Gravel Aquarium Vacuum Cleaner & Fillers Review Guide

As an aquarist, by now you understand how imperative it is to put in a significant amount of effort to keep your aquarium clean. Not only will this help to make your aquarium more aesthetically pleasing, but also it’ll help to ensure that your water friends thrive, survive and keep you amused for many years to come. In order to keep your tank’s water fresh, you’ll need a sufficient fish tank cleaner. For tanks with gravel, a gravel vacuum will be a necessity. Within this guide, you’ll learn more about these items and their importance.

The Importance of Aquarium Gravel Cleaning

As a fish owner, it is your responsibility to maintain your fish’s environment keeping it clean whilst balancing chemical levels. Whilst filtration is essential, you will also need to get your hands dirty periodically. There are a handful of aquarium gravel cleaners and they’ll certainly be able to help. Remember that a great amount of debris and uneaten food can shrink to the bottom of the aquarium and into the substrate. Without an efficient aquarium gravel cleaner, these abnormalities will be nearly impossible to remove. Below, you will discover a breakdown of the benefits of cleaning your aquarium’s substrate with the best gravel vacuum.

  • Removal of Stubborn Debris – Some debris, such as uneaten food, waste and plant debris will get stuck in the aquarium’s substrate and will be difficult to remove by traditional methods. Unless you’re willing to empty the entire contents of the tank, you should opt for a sufficient fish gravel cleaner. Whether you’re using an electric model or a manual gravel siphon, the tool will provide you with an effortless way to remove this debris, without putting your fish through too much stress. This will help to prevent large quantities of nitrate and ammonia from growing in your tank.
  • Maintaining Consistent Water Chemistry – At this point, you should already understand the important of consistent and appropriate water chemistry. Certain species require a particular pH level, in order to thrive. Allowing the debris to decompose in your tank will result in a pH change. Therefore, a gravel cleaner for aquarium should be utilized to remove the debris and to prevent your pH from being altered.

7 Most Effective Gravel Fish Tank Vacuum Cleaners & Fillers


With the information above, you can see how integral a gravel vacuum cleaner will be to your aquarium and the fish living inside. Below, you will find a breakdown of some of the best gravel vacuums on the market.

  1. Top Fin Aquarium Gravel Vacuum

Top Fin Gravel CleanerAquarium maintenance can be a pain, but if you are equipped with the proper aquarium gravel vacuum, the task will be much easier. The Top Fin manual hand pump is suitable for all aquariums and it is available in small, medium, large, and ex-large. The PVC hose is extremely flexible, so you can clean all of those hard-to-reach areas without difficulty. The Top Fin aquarium siphon is equipped with an easy-start mechanism that will definitely come in handy and this is much simpler than having to do the hand pumping action, just to get the water to suck up into the vacuum.

The Top Fin aquarium vacuum cleaner is equipped with a clip that will attach to any bucket, so there will be less mess to have to worry about. The Top Fin gravel vac is designed to separate the gravel from the water, which will prevent you from having to remove the gravel from the tank.

You will find that the wide-mouth nozzle offer much quicker cleaning, so you can get on with your daily chores. The siphon gravel cleaner is overall the best manual pump on today’s market and it is a very good value. Check stock availability and purchase from PetSmart here.

  1. EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Aquarium Electric Vacuum

EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Gravel CleanerTaking care of your aquarium can be a tough job, but it is a vital part of keeping your fish safe and healthy. That is exactly what the EHEIM gravel cleaner can do and it will allow you to do it with ease. If you are an avid aquarium owner, then this is one product you do not want to pass up. It could very well be the best gravel cleaner on the market.

One thing that sets this electric suction pump apart from siphon cleaners is that there are no buckets or hoses required for the operation. You simply just insert the suction end of the tool into the gravel and push a button located at the top of the handle. The waste will be removed and deposited into the super-fine mesh cartridge. The EHEIM quick vac is also battery operated, so you will not have to worry about trying to find an empty electrical plug and running an electrical cable. It is designed to do all of the work for you, so you can rest assured that your tank will be clean and free of toxins.

