The 99c Store Approach to a Fish Tank Water Change


That’s right, ladies and gents, there’s a really cheap way to cleaning your tank, and an easy method to go along with it. Keep in mind, this method is for tanks under 3 gallons only! Now what you’ll need…

99 cents store: Standard bucket (can be a kiddie shovel and pale sand bucket), turkey baster, 1 gallon container, standard measuring cup, measuring spoons

Pet Store: Just your water conditioner! For price estimation reasons, let’s just say $7 API Stress Coat (as you know, my favorite)


That’s right, you can have all the materials needed for a water change for only 12 bucks! If you’re a poor college student like me, this really comes in handy.

Here are the steps to a budget water change:


For learning purposes, we’re pretending you’re doing a 1/2 water change on a 2g tank.

1. Wash hands thoroughly, leaving no soap residue behind. Soap in the water can kill your fishie. Another fun fact: No metal can touch the water! So when filling your tank for the first time, make sure the faucet doesn’t touch the top of the water.

2. Take your 1 gallon container and fill with room temperature water. Use the measuring spoons to pour in the correct dosage of water conditioner and let it sit. Remember that, in this scenario, we’re doing a 1/2 water change on a 2 gallon tank… thus, we’ll need only one gallon’s worth of the water conditioner for the water change. If you need to pour your container in several times to fill the top (because say the container’s less than 1gal), measure appropriately. Never pour unconditioned water into your tank.

3. Bring the standard bucket, large measuring cup, and turkey baster over to your tank. You may also want to lay a hand cloth down, as it may get a little messy. With the measuring cup, empty half of your tank’s water into the bucket. Remember, gentle! You don’t want to scare your fish or accidentally find your buddy in the measuring cup. Avoid fishie if at all possible.

4. With the turkey baster, suck up visible waste like poo and uneaten food, and maybe dig around a few places for hidden gunk. Leave a few spots untouched.

5. Empty your now dirty bucket of water, and gently pour in the conditioned water you had sitting throughout this process. Try aiming for decor. Make sure not to pour on your fish!

6. Run supplies under hot water afterwards and store away from furry pets.

7. Whala, you are done! That wasn’t too bad, was it?

So to go over:

a. Wash hands

b. Fill 1gal container with room temperature water

c. Fill container with water conditioner

d. Use large measuring cup and turkey baster to empty water and filth into bucket

e. Pour conditioned water into tank

… and that’s it!  It’s about 3:30am here, so if I’ve made a mistake, I apologize. I’ll double-check my information in the morning, but it should all be correct.

Enjoy your happy and healthy fish. 🙂