Owning an Aquarium is a fantastic way of adding life and colour to your home. Furthermore keeping fish is a relatively low maintenance experience that can be fun for the whole family. With a great selection of species with different colours and characteristics to choose from, you can make your Aquarium personal and really stand out.
Whether you have a small or large Fish Tank, general cleaning and maintenance is important for keeping your fish strong and healthy. Fish are delicate creatures and can easily become ill if poor water is not treated quickly enough. Always remember that a healthy Aquarium is easier to maintain than a sick Aquarium.
There are many parameters that are important to check when looking after an Aquarium, some of the common ones include:
Ammonia - Ammonia is a chemical compound that is known as an invisible killer to the Aquarium world which is produced by fish waste, rotting leftover food and decomposing plant matter. Ammonia poisoning can happen extremely quickly and requires treatment as soon as it is spotted. Signs to look out for are fish gasping for air, hanging around water outlets or visible red streaks/blood patches appearing on the body or fins.
Nitrite - Nitrite is the by-product that comes from the breakdown of Ammonia, which can become very poisonous if not treated. Nitrite binds the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in fish’s blood cells, which eventually can suffocate your fish even if oxygen levels in your Aquarium are sufficient. Nitrite can also have a huge impact on your fish’s health by causing unnecessary stress and long term damage to their immune systems. Signs to look out for are (like Ammonia) gasping for air and rapid gill movements. Nitrite levels can be a particular issue in new set-ups and is important to get the levels correct before adding livestock.
Nitrate - Nitrate is the end product of the Nitrogen Cycle in an Aquarium (the left overs) of Ammonia and Nitrite once it has been broken down by your filter. The bacteria in your filter convert Ammonia into Nitrite, and then into Nitrate which is a lot less toxic to fish. However, as nitrate accumulates fish will eventually be affected in the long term.
A few simple steps you can take to reduce Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrates:
- Keep the tank clean- clean tanks produce fewer nitrates
- Don’t overfeed fish (reduces waste produced)
- Don’t overstock your Aquarium
- Regular water changes
- Use live plants which utilise Nitrates
- Use effective treatments and water tests to help monitor water quality
pH - pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of the water in your Aquarium. pH uses a scale from 1 to 14, where 7 is neutral. Anything below 7 is considered more acidic, and a pH reading of above 7 is considered more alkaline.
Fish are very sensitive and even a small change in pH can have a drastic effect on the health of your Fish, so It is important not to introduce anything that may change the pH of the water dramatically.
Having the right pH level is crucial as it can have a major impact on several aspects of water quality and chemistry inside of your Aquarium. For instance, if the pH drops below 6.0, the nitrification bacteria that take care of Ammonia and Nitrates will begin to die off which can lead to bigger problems further down the line.
Phosphate - Phosphate is a by-product of mineralization of dead matter such as fish waste, dead plant matter and bacteria which can contribute to algae growth. Fortunately, Phosphates do not directly harm your fish but can cause unsightly algae blooms.
It is vitally important to regularly monitor the water quality of your Aquarium to avoid any problems that may arise. Water Test Kits are a fantastic way of allowing you to easily check for dangerous levels of harmful chemicals that often the naked eye will not see.
It is especially recommended that you test your Aquarium water every 2-3 days for new Aquarium setups as they become established. Then routinely once a week there after should suffice in most cases.