If you have an aquarium or fish tank, it can be a beautiful addition to your home or office. The peaceful motions of the fish swimming and the beautiful colors many species have make a gorgeous backdrop to any room. But owning your own aquarium is more than just having a living decorative item; it also includes a responsibility to the fish and other creatures that might inhabit it. In order to maintain and clean a fish tank, you must have knowledge of the biology of the fish and plants that live in it as well as an eye for art in order to make the fish tank look beautiful. Checking the pH levels of the water as well as any chemicals in the aquarium is extremely important, as well as water temperature and cleanliness. These levels can fluctuate, so it is important that you know which levels will be best for your fish, and monitor them accordingly in case they have to be raised or lowered. Having an aquarium is an excellent teaching tool for children, a relaxing thing to look at, and an enjoyable way to own your very own fish and other sea creatures. By making sure your fish tank stays clean and well maintained, you will have many years of enjoyment from your aquarium.
Fish are complex creatures and need special care depending on the type of fish you have. There is also a stark difference in aquarium maintenance and aquarium cleaning needs between a freshwater and a saltwater tank. Be sure you are aware of the differences and make your decision of what kind of tank you want based on the various methods needed to ensure it stays clean and safe for your fish. Before you set the fish tank up, you should perform a process called cycling. This process helps set the stage for healthy water and a healthy environment. Cycling means that you will balance the water levels, make sure the tank is clean and free of any unwanted chemicals such as ammonia, and make sure the water has just the right conditions for both plants and fish before introducing them to the tank. Find out the best ways to clean the gravel, feed the fish, and remove debris and waste from the tank without causing trauma to the fish. It is important to purchase the right treatments needed for either a saltwater or freshwater tank so the levels are correct. Get a good tank thermometer that allows you to monitor the water temperature, and make note of which temperatures your fish prefer in order to thrive. As you clean the tank, you will learn how to perform the task more effectively and how to safely remove the fish so that they are unharmed while you clean it.
Owning a fish tank is a great way to add interest to anywhere you choose. As an aquarium owner, it is important to remember that you are also a pet owner; making sure the tank stays clean is of the most vital importance. With some good research and a full list of supplies you will need, you should have everything required to not only set up a great fish tank, but be able to keep it clean, creating a happy and healthy environment for your fish. Keep a record of the dates you clean the tank so you can continue to regularly clean the fish tank on a viable schedule. Fish tanks do require a good amount of maintenance, but the rewards you reap are well worth it. Ask your local pet stores for some good tips and advice, and if you feel like the process is too complicated, find out what you can do to make the cleaning and maintenance easier on both you and your fish. A clear and clean fish tank will make you happy and will be an excellent feature that everyone will surely appreciate and enjoy.
Common Fish Tank Maintenance Mistakes Made by Novice Aquarium Service Companies
One of the worst mistakes you can make when cleaning your freshwater aquarium is to empty and clean out either the filter or the tank completely. The beneficial bacteria in your tank that help to maintain the nitrogen cycle live on the surfaces of your tank and also in your filter. If you empty out the tank or filter and clean them thoroughly you could kill the entire colony of nitrifying bacteria. When you refill the tank or filter you will be essentially starting over and the tank will have to cycle again in order to re-establish a healthy population of beneficial bacteria. If it becomes necessary to clean your filter, avoid scrubbing the entire thing. A quick rinse with water taken from the aquarium will suffice.
Another common mistake made by novices is to wait too long to clean the tank. Weekly 10% water changes and/or a 25% water change once a month should be enough to keep the water in your aquarium fresh. The best way to do this is through regular aquarium service A larger scale cleaning may become necessary, however, in the event of an algae bloom. If you notice a sudden increase in algae growth in your tank do not wait for the problem to get out of control – take steps to correct the problem then clean the tank before it gets worse. Remove all the decorations from your tank and clean them using 10% bleach solution. Do not clean your filter within seven days of performing this task or you could lose all of the beneficial bacteria in your tank at once. Also, check the water with an aquarium water test kit to determine if there is an excess amount of phosphates.
Everyone gets busy at times, but do not be tempted to replace your routine water changes by simply topping off the tank with fresh water as it evaporates. If you just add more water to the tank without removing any, the water quality in your tank will still deteriorate and your fish may suffer. As water evaporates from the tank it leaves chemicals like ammonia and nitrates behind – and one way to remove these chemicals is to remove some of the water itself and replace it with fresh water. Also, install filter media that specifically targets ammonia and nitrates. Remember, it isn’t just “one thing” that you should be doing to maintain a healthy, clean environment for your fish. Be a smart aquarist and perform a combination of the freshwater aquarium maintenance tasks outlined above on a regular basis and you’ll enjoy a healthy, thriving aquarium!
