How to Clean a Tetra Fish Tank? [Step-by-Step]

planted aquarium | clean a tetra fish tank

Many individuals prefer to house fish as a pet to gain some kind of hype in their home décor. If you have a well-sustained aquarium, it can present itself as a center of attraction for visitors. The plus point of keeping aquarium that I can say as an owner myself is that it can enhance one’s creative outlet. You can completely relax while cleaning the tank. Hence, this article provides you with information to clean your tetra fish tank.

Tetra fish are one of the most popular fish that you can find an in-home aquarium. The main specialties of the tetras are their beautiful, bright and colorfulness that can captivate anyone. Not just that, tetras are very hardy fish, capable to adapt to different water parameters. Even the beginner fish keepers love to nurture these fish.

As a fish owner, you will need to consider many things. One of the most important factors is the cleanliness of your tank. To ensure the optimum health of your fish, you need to conduct routine cleaning and maintenance. When you carry this out regularly, you will help in the regulation of the nitrogen cycle, remove the buildup wastes, as well as stock up the necessary minerals and compounds. For fish such as tetras, you will need to monitor all of this very carefully as these fish need a good, stable and pollution-free environment.

Most beginner fish keepers have a misconception that it will be easier to clean up and look after smaller tanks. This is not the case. In a large tank, it will be easier to stabilize the water parameters and maintain it regularly.

In this article, I will explain all the necessary guidelines that you need to follow when you clean the tetra fish tank. Continue reading for more.

Required Equipment to Clean Tetra Fish Tank

You need to be prepared if you want to clean your aquarium. Cleaning your tank should not be a decision you make when you are bored. You need a scheduled time and proper equipment. If you are prepared, then cleaning the tank is not at all difficult.

Tetras are freshwater fish; hence, you will need to ensure that you have all the necessary items in order to clean a tetra fish tank. You can go through the entire required list 2 to 3 times until you gain confidence.

Water Conditioner or Prepared Water

The preparation is the first step for cleaning your tetra tank. Once you have adjusted, the first step will be to prepare the water to replace during the water change. You will need to be precise about how much water you are going to replace and prepare water accordingly.

If you do not have previously prepared water, you will need a water conditioner to treat chlorinated tap water.

Algae Scraper

The next step is to clean the glass inside the tetra tank. For this, you will need algae scrapper with a combination of scrubby pad and straight-edged scraps. I will recommend using a magnetic cleaner. This will clean the algae developed up to 12 mm thick.


Now, you will need a large bucket of about 5 gallons (19 liters). You should use this bucket only when cleaning the tank and replace the water into the tank. If you use the bucket for another household purpose, you can mix unnecessary chemicals into the tetra fish tank.


You will need a siphon-type vacuum cleaner to clean the gravel in your tank. You can also use an electrically operated vacuum. This is the professional type of vacuum cleaners. Such vacuums will help pick up polluted debris even from the bottom of the tank. Therefore, you will need an electric vacuum and not a battery-operated machine.

Filter media

This is an optional requirement. You will need cartridges, sponges, carbon packets, etc. You will need this when you are changing your filter media.

Water Testing Kit

You will need other testing equipment to test different water parameters such as pH level, hardness, temperature, etc.


If you have a tank that is larger than 10-gallon then it will be difficult to move the tank. This is where the siphon comes in. You can use siphons to take the water out of the tank. An extra bucket will come handy in this process.

You will need to be careful when doing this to ensure that you do not disturb debris at the bottom.

Before you start the cleaning process, you need to shut down all electrical equipment attached to your tank such as heaters, air pumps, filters, etc. Along with this, you also need to remove all the decorations present in the tank. You can remove artificial plants but not live plants.

Process of Cleaning the Tetra Fish Tank

You need to make sure that your tank is somewhat empty (water level of 5-6 inch from the bottom) before cleaning the tank. However, do not remove any tetras. The tetras do not like to be disturbed. When you remove them for cleaning, there can be chaos and variation in the water parameters that can cause stress in the tetras.

After you have assembled all the required equipment, you can start up cleaning the tank. Know all the detail process further.

Remove Water

You should replace the water in your tank every 1 to 2 weeks. The amount of water replaced should be by calculating the rate of nutrient accumulation. Once you have regulated the cleaning process, you need to replace water by 10% to 20% each week.

The main aim of changing and replacing the water is to reduce toxic chemicals such as phosphates, ammonia, nitrites, etc. developed in the tank. These are produced due to the fish excretes as well as uneaten foods by the fish.

You need to siphon out the old water in order to remove it from the tank. You should also use the siphons to clean up the gravels as it also helps in removing the wastes that are stuck in the aquarium substrate.

