How To Maintain A Fish Tank

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Maintaining an aquarium is something that intimidates a lot of new fish keepers, but it's not as bad as it seems. It's a pretty simple process, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. So to help you along with that, Happy & Polly lists 10 things you should know about fish tank maintenance.

maintain an aquarium

  1. Bacteria is Your Friend

In this article, you're going to see bacteria a lot, since we will talk about denitrifying or beneficial bacteria. This is the bacteria in aquariums that convert harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite to nitrate, which is much safer for the fish.

beneficial bacteria

Without this bacteria, your aquarium ammonia and nitrite will reach toxic levels, and kill your fish. So this is one of the most important aspects of fish keeping and something you should definitely understand before you set up your first tank. Beneficial bacteria grow naturally on surfaces in your aquarium. You'll hear this referred to as the cycling process.

  1. Filter Maintenance

Aquarium filter is one of the most important aspects of your tank's life-support system. Your filter isn't something that needs daily maintenance. It's actually better to not really mess with it a whole lot and just maintain it every three to four weeks. No matter what type of filter you choose to use, it's gonna have some kind of mechanical filtration or sponges. The water flows through these sponges and it collects all that dirt and debris, and all that gunky stuff. 

fish tank filter

Some filters have replaceable cartridges and all you have to do is take it out and replace it. It's super simple and it's perfect for a beginner. But other more advanced filters with larger sponges and you can take those out and you can clean them and reuse them. You should do it in conditioned aquarium water.

Your filter will most likely contain some kind of chemical filtration, most likely carbon among other things, these chemicals are easy to maintain because all you have to do is replace them with new media and throw away the old ones. It's important to check your labels because sometimes you can use certain things a lot longer than others.

  1. Water Conditioners

The water in your home comes from one of two places, either you have a well or you receive your water from the city. Water from a well is usually pretty clean. But if you receive your water from the city, the city is required to treat the water to rid it of any type of bacteria.

They use either chlorine or chloramine to kill all of these harmful bacteria in the water, as well as the denitrifying bacteria, which is important for your aquarium's health. This is where water conditioners come in.

Water Conditioners

Water conditioners do a lot of things, but one of the main purposes is to remove chlorine or chloramine from the water, which makes it safe to put into your aquarium so that it doesn't kill beautiful beneficial bacteria that we love so much. Water conditioners also help to detoxify ammonia and nitrites in your aquarium. Even if you have water from a well, this is non-negotiable you have to do it.

  1. Water Changes

Water changes are the most important thing that you need to do to take care of your aquarium. This is the process where you're going to remove all that nasty water, and replace it with nice clean crisp water, treat it with water conditioners. Of course, how much water you decide to take out of your aquarium, it's going to depend on how many fish you have in your aquarium, how often do you feed your fish, and when was the last time you actually did a water change.

As a general rule, we actually recommend 15 to 25 percent of a water change weekly, make this a routine. Don't let it be a problem and then do a water change weekly. Water changes are so important to your fish when removing water using a siphon, not only to get the water out of your tank, but also to get all of that waste in fish food, and all that going to few stuff. It's super important to make sure you get all of that nasty stuff out.

  1. Turn off Your Heater and Filter

This might seem like common sense, but when you're doing your routine maintenance on your aquarium, unplug your heater in your filter. Your filter has a motor in it that needs water flowing through it in order to run properly if it drains out of the water, and it's sitting there running dry. It’s eventually going to burn itself out. If the motor and your filter burn out, it makes that filter completely useless.

Your heater can also burn itself out if it's not submerged fully in the water. It's going to continue to heat up and that glass is gonna get extremely hot then you're gonna be doing your water change and add cooler water back to it and when that cold water hits that super-hot glass, boom. It's simple, just unplug your filter, unplug your heater, you won't have to worry about any of this stuff.

  1. Don’t Clean Too Much

We've been talking a lot about beneficial bacteria and why it is super important for your aquarium. Well, many new fish keepers in the very beginning will actually sabotage their aquarium because they want to clean too much.

If you clean all of the surfaces in your tank, you're actually removing all that beautiful bacteria vacuuming out the gravel. Squeezing out your sponges in aquarium water and cleaning the glass in your aquarium is enough. Don't go overboard.

  1. No Chemicals

This is another one that might seem like common sense. But many people still use harsh chemicals to clean the inside and outside of their aquariums. You can spray your tank and the overspray is gonna go over the top, and just don't use harsh chemicals.

  1. Tools for The Job

There are some tools that make your job so much easier. First is good old fashioned buckets. Five-gallon buckets are cheap and they're great to have around because there are different types of things like doing water changes or filling with aquarium water to rinse out your sponges.

Next is a siphon hose, these are cheap and an absolute must if you want to be successful in this hobby. Don't forget about the sponges. These are also important. Next is Nets, depending on what kind of fish you keep, it's gonna depend on what kind of Nets you get. Whether you want the small ones or the large ones, I actually think it's good to have both you never know when there's going to be an emergency.

  1. Test Kit

So the next tool it's an absolute must. A master test kit is something that you should buy when you buy your aquarium. It should be one of the first things on your list. Aquarium test kits measure ammonia nitrite and nitrate in your aquarium, and they can also measure the waters pH level.

Testing your water is something you should absolutely do particularly when your tank is going through the cycling process. You're gonna want to know where things are and how far along in the process you are. After your cycle is done, you're still gonna want to test your water regularly just to keep an eye on things and make sure nothing sneaks upon them.

  1. Watch Your Fish

An important aspect of maintaining your tank might sound silly to you, but it's actually very important, and that's, just watch your fish. It's super important to watch how they behave, get to know their normal tendencies, and their activity levels.

watch your fish

One of the first signs that there is a problem in your aquarium is that your fish start acting abnormally. If you recognize that this isn't normal, then it's time to react. Keep up with your aquarium, do the right thing by your fish and you'll have your fish for a long time.

So these are the 10 things you should know about maintaining your aquarium. If you find this article helpful, share it with your friends. If you would like to see more news, do not hesitate to visit Happy & Polly website on

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