Happy fish and a healthy ecosystem is the supreme challenge of the fish-keeping enthusiast. To keep your freshwater aquarium picture perfect, some elbow grease is required. Water changes, water testing, some chemistry and algae scrubbing are pretty much unavoidable. Let's go over the few basics of freshwater aquarium maintenance!
Regular Water Changes
Look to nature for the answer! In nature, all healthy, clear water habitats all have something in common, and that is moving or "cycled" water. A great water change cycle should be small and frequent (about 10% - 15%), not large and seldom. It is a good idea to replace the water removed while vacuuming the gravel, removing uneaten foods and other residues that cause nitrate build-up. Pisces recommends: Aqua Life Gravel Vac. Always use filtered water for your water changes, preferably reverse osmosis water. If you do not have access to filtered water, make sure you are using a proper dechlorinator to remove the chlorine or chloramine from your tap water.
Controlling Algae Growth
Algae growth is an obstacle that no aquarist can avoid. Common reasons why your tank may be growing excess algae are:
- Too much lighting
- Direct sunlight
It is important to identify what type of algae you have growing in your take. Thread (green) algae and Silica (brown) algae is generally harmless and easy to wipe off or remove (Pisces recommends: Mag-Float Cleaner). Other algae like Beard, Slime or Green Water algae can be more frustrating and damaging to your tank (Pisces recommends: AquaPro Step 3 Algae Reducer). Remove algae at first sight, reduce lighting, and clean up uneaten food promptly after feeding. Combine with frequent water changes for best results to reduce algae. In addition, keeping algae eating fish in your tank will aid you in reducing the amount of algae build up.
Check Your Water
Healthy, balanced water is the corner-stone of a thriving ecosystem. It is critical that you do weekly water checks, or every time you conduct a water change. In a freshwater ecosystem, what you are checking for is your pH, nitrite and nitrate levels.
pH: In the wild, freshwater fish live in an alkaline pH of somewhere between 5.5 - 7.5, depending on the specific fish. Check online or with your local pet store to see what pH your specific fish thrive in.
Nitrate: Ammonia is caused by dissolving waste (leftover food/feces). The bacteria in your biofilter will convert the ammonia to nitrite, then to nitrate. anywhere from 5-20 ppm is considered safe.
Nitrite/Ammonia: Nitrite and ammonia is very harmful. If you have high nitrite levels, your biofilter is inadequate to convert all the nitrite to nitrate. You want your nitrite level to be 0 ppm. Any testable amount of nitrite/ammonia in your tank should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Pisces Pet Emporium will test your water for you, free of charge! Just bring a small sample of your water to our fish department and let us take care of the rest!