Establish a low-maintenance aquarium

INLAND EMPIRE – Fish are often the pet of choice when people desire a pet that requires minimal care. While home aquariums may not require substantial maintenance, they cannot go entirely ignored, either. When ignored, aquariums can quickly transform from a visually stunning habitat into a murky, algae-infested mess. But as important as aquarium maintenance is, some additional factors can also influence the beauty of a home aquarium.

Bigger may be better.

Larger tanks may be better than compact tanks, especially for new owners. That’s because larger tanks are generally more stable in terms of water balance. People mistakenly overcrowd their tanks with fish, and a small tank can easily be overrun by bacteria and fish waste. Upgrading to a larger tank (think 30 gallons) means fish will have the room they need and the water will not have to be changed as frequently to keep it clean.

Find a shady spot.

It’s tempting to put a fish tank where it can be seen by everyone. But if this spot gets a lot of sunlight or even ambient light from overhead fixtures, it may fall victim to excessive algae growth. Algae, like most plants, needs light and a food source to thrive.

The fish will provide the food material, but owners can control the light to limit algae blooms. Once algae is present in large amounts, it can easily overrun the tank. Invest in a few algae-eater fish, such as plecos and some catfish.

Don’t overstock the aquarium.

It can be tempting to buy more and more fish for a home aquarium. But putting too many fish in a tank can throw the water balance off considerably and lead to a high amount of waste in the water. Fish that are an inch in size need roughly one gallon of water each. Fewer fish are easy to care for and won’t cloud up the water quickly.

Invest in a good filter.

A variety of aquarium filters are available, and they can range from inexpensive to more costly. Be sure the filter you choose is large enough to accommodate the volume of water in the tank. It’s better to have a filter that’s too large for the tank than one that is too small. Look for a filter that will turn over all of the water in the tank at least four times per hour. Ample filtering means the water will remain crystal clear.

Plan for weekly, partial water changes.

Siphon 10 to 20 percent of the water each week for optimal health. Try to vacuum around the gravel to remove trapped food particles and waste. Committing to this small bit of maintenance can go a long way toward creating a healthy tank that will not require more maintenance.

Avoid goldfish as a first fish.

Goldfish are particularly dirty fish. They are often purchased because they tend to be inexpensive, but goldfish metabolize food quickly and produce a lot of waste. They can also grow quite large, requiring an upgrade to a larger tank much more quickly than some other fish. Guppies and platies make good starter fish. They’re tolerant of harsh aquarium conditions and quite hardy.

All pets require a certain measure of care and maintenance. Although maintaining a fish tank may not require the daily effort of caring for cats or dogs, a tank still must be maintained to provide an ideal living environment for fish.

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