6 Easy Fish Tank Maintenance Tips

Fish tank maintenance includes water changes, filter maintenance and water tests.

Spending about 20 minutes a week on tank maintenance can prevent common problems. A well maintained aquarium contributes to its balance and to the well-being of your fish.
Spacious planted goldfish tank

How to maintain a healthy freshwater aquarium the easy way?

  1. Change 15-25% of the aquarium water per week (25-40% if the aquarium is smaller) with water at roughly the same temperature. Use a good quality water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramine. Siphon off any detritus (uneaten food, dead leaves…) from the gravel.
  2. Rinse the filter medium (filter sponge for example) every 2 or 3 weeks with water from the tank. Never rinse the filter sponge with tap water because the chlorine in tap water will destroy a large part of the beneficial filter bacteria. After cleaning the filter with tank water, immediately put the filter media back into the filter compartment.
  3. Change the filter medium when it becomes porous, usually after several months or years, but only one half at a time (cut it in half beforehand). In this way, bacteria from the old part will colonize the new one. Change the second half the following week.
  4. Regularly check the general condition of your fish. Also check that all the equipment (filter, air pump, heating…) are running properly. Temporarily turning off the electric equipment if you’re going to put your hands in the tank is advisable for security reasons (don’t forget to turn it back on!)
  5. Check for the possible presence of two chemical compounds that are very toxic for the fish: ammonia and nitrite. This check is highly recommended in the first six to eight weeks after the initial set-up of the tank, or if a fish develops unusual behavior or symptoms (sluggishness, refusal of food, fearful behavior, labored breathing, clamped fins, black smudges on skin,etc). For this purpose, you can buy cheap tests in a pet store. Or you can bring a water sample to your local store and ask them to test it for you. If ammonia and nitrite are detected, do a partial water change immediately, remembering to add a dose of water conditioner, and read the following page.
  6. Clean the algae on the decor and windows with an algae scraper, taking care not to scratch the glass. Add a dose of aquarium plant fertilizer if your tank is planted.

Parameters to be checked routinely

Electric equipment (tank heater, filter, etx)Everyday if possible
Fish behaviourEveryday if possible
Ammonia TestEvery 3 days in the first 6 weeks. Then, from time to time or in case of problems or if a fish develops unusual behavior or symptoms.
Nitrite TestEvery 3 days in the first 6 weeks. Then, from time to time or in case of problems or if a fish develops unusual behavior or symptoms.
pHTest usually not required unless the water is soft.
Hardness Not critical, unless pH is low or drops.