The battery can operate for up to 4 hours, which makes this a premium cleaner that will last a lifetime. This EHEIM Electric PRO Gravel Cleaner is available to purchase from Amazon, click here.

  1. Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System

Python No Spill Gravel CleanerIf you have an extremely large fish aquarium in your home, which requires routine maintenance that you dread tackling, you will need to purchase a high-quality manual hand pump. The Python No spill aquarium maintenance system is designed to quietly sift the debris out of your tank, without disturbing your precious fish.

Not only will this aquarium vacuum pump suction up the largest debris, but it is also capable of adapting to your kitchen faucet for refilling. The faucet fitting is constructed out of brass, so it will never rust or tarnish. If you fail to remove the debris in your aquarium, toxins will build up over time and make your fish very ill. Of course, maintenance is not an enjoyable task, but with the Python, you will have everything that you need at your fingertips.

The 25’ hose will be long enough, so you can drain the water away from your home or down the sink drain. The extremely large gravel tube will allow you to clean larger areas, so the job will be completed in a timely manner.

If you are looking for a manual hand pump that is capable of draining and filling, you definitely should keep the Python on your list of prospects. This is a good value quality cleaner that will last a lifetime. Check availability and buy the Python No Spill Clean and Refill system at Amazon here.

  1. Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

Aqueon Gravel Siphon and Hand PumpIf you’re looking for a great overall value, you should definitely check out the Aqueon Gravel Cleaner. Despite the affordable price tag, this product is capable of getting the job done! The Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Gravel Cleaner is very versatile and available in various sizes, including 5, 9, 10, and 16 inches. This helps to guarantee that you get the precise size for your tank’s dimensions. It is also available in three unique styles, mini, medium and large. This ensures that your fish tank gravel cleaner is perfect for the unique size of your substrate!

Although this product is somewhat basic, it is ideal for quick water changes. Take note that this is a self-priming fish tank siphon. You might have to get a little sweaty, in order to make the water drain. The Aqueon fish tank vacuum is drain only, so you’ll need to refill the tank with a separate bucket of water.

For the price, this gravel cleaner delivers excellent suctioning power, which will be powerful enough to separate the debris from your gravels. For easier use, this cleaner is equipped with a bucket clip, which keeps the hose inside of the bucket throughout operation. This will help to prevent spills and will quell your worries, so you can focus on the task at hand. Overall, the Aqueon siphon vacuum aquarium gravel cleaner is an excellent choice for those that aren’t afraid of a little hard work and are on a budget, check availability here.

  1. Python Pro-Clean Aquarium Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit

Python Pro Clean Gravel CleanerCleaning and maintaining your aquarium can be a big job, but that is exactly why the Python gravel cleaner was invented. It will help you keep your aquarium in top condition. This fish tank vacuum cleaner has a manual hand pump design, which means that you will need to do a bit of pumping action, before the water will suction up into the tubing.

You will need an empty bucket to hole the dirty water and debris, so be sure to keep this in mind, when purchasing this fish tank gravel vacuum. It is designed to separate the gravel from the water, so you will never have to worry about removing the gravel from the tank, before cleaning.

This Python gravel vacuum comes equipped with 72” heavy-duty tube will not chip or crack, even after years of use. The tubing is very flexible so you will not have any problem guiding it wherever you want it to go and you will be able to clean in those hard-to-reach areas.

You can purchase a squeeze starter bulb that will attach to the Python, which will turn the manual Python gravel vacuum into a hand pump. This is a very good value Gravel Vacuum and re filler that you should not pass up, check availability and buy from Amazon here.

  1. Lee’s Ultra Gravel Vac, Self-Start with Nozzle and Hose Clip

Lee's Self Start Gravel VacIf you’re looking for an affordable, manual fish tank gravel cleaner vacuum, with a little something extra, you should definitely check out Lee’s Ultra Gravel Vac. This specific vacuum offers a handful of features that aren’t available with other manual models. This gravel vacuum aquarium cleaner is equipped with a convenient self-starting siphon feature. This helps to get the water flowing, without excessive pumping. The vacuum’s nozzle is extra wide. This helps the user cover a bigger amount of space within a shorter period of time.

