There are many ways to keep your aquarium clean, for example you can use aquatic plants, certain bottom feeding fish, and of course a filter. I will be talking about all of the above and more in this article.
You will always need a filter in your aquarium but most of the time filters will not do all of the work. Filters help keep amonia levels down, they pick up some floating debre and they provide oxygen to your fish. They are not however very good at preventing and getting rid of algae.
Here are a few things that work well for getting rid of algae(before you try any of these things you may want to move your aquarium away from a window because sunlight is a big factor in algae growth):
BOTTOM FEEDERS/ SUCKER FISH: There are many fish readily available at pet stores that will eat the algae in your fish tank. For example Plecostomus (or “pleco” for short) are very effecient at eleminating algae growth. They are generaly not agressive towards other fish and will attach themselves to nearly all flat surfaces in your aquarium and suck all the algae off of it and they also eat things off of the bottom of your tank that other fish may have missed during feeding time. Plecos are pretty low maintenence fish, but the real problem is there size. They usually start out at about 2-4 inches when first bought(they are usually about 5 USD) but they can grow up to 18+ inches and are quite clumsy when at these sizes and can become a nuisence. For some this is a small price to pay for having an algae free aquarium, if you decide to get a “bottom feeder” or “sucker fish” you should probably either ask someone at your pet store about the fish your interested in or you can get a book or look online for information about the species.
AQUATIC PLANTS: Aquatic plants do not always work very well in aquariums.The main factor being that most fish find them very tasty even if you have them on a good feeding schedule. They work well if your fish dont like to eat plants(most fish do like to eat plants though) and are not so large that they will accidentily uproot them when swimming past. A good thing about plants is that they make the tank look better, they help provide oxygen, and they help get rid of cloudiness in the water and therefore help prevent algae growth. You can buy them at most pet stores and some wal-marts will sell the seeds for a few dollars, you will have to decide for yourself if aquatic plants are right for your aquarium.
COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS: Commercial products are either tablets that come in a little box or a fluid that comes in a plastic bottle. I dont really reccomend most of those products because they dont always work that well. Many people also dont use them because they dont feel comfordible exposing there fish to a bunch of chemicals, which is what is in most of them. Some people use these commercial products(which usually are called algae eliminators) if the above mentioned methods will not work well for them. I am not saying that all algae eliminators are bad and wont work, most of them work well and are safe for fish as long as you follow the directions on the back of the container or box. if you decide that this is something that you may want to do to help tidy up your aquarium then you can buy these products at almost all pet stores and many wal-marts.
Whatever your choice for keeping your fish tank clean make sure you do some research on what your going to use so that you do not harm the life in your aquarium, good luck!