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Cleaning Your Aquarium: General Overhaul
by Ruby Bayan

Holding containers when cleaning the aquarium Accidents happen. Unintentional introduction of toxic matter, infestation of parasites, or prolonged massive equipment failure can wreak havoc in an otherwise well-maintained setup. If heavy pollution requires that you overhaul your entire aquarium immediately, don’t despair because with a little presence of mind and the right tools and materials, you’ll be able to handle the emergency efficiently.

You can also decide to undertake a general cleaning or overhaul when you think that it’s time to revise, re-stock, or freshen up a deteriorating setup. To accomplish this, here are the things you will need and how to use them:

  1. A bucket of fresh water – treat the water for the right composition and temperature because this is where you will house the fish while you clean the tank. You may want to equip the bucket with aeration if you are overhauling a large tank, which will take some time.

  2. Fish net – catch all the fish and gently put them in the bucket of water. If some of the fishes look like they were adversely affected by toxicity in the old tank, give them temporary housing in a hospital tank as necessary.

    Remove fish before an aquarium overhaul

  3. A container for the aquatic plants and décor – put the plants and tank decorations in a separate container because you will need to rinse them under running water to remove dirt, algae, and toxic material if present.

  4. Siphon hose – siphon off all the water from the tank.

    Siphon water from the aquarium to a bucket

  5. A container for the substrate – you will need a large container to transport the gravel to where you can rinse it thoroughly. Substrate that has been exposed to a heavily polluted or toxic set-up should not be re-used. If you intend to re-use at a later time, rinse the material well and then dry it out in the sun to kill harmful microorganisms and parasites. Ask your local aquarium vendor for available treatments for cleaning gravel and other substrate.

  6. Scrubs and scrapers – once your tank is empty, clean all the walls using the appropriate scrubs and algae scrapers. Avoid harsh scrubs that can scratch the glass. You can treat the walls with a mixture of water and vinegar to remove the calcium deposits but be sure to rinse the tank well afterwards.

  7. Brushes (small bottle brushes) – brush off all the accumulated algae, grime, dirt, and debris from the under-gravel filters, piping, tubing, and other accessories. Rinse them well under clean, running water.

  8. Rags or towels – use these to protect furniture and carpet, and to tidy up after the cleaning.

After you’ve washed the tank, plants, décor, and accessories, you’re ready to set-up your aquarium again.

Follow the procedure for setting up a new aquarium, and remember to condition the water before putting the fish back in.

Then, adhere to a maintenance routine to help minimize, if not eliminate, another overhaul.

Suggested Reading:

The New Aquarium Handbook: Everything About Setting Up and Taking Care of a Freshwater Aquarium

Aquariums For Dummies

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