The tools in the picture are:
- A 10 liter water bucket (I use two of these). This is for siphoning out the dirty water.
- A long hose used to fill the aquarium directly from the tap. The small orange-gray piece in front of it is used to connect the hose to the tap.
- A siphoning hose setup (on the right) - for siphoning.
- A pink bucket to put the stuff inside the aquarium such as stones and plants during cleaning (yours doesn't have to be pink for sure).
- A kitchen sponge and and an aquarium sponge with a long handle. These are to clean the aquarium glass from inside.
- Two towels for cleaning the glass from the outside (as the last step of cleaning). Another large towel to spread below the tank to prevent water leaking on the floor.
- A glass cleaner (for outside cleaning).
- A water conditioner (also works as a dechlorinator)
Next, I siphon out the water the from the bottom of the tank into my 10 liter water bottles making sure to collect most of the fish waste. I use a manual siphon for this purpose. But I added a valve to it so that I can stop the water flow when needed without requiring to restart siphoning. This is especially helpful when my first 10-liter bottle fills up and I have to switch to the second one without leaking water. Below is a picture of that piece. You can find something like that from the gardening department of any hardware store:
At this point I add the dechlorinator to the water. It is suggested that the temperature of the new water matches to what you have in the aquarium. If you want, you can use a digital thermometer to ensure that is the case. Personally, I try to do it manually by checking with my fingers. It has not caused me any problems so far. But if you have a smaller tank, aiming for a more exact match may be a safer thing to do.
Once the tank is filled back up again, I turn on the lights to make sure that no missed algae remains on the glass surface. If I see some, I gently clean it with the sponge (I turn off the lights again just to prevent any risk with the electricity).
After closing the tank cover, I spray some of the glass cleaner on a soft fabric and clean the aquarium glass from the outside. This surely is the most fun part as at this point I enjoy the satisfaction of being almost finished.
Once the cleaning is finished, the water may still be somewhat hazy. This is okay as we have agitated the sand (or the gravel) and there are lots of floating particles around. In about 4 to 6 hours all of this stuff will be picked up by your filter and you tank will be crystal clear.
Here is a youtube link to a video of my aquarium several hours after cleaning it: