Keeping A Clean Goldfish Tank – The secret of having that crystal clear tank

You may have seen those images of a clean goldfish tank with crystal clear water and happy goldfish; and thought how nice it is if you can have the same for your tank. Let me tell you this, you can!

A clean goldfish tank
A clean goldfish tank

I can assure you that those images were taken when the tanks were at their best, and they do not stay like that forever without needing some work.

So yes, your goldfish tank can look like that too!

What is the secret?

The secret is … *drum roll*… a good filter and fish tank maintenance!

Especially with messy fish like goldfish that produce a lot of wastes, a good filter that is able to support the tank size and bio-load is very important.

If that’s the case, why do I still need to maintain the fish tank when I already have a good filter?

Do check out my post on filters and what they do. Filters can only do so much. They will not be able to wipe off algae from our tank’s glass or from the decorations. They will not be able take out debris or wastes stuck on the substrate or decorations. They will not be able to remove the built up Nitrates via water changes.

This is why we still need to do maintenance if we want a clean goldfish tank with good water condition.

A side note: Hmm… actually it would be so cool if there is such a robot that we can put into the tank and it will do all these for us. Too bad there isn’t one and even if there is, I am sure the cost of it will go through the roof.

How to do fish tank maintenance?

Take a look at my video below. I promise it won’t be long. πŸ™‚

Fish tank maintenance can be done in 3 simple routines:

Note: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please visit my disclosure page.

1. Siphon

Siphon out the goldfish poop and other debris that are on or in the substrate and decorations. This routine will remove water from the tank. Please make sure that you do not remove all of the water. A good guideline is 25%-50% of the tank water so to not shock your fish with the temperature difference from water that you will add in later.

Fish Tank Siphon
A very simple Fish Tank Siphon

HoweverΒ I usually remove 70% of the water. What can I say, I am a rebel…:) Actually as I stay in a tropical country, the temperature here does not fluctuate much.

There is this very nice & functional siphon that you can consider of getting too! It is called the “Python No Spill Clean & Fill” and you can read my review about it here.

Python No Spill Clean & Fill
Python No Spill Clean & Fill siphon. Click to buy!
2. Clean

Clean the fish tank glass by wiping off stuff that are sticking on it such as algae, goldfish poop (yes, they are everywhere) and debris. You can use your new soft kitchen sponge or a fancy algae scrapper to do the job.

I use a melamine sponge which is also known as Magic Sponge or Magic Eraser for this. They are cheap, effective and do not scratch the glass. The downside of them is that they easily break into small pieces, so you will need to remove those from the tank afterwards.

Melamine sponge
Melamine sponge. Click to buy them.

Clean the decorations in the tank when needed. I have only river rocks and substrate in my goldfish tank. When the river rocks need cleaning, I take them out one by one and give them a good scrubbing before putting them back.

Please do not take out your substrate and clean them with tap water! This will kill a lot of the beneficial bacteria that live there. Using siphon to suck out the trapped wastes and debris are already good enough. If you really need to take the substrate out to clean them, use your tank water instead.

3. Water Change

This is the part where you replenish the water that you have removed from the tank. Place a clean plastic sheet, aluminium foil, a plate, a container, etc in the tank to break the impact of incoming water. This will prevent the incoming water from stirring up the leftover wastes and debris in the substrate and decorations.

Make sure you add water conditioner to the water that you are adding in to remove chlorine and other dissolved chemicals. Follow the recommended dosage on the label of the product.

Water Conditioner
A good Water Conditioner. Click to buy.

I use a garden hose connector to connect my siphon to a long hose all the way from my living room to the bathroom. I use this to siphon the water out from the tank, and then reverse its usage to fill up my tank with water.

Garden Hose Connector
Garden Hose Connector

Usually your fish tank water will not clear up immediately after these routines. Give it a few hours, and you will see it slowly clearing up.

Don’t you need to clean the filter too?

I separate filter maintenance from my fish tank maintenance routines. Fish tank maintenance for me is more about cleaning the things inside the tank and doing water changes. Filter maintenance on the other hand is to clean the filter and its filter media, and this routine depends on what type of filter that you have.

I would recommend doing these 2 types of maintenance separately with at least 3 days apart from each other. The reason is because whenever you do maintenance whether it is for the filter or for the fish tank, some beneficial bacteria will be removed. So if you do them together, a very huge amount of beneficial bacteria will be lost and there may be a risk of sudden increase of ammonia in your fish tank water.

How often do I need to maintain the tank?

Again, goldfish are messy and produce a lot of wastes. So they will require more maintenance than small tropical fish.

How often you need to maintain the tank depends a lot on your filter, your tank size and how many fish you have in there. With a good filter, a bigger tank and recommended stocking (i.e. 20 gallons for the first goldfish and 10 gallons each for subsequent ones), the less frequent you need to maintain.

