Fish tank maintenance

At Myhills, we understand that to ensure your fish stay healthy, it’s vital that you keep the conditions of your tank optimal by regular maintenance.

This routine upkeep and cleaning maintain the delicate eco system in your tank. Water in your aquarium can easily become harmful to your fish if it is not maintained correctly. Through correct care, you won’t ever need to remove all of the water at once. In fact, by doing this, you kill all of the good bacteria too. There are three main goals you are trying to achieve when you clean your fish tank.

  • To regulate the nitrogen cycle.
  • To remove dissolved and particles of organic compounds.
  • To replenish essential minerals.

Keeping a low concentration of nitrates is crucial to tank health. There is a process called the nitrogen cycle whereby ammonia is converted by bacteria to nitrite and then to nitrate. Both ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish, and so having bacteria colonies in your fish tank is essential to convert them harmful compounds to nitrate. Nitrates are much less harmful to fish, and can be removed by regular water changes. When starting a new tank, it would ideally have been through a cycle. However, an effective way to make sure the conditions are optimal for your fish is to add article ammonia to the tank to help to initiate the growth of the required bacteria.

Have a clear out

Organic matter is classified into dissolved organic matter (DOM) and particulate organic matter (POM). DOM is defined as any organic material which can pass through 0.2 0 1.0 um filters, whilst POM will not pass through.

Organic matter includes any waste which is made as a natural by-product of having a tank full of fish which are regularly fed. Just like ammonia is broken down by the colonies of bacteria, so is food waste and other organic matters in your tank. Plants in freshwater tanks can use some of these organics, and the rest can be controlled by regular water changes and cleaning.

Giving back

When fish are kept in water with insufficient minerals, either too high or too low, this can result in osmotic stress, which can in turn lead to osmotic shock, and ultimately death.

Osmotic shock or osmotic stress is physiologic dysfunction caused by a sudden change in the solute concentration around a cell, which causes a rapid change in the movement of water across its cell membrane. Under conditions of high concentrations of either salts, substrates or any solute in the supernatant, water is drawn out of the cells through osmosis. This also inhibits the transport of substrates and cofactors into the cell thus “shocking” the cell. Alternatively, at low concentrations of solutes, water enters the cell in large amounts, causing it to swell and either burst or undergo apoptosis.

When fish keepers add water to their tank, they often use water that has been through the reverse osmosis process. This process removes the vast majority of tap water impurities, but it also removes the essential minerals which your fish need. Therefore you should use a product to add these essential minerals back into the aquarium.

Daily Tank Maintenance

These daily tasks will only take a few minutes and make all the difference to maintaining a healthy tank.

  • Feed your fish twice a day and remove any uneaten food after a period of five minutes as this prevents the wasted food changing the water quality.
  • Have a quick check over all the fish in your tank. Are they all behaving normally? No new injuries?
  • Check the water temperature and the specific gravity of the water (by monitoring these two parameters daily, you can quickly and easily rectify any adjustments).

Weekly Tank Maintenance

  • Water checks – pH, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia levels, and salinity (in saltwater tanks). You can either have your water tested at your local pet/fish shop, or just buy a home testing kit. Home kits are extremely simple to use, they are a colour coded strip of paper which help you to determine the levels in your tank.
  • Brief check over your equipment – the filter, lights etc. This only needs to be a quick check to ensure everything is working properly, the rest can be done during the tank clean.

In the coming months we will be expanding on this topic and will go into depth exactly how to clean your fish tank correctly – so watch this space!