The keys to keeping your aquarium running without incident are water changes and filter maintenance. Here are some tips to do it right!
After you have run a fish tank for a few months without incident it has really taken over as its own biosphere and large in part takes care of itself. The keys to keeping it running smooth are water changes and filter maintenance.
Remember, the Amazon or any other body of water is a lot larger than your 30 gallon tank, so it can absorb much more damage than your little slice of nature can. I prefer to change my water once a week, however am not in the least bit concerned if a busy week forces this to be every two weeks instead. When waiting only a week, siphon off about 10-15% of your water. If waiting two weeks, then about 20%. Be sure to unplug your heater before beginning to siphon, and it’s good to shut down your filter as well. Use the end of your siphon to vacuum the debris from the gravel at the bottom of your tank.
Water changes simulate rainfall for tropical fish, so I always take great pleasure in filling the tank back up for them. There are siphons available that actually do double-duty as hoses as well and can be attached to a nearby sink to be conveniently used to refill your tank. Of course there’s the old bucket method as well, but it can become exhausting hauling heavy buckets of water back and forth to your tank.
Whichever method you use to refill your tank, refill it gently with water approximately the same temperature as that you have taken out. You can pick up a spare thermometer to check the temperature of the water that you’re using, though after awhile you should probably just be able to approximate the temperature by feel. Refilling the tank gently would entail either spraying a slow stream of water from your hose, spraying the stream against a wall of the tank is also better than just spraying it into the water—it is less disturbing to the fish. If using a bucket to refill your tank, pour the water gently, do not dump it in all in one shot. After the tank is full wait about 15 minutes before plugging your heater back in, this gives it a chance to recalibrate to the water temperature and saves it from shattering.
Every couple of months you’ll want to change your filter media. Your media may vary depending upon the type of filter you are running, though it will likely contain both carbon and some sort of white padding/floss for catching larger pieces of debris. When changing carbon be sure to rinse the fresh carbon under a stream of water outside of your tank. Fresh carbon usually includes quite a bit of black dust and you do not want this polluting the clear water inside your tank. When changing floss it seems a shame to chance wasting the valuable bacteria that you have cultivated over time, so a helpful hint is to cut a small piece of the floss off of the piece you are about to throw away and include it in a chamber of your filter so it can aid in creating a fresh bacteria bloom for your new filter media.
Following these simple steps on a regular basis will both keep your tank from overwhelming you with chores and keep your fish at their healthiest.