Maintenance – Aquarium Cleaning
Water changes are possibly the most important aquarium cleaning maintenance that you will be required to do on a regular basis. I have plenty of further information on how to do that on the Freshwater-Tropical-Fish-Tank.com maintenance pages of the website.
But this aquarium cleaning video goes over many of the points that need to be made for doing proper water changes.
I also never recommend that the water conditioner be added directly to the aquarium. The main difference is that he uses a very large vat to hold the water and condition it prior to the replacement step. However, most aquariums are not kept at 74oF. Also his room temperature is quite warm to allow the water to reach 72oF without any additional heat. Mind you, the idea is not bad, but if you keep your water warmer, or your room cooler, add a heater tot he vat if you must do it this way.
He keeps the water a few extra days “Just in case”. I am not sure if he is worried about the chlorine or chloramine, but that is always instantly neutralized by the water conditioner if there is enough used. I tend to recommend using a dedicated bucket only for water changes: removal and replacement water. When used to replace the water, run the tap at approximately the same temperature as the aquarium, and use the water conditioner in the bucket – I pour it in as the water fills to ensure total mixing. If you are in doubt of the temperature of the tap water, use a thermometer to determine what it is.
I agree with unplugging the heater when doing the water change to prevent any possibility of the heater element being exposed above the water level – but if you are going to do it, make sure the power is removed about a half hour before the drain. The element is normally ceramic and will remain very hot for a while after being heated – so it must be allowed a proper amount of time to cool and be water temperature when the heater is accidentally exposed.
I don’t have an elevated tank, and yours is probably a lot smaller, so in most cases when doing aquarium cleaning you will need to run the water into a bucket and discard it. I agree that you are much better off to do a number of smaller water changes than a single huge one. Those massive changes can radically dilute the existing water characteristics that the fish are accustomed to. Tis leads to severe stress and an opengnfor diseases to take hold n the tank and the fish themselves.