The shape of the nozzle also makes this fish tank syphon easier to use in nooks and crannies. This gives you the freedom to get the job done, without the necessity of removing your decorations. Your fishy friends will thank you for keeping the disturbances to a minimum. The Lee’s gravel cleaner for fish tank will give you the capability of removing debris from your substrate, during integral water changes.

Although the Lee’s Ultra GravelVac is somewhat basic, its hand pump functionality is much improved and the 16” hose will be more than sufficient for almost all tanks. Therefore, it is a great overall value and well worth its price! Find Lee’s Ultra Gravel Vac on Amazon here.

  1. Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer

Aqueon Water ChangerAs an aquarium owner you probably know that if you don’t have the right equipment to clean your aquarium, it can make the task nearly impossible. However, it is something that must be done in order to keep your little aquatic friends happy and healthy. With that being said, the Aqueon gravel cleaner & water changer was designed to make those water changes and maintenance tasks a breeze.

The Aqueon aquarium cleaner is equipped with a 25’ flexible hose, but it is also available in 50’, as well. This long hose will eliminate the need for a bucket, which can become extremely heavy, when filled with dirty water.

This gravel cleaner offer diversity, since it can be used to drain the water and to refill the tank. All you have to do is simply twist the valve to make the change and you will be ready to refill the tank with fresh water.

If you are on a tight budget, but will not sacrifice on aquarium maintenance efficiency, you should definitely add the Aqueon fish tank cleaner to your list your cleaning supplies. Find out more information, check availability and purchase online here.

  1. Cobalt Aquatics Power Gravel Cleaner 30-125

Cobalt Power Gravel FilterThe Cobalt Aquatics Power Gravel Cleaner makes the task of fish tank cleaning incredibly simple. The Cobalt Aquatic is equipped with an intake screen that is capable of separating the gravel from the water, so there is no need to remove the gravel from the tank, before cleaning.

This gravel cleaner could not be easier to use. Basically, you have a traditional vacuum that hooks to a power filter. The vacuum will cycle the water breaking loose the debris and pulling it up to the filter, where it will be filtered out of the water through the cartridge. The cartridge is equipped with a micron sock that will clean the water and then put back into your aquarium. The best part is that the housing just attaches right to the side of your tank.

The motor that runs the vacuum is completely sealed off, which means you can clean this tool right in your own kitchen sink, without worrying about damaging any of the components. This really is the ultimate aquarium tool. For more detail, to check availability and purchase visit Amazon here.

Aquarium Cleaning is Essential, choose the best Gravel Syphon to make your water changes easy.


At the end of the day, all aquarium enthusiasts will need to equip themselves with an effective fish gravel vacuum. With the information presented above, you can see that it is difficult to name one of these products the overall best aquarium gravel cleaner. Instead, each will be best for unique circumstances. Therefore, you should consider your needs, desires and preferences, when trying to choose a manual or automatic gravel cleaner. This will help to ensure that you get the best product imaginable and one that will fulfill your needs perfectly. For more information on cleaning your large aquarium from MyAquarium read up here.

Cleaning and Maintaining a Large Aquarium – Essential Guide

Taking care of your fish tank requires a bit of regular work, but your fish will thank you for providing them with a clean and happy home. This guide will walk you through all of the steps of a thorough cleaning. Your tank may not require all of these steps at the moment, but this thorough cleaning guide can be followed seasonally to ensure your tank remains grime free.

Although some of these steps (such as plant cleaning) don’t have to be performed often, it helps to know how to when the time comes. We’ll also cover more basic steps, like gravel vacuuming, that you’ll want to perform on a regular basis.

The Basics

Before you begin, let’s cover a couple of points that will help maintain the health of your tank.

