Fish Tank Cleaning Secrets- Revealed!

So I’ve been having the problem with algae flourishing inside the plastic tubes and the casing for the filtration unit on my fishtank. Usually, this involves a complete disassembly, and scrubout using cleanser, brushes, and q-tips… A long procedure, messy, and gross.

“There has to be a better way” I said to myself, and so I took all the pieces put them in the bathroom sink, added some hot water, and then put a few cups of bleach in with them.

Ten minutes later, ALL the algae was gone from even the tightest nooks. ALL algae was gone from inside the pipes. All that was left was some light green water. Pull the plug, rinse off the stuff and everything is like brand-new!

You should make sure to rinse those parts well.

Leftover bleach, even in small amounts, can kill sensitive fish. It’s one of the reasons you should de-chlorinate any water you add to your tank.

What kinds of fish do you have? I am raising feeder guppies, and have a few other fish now, like an albino catfish, two large plecostomus, some black tetras and a molly.

When I worked for a pet supply company, they cleaned out new tanks with table salt and water. Don’t know how that would fare against algae. I think the attractive part was that it would rinse out more easily than detergents.


Uh…this could have been a bad bad BAD idea. I hope that you rinsed everything really really REALLY well before you put it back in the tank.

If the chlorine that is used to treat tap water is bad for fish, can you imagine what chlorine bleach might do? :eek: Bleach not only could kill the fish–it could also kill the “good” bacteria that complete your tank’s nitrogen cycle (break up fish waste).

IMO, the “messy” way of cleaning the tank is much safer, and you really don’t need to clean out all the tubes and stuff that often, IME. The problem is mostly cosmetic after all–if the algae isn’t clogging the tubes, then the fish don’t care if it’s there.

Don’t use soap on fish tanks or tank parts, either.

Ok everyone, don’t panic. :wink:

Yes, the parts were rinsed extremely well, and nothing absorbant came in contact with it. Bleach rinses away quite easily anyway, especially off of hard plastic.

Naturally, some degree of care is required in the rinsing. I also used declorination liquid afterwards in the new water, and added bacterial starter liquid for the tank.

What have I got in there? It’s just three goldfish left over from a turtle feeding that my wife rescued when they displayed the ability to elude the turtles.

I don’t like algae in the tank. Once it’s there I find it tends to multiply rapidly unless you put the kybosh to it. It also forms thick globs, and reduced the efficiency of the filter.

Anyway, I did this last night, and they were still alive (and gold) this morning, so there is no harm at all to them.

It’s been my experience that rampant algae growth is a symptom of poor water conditions. The algae won’t grow like that unless there’s lots of excess nitrates and phosphates in the water for it to feed on.

I love keeping fish aquariums but like all good things it can get out of hand and at one time I had 8 tanks going. Now I’m now to just 3.

I have used bleach on hard surfaces–glass, hard plastic and have had no trouble with that. For the white crystals that build up vinegar and/or salt works really well. But the most effective means for keeping the algae down is a good old plecostemus.

I had one for about five years that got as big as my hand and would jump out of the tank occasionally and go slithering across the tile floor. I would find him dry as leather and plop him back in the tank where after a few minutes he appeared as good as new. It is my personal opinion that no tank is complete without one.

I’m sure you probably know to keep fish separated according to their aggresivness but many people don’t know that you should only keep goldfish with other goldfish. They produce a lot of waste products and can make the ph really hard to keep within range.

Algae grows a great deal if your tank is in direct sunlight or is simply getting too much light.

If I ever notice algae in my tank, I simply cover up the tank with a dark sheet and don’t remove it for a couple of days. (The fish are just fine.)

I’d consider moving the tank if it is getting a large amount of sunlight.

How often do you do a partial water change in your tank? That usually helps keep the algae at bay for me.

Just get some snails.

The snails crawl along the inside of the tank, eating algae as they
go along.

If you get snails, I recommend Malaysian trumpet snails. They’re livebearers, so they don’t reproduce as quickly as egg-bearing snails. Also, they tend to stay buried in the gravel during daytime and emerge at night. This makes them less unsightly than a mess of apple snails or black mystery snails.

I’m curious–what’s your tank size? What kind of filter are you using? How much light?

