How Often Should I Clean My Tetra Fish Tank?

How often to clean tetra tank

I bought my first 15-gallon tank to keep my tetras back in 2016. After I kept that home, I researched how to keep my fish alive for many years. Search engines suggested that proper water parameters, adequate school, and proper diet were enough to rear healthy fish.

And when I searched more, I realized the only way to maintain proper water parameters for tetras is to clean it often. Cleaning tetra tanks regularly will regulate the nitrogen cycle and remove small organic compounds that are harmful to your fish.

You should change 10-25% of the water in your tank every two weeks. You need to check your ammonia, pH, KH, GH, nitrate, and nitrite levels in your aquarium once a month and adjust accordingly. Bi-yearly, all the apparatus you use in aquariums like filters and siphon tubes, etc., must be cleaned and checked. Whole or deep tank cleanup is necessary only when certain fish contract certain diseases, and it is not possible to fix it with any other methods.

In this article, I will answer how often you should clean the tetra fish tank and will share tips for tetra fish aquarium cleaning and maintenance.

How Often Should I Clean My Tetra Fish Tank?

Generally, the cleaning schedule of your tetra fish tank depends on the size of your aquarium, the number of fish you have, and the gallons of water you use in your tank. Changing water daily or not changing for months both are not good for fish health.

Learn more about Tetra Fish Diseases and Treatments.

If you are using a small tank (5-10 gallons), 10-15% water change per week is enough. If you are using medium and large-sized tanks, you can change up to 25% of tank water in two weeks. But make sure you do not change more than half of your tank water because tetras cannot resist sudden huge change in water parameters.

I have written an article about Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water Condition. Check it out!

There is no hard and fast rule on how often or how you should clean your tank. However, you should take these little steps every day, every week, and every month to keep your aquarium clean and to give your tetras a healthy life.

Get to know more about the Lifespan of Tetra Fish | Keeping you Tetras Healthy and Happy here.

Here are few things you can do daily, weekly, monthly, and semi-annually to clean your tetra fish tank:

Daily Maintenance

You DO NOT need to clean your tetra fish tank daily. Doing so will even remove beneficial bacterias that help in regulating the nitrogen cycle.

You will need to observe the behaviors of your tetras. Whether they are swimming properly or not or if they are swimming only on the top or the lower levels of the tank. Check if fish is gulping for air or their color is fading away.

While feeding tetras, you just need to feed them as much food as they can finish within 2 minutes. The excess food sinks at the bottom and decomposes to form ammonia. To avoid this, you can take the excess food out of the aquarium 5 minutes after you feed the tetras daily.

Check our other article about How to Clean a Tetra Fish Tank? [Step-by-Step]

Weekly Maintenance

The smaller tanks get intoxicated quickly. So, small that is 5 to 10-gallon tanks should be cleaned once a week. For these tanks, you should not change more than 20% of water.

15-60 gallon tanks need cleaning once in two weeks with at most 25% change in tank water. Aquariums that are larger than 60 gallons also need water change once in two weeks. You should remove 1/4th of water and replace it with treated water (no chlorine, same temperature as of tank, etc.)

Check your algae stuck in the walls of your aquarium and remove it slowly. You can use a siphon gravel vacuum to clean the gravels and to remove water. You can know more about ‘Do Tetra Fish Eat Algae? – Should You Add Algae To Their Diet?‘ from here.

It is not necessary to remove fish while you clean the tank. You just need to be gentle while you clean the surfaces. I am sure you do not want to scare tetras, do you?

Monthly Maintenance

Once a month, you should check for ammonia, nitrate, pH, GH, and KH levels in your tank. It is a must. Ammonia and nitrite should be 0, and nitrate should be less than 10.

Similarly, the pH level should range from 6-7; the GH level should be 12-15 DGH. You know how sensitive tetras are for water parameters, so make sure you keep these in levels.

Record the water parameters so that you can compare the changes over the months. The results should not fluctuate highly in succeeding months.

