Tips for fresh water fish tank maintenance
Don’t use more fish food than what the fish will eat; leftover fish food will decompose, clogs filters, and develop into toxins unsafe for fish. Any food not eaten after 4 to 5 minutes should be scooped out before it can be drawn into the filter or settle at the bottom of the tank.
For that same reason overcrowding a tank with fish can tax the filtration system as more fish means more waste; the rule of thumb is for every inch of fish the tank requires a gallon of water.
There are a variety of filtering media layers and devices to remove contaminates from the tank’s water. There are filters that are made exclusively for removing chemicals from the water and others that are designed to filter out biological waste. Take time to read through the instructions of each filter to establish a basic routine and then adjust if required.
Using an air pump will increase oxygen levels within the tank, oxygen restricts stagnation from developing. If the tank did not come equipped with an air pump you can easily purchase one online or at a pet supply store. The pump takes air from within the room and releases it into the water. Positioning the pump underneath the stone layer at the bottom of the tank can also help dislodge any clinging debris.
A regular maintenance routine must include changing out about a third or less of the tank’s water with fresh every one or two weeks. It is recommended to allow the replacement water to sit for a couple of days prior to entering the tank; this practice allows any chlorine to evaporate.
Minimizing algae from building up in the tank by scraping the tank sides will go a long way in maintaining clarity of the tank’s water. Schedule this when performing the water replacement task so the algae scrapings can be removed at the same time. Be sure to rinse off tank ornaments to remove any built up algae as well. Algae can also be reduced by limiting the amount of light the tank is exposed to each day; having a tank near an open window where it gets unlimited sunlight will increase algae growth.
There are also biological filters to break down toxins such as ammonia; these filters use a “good” bacterium that develops naturally in the tank when there is a steady source of oxygen and a water temperature above 55°F. This bio filter is used in conjunction with a regular filtration system which removes the particulates from the tank.
In most cases a regular maintenance program such as the tips listed above will be enough to maintain the quality of a tank’s water, however sometimes chemicals may become necessary if normal practices do not regulate the water’s clarity. With the addition of flocculant chemicals particulates are stimulated to clump together making it easier for the filter media to remove them from the tank. Chemical agents should be used sparingly since they can sometimes mask a bigger problem.
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