Maintaining a healthy fish tank can take some work. Since a closed water system won’t have natural filtration, it’s important that you make a consistent effort to keep your water clean and your fish healthy. Luckily, you can get plenty of aquarium supplies online to help you do this.
To help you get started, we’re going to take a look at the basics of aquarium water maintenance.
While a small amount of algae in a fish tank is considered healthy, algae overgrowth can be detrimental to your aquarium. Some algae produce toxins that can harm the fish and the plants in your aquarium.
This is why it’s essential that you remove excess algae as soon as you can. There are various ways that you can do this. You can add algae-eating fish to your aquarium. The Siamese algae eater and the loricariid catfish will naturally remove algae.
Alternatively, you can scrape the algae off the glass and rocks yourself. You can do this with a brush tool or a rubber scraper. Whatever you choose to use, make sure that it won’t scratch your aquarium glass. A good time to clean out algae is when you’re changing the water. This way, you can take out the rocks and clean them thoroughly. This also makes it easier to clean the corners of your tank.
High-levels of ammonia can cause serious damage to your fish. Needless to say, it’s vital that you regularly check your fish tank for ammonia spikes. On top of these regular checks, it’s recommended that you test for ammonia spikes:
- When you’ve recently changed the water
- When a fish has died in the tank
- If there was a power outage for a significant period of time
To reduce ammonia levels, you can use an ammonia binder. You can get it in liquid form or as a filtration media. It is recommended that you use a liquid binder if you need to reduce ammonia levels immediately. If the levels are dangerously high, it’s good enough to use filter media.
Testing for nitrates
Another chemical that you need to test for are nitrates. If not treated properly, nitrates can convert into nitrite compounds, which in turn, can lead to ammonia spikes. As a general rule, nitrates should be below 10ppm (parts per million) in freshwater and 5ppm in saltwater.
To reduce the effects of nitrite poisoning, it might help to use small amounts of salt (sodium chloride). According to the National Library of Medicine (US), sodium chloride has been used to reduce stress and mitigate disease symptoms in freshwater fish. Thus, adding salt to your fish tank water might be able to help counteract the effects of high nitrate levels.
It’s important to keep in mind that some scaleless marine species, like catfish, won’t be able to tolerate salt. When water dissolves sodium chloride, it can also become toxic to certain plants in your tank. Please consult an expert if you are unsure about the effect that sodium chloride will have on your aquarium. Use caution if you choose to use sodium chloride as an additive.
The right pH of your fish tank water will depend on the type of fish that you keep. For example, the hatchetfish and the cardinal tetra can typically thrive in a pH between 5.5 to 6.5. On the other hand, pufferfish and rainbowfish will require something around 7.5 to 8.5. As a general rule, it’s best to keep it at around 6.5 and 7.5, which is slightly acidic.
If you want a lower pH, use water that is filtered and is low in mineral content. Conversely, adding crushed coral to the tank water can increase the pH. That being said, you should aim to use water that already has the pH that you require. Making too many modifications to the water can put a lot of stress on your fish.
It’s more important to keep the water at a consistent pH level than it is to get the exact pH level. Frequent changes to the pH levels can do more harm to your fish tank than good.
Tap water conditioners
Lastly, when you use tap water, make sure to condition it. Conditioners will make sure that the water is devoid of chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals. Chlorine alone can cause a lot of damage to your fish’s respiratory system. If you leave your fish in chlorinated water for too long, it will eventually lead to asphyxiation.
Because of this, water conditioners are essential to aquarium maintenance. With a water conditioner, you should be able to make tap water safe for your fish and your plants.
With these tips, you should be able to keep your aquarium water clean and healthy. If you feel you need extra assistance with testing and certain additives, don’t hesitate to consult an expert. Keeping fish can be an overwhelming hobby and you might need all the help that you can get.