Maintenance – no one likes to do maintenance on aquariums or anything else. But maintenance on an aquarium does not have to be hard or time consuming. A few minutes each week with an hour or so once a month is all this is necessary for most aquaria. Plus DrTim’s Aquatics makes a few products that help reduce the time needed for maintenance. Here we’ll review the basics of aquarium maintenance and discuss ways to make it even easier to perform.
The main purpose of maintenance is to remove organic matter from the aquarium. In general, there are two types of organics – particulate and dissolved. Particulate organic matter is the stuff you can easily see that develops on the filter pads and in the gravel. Dissolved organics are much harder to see because they are, obviously, dissolved in the water!
A lot of organic matter is trapped on the filter pad so this is the first place to start. On a weekly basis remove the filter pad and rinse it well. Don’t worry about destroying any nitrifying bacteria as it is more important to get rid of the organic material. You’ll need to replace the mechanical filter every 4 to 5 weeks or so.
The next place where debris accumulates is on and in the gravel or coral bed. This material can be removed during monthly water changes by using a siphon type of gravel washer that churns the gravel in a large tube while removing the water and debris. If your tank is small and so you don’t have a lot of water to work with clean half the bottom of the tank one month and the other half the next month and switch back and forth like that. Regularly changing 25 to 33% of the water each month will go along way to ensuring lasting success of your aquarium.
The above simple tips are the standard tried and true ways to maintain your aquarium. They don’t take long and work well, especially when practiced on regular schedule, but there are a few other things you can do to make maintenance even easier and less time consuming.
As you probably have figured out by now removing organic material is important but why? Organics are sources of food for bacteria that work to break them down into ammonia and other substances and in the process consume oxygen that would be otherwise available to the fish and nitrifying bacteria in the aquarium. So organics are a drag of the entire aquarium system. But we can use bacteria to help control the rate of organic reduction and make it a constant process which is a good thing.
DrTim’s Aquatics Waste-Away™ is a highly concentrated mixture of sludge (organic) degrading bacteria that works on both particulate and dissolved organics. It is 100% natural and consists of bacteria specially isolated from aquaria. Other sludge busting products use bacteria from wastewater treatment facilities or other non-aquarium environments. Our bacteria prefer the aquarium environment and respond much better than competitive products. Adding Waste-Away to your aquarium on a weekly basis provides a controlled way to keep organics to a minimum and prevent radical changes in the aquarium water quality. Using way will help keep your filter pad cleaner longer and so you’ll not need to spend as much time clean it.
Also if you have a tank where getting to bottom substrate is hard to reach for whatever reason Waste-Away can replace the use of the gravel washer. Also organics can accumulate in the crevices and spots that you can’t see. Again, regular use of Waste-Away will remove the organics from these hard to reach spots and keep the tank better balanced.
There are some precautions to using Waste-Away. Since Waste-Away is so concentrated it can be overdosed so do not add more than the correct amount for your aquarium. Also if your tank has been set-up for a while when you first use Waste-Away you should start with only a half a dose initially. After a few days you can add the other half of the dose but start slowly. This is also important if you have not been cleaning the tank on a regular basis because if there are a lot of organics in the system and you add too much Waste-Away you might get a bacteria bloom. A bacteria bloom will turn the water cloudy white and, in extreme cases, can remove too much oxygen from the water resulting in fish deaths. So, again, please don’t overdose Waste-Away or for that matter any sludge busting bacterial mixture. Have some patience and make frequent small additions rather than just pouring a bunch into the tank.
Aquarium maintenance does not have to be hard nor time consuming. A little time each week along with the use of quality products will make the task easier. Your tank will look great, your fish healthier and you’ll get much more enjoyment. Good fishkeeping.