How To Easily Do Weekly Aquarium Water Changes?

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The fear of regular aquarium cleaning and water changes is one of the main reasons people don’t keep fish in their house. The truth that these works are very easy and wonderful if you want which tools to use and how to handle with them. Aquarium supply market today offers so many helpful equipment that helps to change aquarium water and clean the algae in the same time. Thanks to the use of aquarium cleaning tools, the weekly aquarium maintenance remains only a pretty simple and interesting task.

Aquarium water change guide

Step 1 – Preparation all essential tools for water changes

Following are four essential things you will need for the process:

All of these items are available at your local pet store or online shop. However, you can find some best tools for water changing with the short guides in this article, keep reading.

Step 2 – Get rid of the algae with an algae magnet cleaner

The best place to start the water changes is removing any algae from the glass of your tank. An algae magnet cleaner is the perfect tool to do this work. It includes two magnets and is very easy to use.

Jasonwell Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Glass Algae Glass Cleaner Scrubber...
  • Clean algae and scum off of the inside of your aquarium the easy, fun way!
  • Strong magnetic forces cause the inside cleaning brush to follow the outside handle. Just wipe the outside, and the inside is cleaned!
  • The inside piece floats, so if it becomes separated from the outside piece, it's easy to retrieve.

You simply scrub the inside walls of the tank by controlling the outside magnet and the inside one wipes away all of the algae built up on the glass walls of the tank. This tool is very wonderful that help you clean the algae on the glass without getting your hands wet.

Make sure if you have a glass tank you use a tool meant for glass tanks, the same with acrylic tanks. I strongly recommend use the Flipper algae magnet cleaner because it is designed to be able to use for both glass or acrylic aquarium without worry about the scratches appearing after cleaning.

FL!PPER Flipper Cleaner - 2-in-1 Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner - Fish...
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  • MAJOR TIME SAVER: The 2-In-1 Magnetic Aquarium Fish Tank Cleaner halves the time for daily cleaning. Ideal aquarium accessories for use on glass tanks up to (3/8" - 1/2") thickness / 150 gallons
  • SQUEAKY CLEAN!: These aquarium cleaning tools clean even the most stubborn Coraline. The Flipper fish tank cleaner is made with rare earth magnets for incredible cleaning strength.

After cleaning the algae, some of it will end up floating down to the bottom of the tank, but don’t worry the next step will help you take care of just that problem.

Read the algae magnet cleaner guide: https://lovefishtank.com/algae-magnet-cleaner/

Step 3 – Remove old water, clean the gravel with a siphon

After all of the algae has been removed, get your siphon and bucket out to withdraw the old water. When using the siphon, stick it down into the substrate of the tank to make sure you are sucking up all of the leftover waste and foods that your algae eater and cat fish (if you have any) were not able to eat.

Cleaning the gravels with the siphon
Cleaning the gravels and remove the water with the siphon.

Suck up as much debris as you can because if you let these build up in your aquarium, nitrate toxic will be produced in the water and poison your fish. Save the water out in a bucket or a sink for later use on cleaning your filter to keep some of the helpful bacteria.

Occasionally, it is a good idea to clean the glass and decorations in your tank. I recommend you use this method to pick up the debris from your ornaments too. Taking your ornaments or gravel out to clean them will cause good bacteria to be removed from the tank.

Read the gravel vacuum cleaner guide here: https://lovefishtank.com/gravel-vacuum-cleaner-siphon/

Step 4 – Refill the tank with dechlorinated water

Once you have removed about 25% of the water it is time to start filling your tank back up. This is why it is essential to not use your bucket for anything else. If you were to use it for mopping the floor or cleaning the house it will likely have small chemical particles from cleaning products, and while these may work well to clean your house they are quite harmful to your aquarium and fish.

using water conditioner for water changes

You can now refill the tank but I would recommend a chlorine remover or water conditioner be added if you are using tap water. Chlorine from tap water will harm your fish and kill the helpful bacteria living in the aquarium and filter materials.

Be sure to check the instructions on the dechlorinator (or conditioner) you are using and mix the proper amount into each bucket to make sure no chlorine makes its way into your tank; this too can be quite harmful to your fish. While a dechlorinator only plays a role in removing the chlorine, a water conditioner has more helpful affects on your fish. A good water conditioner can remove ammonia and nitrites, and protecting the mucous membrane of the fish after water changes.

Step 5 – Cleaning and preparing the filter

Depending on your aquarium filter type, cleaning the filter could mean washing or throwing out filtration media or something else. This should be done with every water change to ensure a smooth working tank. You should occasionally wipe off any algae or debris from a heater or protein skimmer, etc.

There are several types of filters available, some requiring more maintenance than others.

  • For power filters, internal filters, canister filters, corner filters, only disassemble these filters to get out and clean (or change) the filter materials. Then reassemble them.
  • For sponge filters, clean the sponges as cleaning the biological media.

