Fish Tank Maintenance. fun stuff BUT It’s Mandatory, full easy guide for newbies & amateur on how to maintain your fish tank from A to Z.
1- Your Fish Tank Maintenance Schedule
The best bet for any aquarist is to create some sort of maintenance schedule. You may be able to just remember to do things as they come up, but the benefits of putting your common maintenance on some sort of schedule to follow are numerous.
Keeping on top of common fish tank maintenance tasks will pay you back in terms of excellent tank health. Your fish will be happy and you will be happy.
Using fish tank software for scheduling
Software is available to aid in fish tank maintenance. fish tank software, depending on what software you decide to use, will typically allow you to do the following:
- Set reminders of regular or important maintenance tasks.
- Log various fish tank water testing parameters
- Log fish tank observations and notes
- Manage multiple fish tanks or aquariums
- Set schedules for one fish tank or multiple fish tanks
- Track fish tank expenses
- Log fish tank inhabitant health
Some software will cost money, some software is free.
The main benefits with software in terms of maintenance schedule is that is will have a system in place to remind you to do certain tasks. The software might send an email, or it might pop a reminder onto the screen when something needs to be done. This is handy when you need to make sure not to forget certain maintenance tasks.
Using any calendar application
Using something such as Google Calendar, Mozilla Thunderbird/Lightning, Outlook, Time & Chaos or any other type of calendar application is an easy way to track and schedule fish tank maintenance tasks.
You’ll be able to set recurring tasks and reminders with all these applications.
Using a Notebook
You don’t need to use a computer to track and log information about your fish tank. Using a notebook works just fine. Plus, a notebook and pen are a lot cheaper than a computer.
Using a Wall Calendar
Why not just use a wall calendar?
This is as good as anything else for reminders. At the beginning of each month, just go through the months days and markdown what maintenance you need to do and when. The calendar could be hanging on the wall near the fish tank or somewhere else nearby and would always be easy to access.
2- Fish Tank Maintenance Water Changes
Water must be changed periodically to ensure that wastes and chemicals don’t build up in the water over time. Consistency in water changes is also required to ensure that fish aren’t stressed due to drastic changes in water quality.
Your fish tank water may look clear and clean, but the way your water looks is not the best indicator of the health of your water.
Nitrates and Phosphate Levels
Fish waste and fallen food release nitrates and phosphates into the water. Nitrates and phosphates can build up in the water over time. Elevated levels of nitrates and phosphates will promote algae growth and will stress fish.
Changing your fish tank water consistently is the most effective way to ensure that the levels of nitrates and phosphates remain low in your fish tank water. You don’t need to make huge water changes. Just do it consistently.
Water Change Frequency & Amount
It’s probably a good idea to change 10% to 20% of your fish tank water every week. The amount of water that you should change and the frequency that you should change it will depend on how large and how stocked your fish tank is.
If you have a 10-gallon tank that is crowded with a bunch of fish, you will want to change the water once a week and probably change more than 10%.
If you have a large 75-gallon fish tank and only a few fish, you may only need to change 10% of your water every one or two weeks.
Fish Tank Water Changing Recommendations
When you are removing water from your fish tank, use a gravel vacuum to suction waste out of the gravel and rocks. This will allow you to take some extra waste out of the tank while you are removing water.
If you are getting your water straight from the tap, let the water sit for a day or two before you add it to the tank. The water fresh from the tap will contain dissolved gasses that should be allowed to dissipate. This will also stabilize the pH levels of the water before you add it to your fish tank.
Add the water to the tank slowly to avoid disrupting and stirring up the substrate.
If you are doing a large water change, be careful of the temperature of the water when you are adding it back to the tank. Not allowing the temperature of the tank water to change sharply in either direction will spare your fish some possibly fatal stress.
3- Fish Tank Maintenance Water Testing
Testing the water in a fish tank is a mandatory task. Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites, pH should be tested. Other fish tank water parameters can also be checked regularly depending on your needs and situation.
Testing fish tank water should be considered a mandatory task. Water testing is not something to disregard.
Water testing is easy
Testing fish tank water is not tough. Testing kits can be bought at very reasonable prices. These testing kits make it easy to do a quick checkup on important water parameters.
There are many different fish tank water parameters that can be tested. The tests that you will want to do on your fish tank water may depend on your particular current situation as well.