Removing Algae

When you are removing the algae from the tank walls, it is best to use the magnetic algae cleaner. It comes with two magnets; one needs to place inside the aquarium and another outside. You will drag outside magnet and the inside one comes along. This will help clean up a huge amount of algae.

An important factor to consider is that you cannot use any sponge or scrubber from your kitchen. Likewise, never you any kind of soap or detergents as it has a mixture of many harmful chemicals for your tetras.

Cleaning the Gravel

You will need to use a gravel vacuum while cleaning the gravels. These can suck out all the wastes, excretes, extra food items and debris from the water.

You can clean your gravel about 20% to 30% every month. If you have very tiny tetras, which are delicate, you can use fishnet at the end of the siphon so that they do not get sucked.

Cleaning Decorations

Most of the time, algae are built in your tank decorations due to the nutrients in the water. Hence, you will also need to clean your decorations as well.

You can clean your decorations by using algae pads as well as unused soft-bristled brushes. Just as you cannot use soaps and detergent while cleaning the tank walls, it is the same for the ornaments.

If you are having trouble cleaning the decorations from inside the tank, you can remove them and soak them in a bucket filled with ¼ cup of bleach and water for about 15 minutes. Do not forget to treat the decorations with chlorine water conditioners before keeping them back to the tank.

Water Replacement

After performing all the cleaning, you will need to replace the water that you have taken out. Since tetra is freshwater tropical fish, the water you replace should have all the qualities of this water condition. You will need to prepare water to be replaced beforehand.

You can leave the water for about 24 hours if you have time so that the chlorine in the water gets evaporated. Otherwise, you will need to use a water conditioner. You will need to wait for the water you are going to replace to reach the room temperature or the temperature of the aquarium.

Watch the water parameters

Once you are done with everything, you will need to monitor the tank water. It may take a few hours to clear up the cloudiness. After some time, you can see clear and sparkling water in your tank.

Clean the Tank Exterior

Finally, the last step is to clean the exterior of the tank. You can use distilled white vinegar solution outside the tank wall. Be careful when you are cleaning the exteriors and make sure that you do not disturb the tank water.

How Often do you Clean The Tetra Fish Tank?

When you maintain and monitor your aquarium daily, weekly or monthly, you will only need partial changing of water. You might not need the full change of the water.

Tetras are schooling fish and you will need a big tank for these species. Generally, the amount of water you need to replace directly proportionate to the size of the tank. Tetras are also kept in the community tanks. Larger the size of the tank and the amount of fish in it, the faster you will have to change the water.

Therefore, you will need to replace around 10% to 20% of the water every week or biweekly. Not just that, you will need to monitor the water conditions as well as prepare for any circumstances in the water.

Sometimes, the water can get dirtier quickly. You will need to act accordingly when this happens.

Parameters Needed for Tetras

You will need to preserve and regulate the different water parameters for your tetras. This will include the temperature, pH level, hardness, the level of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates.

There should not be drastic changes in these parameters. If it happens, there will be conflict in the health of your tetras.

The temperature that you should maintain ranges from 72°F to 82°F. It will be beneficial for your tetras if you can manage a constant temperature.

The tetras can like slightly acidic water. Hence, you need a pH level of 6 or 6.5 to 7 or 7.5.

The alkalinity of the water for freshwater fishes should be around 4 to 8 KH.

There should not be any traces of ammonia and nitrites. In addition, the number of nitrates should also be very low, about less than 50pp.

You can find the detail description of setting up a tank for tetra fish in our other article.

Closing Remarks About Cleaning the Tetra Fish Aquarium

You need to regulate this cleaning cycle every month. This will help to maintain a good tank environment with healthy fish. You can maintain your aquarium daily and weekly. You should also take care of your tetras with their diet and behavior. Additionally, monitoring the pH level, temperature, and other parameters should be daily.

When you do this regularly, there is less chance for the development of harmful toxins in their tank. You should notice the little changes in your tetras as well. Your tank equipment also needs to be taken care of repeatedly.


To clean a tetra fish tank is not a very difficult task if you know what you are doing. You need to understand the nitrogen cycle of the tank and the process of partial water replacement. For this, conducting your own research is preferred. You can also ask for expert’s advice if you are confused.

Many aquarists, beginners as well as experienced easily manage to care for the tetra fish and maintain the cleanliness of the tank. You just need to show a little amount of dedication and effort. Then, you can create a happy and healthy environment for your tetras. When you are doing everything right for your fish, you see them thriving in the environment you created, which will bring you great joy.

Lastly, I hope that this article has helped you understand how you can clean up the tank for your tetras. If you follow these guidelines, you can easily handle any tetra tank.

Make sure to check out more about different species of fish, their care and required living conditions in our other articles as well.

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