When cleaning your aquarium, it’s best to leave the fish in place rather than removing them. Pulling fish from the tank puts unnecessary stress on them and runs the risk of injuring them during transit. You shouldn’t need to pull them during water changes, because you’ll be removing at most 25% of the water.

It shouldn’t be necessary at any point to fully drain your tank – in fact, it’s strongly discouraged. Completely fresh water will remove the beneficial bacteria and reset your nitrogen cycle from scratch, which is something that could kill your fish. Adequate cleaning and a partial water change should be plenty to remedy even the dirtiest of tanks.

For regular cleaning, you can also leave any plants or decorations in place. Only when they become visibly dirty or covered in algae should they be removed, and even then they need to be cleaned using a specific process (something we’ll cover later in this guide).

Finally, never use any type of soap to clean any part of the tank, even if it’s thoroughly rinsed off. The residue left behind (even if it’s not enough to see) can kill your fish.

Regular Cleaning

To perform regular cleaning, you’ll want to start by scraping algae off the sides of the tank. An algae scraper is the best tool for this job, and you’ll want to use a plastic (rather than metal) scraper if your tank is acrylic.

With the sides scraped clean, it’s time to move to the gravel. You’ll want to use a siphon to vacuum the gravel clean. This takes care of two tasks at once, as you can use the siphon to remove water as you clean in preparation for your partial water change.

With the gravel clean, continue using the siphon until the desired amount of water is removed. For weekly cleanings, you’ll be aiming for 10% to 15% of the water – for more thorough cleanings, you’ll want 25% to 30% of it gone. Remember to keep at least half of the water in order to maintain adequate beneficial bacteria levels.

When done, simply top the tank off with fresh water that has already had the chlorine removed using a conditioning treatment. This is the only time you should add water to the tank. Resist the urge to refill water lost due to evaporation between cleanings. It may seem like a good idea, but topping off without removing a portion of the old water will increase the dissolved mineral content of your solution. Over time, this can create an environment that will eventually be unsuitable for aquatic life.

Cleaning Plants, Rocks, and Decorations

Occasionally, you may wish to clean the (non-fish) contents of your tank. Remove them from the tank and scrub under running water. You can use your algae scraper if that makes the process easier. Never use any type of soap.

If the residue is more stubborn, mix a solution of 5% bleach and 95% water in a new bucket that has never been used for any other task (to prevent contamination). Let it soak for 5 minutes, then thoroughly rinse off and allow to air dry before returning to the tank. You can even use this solution to clean living plants, if necessary.

Cleaning the Glass

If you need to clean the glass or any other clear components, such as lights, make sure not to use any commercial or household glass cleaners. These products contain strong chemicals that are highly toxic to fish.

Instead, use a straight vinegar solution, which will remove deposits without introducing harmful chemicals to your tank.


If you follow this guide, you will greatly reduce the odds of harming your fish in the process of cleaning their tank. Remember not to use any cleaners unless they are specifically listed as safe for aquarium use. With ongoing maintenance, you shouldn’t need to thoroughly clean your tank very often. A weekly cleaning can go a long way towards eliminating residue build-up.

Aqueon 17770 Deluxe Aquarium 55 Gallon Kit Reviewed

This 55 gallon deluxe kit from Aqueon is a great choice for someone who wants all of the components necessary to kick off their large aquarium project with minimal hassle.

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It all comes packaged in a colorful product box, padded for transportation, making this is a great tank to order online. The shatter resistant acrylic construction further helps make this tank a durable choice. Inside the box, you’ll find everything needed to maintain the health of your fish population – it even comes with filters, lights, and fish food.

Just assemble following the setup instructions, fill with water, and (after some settling time) add your fish. Large aquariums have never been easier than this.

The QuietFlow power filter uses a pump to circulate water. The bundled pump has been carefully designed to avoid vibration or noticeable noise production, so your aquarium can rest peacefully in your home without making any irritating sounds while in operation.

