ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Keep Your Aquarium Water Crystal Clear

Updated on April 28, 2018

Most aquarium owners decide to keep fish tanks in their homes for the beauty and serenity of the fish and bright, beautiful aquatic display. Maintaining crystal clear aquarium water is vital to achieving this goal, as any murkiness hinders this experience (and possibly the health of the fish). For anyone struggling with murky fish tank water, try these suggestions before giving up. For beginners, follow these tips when setting up your fish tank for the first time.

Fish Tank Filtration and Good Bacteria

Make sure you have both an outside hang filter and an under-gravel filter suitable for the size of your particular tank. If your tank is at the upper limits of a particular filter model, consider the next size up. For the outside hang filter, make sure that you position the suction tube close to the bottom of the tank and that there are no cracks or lose components. Also, the growth of good bacteria is vital, and many hang filters have “sponges” in them to help with this process (positioned in front of your standard filter cartridge). For the under-gravel filter, if you cannot find one to fit the exact dimensions of your tank, get the one that covers the most ground. It should have slots to position filter tubs in both back corners, and try to find one where the filter cartridges are easy to pull in and out of the tube-tops for changing.

Before putting new filter cartridges in your tank, be sure to rinse off the carbon! If you don’t, you’ll get a lot of carbon dust in your water. Simply rinse the fresh cartridges under cool water for maybe ten seconds on each side (and rinse the smaller under-gravel cartridges, too). Once your filters are set up with the proper amount of carbon (individual carbon packages come with the filter cartridges—use these as a guide), have a nice bed of gravel in place that is thick enough to cover the under-gravel filter and hold your display items in place, but not so thick that it will trap too must fish waste and hinder filtration. Shoot for maybe 1-2 inches, but this can vary based on tank size. One your tank is up and running, it may take some time for the good bacteria to accumulate—do not get discouraged if your water is a bit foggy at first! Good bacteria is a very important component of getting that “crystal clear” water, and squeaky-clean new fish tanks do not have any to help with this at first.



Aquarium Maintenance

Regular water changes are important for water quality and fish health. Depending on your fish-to-water ratio, every month to two months is usually appropriate. You might be able to stretch it two-three months if you have a huge tank with only a small number of fish, but I wouldn’t push it. Aim for draining about one fourth to one third of the tank water. Using a suction tube and a bucket is usually the easiest way to do it (any fish store should have a suction tube). You can also use the tube to “vacuum” the gravel to suck out additional fish waste. When you fill up the tank again with clean water, do a touch-test to try to make it the same temperature as the water already in your tank (ideally, you’ll want a proper-sized tank heater that keeps the water around 82 degrees Fahrenheit for tropical fish health). Fill the tank a little bit at a time to keep from shocking the fish, and always be sure to treat the water with drops before putting it in the tank (looks for something that treats for chloramines/chlorine).

Another maintenance component would be the filter cartridge changes. You can typically wait until your filter is starting to over flow out of the tube opening, and then completely replace the cartridge with a new one that has fresh carbon. Avoid scrubbing the filter clean! You might need to clean the inside of the filter where the motor is once in a while to make sure it is functioning properly, but keeping it a little bit “dirty” allows the good bacteria to do their job of helping to keep the water clear.

As far as the glass and other items in the tank go, the easiest way to keep these clean is to have a plecostomus in your tank (sucker fish). The pleco will be able to get areas that you cannot, and it can be difficult to clean the glass yourself without scratching it. Feed your pleco algae wafers if it doesn’t look like it’s getting enough food from tank algae.

TIP: Use ammonia testers to make sure you are not accumulating any ammonia. If you are, consider a more aggressive maintenance schedule and mix the carbon with some white ammonia-neutralizing crystals (similar to carbon only white--usually found at any aquarium store).


Fish vs. Tank Size vs. Food

A very common mistake that leads to aquarium issues is having too many fish or fish that are simply too big for your aquarium size. If you are a beginner, definitely stick with smaller fish, and make sure that you do research on how big certain fish can grow. Most of the time, fish will only grow big enough to fit your aquarium, but this is not always the case. If you are not sure, consult with a professional at your local aquarium store and have your fish tank size (as well as any current fish and their sizes) handy. And be sure that you are not over-feeding the fish. Use good quality flake food that is designed to avoid clouding the water, and only feed what your fish can eat within a few minutes. Always turn OFF the filter until after your fish have eaten the food, and shoot for a feeding schedule that is every-other day as opposed to every day. Most fish are fine and actually healthier on this type of schedule, and you won’t have as much fish waste in the water. Lastly, some fish, such as goldfish and catfish, are notoriously messy (poopy) and will create more challenges for tank cleanliness. Again, consult with your local aquarium store if you are not sure.

This might go without saying, but check your tank daily for any dead fish! A dead fish will funk up a fish tank very quickly!

Good luck with your fish tank maintenance. Please feel free to share any extra tips and comments below!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)