Do you have plants? They might take up the nutrients that the algae are using now and help keep the algae under control.

Plecos are tropical fish and need warmer temperatures than goldfish do, right? I don’t know of any coldwater algae eaters. Besides, if the algae problem is inside the filter tubes, algae eaters won’t help there.

The tank is a 10 gallon. I have just 3 goldfish inside, with their gravel and a decorative rock. No Plants.

The light above is two of those incandescent bulbs. The tank is not in the sun.

I don’t partial change the ater very often… Maybe I will start.

The filtration is an “Aquaclear Mini” I think it is.

I will get a snail or two. Good idea.

I don’t know if the snail is such a good idea…the guy at the pet shop I bought mine at said it’d be ok, but neither snail I bought (at different times) lived more than a week with the goldfish. I think the goldfish’s waste poisoned them, to be honest.

The big snails you buy at pet stores usually starve in home aquariums. The snails you want for controlling algae and cleaning the gravel are the tiny (~1/4 inch) Malasian Trumpet snails. They don’t usually seell them at pet stores, you have to find someone with them in their tank and get a dozen or so to start them breeding in your tank.

I think this deserves re-emphasis… Make sure that you’re prepared for a snail population explosion. They can easily multiply beyond control. This is one reason why I would specifically choose Malaysian trumpet snails.

I love plecos–I don’t have a tank anymore, but I used to have a 50gallon inhabited by a 12inch pleco. He was only an inch when I got him from the store… I gave him to someone else when my life got too complicated to allow me to give water changes and such the attention they needed.

In any event. What you want for controlling algae in a small tank is an otocinclus. I know I’ve spelled that wrong. They don’t get huge, the way plecos can, and they’re nice and peaceful. I’ve always found them quite endearing. Of course, they like warmer temps than goldfish. I think. I never kept goldfish, and just have a hazy idea that they like colder temperatures than tropical fish. Maybe they’d tolerate a warmer temp–I just don’t know.

One bad thing about bleaching the filter, you kill a giant part of your biological filter when you do so.

Actually, green algae can be a sign of a healthy tank – algae won’t grow in a tank with poor water conditions. From what I recall, algae likes the end products of the cycle of the biofilter.

Goldfish often nibble on algae. It keeps them from getting constipated. Don’t put a pleco in with goldfish… plecos think a goldfish slime coat is just the yummiest thing ever, and will suck it right off at night while the goldfish are still.

I like peroxide for cleaning tank stuff. It isn’t toxic to the fish. Try limiting the amount of light the tank gets to reduce algae growth.

If you get snails, remember, if it will fit into a goldfish’s mouth, it will be eaten. An oto is a tropical fish, and is small enough to get eaten. Goldfish prefer cooler temps. They also need more room… most goldfish keepers recommend ten gallons per inch of fish.

If snails have been raised in ponds, they may be carrying brain flukes, which can affect your goldfish.

I know this is more than you wanted to know. Here’s more:

Basic care info:

Tons of good stuff:

I recently stopped keeping goldies after many years of doing so. I’ve got two 55 gallon and one 30 gallon tropical tanks now.

Actually, you spelled that correctly.

Please don’t confuse the oto with the so-called “algae eater” though. Algae eaters will eventually start sucking on the slime of other fish, so while these fish are far more common than the otocinclus, they’re also far less desirable.

If you must get a plecostomus, get a variety which won’t grow very large – a clown pleco or bushynose pleco, for example. These guys are still too large for a ten-gallon tank, though.

Yeah, I mention in another thread that the store sold me an “algae eater” that was the most vicious thing I’ve ever kept in a tank. The store I went to called that, otocinclus, and plecos “algae eaters” and didn’t seem to care that they were all different things, unless you got a concientious employee.

I definitely agree that a pleco is too much for a small tank. Once it got to it’s max. size it wouldn’t have much room. They’re wonderful–I loved my pleco. It was the tiniest thing when I brought it home. I thought it never ate and the other fish were eating its algae tablets. I even wondered a time or two if it had died under the rock thing I gave it to hide in, tried to be very gentle with gravel vacuuming around its “house” because I was so concerned about my delicate pleco’s health…and then one day this 8 inch monster swam out…

Anyway, I definitely agree that a pleco isn’t appropriate for a small tank.