The submersible heater provides ample power to regulate water temperatures even as room temperature begins to fall in the winter months. Still, no aquarium heater is designed to function in extremely cold environments, so you should at least keep your heat turned on a little – even if your fish species is a durable one.

Fluorescent lighting is mounted in the top hood, providing evenly distributed light across the volume of the tank, ensuring your fish can be seen from any position. The clear acrylic works to further this effect, transmitting more light than glass. Check stock availability of the Aqueon 1770 Deluxe 55 Gallon Aquarium kit here.

The Aquarium Water Care Guide

Taking care of a large (75 gallon or more) fish tank may seem like a daunting task, but the basic steps are the same as a smaller tank. Some steps, such as maintaining ideal chemical levels, can actually be easier with a large tank – the added water volume can be more forgiving.

Here are the basic steps required to maintain your fish tank. Follow these to keep your fish happy and healthy.

Water Changes

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to keep your fish healthy (besides remembering to feed them!) is performing regular water changes. These don’t entail draining all of the water – rather, portions of the water are drained and replaced on a regular basis.

This is an essential step to keeping harmful chemicals at a minimum. Left unchecked, substances such as ammonia and nitrate will build up in the water. By draining off a portion of it on a regular basis, you constantly dilute the water with fresh, uncontaminated fluid, avoiding this problem.

On a weekly basis, drain at least 10% to 15% of the total water, and replace it with fresh water. Tap is fine, just make sure to first remove any chlorine with a treatment chemical. Once a month, your flush should be more intense – roughly 25% to 30% of the total water volume.

These flushes are vital, so make sure to keep track of them.


A clean home is a happy home. Cleaning is usually done at the same time as a water change. You’ll want to vacuum the gravel at the bottom of the fish tank, as random particles (such as uneaten food) can settle in the substrate and contaminate the water over time.

During these cleanings, you may also wish to clean algae buildup from the sides of the tank. This will help provide a clear view and keep algae contamination to a minimum. While cleaning, also take the time to check the filter, which is necessary to ensure the water remains clear between water changes. Replace the filter’s carbon when necessary.

Chemical Checks

You should keep a variety of aquarium test strips on hand to keep up on various levels. Water pH, softness, and ammonia and nitrogen levels should all be checked routinely. Although these will usually stabilize after the fish have been in the tank for some time, it’s a good idea to check these at least once per month. If adjustments are required, use the appropriate additive to remedy the problem (low pH, for example, would be corrected with a pH+ chemical).

Fish Tank Maintenance Schedule

Here’s a sample to use as a cheat sheet. Follow these steps (based on the more detailed instructions listed above) at the recommended intervals for an easy schedule to keeping your aquarium thriving.

On a Daily Basis

  • Ensure the pump is active and circulating water
  • Check the water temperature to ensure it is within recommended levels
  • Make sure the lights are all on

On a Weekly Basis

  • Take a head count of your fish. If any have passed away, remove them from the tank
  • Perform a 10% to 15% water change
  • Vacuum the gravel and clean the sides of the tank
  • Check the filters
  • Make sure the electrical cords are securely plugged in and show no signs of damage

On a Monthly Basis

  • Check the tank for any small cracks or leaks. Catching these early can prevent a bigger problem down the road.
  • Perform a 25% to 30% water change
  • Use your test strips to ensure there aren’t any drastic chemical fluctuations
  • Replace carbon in the filter(s)
  • Check all lighting bulbs and clean the cover to ensure adequate light output
  • Check tubing to make sure it’s intact

In addition to this regular schedule, it’s a good idea to do an annual checkup on issues that don’t necessitate monthly maintenance.  Check the expiration dates on foods, chemicals, and testing products, and immediately throw out anything that has expired. This is also a good time to disassemble the water pump, clean the impeller, and oil if necessary. All pumps are different, so check your manual to see if there are any specific instructions in regards to pump maintenance.

All of this may seem like a lot of work, but most of these tasks take very little time, and can help avoid major problems down the road.

