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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Maintain your aquarium

Get the right mix of fish for your aquarium
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - November 13, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Maintain your aquarium

Dowdy tanks, sick fish and bedraggled plants are more often than not symptoms of laziness. Regular maintenance is an ongoing responsibility that no self-respecting aquarist should shirk. Over the long term, your consistent effort will be rewarded by a healthy aquarium that’s resilient to outbreaks of diseases and various stress factors.

So what do you need to do? Let’s find out.

The daily regimen
Here are some activities you might want to do on a day-to-day basis:

    While it may be true that most fish don’t need breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper (some can even go without food for days), my recommendation is to feed them two small meals over the course of the day, once in the morning and once in the evening. If a twice-daily feeding routine is not feasible because of work commitments or other reasons, once a day would do fine too.
    As a rough guide, feed an amount that the entire tank population can consume in two to three minutes’ time. Overfeeding leads to uneaten food, which, in the long run, means problems like poor water quality, stress and disease.

    Take some time to observe your fish every day. This is the precious window during which you can detect problems early.
    Watch carefully for abnormal behaviour or signs of illness. Do they have red or white markings on their bodies which may indicate bacterial or parasitical infection? Are their fins and gills clamped tightly against their bodies, or marred by red streaks? These symptoms could be indicative of high ammonia levels in the water. Torn fins, on the other hand, may mean nipping and harassment by aggressive tank mates.
    Watch your fish while they eat. If you find that you have voracious eaters (for example, goldfish) which gobble up the lion’s share before the shy or timid ones have had a chance to eat, you might want to consider using a mix of floating and sinking pellets.

The weekly stuff

Once a week, do a partial water change of between 10 and 15 per cent of the total tank volume. Such regular changes help to keep ammonia and nitrite levels low, and renew the water’s supply of dissolved minerals, which are important in keeping fish and plants healthy.

You may, however, need to vary this routine depending on tank conditions. If, for example, you have recently added new fish, you may either need to do water changes more frequently or increase the volume of water changed. In order to know how much of what to do, you need to test the water, especially for the pH level. So make it a point to check water parameters on a weekly basis too.

If you observe algae growing on the tank walls, decorations or other surfaces, scrape them off with a sponge-scraper, readily available in stores.

Once a month
If you have a gravel substrate, vacuum it thoroughly every month. Commercial gravel vacuum cleaners can be easily bought over the counter. Vacuuming helps to remove waste and debris that have accumulated on the tank bed, and can also help to remove potentially harmful pockets of gasses that may have built up in the substrate over time.