How to Keep Your Aquarium Clean| Aquarium Maintenance Guide
Despite your best intentions to make it feel natural and comfortable for your fish, you aquarium is simply a box of water. Fish are naturally wild animals, accustomed to the natural flow of water in rivers and streams, and the tides in the ocean. In the wild, they are constantly introduced to new and fresh water.
However in an aquarium, they swim around in the same water all of the time. The water can quickly become dirty and unsuitable for any living thing. This is why it is extremely important to keep your aquarium clean. The following article will guide you through the cleaning and maintenance of any aquarium.
Cycle Your Aquarium
Whenever you set up an aquarium, remember that a filter is a very essential component of your aquarium’s health. While mechanical filters work to remove physical wastes from the water, biological filters work to remove toxic chemicals from your fish home. However, most biological filters consist of healthy bacteria that grow in just the right amount to take care of your aquarium. In order to encourage the adequate growth of this bacteria, you should do what is known as cycling your aquarium.
When you cycle your aquarium, you allow for the bacteria to grow to a reasonable level and regulate the chemicals in the water before adding more fish. Many biological filters will grow on a sponge of some sort, so choose the kind you are going to use and place it in your new aquarium with the water and just a few fish. Use just a few fish in the beginning so that the water does not become overly dirty right from the start. Be sure to choose two or three strong fish that will be able to handle the new waters. Once the fish are in, simply test your water every few days to chart the progress of the cycle. Also do a small water change a couple of days a week to keep things progressing smoothly.
In the beginning, you will have high ammonia levels as the fish produce waste. Ammonia is toxic to your fish and can do great harm if not controlled. However, bacteria will grow and turn the ammonia into nitrite. Unfortunately, nitrite is also toxic. Luckily, your biological filter will supply more bacteria that will turn the nitrite into nitrate, which is perfectly safe for your aquarium. Once the ammonia levels and nitrite levels are near zero, you can add a few more fish and begin the process again with your existing filter.
The whole process takes anywhere from one to two months to complete, but it is worth it to spend the time before filling your aquarium with fish. Giving the bacteria time to grow ensures that your water and aquarium environment will be healthy well into the future, and your fish will prosper.
Partial Aquarium Water Changes
While it may seem tempting to simply change all of your aquarium’s water, remember that it would be far too stressful on your fish. That is why you should only change 20-25% of your aquarium’s water at a time. This percentage is what gives “partial water change” its name. Though it may seem ineffective to change only a portion of your aquarium’s water, it is actually very effective in cleansing your aquarium. The partial water change removes waste from your aquarium, and dilutes the remaining waste. A partial water change is particularly effective in removing both gas and solid wastes. Extra food, fish waste and gases such as ammonia and nitrate are removed and diluted through a partial water change.
Under ordinary aquarium conditions, it is recommended that you perform a partial water change once monthly, or twice if you feel that your aquarium is particularly dirty. However, when your fish are unhealthy, you should do a couple of partial water changes a week until things are back to normal. Likewise, if you find your water especially polluted, you will need to do more frequent water changes.
There are various methods that you can use to do a partial water change. The most popular method includes siphons and buckets. Be sure to choose a method that is appropriate for your particular aquarium. Remember to make partial water changes a regular part of your aquarium routine. With partial water changes, you will find that you have happier and healthier fish.
Keeping Your Aquarium Clean on a Daily Basis
The most important thing to remember is that an aquarium is a living habitat. Everything must remain perfectly in balance in order for it to survive and prosper. Remember to take time to research your fish and plants before throwing them together in an aquarium. Once your aquarium is up and running, a daily maintenance routine will ensure that your aquarium runs smoothly.
The most obvious aspect of owning an aquarium is feeding your fish. It is important to feed the correct type of food, and to feed your fish on a schedule. Remember, your fish are looking for you to regulate their lifestyle. Feed them at the same time everyday to create a sense of flow to their lives. Also take care to avoid overfeeding. Excess food will stay in the water and pollute the aquarium. To help you with your fish feeding, there are many measuring devices and automatic feeders on the market.
You will also need to set a light for your aquarium. Most fish need eight to ten hours of light each day. More light will create an algae problem. Again, to simplify your fish care, invest in an automatic light timer to illuminate your aquarium at the same times each day.
Along with light, you may also need to heat your aquarium. Be sure to check the temperature each day to ensure that the environment remains consistent for your fish. If you notice any changes in temperature, adjust your heater to re-establish balance. Your fish will become stressed and unwell if they suffer through large or frequent changes in temperature.
Take time each day to scoop floating debris from your aquarium. While your aquarium will need thorough, less frequent cleanings, a daily net-cleaning will help keep things neat and tidy for your fish. Along with the net, always check your filter to assure that it is functioning properly.
Finally, spend time each day observing your fish. Get to know them and their habits so that you can quickly tell when something is off. With a little time each day, you should be able to maintain a prosperous aquarium!
Keeping a Monthly Aquarium Cleaning Schedule
While owning an aquarium requires daily maintenance, it is important not to disregard a more thorough day of work on your aquarium. Typically, setting aside one afternoon a month will suffice for much of your in-depth aquarium upkeep. To keep things simple and uncomplicated, make an appointment with yourself and your aquarium each month. While it seems like a large commitment, your aquarium will be happier and more successful because of it.
