Aquarium water changes are an important regular maintenance procedure that should be done to maintain the health and stability of your tank. Removing fish waste from a fish tank is the first thing one should do at the first sign of trouble.

The Importance Water Changes

Water changes are needed to remove fish waste and keep the nitrates and nitrites in the nitrogen cycle at a healthy level. Some fish can adapt to live in water with high levels of these chemicals. Others, like freshwater angelfish and discus, require clean water to live and spawn.

The Best Way to Remove Fish Waste

About 25 percent of the water should be changed every two or three weeks. It goes quickly and easily once a procedure is established.  A few supplies will change water.

A plastic tube is needed to siphon the water out. For a large tank, a garden hose that takes the water outside could be used. With a small tank, siphon the water into a 5 gallon bucket. A small diameter plastic tube will work, but it will suck the gravel out of the aquarium if it gets too close to the tank bottom.


Siphon TubeCredit: Amazon


A siphon with a larger rigid plastic tube attached to the flexible tube will clean the gravel. The rigid tube is pushed into the gravel. The substrate will flow up to remove the fish waste, but not enough to siphon out. Do a third of the gravel each change, and do a different area of gravel each time. Some people use the waste water as a natural fertilizer for their plants and trees.

Fresh Water

Add fresh water at about the same temperature as the water in the tank. Cooler water may allow parasites or disease to attack the fish. Add conditioners to the water if needed. This depends on what chemicals the water company adds to keep the water pure. This will depend on geographic location.

Cleaning Filters

Look at the filters at this time. See if the filter medium needs to be changed and the pump motor cleaned. The filter media contains beneficial bacteria, so don’t change all at once. Follow manufacturer’s procedures for disassembling and reassembling the motor.

Clean The Glass

A good opportunity to clean the interior of the tank and remove the algae is when the water level is low. There are pads, magnetic devices with pads or pads on a stick to do this. There are also

Mag floatCredit: Amazon

Lee scrubberCredit: Amazon

chemical methods to keep algae from growing. This will also retard plant growth if the tank has live plants.

Undergravel Filter

Put a siphon hose down the uplift tubes and siphon the fish waste that has been pulled through the gravel. It is in the space between the filter plate and aquarium bottom.

Doing water changes to remove fish waste is a chore no one likes to do. It is relatively easy and the best way to keep a fish aquarium healthy, and the fish happy.