Creative Ways To Keep Your Fish Tank Clean

There are so many perks that come with being a hobbyist, perhaps feeding your fish, interacting with them on a more personal level, introducing new members to brighten up your community, and much more. However, possibly one of the worst jobs that comes with the hobby is cleaning your fish tank regularly. Not only is it a time-consuming process, but it can be a bit tedious too, and nobody really likes cleaning, right?

For most saltwater aquarium or freshwater aquarium owners, the process of cleaning your fish tank could take about two hours, and that is if you make your tank spotless. This is with a regular-sized tank with a not-so-significant amount of fish, as you introduce more fish to your community, you will naturally have more to clean up and therefore the process may take longer.

10 Most Creative Ways To Clean Your Aquarium

This guide has been created with the sole focus of alleviating the natural stresses of cleaning your fish tank, to even make the process somewhat enjoyable, and make it an efficient use of your time, all at the same time! We have narrowed the list down to 10 different and creative ways of ensuring your tank is clean and done in a time-saving and more enjoyable way.

Controlling aquarium algae

A terminology that many hobbyists will be familiar with is over-cleaning, which is also a common mistake made by many and can have negative repercussions for your aquarium.

Too much cleaning can easily take out some beneficial bacteria living in your tank, which is used to convert harmful byproducts into less harmful matter. Now that we have got that out of the way, it's time to dive into our comprehensive and helpful list!

1. Buy yourself an aquarium water testing kit

Whether you own freshwater fish or saltwater fish, you will need to be constantly checking your tank parameters at least once a week, and doing this will require an aquarium water test kit. It is important that once you complete this action, you record the results and do weekly comparisons. This way you can tell if there is a potential issue with your tank and that it must be rectified quickly if the results are extremely different.

2. Change the water in your tank every 2 weeks

Typically you would change your tank water every month, but you are missing a trick if you don't regularly change your water by around 30% every 2 weeks rather than doing it all in a month. Even though you are changing the water more frequently, it is still a huge time-saver and is brilliant for the health of your fish!

Cleaning your aquarium

3. Use an Aquarium cleaning pump kit when changing your water

In order to clean your tank efficiently and effectively, you will need a gravel vacuum. The vacuum will slowly and gently pull the accumulated toxins, some debris, and solid waste from the gravel while helping maintain a healthy balance within your tank.

4. Magnetic Algae Scrubber Tool

Another awesome tool that you can forge yourself is the Magnetic Algae Scrubber. You will need to purchase algae scrub pads, and after you have these you attach a strong magnet to the pads using glue that is safe with fish, then place the scrubber inside your tank and use another magnet on the outside of the glass to move it around the aquarium. If you do not have the time to source the materials or to create the scrubber, there are several good aquarium scrubbers available online.

Cleaning your tank

5. Plant a Hornwart in your tank

Having a live plant reside in your fish tank is a wide idea and and one of the easiest ways to increase the levels of oxygen in your tank, which will improve the quality of life for your fish.

Not only does Hornwart produce an abundance of oxygen, but it also absorbs harmful nitrogen from your tank water, which creates very good water and general living conditions for your fish. Put a Hornwort plant to work in your aquarium, they are not expensive!

6. Cleaning your fish tank decorations

It may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people either forget to or don't do it properly. When it comes to cleaning your fish tank decorations, it is important you do so using the right cleaning equipment and products. Over time, the decorations you have accumulated will get algae and scale on them, and instead of scrubbing the individual pieces, if you prepare a bleach solution of around 10%, soak them in it for about 15 minutes and then scrub them, the unwanted scale will be easily removed without detriment to your fish community.

7. Make sure to change your carbon filter media each month

A carbon filter media will help eliminate toxins that have dissolved from your fish tank water, the downside is that carbon loses its ability to absorb toxins after 3 to 4 weeks. This means that you will have to keep changing your filter media in order to maintain effectiveness.

If you want additional toxin-absorbing power, it is advisable to take some carbon filter inserts and put them in a cut-off piece of pantyhose! Now, I know this may sound odd, but it works - hang the pantyhose pouch you have created in your tank and rinse it on a weekly basis, replacing it every time you change your carbon filter media, it will work brilliantly.

8. Lime Cleaner for Aquarium, fixtures, and glass

Cleaning the fingerprints, water spots, and other dirt/stains from the outside glass of your tank is incredibly important. Our recommendation would be to buy and use an aquarium-safe lime cleaner to clean the outside of your aquarium glass and fixtures.

9. Introduce some new fish to your community

Our suggestion is to add some new, but very specific fish or invertebrates to your community, known as a clean up crew! Adding fish and other critters that feed off algae and other bacteria is a brilliant option for maintaining a clean tank.

Obviously, it is important to make sure whichever fish and invertebrates you plan on adding to your tank are compatible with your existing fish community. For a freshwater aquarium you could add a Sucking-Catfish, snails, or Plecostomus is a fantastic idea. Here are 5 of the best freshwater algae eaters that you may want to consider. Alternatively, for saltwater tanks, adding turbo snails, Tang fish, and hermit crabs is a great idea. For more ideas, here are 6 of the best saltwater algae eaters you might want to consider.

A final option to avoid the overgrowth of algae in your tank is to reduce your tank's light which will slow the growth and spread of algae. The lighter and brighter your tank is, the more algae will grow.

Fish cleaner

10. Overfeeding your fish

A classic mistake made by a surprising amount of hobbyists is overfeeding fish, we have created a guide on 10 important signs you might be overfeeding your fish. Every time you put extra food in your tank, the more time you will have to spend cleaning it, it's that simple.

Not only is there going to be a plethora of leftover fish food as your fish cannot stomach being overfed, but there will also be a lot of extra poop. Both of these being left around your tank will raise the level of toxic chemicals in the water, resulting in a dirty tank and more cleaning for you.


In conclusion, it is so important to not only keep your tank clean and maintained but to learn what it is that is making your tank dirty and preventing those things from happening to lessen your workload. Not only will this alleviate some of the stress, but also the time consumed when cleaning your tank.

It is fairly common for most people to dislike cleaning, however, there is nothing that can be done about this, if you want happy and healthy fish and a clear aquarium to look at and admire, then you must clean their home on a regular basis. Hopefully, this guide has helped teach you how to efficiently clean your tank.

Here are a few more takes and advice on some basic conventional ways of maintaining a clean tank with happy fish:

  • Use good quality cleaning supplies - you certainly do not want to skimp or cut corners when it comes to purchasing cleaning items and supplies, usually, the more you pay, the better the quality is, and you want only the best for your fish! Look at the reviews too and see what others say about certain products you are considering purchasing.
  • Algae Pad - a fantastic way to clean the inside glass of your tank is via algae pads. You can use regular cleaning supplies for the other areas of your tank, however, for cleaning the inside areas that some of your fish will usually hang out, algae pads are the best for the job.
  • Outside Surface - the outside surface of your tank is equally as important as the inside, despite many people focusing solely on the inside. Luckily for us, the outside of your aquarium is a lot easier to clean than the inside. It only needs a regular cloth rinsed with water or glass cleaner.
  • Dust - there is always more dust on the top of your tank than anywhere else, removing the dust from the top layer of your tank once a week at least is a strong recommendation. Use a duster, or just a clean, damp microfiber cloth.

Finally, if you follow the above advice on a regular basis then you will see a cleaner and more sustained tank. Doing aquarium cleaning is never fun, and requires a lot of work, especially if you are planning on doing it once a month. However, breaking it down to once a week or once every two weeks will alleviate time and stress due to efficiencies, resulting in a happier tank, and most likely happier hobbyist!