The following fish tank water tests could be considered the most important tests to run regularly:
When cycling a new tank, you will need to test for Ammonia. Ammonia levels are high during the cycling process of a new tank. Checking Ammonia levels at least once a week during this time should be sufficient for a new fish tank.
For mature tanks, Ammonia testing is also important. Ammonia levels can rise if fish tank water is not properly filtered or maintained. Checking Ammonia levels once a month should be sufficient for a mature fish tank.
Here are the top 5 Amazon Ammonia Test Kit
It is important to strive to maintain consistent pH levels. Do not let pH levels change abruptly, this may stress your fish tank inhabitants. At the same time, pH levels can change over time. Checking pH once a month should be sufficient.
pH should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. If you keep the levels consistent, the fish probably adjust even if the number is slightly above or below the recommended levels.
Testing for Nitrites is also important. Nitrates should be completely undetectable in a fish tank that has been able to fully cycle. Undetectable means 0 ppm. Nothing.
Any level of Nitrites will cause your fish to be stressed. Also, if you can keep Ammonia levels to a minimum in your fish tank the Nitrites will have no fuel and will not exist.
Nitrates should also be kept at 0 ppm. Also, Nitrates are not as harmful as Nitrites or Ammonia and can be tolerable in a fish tank up to levels of 5 to 10 ppm. This is still not a good idea, however. It is best to strive for no Nitrates.
The existence of Nitrates in a fish tank usually is the result of not changing and filtering water appropriately. High Nitrate levels will result in excessing algae growth.
Testing these parameters, and taking the means to alleviate any found issues, will greatly help in the long term health preservation of your fish tank.
Here are the top 5 Amazon pH, Nitrites and Nitrates Test Kit
4- Filter Media Replacement & Cleaning
Got filters? You’ll need to clean them and change the filter media regularly. Not cleaning filters and changing filter media can lead to poor water quality and other bad fish tank situations.
fish tank filters must be changed and cleaned regularly. Not paying any attention to your filters can result in poor quality water.
Changing Filter Medium
You must change the medium in your filter regularly. Are you using activated carbon? Change it every 3-4 weeks. Are you using other filter media? Clean it or change it every 2-4 weeks.
It is important to always make sure that your filtration system is filtering and cleaning water, not serving as a harbor for chemicals and problems.
Sponges & Pads
Sponges and pads are typically used to trap debris and larger particles in the filtration system. Changing or cleaning these sponges and pads is essential. The debris that builds up on these filtration materials will eventually begin to leach toxins into the water, which is not a good thing.
5- Fish Tank Maintenance Glass Cleaning
Algae may form on your glass on the inside of the tank. The outside surface of the glass may also get dirty from water splattering and dripping or other environmental circumstances. Cleaning both sides of the glass will make your tank clear and attractive.
Cleaning the inside of a fish tank should be a pretty easy process. There are many types of cleaning wands and pads available on the market to aid in accomplishing this task.
Magnetic Glass Cleaners
Magnetic glass cleaners are popular in that it is easy to clean all parts of a pane of glass with minimal hassle. This of how many times you’ve used a long stick with a pad that was kinda awkward to maneuver around the top of your tank and inside the tank.
There is a magnetic pad inside the tank on one side of the glass, and another on the outside of the glass. You just have to drag the magnetic pad around on the outside of the glass, and that’s about it.
Here are the top 5 Amazon Magnetic Glass Cleaners
Cleaning the Outside of the Fish Tank
Cleaning the outside of the fish tank should be pretty self-explanatory. Use just water to wipe down salt creep and any other buildups.
Be careful when cleaning the outside glass. Remember that ammonia is bad for fish. Most glass cleaners contain ammonia. Try to use something that is not ammonia-based to clean the outside glass. If you must use ammonia base products, be very careful.
6- Salt Creep
Salt creep is a reality, Salt creep can damage cables, carpet, wood and all kinds of other stuff that might be near your tank and Salt creep can be dealt with easily, however.
Saltwater tanks will experience salt creep. You will probably find that it is best to try to keep up on cleaning the salt creep from your tank.
- Salt creep can quickly become cumbersome to clean.
- Salt will build upon key filtration hardware.
- Will build upon heaters.
- Will build upon your protein skimmer.
- And will build upon your hood and lighting.
And I could keep going. But I won’t.
