Interested in keeping an aquarium? Learn the important tips on aquarium maintenance, which will help you in keeping your aquarium fish and plants healthy. After all, standing around and staring is way more fun with a tank full of colorful fish ogling away at you!
In today's busy lives, fish are proving to be the best and the most hassle-free pets! While maintaining an aquarium isn't cakewalk, it's nowhere close to the effort of walking a dog either. What your finned friends require is a chemically balanced environment, a few knowledge and skills, and a little patience.
Maintaining a fish tank is an interesting hobby for most, while the tank itself adds up as a decorative item at home. It is always better if you yourself look into the setup of the aquarium and do all that is required for creating a safe and healthy habitat for your fish.
Daily Maintenance Needs
Check out the water conditions; clean water is a must, considering that the fish don't have too much of an option but to swim around in it all day. The water should ideally be clean (without any misty or cloudy appearance) and odorless. Watch out for strange particles floating away in your fish tank; anything which is not supposed to be there should be taken out right away.
Water temperature is another important factor. Couple of degrees here and there is bound to happen at different times of the day, but too much fluctuation isn't a good sign. The ideal way is to maintain a log of your recordings (twice a day). This is so that anything abnormal can be spotted and treated at the earliest, thus avoiding any casualties.
You may not miss the bulky active fish from your aquarium, but it would take you time to notice that the tiny one is absconding. Counting them is always a good idea. The sad demise of one could cause havoc for the others with the decomposing body and polluted water.
This could indicate presence of ammonia in the water.
White or Red Marks:
They are indicators of diseases, or parasites infecting your fishy pets. If you notice any, take out the infected pet into a separate water bowl. You don't want it to infect the whole lot!
If you notice any kind of abnormalities on the fins, it could be a case of an aquarium bully, or in some rare cases, wrongly designed decorative items.
There's not far too much to fish behavior, or so it may seem to first-time aquarium owners. Observing your fish on a daily basis for a few minutes will give you a rough idea of what is 'normal' here. Feeding time is a good opportunity to keenly observe them.
In a large aquarium with several fish, it's common to find few greedy hogs and certain choosy pickers. Observe if each and every fish is feeding timely. Is one of them just not fond of the feed, or being shooed away by the others? Irregular eating pattern could also indicate an illness.
Feeding correctly is an important factor that most people tend to sway away from. The thumb rule is to put an amount of feed that would ideally, be consumed right away. Remember to take out the leftovers within the next five to ten minutes. One can increase the frequency of feeding time, but restrict its duration and the quantity of feed.
Though this step is not mandatory, it goes a long way in keeping your fish healthy and maintaining a fish tank. It only takes a couple of seconds to cross-check whether your filters, heaters, and pumps are functioning correctly. Aquarium lights ought to be switched on only at night, or whenever essential. Leaving them on all day promotes growth of unwanted algae.
Weekly Maintenance Needs
Cleaning the Fish Tank
Tools Required: Algae Pad/Scraper, Water Siphon, Bucket, Fish Net, Spare Cloth, Towel, Water Conditioner, pH set.
Note: Do not use soaps or detergents for cleaning purposes as they're fatal for the fish.
Unplug all electrical items, like the heater, water pump, etc.
Remove rocks and other decorative items from the aquarium.
Leave the items in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.
As for the plants, remove all excess growth and dead branches.
After the mentioned duration, use a spare cloth to wipe off the algae growth from the surface.
Tip: Warm water soaking helps in cleansing algae from unreachable grooves and corners.
Use the algae scraper to get rid of algal growth inside the aquarium. Clean the inner surface of the aquarium glass, especially near the gravel surface. It can be a tricky task at times, thus moving the gravel out of the way before proceeding proves to be helpful. The algae scraper's coarse surface should be used to remove the maximum growth, followed by the smooth surface to clean up the algae completely.
Now, for the water change, place a bucket below the fish tank.
Tip: Keep a special bucket for aquarium use only. Other buckets may have small soap or detergent residues from previous usages, which may kill the fish.
Place the smaller end of the siphon in the bucket and the other end in the fish tank.
Now, quickly move the latter end of the pipe up and down so as to create suction.
Within a few tries, the water will begin to flow into the bucket.
Tip: Be very gentle and careful while carrying out this step; you don't want to damage anything in the fish tank, or suck out any of your fish into the pipe!
On a weekly basis, one can change 10% to 15% of the tank's water. On a fortnightly basis, the amount increases to around 25%.
While siphoning the specified amount of water, you can simultaneously move the hose over the gravel surface, thus removing waste debris from the gravel.
Once you've removed the desired amount of water, place the rocks and ornaments back into the aquarium.
Mark the water level in the bucket and dispose off the removed water. Now, refill the bucket up to the demarcation with fresh tap water.
Tip: If you have a saltwater aquarium, you will need to treat the water differently.
Water conditioner basically neutralizes tap water to a point feasible for a fish tank. The exact concentration depends on the brand (refer to the packaging). Pour the specified amount into the bucket, and then gently pour the water in the bucket back into the fish tank.
Check the water's pH--it should be around 7 to 7.5. In case it is below or higher than that, add the pH Up/pH Down solution to bring it to the desired mark.
Note: Amount of pH Up/pH Down solution should be as mentioned on the packaging, or a couple drops at the maximum.
Monthly Maintenance Needs
Clean the impeller at least once or twice a month by removing it from the placed area.
Clean the seating area, as debris and other deposits hinder proper functioning of the impeller.
It is essential to replace the filter cartridges (disposable) on a monthly basis. This is irrespective of whether any debris was collected in the same.
Non-disposable or reusable filters must be washed at least once every month.
Micron cartridges also need to be cleaned on a monthly basis. For this, soak them overnight in a solution made of bleach and water.
Carbon and ammonia chips should be discarded and replaced with new ones every month.
Note: This is crucial as extensive delay will lead to the releasing of the same harmful compounds back into the aquarium.
Annual Maintenance Needs
Light sources that are important for plant growth need to be replaced every year so as to ensure adequate lighting for the plants.
Other tips include adding maximum plants to hamper algal growth. One can also make use of scavengers, like snails and aquarium crabs for consuming algae, which indirectly reduce the excess nitrates and phosphates from the tank.
While cleaning, don't empty the aquarium completely, since it can destroy the useful nitrifying bacteria. Also, don't use chemical soap or detergent while cleaning. Water testing should be done on a weekly basis to check the parameters of aquarium water.