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Cleaning Fish Bowls

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Cleaning your goldfish bowl is, in fact, a jolly nice way to spend 10 or 15 minutes; and it is, possibly, the least you can do for your little gold pals. Who, after all, give so much in return.

What You'll Need

  • One abrasive little sponge, the sort of thing one might use to wash the dishes.

  • One washing-up basin, or something big enough to be a temporary holding tank for the fish.

  • One sieve with a fine mesh.

  • A bottle of something from the pet shop to get rid of chlorine and other dangerous chemicals in tapwater.

  • One ladle big enough to hold a fish in for about 2 seconds


You should clean your fish about once a week, possibly more often if you have lots of fish - more than 4 or 5, say - or if you have a tendency to overfeed them.

  • Move the fish bowl near to the sink.

  • Put the washing basin right next to it.

  • With the ladle, scoop enough nasty poo-filled water from the fishbowl into the basin so that the fish can swim around.

  • Scoop each fish up individually and dump it in the basin.

  • After about 3 seconds of being a bit annoyed, the fish will forget what they were annoyed about and get back to their usual swimming around.

  • Pour all the water and poo out of the fishbowl, making sure that the gravel at the bottom doesn't slide out.

  • If you have any little plastic plants, treasure chests, or scale models of the Titanic in your fishbowl take them out and put them to one side.

  • Fill the fishbowl about half-full, swirl the water around a bit, and pour it out again.

  • Pour all the gravel at the bottom of the fishtank into the sieve, and give it a really good wash under the cold tap. Get your hand in there and push it around a bit.

  • Putting the sieve aside to drain a bit, fill the goldfish bowl to the top with warm water1.

  • Scrub the inside of the bowl with the abrasive sponge. You'll be amazed at how much nasty brown staining stuff comes off the glass onto the sponge2.

  • Pour the gravel back into the bowl.

  • Build some little foundations for your plastic plants and models of the Titanic in the gravel, and wedge them in securely. The fish will love you for providing a little hiding area behind something.

  • Refill the bowl with water that matches room temperature; or at least allow the water to warm to room temperature, before returning the fish... just so the fish don't think they're swimming at Skegness.

  • Put in a couple of drops of the chlorine neutraliser stuff. This will remove the chlorine that's put in our water to kill germs, but is also quite capable of bleaching your fish white.

  • Ladle the fish back into the fishbowl. Don't be surprised if they look a bit shocked; but their memories are so short that they'll soon be swimming about as if nothing had happened.

Remember that this guide is intended purely for very simply goldfish bowls: just a couple of goldfish, the real 'fairground prize' type of set-up. More elaborate aquaria demand a lot more attention; and many common aquarium fish are much less forgiving than goldfish.

1Care should be taken not to crack the bowl by using very hot water.2Try placing your fish bowl in a spot where it receives less sunlight if algae build-up is a problem.

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