Basic Maintenance of an Aquarium
The biggest factor for maintenance is tank stability. As long as everything is running properly and your fish are healthy, there is no need for any major change, even if the pH or hardness seems to be slightly out of range; only increases or decreases of the major aquarium water parameters will need your careful but immediate attention.
A key part of aquarium maintenance is the water change, which should be performed about every two weeks. In most cases, 30% of the tank volume is sufficient. A good method is to replace the water extracted while vacuuming the gravel, which will eliminate uneaten foods and other residues that settle on the substrate.
It is highly recommended to check the water parameters of both the tank and replacement water. Most tap water (city water) contains either chlorine or chloramine. Chlorine will air out rather quickly (kept in an aerated bucked for twenty-four hours); chloramine (chloramine = chlorine + ammonia) will not. Using an effective water conditioner like Seachem Prime will neutralize the chlorine in both cases, and also detoxify Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. Ammonia has to be broken down by the nitrifying bacteria present in the aquarium. This may take longer than your fish can tolerate. A good practice will be to introduce good nitrifying bacteria when setting up the tank and introduce good nitrifying bacteria from Seachem Stability for at least a month even after a water change. Other elements of municipal water may be phosphates, iron, and other heavy metals.
Well, water is usually harder than tap water but is chlorine/chloramine free. We strongly recommend Seachem Products/Chemipure as water conditioners. Seachem Products such as Prime, Safe, etc are world-class products. It detoxifies Ammonia, Nitrite, and nitrate and eliminates chlorine/Chloramine. Seachem Prime goes one step further, in that it provides a slime coat to the fish to fight disease. A clear advantage over any competitor. Or Should we say no competitor provides such a power pack product - All in one product to an Aquarist? Highly recommended and used product by professionals and Hobbyists worldwide.
Filtered water should also be checked regularly and should be considered part of your aquarium maintenance routine. The filter membranes could be damaged or may require replacement before the expiration date.
Testing Aquarium Water
Water chemistry is not visible; therefore, it is vital to check it regularly. The best way to make this a routine is to check on the tank chemistry while changing the water.
The vital parameters are pH, nitrates, nitrites, and carbonate hardness (salinity for marine tanks).
Stability is the main factor in pH. pH in the range of 6.5 – 7.5 is suitable for most species, but they can adjust if slightly out of range.
KH (carbonate hardness) is the indicator of pH stability. It should be kept under close observation if it comes close to 4.5 dH (degree hardness) or 80 ppm. You must take action if it decreases any further.
Half a teaspoon of baking soda per twenty-five gallons of water will raise the kH by about 1 dH (17.8 ppm).
Nitrites should be undetectable at all times (except during cycling). If you detect nitrites make sure you check on ammonia as well.
Nitrates should be kept below 10 ppm in freshwater and 5 ppm in marine and reef (preferably 0 ppm).
The proper function of the filter is essential. Filter inserts (floss, activated carbon) should be changed at least every four weeks. A high fish load may require shorter periods. Trapped particles will decompose in the filter as they would in the tank. The filter should also be cleaned once a month (do not touch the bio-wheels, if present) by using the water extracted from the tank during the water change. We strongly recommend Seachem Matrix, Seachem Purigen, and Seachem Carbon.
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Recommended Aquarium Maintenance Routine
Make sure the equipment is running properly.
Watch your fish during feeding. Behavioral changes are a good indicator of a potential problem.
Count your fish. In case of fish death, smaller species can decompose quickly, resulting in ammonia and nitrite spikes, and eventually high nitrate levels.
Change at least 30% of water
Every Other Week
Test your water for the vital parameters: pH, carbonate hardness, nitrite, and nitrate.
Vacuum the gravel at least once in 15 days.
Clean the aquarium walls. Start from the bottom upward and rinse out often.
Rinse filter inserts (cartridges) with the extracted water.
Replace filter inserts, cartridges, floss, and carbon,
Inspect tubing, connections, airstones, skimmers, and other parts for proper operation.
Clean aquarium top to assure your lighting is not affected.
Check the expiration dates printed on the boxes and bottles of the aquarium supplies you use. Do not use it after the imprinted date. Expired test kits will give false readings and may prompt you to take unnecessary action.