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How to clean your tropical aquarium
By for HAPPYARIUM.com
auqarium photo from the surface

As we are a truly fish friendly company we would like to make sure that you are well informed about how to maintain your tropical fish tank.
In the following, we are detailing a simple set of steps which should give you a clear idea on how to maintain your aquarium safely, should you decide to perform the fishtank cleaning by yourself.
Depending on the size, shape and the content of your aquarium; cleaning a tropical fish tank should last between tow to three hours if everything goes as planned.

What will you need?

Buckets, jerry cans:
The size of your aquarium will determine how many of these you will need. The containers will be used to prepare the water change, to hold any water, any waste that you might need to dispose of , any ornaments and plants that you might need to keep out of the aquarium while you are cleaning your fish tank.

Siphon pump for aquariums:
These pumps come in different forms, the most common one is a plastic hose attached to a funnel with a vacuum chamber . Some models have a mechanical or electric pump attached to them to create a water flow. However, for medium sized aquariums a basic siphon pump will get the job done. The siphon pump is used to suck water out of the aquarium and to vacuum the gravel and the sand.

Water treatment solutions:
Depending on the state of your aquarium you will need several types of solutions which are widely available for sale in pet stores or online. To name a few:

    - Water conditioner: This solution will be used every time tap water is to be added into your fish tank. Its purpose is to remove chlorine and heavy elements from tap water. This solution must be used at all times when conducting a aquarium water change.
    - Nitrifying bacteria rich solution: One might ask! Why will I need bacteria in my fish tank? The answer is very simple: Bacteria will live in the aquarium in symbiosis with your other aquatic dwellers (Fish, invertebrates, plants etc) and feeds on toxic ammonia and nitrite produced by the former. A certain level of the bacteria population has to be maintained in an aquarium. Therefore, the bacteria will be introduced when the aquarium is first setup and the population needs to be reinforced occasionally.
    - Anti-algae treatments: If your aquarium suffers from algae infestation, you may use solutions in order to limit its growth. These solutions contain phosphate nutralising agents. Phosphate acts as a fertilizer, it is consumed by algae as nutriment. However, this treatment is not recommended if you hold invertebrates (tropical shrimps) in your tank. A more radical and efficient way to counter abnormal Algae growth is to prevent direct sunlight from reaching your aquarium.
    - Other solutions can be used (Anti-snails, enzymes, etc). However, we recommend simplicity when it comes to first setups and water change. By experience, we have observed that using the basic things gives the best results. Therefore, it is best not to introduce any agent unless it is necessary.

A fish net:
The bigger ther better but it should still fit inside your fish tank.

A Blade:
It will be used to shake the gravel, plants, scrap algae off the aquarium surfaces etc.
However, care must be observed when using the blade on glass aquariums for permanent scratches might be caused.
We recommend buying an appropriate blade meant for aquariums from a pet store rather than using homemade ones.

What you should do?

Step 1: Planning of the aquarium maintenance session

Once you have all of your tools ready, you can start planning your maintenance session. Typically, a cleaning session stretches over two days for the simple reason that the water required for the water change has to be prepared 24 hours in advance for the treatments to take effect.

Overnight, make sure that you treat the equivalent of 15 to 20% of the total amount of the water held in your aquarium using the water conditioner mentioned above. Add any other solution if necessary. Please do follow the recommended dosage instructions printed on the solutions’ bottles.

Step 2: Fish tank cleaning

The following day you may get on with the aquarium itself.

    - Make sure the power is switched off in all the electric elements in the tank (filter, heater, pumps etc ). Although, these elements are meant to function underwater it is safer to conduct the cleaning in a risk free environment.
    - Make sure that you wash your hands with clean running water before dipping them into the tank. It matters to mention that you must not use any soaps or detergents to do that. Chemicals in detergents and aerosols are fatal to tropical and marine fish alike.
    - Remove all ornaments, plastic plants, water pumps and everything that can be taken off the aquarium in a safe way and place them in a bucket.
    - Scrub and rinse these elements with fresh and clean tap water. In addition, Sponges and filter medias (ceramic, carbon etc) must be rinsed with cold tap water.
    - Use the blade to clear any algae residue that might have formed on the surfaces of the tank. If you do have unwanted snails in your tanks, you may remove them manually; however, the best way to keep the snails population under control is by not overfeeding the fish. It matters to mention that snails may get into your aquarium through the introduction of live plants.
    - Use the siphon pump to drain 15 to 20% of the water in the tank into a bucket while vacuuming the gravel or sand to get rid of fish and food waste. You will be able to adjust the flow of the water manually on the siphon pump by pinching the siphon hose.
    - Next, put back all the element that have been cleaned (ornaments, plastic plants, filter, bubbler etc).
    - Replace the cleared water with the one that have been prepared overnight.


Finally,switch on all the electric components and make sure that the filter, heater and light are properly working. Make a final check if there are any leaks.

At first glance the water in the aquarium might seem cloudy and troubled. That is completely normal! In an hour’s or so, the water should clear out and you and your fish will be able to enjoy a crystal clear and clean fish tank.

We hope that you found this manual useful and remember that if you don’t feel comfortable in doing the procedure yourself or simply do not have the time to look after your aquarium, you are welcome to get in touch with us and we will be happy to help. To have an idea on the different available option on how we can be of assistance, we invite you to request a no obligation instant online quote.

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