For all of you who have asked about cleaning fish tanks… Aquarium cleaning is a simple and straight forward task, and should not take very long (Unless you have a particularly small tank or bowl, in which case care can be quite cumbersome and time consuming). The better care you provide for your tank, the healthier your fish will be, the nicer your tank will look and the easier your tank will be to care for in the future.
Fish Tank Maintenance
Don’t I Have to Remove Everything from the Fish Tank when Cleaning?
You should not need to take all the stuff (plants, decorations, etc.) out of the fish tank when you clean it. In fact, I would not recommend it. This just produces extra work for you and creates a large and unnecessary mess. Remember, every surface in the tank will grow some beneficial bacteria that are part of the biological filter. By removing and cleaning the decorations you stress (and may even kill) some of this bacteria, reducing the quality of your filtration until the filter recovers.
What About Removing the Fish when Cleaning the Aquarium?
Similarly, you do not want to remove the fish from the tank when you do your regular 10-15% water change. This, again, is a lot more work on you, and creates an unnecessary mess. In addition, this can be highly stressful to the fish, and is likely to cause physical injuries to your fish.
When cleaning your aquarium, you should just remove part (10-15%) of the water and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated tap water (bowls and vases require larger water changes more often). While you are doing this, you should use your siphon to suck up some of the gunk that collects in the gravel and decorations. If you have an under gravel filter, it is very important to clean the gravel when you do your weekly water changes, this will prevent detritus and other decaying organic matter from blocking the passages between the pebbles and restricting water flow. Generally, you can clean 25-33% (1/4-1/3) of the gravel while siphoning out 10-15% of the water.
What About Algae?
If you have algae growing on the surface of the tank or ornaments, you should get an algae scraper of some sort and scrub the glass before removing water. Many varieties of algae scrapers or scrubbers are available at your local pet store. For additional cleanliness, you could get algae eating catfish and/or scavengers to pick up some of this work for you; however, having catfish in the tank does NOT mean that you don’t need to clean. In fact, algae eaters and catfish, like any other fish, will add to the biological load of your tank and increase aquarium maintenance requirements. (And even those catfish that will eat some algae will not eat much and are unlikely to keep the tank looking clean.)
Dallas Aquarium Experts recommend doing 10-15% water changes once a week for the life of your aquarium. Once you get into this habit, it is not really that much work. Really, it isn’t that much work. Cleaning all the fish tanks in a local pet shop was only a 3 hour job. Doing your weekly water change in your own home aquarium should not take too long.
What If My Filter Is Dirty?
If you have to clean out the filter(s)do not change all the media (cartridges, sponges, carbon packets, etc.) at once, as this will remove the majority of your biological filter, causing the tank to have to go through a cycling period again to get bacteria reestablished. Rinse any new filter media in cool running water before introducing it to the system (unless the instructions for the filter media specifically state not to).
OK, I Have the Old Water Out, Now What?
Once you have siphoned 10-15% of the water from your tank, you will need to fill it again. The easiest and neatest way to do this is to use a siphon to siphon water from a bucket into the tank. This will tend to reduce spilling and messing up the gravel and decorations. Use a bucket that has never had detergents or household chemicals in it (I recommend getting a bucket specifically for use for aquarium chores) and fill it with water. The water should be close to the temperature of the tank water that you just took out (the average person can tell temperature differences within 1/2 degree Fahrenheit or about 1/4 degree Celsius with their hand, so just feel the water to see if it is the same). Use a chlorine or chloramine remover to prepare the water for introduction into the tank. Place the bucket somewhere higher than the top of the fish tank, and get your siphon going again and in just a couple of minutes, you should have a full tank. Be sure to watch the siphon, in case the hose gets bumped out of the tank, or if there is enough water in your bucket to overfill the tank. Remember, there needs to be some space between the top of the water and the aquarium cover, because your fish rely on oxygen exchange at the surface of the water in order to be able to breathe.
What About Topping Off the Fish Tank Between Water Changes?
Do not just “top off the tank” to replace water that “disappears.” This water that is disappearing is evaporating, and it leaves behind all the impurities that were in it to begin with. This means that as you just top off the tank, you are making your water harder until it will eventually no longer be able to support fish.
Additionally, if there are even trace amounts of heavy metals or other toxic substances in the water, you are giving your fish more and more of these every time you top off the tank. Most municipal water systems have at trace levels of at least one potentially hazardous substance, but in minuscule amounts these should never be trouble for you or your fish. Furthermore, by not removing water from the tank from time to time, you allow build up of waste products not removed by the filter (such as Nitrate), which are potentially hazardous to the fish and encourage algae growth.
Usually, if there is significant evaporation between water changes, you are either going far too long between water changes, or there is something wrong with the aquarium setup or equipment that is causing or encouraging evaporation.