Aquarium Maintenance & Fish Care Tips

Aquarium maintenance is an essential regular activity that provides a stable and healthy environment for fish and plants. The key to an effective program is to complete basic simple tasks, which perform regularly and consume very little time and result in a prosperous and clean aquarium.

Regular Water Changes

The mantra of every fish keeper should be: change the water, change the water, change the water. Even the largest aquaria are too small to be a self contained environments. Toxins build up from biological processes, eventually poisoning, or weakening fish to the point where they succumb to disease. The best biological and chemical filters will only slow down this process not stop it. Changing 20% of the aquarium’s volume per week will increase chances of success immeasurably. Do not change more than 20% of the water as a general rule. Changing more can cause water parameters (Ph, temperature, hardness, etc) to change beyond the endurance of the fish causing stress, shock or even death.

Stir Rods

The 1″ rigid tubing made for under-gravel lift tubes make excellent stir rods for mixing in dechlorinating agents and other water treatment chemicals. Cut the length to about 4″ over the depth of the bucket. This will allow the stir rod to reach to the bottom and hurry the dissolving of crystalline additives such as salt and trace elements.

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Single Edged Razor Blades

The most effective (and dangerous) method for cleaning stubborn algae off of aquarium glass is the single edged utility razor blade sold by local hardware stores. These blades will clean off even the stubborn “green spot algae”. They also have the advantage of scraping algae off in fairly cohesive clumps. Scrub pads or magnetic cleaners tend to pulverize the algae into a cloud which will make the water cloudy for a time. That said, there are several cautions and drawbacks to using blades. They should never be used on an acrylic aquarium as the blades will scratch or gouge acrylic material. Special care should be exercised with these blades to avoid cutting the fish. Keep the blade in contact with the glass surface at all times or cover the edge with your fingers. Never move a naked blade around the aquarium.

Buy a Good Thermometer

The stick-on type thermometers used on the outside of the aquariums are good for everyday checking of aquarium temperatures. When changing water, however, the closer the temperature of the new water matches the existing aquarium water the less stress the fish are subjected to. For this a stainless steel dial thermometer used in photographic darkroom applications is very useful. These thermometers are accurate, can be re-calibrated if necessary, can be immersed in water and are nearly indestructible. By using the same thermometer to measure existing water and to set the temperature of incoming water a result within 1° can be achieved.

How to tell you are a fish addict

  1. You continously run around turning off lights to “save electricity” but you have several hundred watts running to your aquariums.
  2. You brag that you have fish older than your children.
  3. You find yourself explaining the sexual mating rituals of cichlids to coworkers.
  4. You consider a 55 gallon tank to be wide screen viewing.
  5. You weigh whether a dead fish is too big to let the snails take care of it.
  6. You are less concerned about the crabgrass in your front lawn than the hair algae in your tanks.
  7. You are honestly surprised others do not find your catfish beautiful.
  8. You actively cultivate bacteria in your house
  9. Your hands are always wet.
  10. There are things in your fridge that you and your spouse agree not to discuss.
  11. You are banned from ever using the “good” towels.
  12. Larvae is a good word.
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