Setting up your aquarium was the fun part, but how do you keep it looking good and in full working order? This article talks all about aquarium maintenance which is a much needed necessity when it comes to fishkeeping. Maintenance should be a thing that is done weekly. It includes regular water changes of at least 25%, servicing the filter, cleaning the aquarium glass from any built up debris and testing the aquarium water. The main goal of routine aquarium maintenance is a stable and balanced aquarium with healthy livestock. Aquarium maintenance does not require a lot of equipment. However, it does help to have a few specialized tools on hand. The most important piece of equipment to have is a dedicated aquarium bucket and make sure you do not use it for anything else. In addition to a bucket, a siphon, water conditioner, water testing kit, algae scrubber, aquarium-safe glass cleaner and some soft towels are needed.
Water changes are one of the most important things when it comes to aquarium maintenance. This needs to be done on a weekly basis. You can maximize your efforts by using a siphon to extract the aquarium water while “vacuuming” the gravel or substrate. This will remove any uneaten fish food and other harmful waste that has settled at the bottom of the aquarium. It is recommended to do a water change of at least 25% per week. Always replace with water that has been conditioned with a water conditioner. Never add water to your aquarium straight from the tap! This is one of the worst things you can do. I highly recommend using Seachem Prime which will help to detoxify ammonia and nitrite in your water as well as making your tap water safe to use in your aquarium.
Always use a water conditioner when adding new water to your aquarium from your tap.
Another important thing that needs to be done is regular water testing. Because we can’t determine water quality just by looking at it, it is very important to do regular testing. Testing your aquarium water is like checking the body’s vital signs. The results can tell us a lot about imbalances, therefore allowing us to detect and prevent problems. I would always test your water before you do a water change. Vital parameters to test as part of routine aquarium maintenance include nitrate, nitrite, pH and carbonate hardness. If your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate results are coming back a bit high, then you can use this as a guide to remove more water from the aquarium. It also means that there is a problem in your aquarium that needs to be fixed. This could be overfeeding, overcrowding or not doing enough water changes. It is also wise to test the water a few days after a significant cleaning, to ensure nothing is amiss.
You should always remember to check that your aquarium equipment is working as it should be. Check your filter, lights, skimmers, timers and any air stones you may have. Make sure the filter isn't clogged up with waste. You might want to give it a good clean so it is running smoothly and as it should be. Do not use soap, bleach, or chemical cleaners, because they will kill the beneficial bacteria required for healthy aquarium life. Make sure to rinse filter inserts with the extracted water from your aquarium. Another important thing to do is to count your fish. In case of fish death, smaller species can decompose quickly, resulting in ammonia and nitrite spikes. You want to remove them as quickly as possible. I always like to make sure to give the aquarium lights a good clean and give the aquarium walls a clean from any algae or debris that has formed. Check the temperature to ensure it's in the proper range. Have a good look at your live plants. Do they need a dose of fertiliser? Could they do with a trim? All these things need to be considered and taken care of for your tank to be looking in tip top condition. After I have done weekly maintenance, I like to finish by giving the outer glass a good clean for my own viewing pleasure.
Remember that every aquarium is different and will require a maintenance schedule that is best suited for its conditions.
Often aquarium owners don't give much thought to maintenance. After all, they have a filter and some bottom feeders to pick up stuff that falls there. So what else is needed? You would be surprised. An aquarium is a relatively small amount of water. Add to that the fact that it is a closed system. Nothing goes into or out of the tank unless you have a hand in making it happen. Filters will certainly help, but if not maintained, filters become clogged and can cause more harm than good. Meanwhile, fish continue to produce waste, uneaten food decays, and potentially harmful chemicals slowly build up. The only way an aquarium will remain clean is if you take the time to perform maintenance on a regular basis. Otherwise, over time the aquarium will become less and less healthy for the fish. Remember that every aquarium is different and will require a maintenance schedule that is best suited for its conditions. I always say prevention is better than a cure. My best advice is to always stay on top of things and to try and find a schedule that suits you. It is far more challenging to maintain an overstocked and overfed aquarium, so make sure to avoid both.