Your complete guide to 75 Gallon Aquariums, from Equipment to Maintenance

A s you probably know, owning fish can be a rewarding and interesting experience, and when you upgrade to a larger tank size, you can have even more of the same, although on a larger scale or with more fish. Keeping fish in an aquarium, while not the easiest thing in the world, is one of the most fun hobbies, because there are so many different types of fish, and different aquariums and environments to go along with them.

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Freshwater versus Saltwater Environments

You can create either a freshwater or a saltwater environment in your aquarium, but freshwater is probably going to be your best option. There are more things to keep track of in a saltwater environment like the salinity levels, and so a freshwater tank is a little less complicated. If you want to keep saltwater or marine fish, we’ll cover some of those basics a little later in this guide. For now, let’s stick with freshwater environments.

If you want to be successful at raising and keeping fish there are some things to keep in mind when setting up. Once you have acquired the proper setup, you simply need to make taking care of your fish a habit. We’ll get to the habits that you need to have a little later, but first, lets go over what you need to know to upgrade your fish keeping to suit a 75 gallon or larger aquarium.

Choosing a Location

If you are upgrading to a larger tank, the first thing that you need to worry about is location. You want to choose somewhere permanent, because unlike your small tank, you aren’t going to be able to move this one around when you want to. Remember that a gallon of water is about 8 pounds, so a 75 gallon tank will weight around 500 pounds. Unless you want to empty the water from your tank, or risk destroying your tank, you don’t want to move it. Because of the weight, you also need to choose the right cabinet for it, and that means something commercially manufactured to hold an aquarium that size. Don’t use your mom’s old dresser with the side propped up with old textbooks or something you bought at your local thrift store.

Here are a few other tips that you probably know, but they are worth mentioning for new fish owners who happen to be reading this article. All of these apply to both saltwater and freshwater environments.

  • Don’t put your aquarium in direct sunlight because it will make algae grow faster. Also, don’t put it in a drafty area. Both things – too much sunlight and too much cold air can cause drastic temperature changes that can be harmful to your fish.
  • Try to put your aquarium away from the most traveled paths in your home. Having people constantly walking past your fish tank will cause your fish to get stressed out unnecessarily.
  • Don’t put your tank too high or too low for you to be able to do maintenance. You might think it looks great way up there on the shelf, but if you have to get a ladder to do maintenance every time you are probably going to do it less often and your fish will suffer.

Essential Equipment Needed for Large Aquariums

Aquarium Filtration:

The first thing that you are going to need for a freshwater environment is an aquarium filter, and you’re going to need it to have a GPH or Gallons Per Hour rating that is the proper one for the tank size that you have. For example, if you have a 10 gallon tank, you’re going to need a filtration system with a GPH of 40 or higher. For a 75 gallon tank, you’re going to need at least a 300. You should always go a little higher to be safe.

Many people employ a sump tank for their aquarium, particularly marine aquariums, because there is extra equipment that can be placed into a sump tank. A sump tank is simply an extra tank that will allow you to place extra equipment and grow bacteria for biological filtration. As far as the actual filtration system itself, you can use similar setups to the freshwater filtration systems, such as a combination of biological and mechanical filtration.

You also have the choice of using chemical filtration along with the rest of your filtration system, but be careful that you know what you are doing, because too much of the chemical can be harmful to your fish. You also have the choice of using protein skimmers for marine environments, which are devices that create bubbles that the harmful substances can cling to and be removed. Also, with saltwater environments, you are going to need something to move the water like a power head.

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Tank Lighting:

The lighting equipment differs between marine and freshwater aquariums. Freshwater aquariums should be a little warmer than those used for marine lightning, and the lights should be high enough to discourage algae growth. For freshwater, the recommended rating is 5500-6500 Kelvin. A few larger tanks come with lighting, others you’ll have to buy lighting separately for. You’ll want to keep your saltwater tank lighting a little warmer, but on both, you should base it on the type of fish that you are keeping. The recommended measurement for marine lighting should be around 10,000 Kelvins.

Heating System:

Your going to need to keep water warmer, stable temperature for freshwater aquarium fish. That means that you don’t want temperature that fluctuates rapidly. You’ll need to keep an eye on the temperature with a thermometer and make adjustments when necessary. With a larger tank, you’ll want to have a backup heater as well as your primary heater in case of an outage, because you’ll be much more likely to have either larger, or more fish in the aquarium, which probably means more expensive to replace.


Use aquarium safe substrates like sand and gravel or choose live plant substrate. The sand and gravel will allow beneficial bacteria to grow. Freshwater environments should have gravel substrate, and marine aquariums should employ sand or mud substrate. You can use live plants along with whichever type of substrate you are using.

Backgrounds & Decor:

The purpose of a background is to make your tank look nicer and hide the equipment that is sitting behind your tank. Decor like castles and tunnels are also useful as it keeps the fish from getting bored.

Water Conditioners:

You need water conditioners to clean your tap water so that it is not harmful to your aquarium. A water condition neutralizes the chlorine in your water, rids it of any heavy metals and  then ages it to create less of a shock to your fish when you introduce it into the tank.

Testing Kits:

If you have kept fish before, you should already have these: a pH kit, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate test kits so that when you cycle your tank you’ll be able to make sure everything is properly balanced. For saltwater aquariums, you are also going to need to test the salinity (or saltiness) of the water to make sure that it is the right amount for your marine environment fish.

Maintenance of Your 75 Gallon Aquarium


Cycling is the process of bacterial growth in the substrates and filters – good, healthy bacteria that is. The bacteria turns ammonia from decaying food and fish waste into nitrite and nitrate. This is your nitrogen cycle or “cycling.” So, how do you remove nitrites and nitrates? By changing your water regularly. You also can use live plants to help the cycling process.

You should already be familiar with cycling if you have owned fish before. If not, it is a good idea to test out your cycling process by adding ammonia manually. Start with about 5 ppm (test after 30 minutes or so) with the fish tank set up but the lights off. Wait a week after adding ammonia and then test nitrites, which should rise as your ammonia levels fall. A few weeks after that, nitrate levels will rise and nitrite levels will fall. Then, you can change out your water as practice and once you have figured out the process of cycling properly, you can add your fish.


You should clean the parts of your filter, and the rest of your equipment every few months, but only remove part of your substrate or equipment at a time, because you don’t want to upset the delicate balance of your fish tank. Remember, you need the bacteria that is growing inside your tank, and if you remove it, you need to replace it quickly with new bacteria.


As mentioned, you need to test the pH, the ammonia levels, the nitrite and nitrate levels and keep careful track of your fish tank. For saltwater tanks, you also need to test the salinity, so you are going to need those test kits as well.

Optional Maintenance Equipment:

If you want to make it easier to care for your fish, you might want to get some gravel vacuum units that can help you remove waste from your substrate. You will also need a couple of buckets for changing out your water – you don’t want to use your dishes – and you should also have a toothbrush for cleaning your equipment – again, don’t mix it up with your real toothbrush. Nets are also extremely useful if you need to remove your fish from the water. In fact, it might be almost impossible to catch your fish otherwise.

A Quarantine Tank:

You really do need a quarantine tank if you want to be a successful fish keeper. It only takes one instance of a sick fish wiping out your entire population to make you desperately wish that you would have gotten one, so get one before it even becomes an issue. You want your quarantine tank to be outfitted with a heater and a sponge filter, and it should be cycled with some of the gravel from your main fish tank. Anytime you get a new fish, you want to keep them in the quarantine tank for up to six weeks (even if they appear healthy and are compatible with the rest of your fish) to ensure that they will not kill the rest of your population.

Lighting Timers:

Lighting timers can help your fish feel more at home and less stressed since they need darkness at night and you may forget to shut down your lamps. Having a light on at night will cause them serious stress.

Automatic Feeders:

This should go without saying. If for some reason you forget to feed your fish, you automatic feeder will take over and you fish will get fed anyway.