Regular Maintenance Is Key To A Good Aquarium
Aquariums are magical! It’s like having a small piece of the ocean right inside your home. And just like you need to clean your home often to create a healthy and happy living environment, aquariums should also be regularly maintained to ensure a healthy and safe environment for your aquatic creatures.
Living on land and living under the water can be very different and not everybody is aware of some of the important concerns that need to be taken into consideration when maintaining an aquarium, especially those related to the changing of the seasons. Some key points to note are that fish and other invertebrates are sensitive to change and any sudden shifts in their living conditions can cause them to become stressed and therefore more prone to infections. Fish are also very sensitive to temperature changes as they are ectothermic and therefore unable to regulate their own body temperatures. Also, because the tank is a small environment, many of the mechanisms which act to buffer and balance out changes in the natural environment are not present. For example, fish release waste in the form of ammonia into the environment which can build up in the tank if the water isn’t cleaned properly and become toxic to the fish. In the ocean, it isn’t necessary to have a “filtering system”, as such, because waste products are quickly diluted in the vast quantities of water that make up the ocean and are broken down by bacteria and other organisms over time.
Because these buffering systems are not in place in your aquarium, it is important to monitor the conditions continuously and make changes as necessary to ensure that they stay within the optimum thresholds for your fish and other invertebrates. Important parameters to monitor are temperature and the levels of nitrate, nitrite, pH and salinity. Keeping a record of how these parameters change over the seasons can help you figure out what to expect and therefore prepare for in the future. Monitoring these variables should form part of your routine maintenance, along with regular water changes and servicing all equipment.
As temperatures rise during the summer months, it is important to monitor the temperature of your tank and ensure that it remains constant and within the optimal parameters for your fish species. It may be necessary to invest in a chiller to cool your aquarium water directly or air conditioning to maintain a constant cool room temperature. You should be checking the temperature of your tank every day.
It is especially important to ensure that the water temperature doesn’t increase too much if your fish species are from temperate oceans and therefore cool water adapted. Tropical species, however, require warmer water and are generally more common aquarium choices as they are often more colorful. Nevertheless, it is important that the water in the tank does not get too warm as the quantity of dissolved oxygen is dependent on the water temperature. Water at a higher temperature will have lower quantities of dissolved oxygen than cooler water. Changes in dissolved oxygen content will affect the aquarium fish and cause physiological stress if outside healthy levels or if it fluctuates too drastically.
Increased temperatures can also result in increased growth of algae as they multiply faster in warmer conditions. It is therefore important to keep your tank away from direct sunlight and make sure that you clean the water regularly. Using a magnetic algae cleaner can help you keep on top of cleaning your tank.
Also, note that the level of chlorine in municipal water may increase during summer months and it may be necessary to use a dechlorinator more frequently than usual.
As the weather starts to cool and you end up spending more time inside, it is probably a good opportunity to check that all your aquarium equipment – especially your heaters are functioning properly and won’t give you any trouble during the winter months.
Like in summer, it is also important to monitor the temperature of your tank in winter as fish are sensitive to thermal fluctuations. Water that is too cold for your fish can make them more susceptible to diseases, such as white spot. To avoid stressing your fish, there are a number of easy rules to follow. Firstly, make sure that your heater is the right size for your tank. If your heater is too small, it won’t be effective at maintaining a constant temperature in your tank. Secondly, only change half the water in the tank at the time as this will buffer against sudden changes in temperature that will stress your fish out. Thirdly, make sure that your tank water is cleaned regularly as this will help prevent the spread of fungal infection. Fourthly, make sure that you are meeting the nutritional requirements of your fish which will help boost their immune systems and avoid over feeding your fish as this will prevent the build-up of ammonia and nitrites in the tank. Fifthly, if your fish do get sick, seek advice from a qualified vet and treat the infections with antibiotics if necessary. Also, make sure that any new additions to your tank are quarantined and given time to acclimatize to their new conditions.
As spring arrives and breathes new life into the world around us, why not take the opportunity to spring-clean your aquarium and make sure that everything is in the proper working order. By taking care of tank maintenance in spring, it can reduce the amount of time needed to maintain the tank during the summer months, giving you more time to spend outside enjoying the warm weather.
The key to maintaining a beautiful aquarium is to keep your aquatic pets healthy and as stress-free as possible. This can be achieved by keeping on top of tank maintenance and being aware of and preparing for the challenges that different seasons may bring. It is important to remember that all aquariums are different and you need to figure out what works best for you and your magical ocean wonderland.