Below is a simple guide on what is involved in maintaining a freshwater fish tank
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Daily or Every Other Day
Feeding your fish: Depending on how many fish and the type of fish you have, you should plan on feeding your fish either every day or every other day. You should only feed what can be eaten in two minutes. After that you will be overfeeding your fish and polluting your aquarium.
Check health of fish: This really should only take a minute or so. You should look at your fish and make sure they all seem healthy every day. This will help you catch any serious problems early and be able to take action. Also, in the unfortunate event of a dead fish you can remove it before it causes problems in your tank.
Check equipment: Each day you should check to make sure your equipment is working properly. If you have a heater, you should also have a thermometer to check the temperature. Also, just quickly make sure your filters are running and any other equipment is still running.
Weekly or Every Other Week
Water change: Ideally you will change part of the water in the tank each week; however bi-weekly is generally OK as well. The best way to do this is with a gravel siphon. You should remove 15-20% of the water from the aquarium. When you replace the water, make sure the temperature matches the rest of the tank. Here is a link to a video on how to perform a water change in your aquarium.
Scrape algae: Using an algae scrapper you should scrap the algae off the glass each week. There are algae scrappers you have to get your hands wet using, some that have handles, and then others that are magnetic algae scrappers and a little fun to use :).
Top off fish tank: In between water changes, you should top off the aquarium with dechlorinated water. Just make sure the temperature is the same as your aquarium as well.
Rinse polyfiber pad: Each month you should rinse off the polyfiber pad in your filter. The best way to do this is during your water change, take the filter pad and squeeze it in the bucket to remove the debris. It does not have to be perfectly clean, but you should try to remove some of the build up. It is important not to use cleaners on these pads, because this is one of the places where your beneficial bacteria grow.
Change filter pads: If you are using a filter that has carbon, which I don’t recommend, you need to make sure you change the carbon every month. If you don’t change the carbon, it will actually leach the chemicals back into the tank.
Change your gravel: You should never pull all of the gravel out of the tank and clean it or replace it. Overtime your gravel may grow some algae on it, but that’s completely normal and natural. Your gravel is where most of your beneficial bacteria is living in your tank. If you remove your gravel, you kill the bacteria and will cause your fish tank to go through another cycle.
Use household cleaners: You should never use household cleaners in your aquarium. If you use soap or other cleaners to clean your decorations or other things in your tank, you will never be able to remove all of the cleaner before putting it back into the aquarium. By doing this you risk the health of your fish in your aquarium. So do yourself a favor, and don’t use soap to clean your fish tank.
Completely empty your tank: You should never completely drain your aquarium. At most, you can do a 50% water change in an emergency, but completely draining the tank and replacing it should be avoided at all costs.
Hopefully you have found this helpful and now have a good understanding of what is involved in maintaining a fish tank. For other tips and tricks, including the secrets most fish stores won’t tell you, please join my mailing list.