, my kitchen smells clean, and I have fresh water for my fish’s tank. Remember, to allow this the water aerate for at least 24 hours.)
  • Replace your artificial plants and decorations and reconnect the filter.
  • Return your aquatic animals to their habitat if you removed them.
  • Plug in the heater and restart the pump.

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