The best way to clean the filter media is to collect some water from your water change in a bucket or the sink you are siphoning to. Then rinse the filter media thoroughly in that water. This will help keep some of the bacteria still on the media. Read more: filter media setup and cleaning.

Benefits of regular aquarium water changes

Besides feeding your fish, water changing is the other important work of keeping the fish happy and healthy. These water changes are crucial to the well-being of your fish tank and cannot be avoided. Water changes should be done and are a must work regardless of any filter types used for the tank. Beside cleaning your fish tank, there are three big benefits of water changes.

1. Decrease the accumulation of nitrate

As you know, biological filtration can help you reduce the amount of ammonia and nitrite that are very harmful to your fish. The biological filtration transfers ammonia to nitrites and then nitrates that are known as a less harmful substance for your fish. However, high nitrate content within water adds to the amount of stress your fish are placed under. When fish become stressed, their immune system is compromised and they’re vulnerable to a spectrum of diseases and parasites which are in your water.


In nature, nitrates are majorly used by plants as their essential nutrients and some are degraded by denitrifying bacteria. Nitrates are also the main nutrient of algae, so algae bloom (overgrow of algae) indicates that there are too many nitrates in your aquarium. You can also use a nitrate test kit to check the nitrate in your aquarium.

Because most aquarium systems lack the ideal conditions to efficiently process nitrate, the nitrates can’t be removed completely and be accumulated in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. So changing water is very important to partly remove the nitrate out of the aquarium.

2. Remove of organic compounds and improve water clarity

Dissolved organic compounds like phosphates can affect light transmission through water, giving it a yellowish tint; this can affect the growth and coloration of corals.

Yellowish tint water in planted aquarium

Just like nitrates, excess phosphates in your tank will also lead to excessive algae growth. While phosphate do not pose an immediate threat to the health of the fish, they do make for an unsightly tank and unnecessary amount of work in order to keep algae from returning in force.

In extreme cases, too many decomposing organic materials cause the water to lose its buffering capacity to adjust pH changing and an acidic environment can be established in your aquarium. Maintaining stable pH is important for the health of aquarium inhabitants, especially the seawater fish needing a pH higher than the neutral (pH 7).

Water changing help to manage levels of dissolved organics, but to be most effective, a routine of regular water changes must be implemented from early in the tanks life.

3. Replenishment of essential minerals and trace elements

Normal bodily functions of aquarium lives (fish, aquatic plants, coral, nails, shrimps…) require scores of different elements such as vital minerals, trace elements, nutrients, and vitamins to ensure a healthy life. They take these elements from foods and the water, so these are quickly exhausted without new water changing. Just like in humans, they can develop in deficiencies of certain elements. And though they can live YEARS with some of these deficiencies, it hinders the quality of their life and will inevitably shorten their life span.

In marine aquariums, trace elements and essential minerals are very indispensable to corals and invertebrates to grow. Besides, regular water changes also help maintain proper salt concentration in these systems.

New water entering the system will replenish vital elements and minerals needed for fish to live a healthy complete life as well as introduce more buffers to replace the one used up in acidification. It seems counterproductive taking water out of a tank and replacing it new, different water. However, so long as this is done in small portions it will assist in creating a healthy, stress free, and stable environment for your finny friends to live in.

There are a variety of different opinions on the best methods to keeping fish in the hobby, one universal rule that is accepted by anyone who has a firm grasp on fish nutrition and advanced water chemistry is the importance of water changes. By removing a small amount of water from the system on a schedule, you help with the removal of nitrates and phosphates as well as the replenishment of minerals depleted.

Regardless of what type of aquarium you keep, the balance an aquarist aims to establish is built around the concept of end-cycle waste removal and replenishment of essential and trace minerals. And regular water changing could address all these problems.

How often do you change the aquarium water?

You may want to start out slowly, especially if your tank has recently been set up. A few small water changes a week for the first few weeks will accustom your fish to the process and they will be less stressed. Then once your tank is established as well as all of the parameters in your tank are showing good from the test kits, you will only need to change about 25% of the water once a week.

If you begin to notice a lot of debris floating in your tank I would recommend doing a water change that day even if you haven't made it to the normal water change interval.

Whatever maintenance routine you choose, it is important to do it regularly and keep your tank clean and looking nice. The better you care for and maintain your tank, the more successful you will be in keeping healthy and happy fish. And don’t forget to use the cleaning tools in this article to make the work easier, they are the best tools for water changes on the market today.

Read the algae magnet cleaner guide: https://lovefishtank.com/algae-magnet-cleaner/

Read the gravel vacuum cleaner guide here: https://lovefishtank.com/gravel-vacuum-cleaner-siphon/

Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2022-09-11.

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1 thought on “How To Easily Do Weekly Aquarium Water Changes?”

  1. Great article I purchased a 20 gallon octagon shaped aquarium and didn’t have a clue how to take care of it. I’m still hesitant to do it. It sounds like a lot of work to hav a fish tank. I’m going to sleep on it and decide.


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