Aquarium maintenance



  1. Check for any missing livestock and examine the health of all the fish. Look for red marks on the body and gills, excess mucus, gasping or unusual behavior.
  2. Check the water temperature.
  3. Check that filters and lights are working.

Twice weekly

  1. Gently disturb any fine-leaved plants, such as cabomba, and dense foreground species, such as hairgrass, to remove any trapped detritus, which can hinder photosynthesis.


  1. Test the water for nitrites (N02), nitrates (NO3I, pH and hardness.
  2. Remove dead leaves and other plant matter.
  3. Siphon out or remove any mulm from the top layer of substrate and replace the water removed during this process with new, dechlorinated water. This will also constitute a small water change, replacing minerals and helping to lower nitrates and phosphates.
  4. Replenish liquid fertilizers after water changes according to the maker’s instructions.
  5. Using an algae magnet, pad, or scraper, clean the inside front and side glass, even if little algae is present. This prevents a build­up of algae that can be hard to remove.
  6. If you have a condensation cover, wipe it clean to avoid a reduction in light penetration to the plants.

Every two weeks

  1. Thoroughly clean half the sponge in the internal filter, using water from the aquarium. Then tip this water away.


  1. Switch off external filters and dean the media in water from the aquarium. Then tip the water away.

Replace any filter floss in an external filter.

Every three months

  1. Check the substrate for compaction and gently loosen it with your fingers.
  2. Remove and clean any impellers and impeller housings in pumps and filters.

Every 6-12 months

  1. If fluorescent tubes are the main source of lighting, replace them even if they are still working. After 10-12 months they will have lost much of their intensity.
  2. Replace filter sponges. Over time, the bacterial capacity of sponges will diminish and they need to be replaced. If sponges are the main biological medium, then replace half at a time, leaving a month in- between. This will reduce the loss of beneficial filter bacteria.

When needed

  1. Replenish liquid or tablet fertilizers according to the maker’s instructions.
  2. Check and replenish any C02 supply systems that may be in use in the aquarium.
  3. Trim any tall stem plants, so that they do not grow across the surface and block out light to other plants. Replant the cuttings if you wish.
  4. If tall-stemmed plants are looking thin near the base, remove them, cut off the upper halves and replant.
  5. If the leaves of plants such as large Echinodorus have grown too big, remove the outermost leaves and trim the roots slightly. The plant will respond by producing fresh, smaller leaves.
  6. Old plant leaves may become tattered or covered in algae. Remove them to prevent the spread of algae and to allow new leaves to grow.

Over time, some plants will age and begin to look less healthy. They stop growing and become tattered. If this happens, remove and replace them. Be sure to take out the entire rootstock, as any pieces left over may rot and pollute the substrate.

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