The amount of basic aquarium maintenance you have to do is directly related to how closely you follow the three rules of fish keeping.
If the tank is overcrowded, if you consistently feed the fish too much food, and if you seldom do partial water changes, the filter system will be unable to keep the water quality where it should be. If you find yourself dealing with diseased and dying fish on a regular basis, you are almost certainly doing at least one of these three things wrong.
Basic aquarium maintenance is not time-consuming if the tank is set up correctly and you go about it properly. You should get in the habit of looking at the fish closely every day or two, as well as checking the water temperature
If you need catching up on routine aquarium maintenance, now is the perfect time.
Scrub algae, check filters, and change bulbs for overall system health.
A strict maintenance schedule must be in place for your fish and other inhabitants to thrive and survive in your aquarium.
Proper and routine cleaning is the key to success and is beneficial. Your inhabitants will stay healthier and your aquariums physical environment will look cleaner.
Start by checking if all your equipments are working properly and efficiently. It’s good to find out if one or more of your equipments are stealing energy that can cost electric bill to go up than usual.
Check the chords to see if any had been tangled up. Remove algae with a scraper, clear your protein skimmer’s collection cup.
Change lamps every six months. If you don’t remember when the last time you changed it, then it’s probably time to get a new one.
But how often should the aquarium maintenance need to take place?
Well it all depends on the following questions:
How big is aquarium?
What kind of aquarium filtration do you use?
What types of inhabitants to you have?
How many inhabitants do you have?
How often do you feed them?
Decide on how often your aquarium needs cleaning based on the question above.
Here is a suggestion or recommendation on aquarium service
Make sure all equipments are running properly.
Temperature (at least twice a day – in the morning and at night) The temperature on your thermometer should match the temperature on your heater’s thermostat. If you see a temperature readout you aren’t expecting, get a new heater immediately. (It’s a good idea to use 2 instead of one anyway – heats more evenly and provides cheap insurance.)
Mark the fill levels on the glass on the back of your tank or some other discreet area, and then check your water level if it starts to look low.
Top off evaporated water when the level starts to drop. Dissolved solids like salts do not evaporate, so evaporated water can cause spikes in salinity or pH because the solution in your tank becomes more concentrated. Prepare top-off water as you would for a water change, but without adding salt or mineral supplements.
Observe your tank closely at least once a day. While you’re enjoying the view, take note of a few things
New fish may take a while to settle into normal behavior. Recent changes such as a new addition to the tank can cause shifts in normal behavior. But most of the time, fish are pretty consistent. Check your fish making sure their activity is normal. Checking this daily will help you find out the first signs of disease and treat it early.
Be alert to signs of strange behavior, like a loss of appetite, unusual swimming patterns, or rubbing against ornaments. Signs of illness, such as white fuzz, erratic swimming, or rubbing against ornaments should be dealt with immediately – ideally by moving suspect fish to a quarantine tank and medicating it there.
Dead Fish or Organisms
Small fish that like to hide in decorations or rock crevices could easily die and be unnoticed for days. Anemones and plants are also notorious for dying discreetly.
A dead organism immediately begins to decompose and will soon flood your system with toxic ammonia, likely more than your filters are prepared to handle – especially in smaller tanks. So do a head count every day and remove anything that will decay.
A protein skimmer’s collection cup should be emptied of waste every few days or so – whenever it is full. Your skimmer will take a few days to get up to speed; once it’s functioning smoothly, check the cup daily; after a few days you’ll be able to determine how often you need to clean it.
Weekly and/or Bi-Weekly
Partial water change (15-40% of your saltwater aquarium)
The regular water change is the most important thing you must keep up with for the health and appearance of your aquarium. Normally, a water change is only partial – you remove 15-40% of your tank water and replace it with completely new water. Changing more than 30% or so of water at a time can be stressful to fish and is usually avoided unless removing medication or fighting some sort of water quality problem.
Changing water is important because for the vast majority of aquarium systems, there is no other way to remove nitrates from water. Every day, bacteria convert fish waste and excess food into nitrates, so levels are constantly climbing; plants or algae may consume some, but not usually enough to hold nitrate at steady levels. Nitrate is not tolerated well by marine organisms; it’s tolerated a little better by freshwater creatures. But in any tank, you must control nitrate levels by frequently removing nitrate-laden water.
Typically, water changes are performed once a week. But small tanks up to about 10 gallons, where the small volume of water means changes in condition have more impact, usually benefit from 2-3 water changes per week. The same is true for “nano” saltwater tanks (20-40 gallons or less) which need very stable conditions. Large tanks, by contrast, might be fine with a water change every 2 weeks. It depends on your bio load, or the amount of waste produced by your aquarium organisms.
You can tell if you’re changing water enough by measuring nitrates weekly, a day or so after a water change. If your nitrate levels decrease or remain the same from week to week, you are changing frequently enough. If they climb, you need to change more frequently. Since this is directly related to how much waste your creatures are producing, levels that stay dangerously high or persist in climbing may mean you’re overstocked.
A freshwater tank’s nitrates should stay safely below 40ppm; a saltwater tank should be around 10-20ppm, the lower the better, especially for sensitive reef tanks.
Water changes are the best time to do some easy cleaning chores.
Replace Filter Media
Most filter cartridges and chemical filter media need to be replaced roughly once a month (follow directions).
Biological media should only be rinsed if it is clogged with debris, but never rinse a significant portion at once; do it in rotating batches and let a week or more go by before you do the next. A light film of slime shouldn’t be cause for concern. Biological media normally doesn’t need to be replaced, and shouldn’t be.
Make sure you power off and unplug any equipment you are working on.
Rinse pads and sponges in aquarium water – do this during a water change, so you can use the water you removed from the tank. If they are so clogged they can’t be cleaned, it’s time to replace them. Do this every two weeks instead if they’re growing dirty quickly.
When you clean your media, observe the inside of your filter components – if there is a lot of gunk clogging up the works, remove it with a flexible cleaning brush.
Using chlorinated water will cause temperature change and can kill the bacteria that accumulated.
Monthly Aquarium Service
It’s a great idea to record monthly maintenance tasks in a log or journal when you do them, so you can easily tell when you need to do them next; also to follow developing trends, identify possible problems and keep up on refill changes.
Unless you’re in a period of transition – new fish, recently dead or ill fish, etc – you can probably get away with testing pH levels, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates monthly – but keep records of the results, days and times that you took them. (pH varies throughout the day, so measuring at the same time matters.)
If water conditions ever seem suspicious or there is a mystery problem in your tank, measure these levels and check for changes. You can then refer to these measurements if you ever need to consult other hobbyists or experts about your problem. They will go a long way towards figuring out what is wrong.
Replace filter media biweekly
General inspection of all equipments for proper operation.
Check expiration dated on the boxes and bottles of your aquarium supplies that you use.
Algae clean up on aquarium glass and decorations.
Good water quality ensures health for your saltwater fish and other inhabitants. Remember that you have to be fully dedicated to this kind of hobby to avoid not only saltwater fish and other inhabitants’ loss but also your money’s worth.
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