Clean the filter media and cartridges with the extracted water of the aquarium itself. Avoid using tap water to clean filters and cartridges as it may swipe away bacterial colonies. Boil the air stones or replace them.

In the end, check the expiry dates of all the supplies you use in the aquarium. Using expired supplies may result in bad health of fish or create false results in reading.

Semi-annual Maintenance

Twice a year, it is better to unplug all the equipment connected to your tank and thoroughly clean every part. Different equipment like filters, lights, pumps, air stones, etc., may or may not be functioning properly.

So, take time, scan all the supplies one by one, and check if they are working properly. If they are not working properly, give it for maintenance or replace them. Also, make sure that you clean all the dirt, algae, and debris stuck in the equipment.

Whole Tank Cleanup

Whole tank cleanup is only needed if your fish catches dangerous diseases, and there is no other way to treat the problem. Deep cleaning means taking the fish, equipment, plants, pebbles, and everything out of the tank. Then cleaning each and everything and replacing them again in newly treated water.

Do Not Wait To Clean The Aquarium If

To clean your aquarium, you should wait for a small interval of time but do not wait to clean your tank if the following things happen:

  1. You notice abnormal behavior of fish.
  2. You see, the water of the tank changes.
  3. Cloudiness in the tank is present.
  4. Water produces a pungent smell.

Equipment Required To Clean A Tank-How Often To Clean Tetra Fish Tank?

There are a few pieces of equipment that can help us to clean our tank. Here are a few you may consider while you clean your tetra tank:

Siphon Gravel Vacuum

Siphon Gravel Vacuum performs two tasks: it cleans the gravel at the base of the aquarium, and it takes out water from the tank.

We need to perform water changes in a week or two. We remove water with the help of Siphon Gravel Vacuum.

One end will be inside the tank, whereas the other end will be in a bowl or bucket where you intend to take the water out. Siphon Gravel Vacuum sucks all the debris out of water and pebbles inside the tank.

I would suggest Aquarium/Fish Tank Siphon and Gravel Cleaner – A Hand Syphon Pump to drain and replace your water in minutes!

Algae Scraper

As the name suggests, algae scraper is used to remove algae from the surfaces or walls of aquariums. Various sorts of algae scrapers are available.

Some are small and magnetic, whereas some are long and need to be inserted inside the tank to clean the walls. They look like a mop.

For non-magnetic algae scraper, you can use QANVEE Aluminum Magnesium Alloy Aquarium Scraper Cleaner Brush Scrubber with 10 Stainless Steel Blades for Fish Reef Plant Glass Tank 26-Inch.

But using a magnetic algae scraper is much easier. It consists of two magnets. One resides outside the aquarium wall, whereas the other resides inside.

You just need to move the outer magnet. The inner magnet moves hand in hand and cleans the algae. It is small and is hand-held. For magnetic algae scraper, you can use Aqueon Algae Cleaning Magnets Glass/Acrylic Medium.

Water Testing Kit

The water testing kit tests the level of your pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrites, general hardness, and KH levels in the water of your tank. You will need to dip the strips in the aquarium water for some seconds to know the results.

Water Testing Kit is a must while cleaning a tetra tank. These sensitive little creatures can survive only at certain pH or ammonia levels. When you replace water, make sure you match the water parameters inside the tank. I like the API Aquarium Test Kit personally.


When it is time to replace your aquarium with new water, you cannot just fill tap water and pour that in your tetra tank. You need to treat water with different conditioners to remove chlorine, insects, and various toxic factors that are present in water.

Again, maintaining the same temperature as that of the aquarium is necessary. CrystalClear Vanish Dechlorinating Granules has 2 pounds. A small amount goes a long way. So, it is both durable and budget-friendly.


Buckets are just for pouring the water out from the aquarium and preparing treated water to replace in the aquarium. You will need 2 buckets.

Fish Net

If you have a small tank and plan to take the fish out when you clean the rank, you will also need a fishnet. Fishnet will help you to transport the fish from the aquarium to another vessel.

