5 Steps to Tropical Aquarium Success Part 5
When setting the tank up, and when doing subsequent partial water changes, you should use a water conditioner to make your tapwater safe for your fish. The conditioner will neutralise chorine/chloramine in your tapwater, which would otherwise be harmful to fish. Many conditioners also remove harmful heavy metals and add a substance which can provide a protective layer to the fishes scales.
Once the tank has matured, it will be necessary to perform partial water changes regularly to remove nitrate which builds up from the cycle, and other wastes which build up. Nitrate is much less toxic than ammonia or nitrite, but you should aim to keep levels below 50 mg/l - below 25 mg/l is better, especially for more sensitive fish, as high nitrate levels may make fish more susceptible to disease, less able to breed, etc.
Even a very lightly stocked tank should not go longer than a month without a water change, and the average community tank will require around 25% water change every 1-2 weeks. For heavily stocked tanks, more sensitive fish, or smaller tanks (which become polluted more quickly), it is recommended that weekly water changes are performed. More frequent water changes will keep the fish in the best possible health, so that they are more active, eager to feed and show their best colours. It will also improve your chances if you are trying to breed your fish.
When filters require cleaning, be sure to clean any "biomedia" in the filter (such as sponge), lightly in tank water only (not tapwater), to ensure that you do not kill off the important filter bacteria - otherwise your tank is likely to suffer little peaks of ammonia and nitrite each time you clean the filter, until the bacteria have time to recover.
Remember that it should not be considered "normal" for fish to die on a regular basis. Even most smaller aquarium fish can live for around 3 years, and many can live much longer. Fish, like any animal, can become ill or die for all sorts of complex reasons, so the occasional death is inevitable. However, this should be a rarity, and not the norm.
If you follow a few simple rules, you should be able to enjoy healthy disease-free fish for many years:
- Stock the tank slowly at first, and do not overstock the tank.
- Perform regular partial water changes with conditioned water.
- Maintain the filter correctly.
- Feed a varied diet.
- Buy fish which are suitable for your tank size, and compatible with the fish you already have.
Our staff here at Wharf Aquatics will be happy to help if you have any questions when setting up your new tank, or any other questions about keeping your fish healthy.
Special thanks to www.thetropicaltank.co.uk website for providing information for this guide.