For my 50 gallons goldfish tank which provide home for my 5 goldfish (around 3-4 inches long each), I do my fish tank maintenance every week. Call me weird all you want but I do enjoy maintaining my fish tank with the 3 routines. I find it rather relaxing and therapeutic. The result of it is also very rewarding.

My ranchu in a clean goldfish tank
My ranchu in a clean goldfish tank

My Conclusion…

It is all about maintenance, maintenance and maintenance. If you make it a habit to regularly maintain your fish tank based on the 3 routines I have mentioned above, you will get a clean goldfish tank. Along with your filter, the water quality of your tank is kept in a tip top condition too!

Under the correct lighting and with a good camera, your fish tank will look like those that you admire from magazines or the internet! Okay.. that may have gone a bit too far but I hope you get my point. πŸ™‚

So how often do you maintain your fish tank now? Do you follow any other routines that are different from what I have listed? Do let me know by leaving your comments below.

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15 Replies to “Keeping A Clean Goldfish Tank – The secret of having that crystal clear tank

  1. I had couple of gold fishes before and I learn some of the information provided above in a harsh way (sorry to my 2 little fishes:((). It is very valuable information and I will definitely use some recommendations to my survived fish to make its life with us happier πŸ™‚

  2. Wow who knew! My husband is really going to love reading this and I plan on showing him this post. We haven’t made the decision to buy our daughter fishes because we’re just not sure how to maintain the tank. Thanks for the guidance!

    1. Hi,
      Thanks for the visit. Hope this and the rest of my articles will be able to provide you with some ideas and tips in setting up a fish tank for your daughter. Do come back and let me know how your new tank is doing. πŸ™‚

  3. So, the siphon. Always my least favorite part of aquarium ownership. Do you have any tips on getting the siphon started without accidentally getting a mouthful of water with a ton of fish poop floating around in it? One of the biggest reasons I don’t commonly clean my tank as much as I should is because of that one issue…

    1. I do it in this way. With the siphon submerged in water, lift it up and let the water from the siphon go down the tube. Half way through, quickly submerge the siphon into the water again. The suction created from the water going down the tube will draw the water continuously from the tank. Alternatively you can get those siphon that has a squeeze pump.

    2. Submerge the hole syphon and pipe so the line is full. Put thumb over the exit end. Put the end in a bucket and lift thumb. No more fish poop breath

      1. Hahaha.. yes, definitely no one wants the fish poop breath. Thanks for the comment. Indeed that’s a right method in getting the siphoning to start.

    3. To start your siphon, submerge the entire tube in the tank water making sure there’s no air in the tube. Cover the tip of the tube while still below water with your thumb to hold the water in it. Keeping your thumb on the tube, lift it out of the tank and point it down into the bucket. Let go and it will start to flow. (The bucket has to be below the tank level and gravity will keep the siphon going.)

  4. I don’t think that my country has melamine sponge. I actually did not see it anywhere. Do you have any recommendation for it?

    1. Hi Furkan,
      Any clean soft kitchen sponge that’s not too hard or abrasive will do. The point is not to get your glass scratched. πŸ™‚

  5. I always had an aquarium at home and I always had problems with his cleanliness. I tried all sorts of things, but nothing really helped. Thanks for the recommendations, I will definitely try them

  6. I’m new to goldfish. I bought my daughter a $0.15 feeder goldfish after she begged me for one, for months. I got a beautiful 5 gallon aquarium and he has happily lived in it for about 6 months now (the sales man at the pet store told me he’d only live 2 weeks, tops). He has gotten bigger and I have come to truly enjoy having him around (while my daughter has moved on). I clean his tank weekly but was making the mistake of cleaning the filter at the same time. I just bought a 20 gallon tank and am currently getting it set up and cycling. I plan to add another goldfish (2 GF in a 20 gallon). Will a weekly water change/cleaning be enough or should I bump it to twice – since I’ll have 2 in a 20 gallon? Thanks!

    1. Hi,
      Firstly I want to say that it’s great that you are bumping up a 5 gallons to a 20 gallons tank, and it is wonderful to hear that you are doing the necessary to set it up and to get it cycled. That’s a very good start.

      2 small goldfish in a 20 gallons is OK for now but as they grow bigger, you may want to consider getting a bigger tank. As for fish tank maintenance, I think weekly should still be fine especially you have a bigger tank now, but then again, it really depends on factors such as how good your filter is, how much you feed, how dirty your tank gets etc.

      I would recommend you to do regular water test to check the levels of Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate, and that will give you an idea on whether you need more frequent water change. If you do not have any test kit, you can consider getting this one. Hope that helps.

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