How Often Should You Clean Your Fish Tank? Aquarium Cleaning Frequency

maintenanceAhh, fish tank cleaning… Who doesn’t get excited at the mere thought of cleaning the aquarium filled with waste and gunk built up on the edges? The whole process is such a joy and every fish owner looks forward to this part of their tank maintenance.

Ok, I’ll stop the joking around. Aquarium cleaning is just one of those things that nobody likes but is very necessary for the health of your fish. So to answer the question “how often should I clean a fish tank?” the answer really depends. We will go over a few things to consider when deciding on the correct frequency.

How Many Fish in the Tropical Tank?

One of the first things to consider with fish tank cleaning frequency is how many fish are in there. If you just have a couple pet goldfish then you can probably get away with tank cleaning of around once every two weeks. If you have more, then you’ll want to clean your fish tank around once per week if it isn’t already established.

A once a week cleaning might involve removing 25% of the water and replacing it with some treated water. It’s also good to clean the gravel with an aquarium vacuum and remove any unnecessary debris and food leftovers.

Are The Fish Healthy?

One of the best ways to find out the optimal aquarium cleaning frequency is by looking at your fish and analyzing them for signs of distress. If they are swimming around slowly and look sluggish and tired they might be trying to tell you something. It’s best to at least do a partial water cleaning if this appears to be the case.

Different Cleaning Schedules

So now that you have some more information, here are some example cleaning schedules for different time frames.


algaeDoing a water change once a week is fairly standard in most aquariums. You only need to take out about a quarter of the water when done at this frequency unless it is really dirty. Also, do a quick run through with the gravel vacuum and remove the algae with a scraper.


In most healthy aquariums the monthly cleaning can consist of testing the water for ammonia, PH and nitrate levels. Also cleaning the aquarium filter (example) is highly recommended.

Twice Per Year

Roughly every six months you will want to do a thorough clean where you unplug the tank and thoroughly go through it. Make sure to clean everything and replace any broken parts like lights and filters. Scrub the sides to remove all the dirt and make the glass look clear.

A word of caution is to not to do this extreme cleaning too often because it can actually stress out your fish. The nitrate levels will be low and there is less of the good kind of bacteria which can be good for fish.

How To Clean The Tank Less Often

If you’re tired of cleaning your fish tank then pick up one of these self-cleaning tanks. They will take a ton of the work off your plate and let you enjoy your tank more without all the added stress of regular cleanings.