Cleaning a freshwater aquarium requires removing all the fishes, plants, décor, substrate, and water to re-install a fresh and balanced habitat.
Your freshwater aquarium is a balanced environment containing living organisms that live symbiotically with one another. As caretaker of this ecosystem, you must, therefore, ensure that the natural balance is constantly maintained.
Oftentimes, maintenance is simple routines like regular water changes, checking if the equipments are all functioning efficiently, and cleaning the filter elements. But sometimes accidents happen, like infestation of parasites, massive equipment failure, or pollution, where a general cleaning has to be performed.
Here are the steps to take when you need to clean and overhaul your whole aquarium:
1. Fill a bucket with fresh water and treat it for the right composition and temperature because this is where you will house the fish while you clean the tank. Equip the bucket with aeration if you are overhauling a large tank, which could take some time.
2. Carefully catch all the fish with a fishnet, and gently put them in the bucket of water.
3. Put the plants and tank decorations in a separate container. You will need to rinse them under running water to remove dirt, algae, and toxic material if present, before introducing them into your clean set-up.
4. Siphon off all the water from the tank.
5. Transfer the substrate to a large container. Do not re-use substrate that has been exposed to a heavily polluted or toxic set-up. If you intend to re-use it at a later time, rinse the material well and then dry it out in the sun to kill harmful microorganisms and parasites. Check with your local aquarium vendor for available treatments to clean gravel and other substrate.
6. Clean all the walls of the tank using the appropriate scrubs and algae scrapers. Avoid harsh scrubs that can scratch the glass. Treat the walls with a mixture of water and vinegar to remove the calcium deposits. Rinse the tank well.
7. Scrub off all the accumulated algae, grime, dirt, and debris from the filters, piping, tubing, and other accessories. Rinse them well under clean running water.
8. Set-up your clean aquarium again, and remember to condition the water before putting the fish back in.