When the aquarium is clean it can look amazing to the eye – both for yourself and for anyone who see’s it.
The trouble is they don’t keep themselves clean do they.[tag-tec]Fish[/tag-tec], like humans produce waste. This waste along with the aspects which we introduce into the aquarium (uneaten food etc) all helps to increase the pollution in the water.
Of course we introduce an aspect of filtration into the system as well as other nutrient export mechanisms to help keep the water so that it is habitable. You tank however does go through cycles where it can look to be truthful a bit of a mess.
You get various algae blooms – diatom, hair, slime etc all of which come and go and can be kept in line by performing the correct care and maintenance but still there are aspects of the aquarium which need to be kept clean.
The cleaning aspect of the maintenance does depend upon what you have in your aquarium, what filtration method you use etc and I will attempt to cover the basics of cleaning.
The glass will require cleaning. The best way to do this is with a magnetic based glass cleaner. This has a smooth surface on the outside so that the glass/acrylic is not damaged and a rough side on the inside to remove the algae from the glass. The magnets allow the two sides to push together to increase the pressure on the glass to improve the cleaning ability. The good thing about a lot of these types of tools is that if it falls off for whatever reason then the part in the water will float to the top.
The easiest way to use this is regularly. They are good at removing a slight amount of algae but they will not be able to deal with a large amount.
To remove heavier amounts of [tag-ice]algae[/tag-ice] and coralline algae when it is present on the glass is to use some type of blade. The one which I use is a glass scraper which has a long handle with a blade on the end. This allows you to scrape the algae from the glass. When using these types of devices make sure that you do not damage the sealant on the aquarium.
If you use cover glasses then these can be removed from the aquarium and cleaned.
The front glass can be cleaned to remove any water splash which may have occurred. I would not recommend using glass polish from a spray can as some of this may enter the aquarium and could be detrimental to the inhabitants. I personally use a dry cloth to perform an initial clean and then another clean cloth to polish the glass.
Cleaning of the [tag-self]substrate[/tag-self] depends upon the type of substrate you have implemented. If you have installed a deep sand bed then you should never clean this yourself. You should try and breed enough life in the sand to clean it for you.
If you do not have a deep sand bed installed then it will over time become full of detritus, uneaten food etc. This will need to be removed from the aquarium so that it does not break down and cause spikes in your water parameters.
The best time to do this is when you are doing a water change. With a piece of wood or some other suitable device you can slowly stir the sand – not to much to create a sand storm but just enough to bring the ‘bad stuff’ out of the sand. Once it is in the water column do your best to siphon as mush away as possible.
You will not, of course be able to catch it all but do your best perhaps working on a section of the sand at a time during each water change.
If you are using live rock as your filtration and have purchase some ‘clean up crew’ then these should do a very good job of keeping the rocks clean as long as you have put enough in in relation to the size of your aquarium.
If you spot and detritus, sand etc on the rocks then you can either siphon this off during a water change, blow it off with a power head or waft it away using your hand. Once in the water column it can be siphoned away.
This does depend upon your filtration method. If you are using live rock or a deep sand bed then natural based cleaning should be used. If, however you are using filtration such as a canister filter etc then these will need to be manually cleaned.
To do this simply turn off the filtration unit and, dependant upon the design of the filtration unit remove the filtration chambers. Inside the chambers will be the filtration media. It is absolutly imperative that the filtration media is not washed in tap water. It must be cleaned in old aquarium water. The reason for this is that the ‘life’ on the filtration media will be destroyed when washed in tap water.
Clean it in old aquarium water until it is clean, then clean both the insude and outside of the filtration chambers and filtration itself – you can use tap water for this part.
If the filtration device has an intake then this may be protected via a sponge prefilter of some type. You do not want this to become active and become a filter itself so these need to be washed in tap water until they are clean.
This is quite often an overlooked part. Your aquarium may (or may not be) placed on a very nice aquarium stand. This may become dusty. Don’t reach for the wood polish and spray the wood. Wipe it off instead with a damp cloth. The reason for this is that some of the polish may find it’s way into the aquarium water and be detrimental.
I have heard on a few occasions of aquarists having problems with air fresheners. Not the spray type but the ones you place on the shelf, window ledge etc. They work and do make you home smell nice but they get into the water and can be detrimental.
A while ago I was speaking with a friend of mine in the fish shop and no matter what he tried he could not get his corals to come out. Myself and the shop owner helped him as much as we could – testing the water, checking the setup – everything we could thing of and they still would not come out. In the end we found out by accident that it was the air freshener. It was not anything we did but it had run out and within days the corals came out.
If you think about it then it makes sense. At the water surface is where the air exchange takes place. If there is other elements in the air they they will go into the water as well. Goes to show how delicate aquatic life can be.
Anyway to close cleaning the aquarium can at times become a bit of a chore. It does not need to be. It does not take long as long as you keep on top of it and let’s face it our aquariums look a lot nicer when they are clean don’t they?