Should I Immediately Clean My Tank When I Find A Dead Tetra?

No one likes to face this situation. You would never like to see the corpse of the pets you have reared with much love, care, and effort. Despite your effort and every suitable condition, sometimes, the fish may die.

First, as soon as you notice a dead fish, remove it immediately.

Second, check the ammonia level in the tank water. If you notice ammonia present or the nitrate level increasing, change the water of the tank partially. If you do not find ammonia in the water, then inspect and try to find what was the cause of the death of fish. And contact the vet if you notice bacteria or any fungal infections.

What Happens When You Don’t Clean Your Tank With Tetra Fish?

If cleaning your tank with tetras were not important, you would not be reading this article, and of course, I would not be writing this too. Let us look at what happens when you do not clean your tetra fish aquarium:

  1. Ammonia releases all over the tetra fish tank.
  2. Tetra fish starts to lose its colors.
  3. These fishes will have a weak immunity system.
  4. Tetras lose appetite.

Get some idea about Why Is My Neon Tetra Not Eating and What You Can Do About It.

These consequences ultimately result in a shortened lifespan and untimely death of tetras.

FAQs- How Often To Clean Tetra Fish Tank?

Here are some common queries that most people have.

Is A Small Tetra Tank Easier To Clean Than A Large One?

Many of you may be thinking, “Of course, it’s a matter of common sense.” If you are a beginner, you may be planning to buy a small 15-gallon aquarium for your tetra fish because you may assume the smaller, the easier. And if you already have a small aquarium, you may be wondering how difficult would it be to clean a large one!

The major challenge for keeping tetras is maintaining water parameters inside the aquarium. Please be aware that the larger the aquarium, the easier to keep water stable.

For instance, wasted food and dead fishes decompose in aquariums. This process leads to the formation of ammonia, which is lethal to tetras. If you use a 15-gallon tank, ammonia can spike soon and affect the whole aquarium.

But if you use a large 60-gallon tank, it takes time to spike and spread throughout the aquarium. Leaving, you will have time to react and take measures.

Also, while cleaning up the tank, you do not need to remove the fish out of the tank. It has a larger space, and fish can shift to the area where you are not cleaning. The larger the aquarium, the longer the cleaning duration. Hence, it is easier to clean a large tank.

Where Should I Place My Aquarium With Tetra Fishes?

Along with regular cleaning of aquarium water, it is equally important to keep the tetra aquarium in a proper place. The place you keep your aquarium directly affects the health and lifespan of your tetras. The most suitable place to keep your aquarium is where there are low light, low noise, and no heat.

Many Tetra Fishes like neon tetras and cardinal tetras are blackwater fishes. As a result, they cannot survive in a place where they face bright light or direct sunlight. So, you should place the aquarium in the area that faces low light. You can learn Neon v/s Cardinal Tetra – The Difference here.

Likewise, the aquarium should be placed far from noise sources like a speaker and different machines. Tetra aquariums also must not be placed in the room that directly faces the main road or kitchen as vehicles and appliances may produce a lot of noise.

Tetras are tropical fish that reside in warm water. However, you should not keep them near sources of heat. Tetras are picky when it comes to the temperature they stay in. So maintaining proper temperature is a must.

The temperature of the room influences the temperature of water in aquariums as well. So, you should keep the aquarium away from sources of heat.

Last Words

Tetra Fish Tank is simple and easy to clean, only if you clean it at a regular interval. Cleaning tetra fish tanks regularly have advantages for you and tetras both.

Your aquarium looks clean and lively. Vibrant colors of the beautiful tetras are visible as well. Your tetra fish will be healthy and happy if cleaned periodically. Again it lets tetras live their life to the fullest. Just make sure you know how often you should clean your tetra fish tank.

Do not let the tank cleaning process be forceful for you; think about its benefits and start with nano steps today.

Related article:

  1. Tetra Fry Tank Set-Up: Fish Tank Requirement For The Fry
  2. 10 Reasons Why Tetra Fish Are The Perfect Pet

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