Freshwater maintenance includes weekly to a monthly cleaning routine. These cleaning schedules consist of using a vacuum or water siphon, changing water, removing algae, testing the water, and changing the filters.
Take time during your daily feeding routine to check a few things in your tank. Observe and look at your fish. Take at least a few minutes to watch them each day. Get to know their looks as well as their behaviors. Once you become familiar with them, it will be much easier to notice any changes that could indicate a problem. Check the temperature of the tank every day to make sure it is at a suitable level and the heater is running properly. As long as the temperature stays within a range of 3 or 4 degrees, your fish should do just fine, but if it is varying more than that, you will want to inspect your heater and perhaps consider purchasing a new one. Checking the filter should be another part of your daily maintenance routine. Many filters will run reliably for years and years, but sometimes a problem can arise. Make sure the filter is still running and that the water is flowing at the same rate as usual. A filter that is partially clogged or has stopped running altogether can put the health of your fish at risk.
One of the most serious problems a fish tank will encounter is waste buildup. Waste buildup is a problem because it can make a tank appear dirty, but it also brings a much more serious problem: ammonia. This substance is produced by fish and by the bacteria that break down waste, uneaten food, and other things in the water. One way to keep debris buildup to a minimum is to conduct frequent water changes. Regular, partial water changes are unequaled in their ability to keep a tank fresh and your fish healthy. Recommendations on how much water should be changed during each water change vary greatly. I tend to do 30% water changes once a month, but this will vary by fish tank. Some may require more frequent water changes and more of the water exchanged. I have had fish tanks where I did water changes twice a month. Remember to always make sure that the replacement water is the same temperature as the water that was removed to avoid shocking your fish.
Cleaning algae off of the glass once a week will keep your tank looking clean and make for easy viewing of your fish. Keep in mind that some algae is not a bad thing, so it is a good idea to clean only the panes of glass that you use for viewing and clean any others less frequently. Also, there is a need for using the vacuum or water siphon, keeping the gravel free of detritus will allow the filter to function more efficiently. To vacuum the gravel, use a siphon with a gravel tube on the end, plunging the tube into the substrate. I tend to do this more on a monthly basis, you could try doing this twice a month also.
Monthly filter cleaning can be done by a gentle rinse with water from the tank and should be sufficient to clear the filter of any clogs. Monthly glass cleaning is also a must for monthly maintenance. Whether you have a glass top or a hood top on your tank, any tank cover will require a regular cleaning. The outside will be dusty, and the inside can have accumulated calcium deposits and algae, particularly near the light. It is especially important to clean the cover regularly if you’re keeping live plants in the tank, as buildup will significantly reduce the amount of light reaching the plants.
Chris Walker is a biologist, an aquarium enthusiast, and a believer in reducing aquarium maintenance. For more great tips on maintaining freshwater aquariums [http://freshwateraquarium.org/freshwater-aquarium-maintenance/] visit [http://freshwateraquarium.org].
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