Once an aquarium has been set-up and running for a little while, it is tome to get into a maintenance routine that will keep the tank clean and in great shape for the fish that live there.
Maintenance includes a number of chores, some are required on a daily basis to ensure everything is going well. These include feeding and checking that every fish is doing well. Daily monitoring of the temperature is also very important.
There are some jobs that should be done less often, like cleaning the gravel and maintaining the media in the filters. Excess food left over in the aquarium is perhaps the greatest problem for both the fish keeper as well as the fish themselves. This will fall to the bottom of the fish tank and embed itself into the gravel. Once it is there, it immediately starts to rot and decay.
The less organic material left in the substrate, the less problems can occur. The best way to eliminate the mess that gets into the gravel and remove the decaying materials is to employ a gravel cleaner. A good rule of thumb is to remove 10% of the water capacity of the tank per week. Quite often maintenance will be bi-weekly, so in that case 20% of the tank can be safely removed and replaced. Never remove and replace more than 30 – 40% at a time.
The filter cannot capture all the waste material that is generated in the aquarium, but it should do a good job of it. Hopefully the filter is efficient enough to allow only a little dirt or debris to ever find its way into the gravel. The rest will end up in the filter media. As the filter does its job, it will gradually clog the media which needs to be changed on a regular basis.
The various materials used in the filter will require different lengths of time before they require attention. Some, like foam inserts or ceramic pre-filter rings, are re-usable but many must be replaced after they have become exhausted. Generally some part of the filter media must be rinsed or replaced every two weeks. As such most good aquarium maintenance routines are required on a bi-weekly basis.
Rotating the filter media every two weeks ensures the filter is still fresh enough to purify the water passing through the mechanical sieve and seasoned enough to reduce some of the toxins that the fish and environment naturally produce.
The glass often starts to get covered in slime and proteins during the two week interval as well, so besides changing or rotating the filter media and the use of a gravel cleaner, the glass panes inside the tank should be sponged or scraped off from any algae growths, slime or proteins that have settled there.
Today’s modern filters often use only one moving part, the impeller that spins in the impeller well. The same slime that coats the glass and other surfaces int he aquarium can also work its way into the impeller well and slowly cause problems for the free spinning impeller. The impeller and impeller well should be periodically rinsed of accumulating debris and slime. This should be done at least once every month to three months.