Introduction to Aquarium Care
After dogs and cats, fish are the most familiar American pet. Fish are especially popular because in an aquarium, you can house an entire aquatic environment.
Don’t be fooled by the calmness of the fish, though; taking care of fish can be hard work, and if you don’t properly care for your aquarium, your fish will consistently face poor health and high levels of stress.
Become familiar with your fish and with your aquarium’s operation. Your fish won’t shout at you to grab your attention, so make a habit of checking in on your fish; learn to recognize abnormal conditions in your aquarium or your fish.
How do the fish look? Are they eating their food? Is the water cloudy or colored? Is the water temperature okay? It doesn’t take long to do these simple checks, and if you don’t want to look at your fish, you probably shouldn’t have purchased them in the first place?
Aquarium care varies slightly depending on whether you have a freshwater or saltwater aquarium. The aquarium itself is no different, but the water type governs the types of fish and plants that can survive in the tank. In addition, a saltwater aquarium requires more work than a fresh water tank, such as checking the salinity in the water and occasionally adding iodine and calcium to your tank.
In general, the more fish and plants you have in your aquarium, the more aquarium maintenance you will need to do. One fish will not add much waste to your water and rarely requires water maintenance, which is why small goldfish bowls and beta fish kits are increasingly popular. On the other hand, some aquariums contain more than fifty gallons of water and require extensive daily care.
Not only are aquariums colorful and soothing, but they also are a learning experience. Aquariums do not take care of themselves; they need a caretaker to take responsibility. Thus, aquariums can be a lesson in responsibility for your children (or yourself).
Keeping Your Aquarium Clean
Your fish don’t like a dirty house any more than you do. If you leave your aquarium unclean for months on end, both the inside and outside of the tank will collect dust, algae, and chemicals, all of which threaten the health of your fish.
Before you even add water or fish, use a mild bleach solution to clean the interior of your aquarium, making absolutely sure that you rinse the tank thoroughly afterwards.
Then, place your aquarium away from direct sunlight. Too much light (either natural or artificial) increases the amount of algae in your tank, and normal indoor light is usually adequate anyway.
Don’t place your tank under anything that might drip liquids or release dust particles into the aquarium.
For the most part, it is better to clean your aquarium with the fish inside it, but if you will be sloshing the water around a great amount, move your fish to another tank.
Remove the aquarium hood, and use a fish net to remove any floating debris. Then, use an aquarium scrubber, scraper, or a simple nonabrasive sponge to slowly wipe the interior walls of the aquarium clean.
If you have a glass scraper, you can also use a razor blade.
Do not use any type of soap, as these products can make the water toxic to the fish. You can, however, use ammonia glass cleaner on the exterior of the aquarium.