Aquarium maintenance or aquarium cleaning is vital to maintain a healthy fish aquarium. Done properly it will create a wonderful living picture in your home or business. Your tank fish live in the controlled environment of your freshwater aquarium and you need to control that environment to keep them happy and healthy. Tank maintenance is a process so it’s good practice every time you feed the fish, take a moment to check the overall appearance and condition of the tank and check whether any fish are swimming oddly, not eating or have spots or blotches.
As a professional aquarium cleaner and installer I know that regular changes are a critical aspect of maintaining good water quality and a healthy fish aquarium. You should do a partial water change – say 25% to 30% every four weeks. At the same time clean the gravel, clean the sides of algae, change the filter media and test for water quality. You want to keep the water chemistry as stable as possible. Contaminants such as nitrates and bits of food, leaves and fish waste can stress fish and affect their health.
To perform aquarium maintenance disconnect the electrical heaters, power heads and filters. Leave the air pump running. Replace the filter media. Remove any artificial plants but leave the live ones. Take out and clean any dirty accessories or decorations in the tank (leave some so the fish have places to hide). Use a cleaner/vacuum to clean the base of the tank as food and plant debris can lodge there. Remove the water and gauge this by the water level in the tank. Replace the water with a bucket or a pump. Ideally the temperature of the water you put into the tank should be as close as possible to the water temperature in the tank to reduce stress on the fish.
if you have chlorine or chloromine in your water supply you will need to add de-chlorinator before you put it in the tank. Generally it’s a good idea to test the water weekly. The key parameters are pH and nitrates. pH between 6.5 – 6.9 is suitable for most species as at that level ammonia becomes ammonium and is no longer toxic to the fish. Nitrates should be kept below 30 ppm.
Finally replace the artificial plants and decorations, reconnect the filters, power heads and the heater and you should have a clean fish aquarium. It takes some practice to do this quickly but the reward is a thriving fish or pet aquarium that is truly a living picture.