Once a month be sure to change a portion of your aquarium’s water. This water change is important to keep clean, new water in the aquarium and to remove a great deal of your aquarium’s waste. However, do not take the water change lightly. It is important to change only 20-25% of the aquarium’s water so that you do not upset your fish or the delicate balance of the habitat.
As you continue your monthly appointment with your aquarium and fish, take care to check the conditions of the water. Check the filters to be sure they are functioning properly. If you notice that the filters are not as effective, it is best to change the filter cartridge or activated carbon in your filter. Also do water tests to get a feel for your fish’s environment. Check both the pH as well as the ammonia levels in your water. If necessary, make adjustments to create a healthy balance for your fish.
Do not forget about your aquarium’s floors or walls. Use an aquarium rake to move the gravel slightly. This will allow for debris caught on and underneath the gravel to be cleaned out of the aquarium. If you notice a great deal of algae on the walls, this would also be a good time to scrape it away. Remember that while it is important to complete these tasks, once a month should be enough. When you move things around, your fish become stressed so keep activity to a minimum.
Your monthly appointment with your aquarium gives you the chance to take care of all of the heavy-duty maintenance. Remember that your fish and aquarium are your responsibility. Treat them as such for a successful aquarium experience.
Dealing With Calcium Carbonate Buildup
At some point in their aquarium’s life, most aquarium owners have noticed a chalky white substance on the walls of their aquarium. Most of the time, this build-up is actually calcium carbonate, a naturally occurring mineral in many types of water.
To put it simply, calcium carbonate is lime. Not lime like the fruit, but lime as in the mineral. It is a common element in many waters around the world. In fact, calcium carbonate is one of the distinguishing factors of hard water. Hard water, unlike soft water, is water that contains a large number of minerals that make it feel hard in character. If you are using tap water for your aquarium and you notice the calcium carbonate build-up on your aquarium, you are living in an area with hard water.
Luckily, the calcium carbonate typically does not harm the aquarium or its inhabitants. But most aquarium owners would agree that it looks unpleasant and unsightly. Therefore, it is in the best interest of aquarium owners to remove it from their aquarium walls as it appears. However the process for removing it can sometimes be difficult, especially if it is forming on the inside walls of the aquarium.
If the calcium carbonate is on the outside walls of the aquarium, simply clean it off with a natural cleaner as you would normally clean the glass. Even though it is on the outside, avoid using toxic cleaners that may harm your fish if a bit goes into the aquarium. You can even use lemon juice or vinegar, and forgo the need for a cleaner all together. Additionally, many aquarium supply stores carry products made specifically for removing lime from aquarium walls.
If the calcium carbonate is on the inside of the walls, removing it presents more of a challenge. You will have to remove your fish from the aquarium in order to get the lime off of the walls. Sometimes this means living with the calcium carbonate for a little while in between complete aquarium cleanings. If you find it occurring often, you may want to consider using distilled water instead of tap water for your aquarium.
How ammonia or nitrite poison can affect your aquarium
The water in your aquarium is obviously a liquid. However within the liquid, there are various chemicals and gases. Many of these substances are the by-products of processes taking place within your aquarium. While many are harmless, some of the gases and chemicals can seriously harm your fish and aquarium. Find how the signs of ammonia poisoning and nitrite poisoning within your aquarium. Learn how to treat your aquarium to overcome these toxins.
When you feed your fish, hopefully your fish consume most of the food. Any left over food falls to the bottom of the aquarium and eventually decomposes. Likewise, when your fish eats his food, he eventually must excrete waste products. This waste also falls to the aquarium floor or floats through the water. Additionally, sometimes plants or fish die within your aquarium. As they break down, they also release gas and chemicals into your aquarium.
Most of these gases are in the form of ammonia or nitrite. While each are common elements of most aquariums, an excess can lead to ammonia poison and nitrite poison. If you notice signs of these poisons, do a water test immediately to decide your next plan of action.
Ammonia poison and nitrite poison effect the aquarium fish in various ways. Oftentimes, your fish will lose a great deal of their coloring, appearing faded and dull. They may swim slower than usual, seeming weak or tired in their actions. The fish may also struggle to breathe. They may look as though they are panting, or they may swim near the water’s surface, gasping for air.
When you notice these signs, do a water test to see if ammonia and nitrite are to blame. It is also helpful to do a ph test. Usually, excess ammonia and nitrite will result in a higher ph. To treat your aquarium, begin by lowering you ph. Check your water filter to be sure it is functioning properly. Adjust it, if necessary. Also do partial water changes until your aquarium returns to balance.
Overcrowding your aquarium can lead to an excess of fish waste. Overfeeding your existing fish also leads to too much food waste. To prevent ammonia or nitrite poison, resist overcrowding or overfeeding your fish. Remember that with care you can overcome the ammonia and nitrite poison and return your fish to a comfortable state of living.
Carol is a head content developer for ultimatepethub.com and mother of 2 adorable chocolate labs(and one child). Growing up on a farm, she has handled all kinds of animals and pets. When Carol isn’t taking her two labs to the park, you can find her researching products and topics to keep you updated with the latest info for your pets!