Aquarium Maintenance

Aquarium maintenance is a big part of fish keeping. Some of the tasks involved in maintaining your aquarium will be quick and easy, whereas others will be labour intensive and unpleasant.

Daily Tasks

Here are my suggestions on what maintenance you should carry out every day.

  • Check the water temperature, if the temperature has changed check your heater is still working as it should. About a year and a half ago, one of my aquarium heaters malfunctioned and boiled all my fish alive. It was a big shock when I found them all dead and the glass stayed hot for hours after I had turned all the equipment off. To prevent this happening again I have fitted my aquarium with an electronic thermometer, which is fitted with an alarm that goes off if the temperature goes outside a predefined range.

  • Feed your fish, while feeding watch out for any fish not taking the food, this is normally a sign something is wrong and will need investigating further.

  • Check that the filer is working. If you have an internal filter you should be able to see water movement near the outlet pipe. If you have an external filter you need to check the inlet and outlet pipes are not blocked.

  • Watch the fish, by watching them you will be able to notice any signs of illness or changes in behaviour.

Weekly Tasks

  • Test the water; you should test pH, Nitrites, Nitrates and Ammonia. You can use either a testing kit or an electronic meter (electronic meters can be expensive).Any significant changes will need to be investigated.

  • Clean algae off glass, if needed.

  • Perform small water change if the tank is new. New tanks do not have the necessary friendly bacteria to cope with the waste the fish produce, so they need a bit of a helping until the tank becomes established.

Monthly Tasks

  • Gardening; if you have live plants in you aquarium the dead leaves will need to be removed and overgrown plants will need to trimmed back. Plant fertilizer will need to be added.

  • Clean the tank; there are several parts to tank cleaning which I tend to do at the same time.
  1. Clean the glass; you will need either an algae scrapper with a long handle or a magnetic scrapper. If there is a lot of algae it get take quite a lot of hard work to clean it off.

  2. Perform water change / remove dirt from sand or gravel; this is done at the same time. Use a siphon to remove fish waste from gravel; it will bring out the water as well, so it’s a two-in-one task. I would normally only change around 20% of the water, unless there was a problem with the water quality.

    Tip – turn off all tank equipment other than the light before removing any water, trying to run the heater and filter without a full tank of water can damage them. Filters normally start to make a horrible noise if you leave then without enough water.

  3. Dismantle and clean the filter; do this part after siphoning the water out but before you chuck the last bucket of tank water away. You can use this water to clean the filter media inside your filter. Tap water kills the friendly bacteria which live on the filter media. The friendly bacteria are responsible for the biological filtration with the tank. If you kill them, you risk causing your tank to suffer from new tank syndrome. An old tooth brush is a great for cleaning the smaller parts of the filter, such as the impeller, inlet vents / tubes and outlet tubes. Or for the really small bits I sometimes use cotton buds to get the gunk out.

    Refill the tank, remembering to add water conditioner to the new water. Try to pour water in as slowly as possible, so as not to disturb the gravel or plants.

  4. Turn all equipment back on.
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