Fish tanks are a fun way to add life to a room. Whether you’re looking at setting up a simple fish bowl or creating a massive underwater mecca with coral, plants, multiple fish, you’ll want to take the right steps to set up a clean, healthy environment for your pets.


What do you need for a fish tank?

There are a few things you’ll need to create a good environment for your fish:

  • Gravel – pre-washed or coated gravel is best.
  • Decorations – fish like to have huts and tunnels that they can hide in, and plants to interact with as they swim. When it comes to live plants, artificial plants, and fixtures, only use items that are designated for aquariums. It’s not uncommon to see household toys in a fish tank, and unfortunately some of these toys have toxic chemicals that can taint the water and harm your fish.
  • Water conditioner – you’ll need a water conditioner to de-chlorinate the tap water you fill the tank with.
  • Net – when it’s time to clean the tank, you’ll need a net to safely capture and transfer the fish.
  • Gravel washer/siphon – to prevent buildup of algae, bacteria, and other harmful substances, you’ll want to clean the gravel regularly with a siphon.
  • Filtration – most fish tanks will need a mechanical filter to trap solid debris. The best mechanical filters also include a chemical filter with activated carbon that can absorb dissolved pollutants in the water.
  • Fish food – this one’s pretty obvious, but I’m listing it here more as a precaution against putting too much food into the tank. Uneaten food will pollute the water and make your fish sick, so you should never give them more food than they can eat.


What to use to clean a fish tank

To keep your fish tank clean, follow these cleaning guidelines:

  • Monitor the pH levels and visible buildup of pollutants in the water
  • Every 2 – 4 weeks, change the filter cartridge and perform a 25% water change
  • Use an algae scrubber to keep the glass walls clean
  • When you remove decorations and plants, wash them with warm, fresh water
  • Use a gravel cleaner or homemade siphon to vacuum up the gravel, stopping when you’ve siphoned about 1/3 of the water from the tank
  • Use standard sponges, towels, buckets, nets, and scrubbers to clean the glass
  • Never use Windex, soap, or other toxic chemicals to clean the tank and gravel, as these will leave a residue that can make your fish sick


How often should you clean a fish tank?

You should clean your fish tank at least once every two weeks. A thorough cleaning involves changing about 25% of the water and siphoning the gravel to remove uneaten food and debris. If you notice there is buildup on the decorations inside the tank, you can wash them with warm water (no soap or cleansing chemicals).


How to get rid of cloudy fish tank water

Cloudy fish tank water is usually caused by one of three things: free-floating particles, free-floating algae (green water), or bacterial bloom (aka new tank syndrome). Here are the best ways to treat each of this causes of cloudy water:

  • Free-floating particles – this is usually a sign that your filter is overdue for a change. If you’ve changed the filter and the water still has an off-brown cloudy color, you can use a particulate clarifier solution.
  • Free-floating algae – if the water in your tank is green, it’s most likely an algae outbreak caused by overstocking or overfeeding. Regardless of which solution you use, you’ll definitely need to clean the tank more often and feed the fish less. Once you’ve made those adjustments, there are four ways to treat free-floating algae:
    • You can use a particulate clarifier or flocculating agent
    • You can use filter floss
    • You can add a phosphate or nitrate remover
    • You can purchase a UV sterilizer (also effective against bacterial bloom)
  • Bacterial bloom – this is most common when setting up a new tank, though it can also be a consequence of overfeeding and overcrowding. If you’ve already tried using a particulate clarifier / flocculating agent and that didn’t work, try the following solutions:
    • Change the filter
    • Replace the water
    • Use a biological supplement
    • Add an enzyme mix to target the bacterial bloom directly
    • Purchase a UV sterilizer to control the bacteria and algae in the tank


What is the life span of a betta fish?

Bettas (formally known as Siamese fighting fish) will usually live for 3 – 5 years in captivity.


What kind of fishes can live with bettas?

While there’s no guarantee your betta fish will get along with any other fish, there are 11 aquatic creatures that are known to get along better with bettas:

  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Clown Plecos
  • Ember Tetras
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Loaches
  • Neon Tetras
  • Pygmy Corydora catfish
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Zebra Snails


How often do you clean a betta fish tank?

That depends on the size of the tank. Smaller tanks may need to be cleaned every few days, while larger tanks can go up to two weeks before cleaning is necessary. With betta fish, it’s good to replace about 30% – 50% of the tank with fresh water each time you clean.


What kind of fish can live in a bowl?

There are five types of small fish that can survive in a fish bowl:

  • Bettas
  • Gourami
  • Goldfish
  • Paradise Fish
  • White Cloud Fish


How to stop algae growth in fish tank

Take a four-step approach to stop algae growth in your fish tank:

  1. Use a mechanical filter with activated carbon chemical filters
  2. Siphon the gravel once every two weeks
  3. Replace at least 25% of the tank water with fresh water when you clean
  4. Scrub the walls with an algae mitt periodically


How to lower ammonia levels in fish tank naturally

If you use an ammonia test kit and find there is ammonia in the water, there are a few ways you can naturally lower the ammonia levels in the fish tank:

  • Change the water – you should be replacing at least 25% of the water every two weeks when you clean. If there is ammonia in the water, you’ll want to replace the water every day for 2 – 3 days to cycle through the water faster.
  • Siphon the gravel at least once every two weeks
  • Use a mechanical filter with an activated carbon filter
  • When you’re adding fish to a tank, only add 3 new fish each week
  • Don’t overfeed the fish
  • Increase the aeration in the water