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Cleaning your fish tank.

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UNplug the HEATER if you have one. An aquarium heater will break if not in water!
This is for your tank only,  am assuming you have already netted your fish/ snails/ other creatures and put them into a suitable container. I use a 5 gallon bucket, it also holds my tank cleaning supplies when I am not using them.

Leave your filter dirty, but unplug it, you will need the beneficial bacteria to recycle your tank. IF you had a disease problem, then you must clean your filter and use new filter media.
Remove your gravel carefully, rinse in a colander and set aside, in another 5 gallon bucket if you have one.
Drain your tank, I use a power head to pump the water into a bucket. In the summer time, I put the nutrient rich water on my outdoor plants and in the garden. I also water my house plants with it year round.
Never use soap, bleach or harsh cleansers.
For glass tanks, you can use salt as an abrasive cleanser.
I use unbleached coffee filters as a scrubber, I also keep a green scratchie pad that is only used for fish.
If you can move the tank, take it outside and rinse it really good wth the garden hose. Be careful to not bump or drop it, a small crack now can be really messy later.
If you cannot move the tank (I have a 75 gallon that I will not even try to move by myself) then just drain as much water as you can and mop the rest out with a clean (double rinsed) towell or paper towells, mop and squeeze into another container, no need to drip across the floor.
Rinse with a gallon or 2 of clean water, splash it around, mop it up, repeat.
Gently replace your rinsed gravel.
Any decorations/ rocks/ plastic plants can be cleaned before replacing. If you had a problem (sickness or algae) you can scrub with a new or fish only tooth brush or similar brush, save it for fish only use.
Fill with water and treat your water if you have chlorinated tap water.
Turn on the heater and filter and any other electric things once the water is deep enough, bubble walls are best started while the tank is empty, before you add water.
Check temps and put your fish back in when the temp in your bucket/ container matches the water in the tank. This reduces stress.
There should be enough good bacteria left in the gravel and in the filter that you should be good. If your tank goes cloudy, this is normal and should clear up by itself in a week or two. Do not use chemicals or products to clear the problem, it must cycle naturally.
Feed sparingly until the water clears, and never overfeed.
Green Witch
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