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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Maintaining your aquarium

Here’s what it takes to run your aquarium on a daily, weekly & monthly basis
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - February 12, 2011
By: James Ong
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Maintaining your aquarium

Last article, I wrote about the various ways in which you can carry out the “undesirable” task of spring cleaning your aquarium. If you remember how arduous the process was, you will probably want to prolong the cleanliness of your aquarium, to delay having to clean it all over again sooner than expected.

Keeping your aquarium squeaky clean requires more than just a one-off cleaning session. You will need to ensure the regular maintenance of the tank on an ongoing basis. Shirk that responsibility like no self-respecting aquarist should and you will soon see a dowdy tank, your fish falling ill or even dying, your aquatic plants getting dilapidated, and so on. All those are signs of negligence.

To achieve a healthy aquarium that is resilient to outbreaks of disease and other factors which might stress out the aquatic life in it, take heed of the following.

Once a day

Do not feed your fish too much food at a time, or too often in a day. While you should not starve them, try feeding them two small meals a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Feed an amount that the entire tank population can consume in two to three minutes. Overfeeding results in unconsumed food, which gives rise to polluted water and an outbreak of disease.

Make time to observe your fish to detect problems. Watch them carefully for abnormal behaviour or signs of illness such as fin discoloration, irregular stripes marring their bodies, tightly clamped fins/gills, and the like. Such signs may indicate bacterial/parasitical infection or high ammonia levels in the water. Torn fins may also mean nipping and harassment by aggressive tank mates.

Once a week

Perform a partial water change ranging from 10 to 15 per cent of the total tank volume. Such regular changes help to keep ammonia and nitrite levels low. They also help renew the dissolved minerals in the water, which is important for keeping your fish and plants healthy. However, if you have recently added new fish to the tank, you may need to change the water more frequently or increase the volume of water changed. To know how much of what to do, test the water for its pH level. Also make it a point to check the water parameters weekly.

For algae growing on the walls, decorations or other surfaces in the tank, you can easily scrape them off with a sponge-scraper which can be purchased at any aquarium store.

Once a month

If you have a gravel substrate, vacuum it thoroughly every month. Commercial gravel vacuum cleaners can be bought over the counter at most aquarium shops. Vacuuming helps to remove waste and debris that have accumulated on the tank bed and can also help remove potentially harmful pockets of gases that may have built up in the substrate over time, and which could harm your fish.

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