Salt will fall into the carpet if you have carpet near your tank. Salt is tough to clean out of the carpet if it builds up to the point where it becomes a thick crust. Ugh. This is especially a danger if there is dripping or leaking from your tank or tank hardware.
Dripping and Leaking
Keep an eye on the area behind and around the base of your tank to make sure that you don’t have any drip issues. You might have hardware or tubing that drips or leaks in a way that doesn’t immediately get your attention. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t let any consistent leakage happen for an extended period for any type of tank, whether your tank is freshwater or saltwater.
Saltwater leaks will have more clean-up consequences than freshwater. At least in my experience. Saltwater has salt in it, and that is not a good thing for carpets and other materials.
- Salt creep can damage many of the components that are used in or around your fish tank.
- Salt is corrosive and fearsome.
- Will corrode cables.
- Will damage wood, carpet, paint, and varnished surfaces.
Negative Effect on Fish Tank Lighting
Salt could build upon fish tank bulbs and lighting depending on how well the lighting is protected from the water. If salt layers start to build up on bulbs, they will not be as effective at lighting the fish tank.
The same goes for acrylic and glass hoods. Transparent hoods will not be as effectively transparent if there is a lot of salt built up on the surfaces.
Just Do It, Clean Up the Salt Creep
Take a few minutes to wipe down your tank and remove the salt creep every couple weeks. It might seem like trivial work at times, but it’s much easier to clean up salt creep before it builds up into a think crust. And don’t forget, your fish tank will look much more presentable as well!
7- Fish Tank Maintenance Gravel Vacuuming
Cleaning your gravel is very important. It is a good idea to keep wastes and contaminants from building up in the gravel. Gravel vacuuming is a great way to clean the wastes from the gravel in your fish tank.
Gravel vacuuming is an important part of maintaining a fish tank with gravel. A gravel vacuum is essentially a siphon tube with a large diameter canister attached to one end of it. Nothing fancy, but it does the job well.
Here are the top 5Amazon Gravel Vacuuming
How Does Gravel Vacuuming Work?
You do this:
- Place an empty bucket on the floor near the part of the fish tank that you will be vacuuming.
- Insert the wider canister end of the siphon into the fish tank water.
- Suck on the other tube while holding it lower than the end of the tube that is in the fish tank to start the siphoning of the water. Be careful, once the water begins to siphon out, it will be flowing at a pretty good rate.
- Now, the siphoning is going. Insert the vacuum end of the siphon into the gravel, being careful not to stir the gravel.
- You could even plug the other end of the siphon to stop the siphoning if needed. This allows you to let the rock fall out of the siphon so you can move to a different spot.
- Once the bucket is nearing full, stop the siphon by plugging the other end and holding it higher than the vacuum end that is inside the tank. You can then release the water inside the tube into the tank.
Video Demonstration of Gravel Cleaning
This isn’t too hard of a process. Here’s a video from YouTube that kinda explains how this works if you have never seen it before:
8- Fish Tank Lighting Maintenance
With time, the bulbs used to illuminate a fish tank will need to be replaced. fish tank bulbs lose the ability to cast the appropriate light into a fish tank as they age. Lighting may also need to be cleaned of salt depending on the situation.
fish tank lighting, for most aquarists, consists of fluorescent bulbs contained within hood units. These fluorescent fish tank lighting setups will prove to be sufficient for a lot of fish-only in one fish tank.
Fluorescent Bulb Life Span
Fluorescent fish tank bulbs should be replaced every six to twelve months, depending on the amount of time you run your fish tank lamps.
The fluorescent bulb does wear out over time, even if it doesn’t look like it has. Old bulbs will not provide your fish tank with the type of light that it needs to thrive.
Fluorescent Bulb Expenses
The types of fluorescent bulbs that most fish tank swill need is not very expensive. This is nice. Considering the low cost of these lights, the bulbs in your fish tank should be replaced every 6 months.
Cleaning Your Fish Tank Lighting
Keeping your fish tank lights free of salt buildup and dust is recommended. Salt creep may occur due to splashing of fish tank water or other circumstances.
Wiping down the lights will free them of this build-up and ensure that your tank is receiving the best lighting possible.
Cleaning Your Fish Tank Hood
In addition to cleaning your fluorescent fish tank lights and hood, it is also recommended to clean the transparent acrylic or glass panels between the lights and the surface of the water. This will allow the maximum amount of lighting to pass through the hood unit into the water.