Everyone loves a clean tank but a grubby, algae-covered tank can really detract from the beauty of the fish.

It can even make you want to give up fishkeeping! But, by maintaining your tank, filter and decor regularly it will keep the tank clean and looking great while at the same time avoiding a big strip down or worse still a permanent tank close-down.

Scrub aquarium ornaments in water

Take the ornaments out of the tank and scrub them in a bucket of warm tap water. Use an aquarium cleaning brush, soft brush or an old toothbrush to remove as much dirt and algae as you can, before rinsing under clean water. A jet washer can be used for stubborn algae on rocks, wood and artificial plants, but don’t use it on ornaments as it may remove the paint. Purpose-built cleaners are available for safe, proven results. 

Showerheads are useful for cleaning aquarium decor and plastic plants, as long as no one minds you using it! Avoid detergents like soap or washing up liquid as although effective they may bring residue into the aquarium. You don't have to use aquarium water to clean ornaments because the beneficial bacteria will remain in the filter and in tact.

For very stubborn black beard algae or cyanobacteria outbreaks, it can be a good idea to put ornaments outside and leave them out there for days or weeks to dry out and ensure the algae infestation is killed off. Then scrub the ornament with an algae pad and hot tap water and place it back into the tank.

Use algae eaters to clean fish tank ornaments

There is a myriad of algae-eating fish and shrimp which will tirelessly clean all the surfaces of the aquarium and remove green algae. Use Otocinclus and algae-eating shrimp in small tanks and Bristlenose catfish and flying fox in medium to large tanks.

Sailfin and Black mollies can be effective algae eaters, or use a small army of different fish and shrimp species to attack algae and graze it 24 hours per day. They may be able to get to places that you can’t so if you haven’t employed the services of algae-eating fish, give it a try. You may be surprised just how much algae they can remove within a few days of being added. 

How to stop aquarium ornaments going green

The number one cause of algae outbreaks in fish tanks is excess light, so if you don’t have live plants leave the tank lights off when you’re not viewing the fish. If you do have plants, give them fertiliser to make them strong enough to outgrow algae, but limit the photoperiod to just eight hours per day. Floating plants can also help to cut down light reaching the surfaces of ornaments and other decor.