For novice aquarists, maintaining clean water in a tank may not seem like a big deal, but those who have experience caring for aquatic animals know very well how easy it is to make a mistake that can compromise water quality and endanger the health of the tank’s inhabitants. In this article, you will learn more about these popular mistakes so you can avoid them.
Seven Fish Tank Mistakes to Avoid
1. Starting with Small Aquarium
Many people decide to start their new hobby by taking small steps and gradually adding to their equipment and fish population. While this sounds reasonable, in practice, smaller aquariums are more difficult to maintain because these tanks require tighter regulation of parameters and more frequent cleaning.
It may sound counterintuitive, but a larger aquarium is a better choice to start with.
2. Immediate Aquarium Stocking
While it is typical for newbies to buy small aquariums, many of them are impatient to put in too many fish at once.
It is highly recommended to stock the aquarium gradually and start with no more than two fish of a species that have high physical endurance. It takes time for healthy bacteria colonies to form in the water, which is necessary for proper water treatment in the aquarium.
3. Filling an Aquarium with Tap Water
Tap water is unsuitable for fish because it is rarely completely clean. Some of the substances in tap water that can affect your fish are chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals. The most effective way to dechlorinate aquarium water is to add a special water conditioner.
Properly treated water should also reach the optimal chemical composition before it becomes a new home for your fish. Before you introduce its inhabitants, let the aquarium develop a nitrogen cycle. Allow the cycle to function for at least one day before you add fish to the tank.
Furthermore, you should also avoid “topping up” water or adding water to the tank when some of the liquid has evaporated, rather than doing a full water change.
4. Lack of Effective Filtration
A water filter is a necessary component of aquarium equipment, but the one you purchase may not work properly or be sufficient for your tank. One of the most common problems is getting a too-small filter.
Since the choice of a filter for your aquarium can be confusing when it comes to its size, you may want to opt for a larger filter as a precaution. A filter that gets dirty too quickly is usually an indication that it is too small for the volume of your water tank.
5. Inappropriate Feeding Routine of Fish
One of the problems related to food that can affect the water is overfeeding. Fish that eat too much will produce more waste that will release toxic nitrites and ammonia into the water in your aquarium. Meanwhile, any food that was not consumed will soon decay in the aquarium changing the chemical content of its water.
Be careful about the amount of food you give your fish, and remove all uneaten products soon after feeding.
6. Insufficient Cleaning of the Aquarium
Dirty water is not a mere aesthetic issue. The accumulation of organic waste can severely affect water quality which is detrimental to the health of your fish. Dirty water has increased levels of ammonia and nitrite, which are toxic to aquatic organisms. Furthermore, the amount of relatively harmless nitrates, a byproduct of the conversion of nitrites by beneficial bacteria, can have adverse effects if excessive amounts are present in the water.
Waste in the water also creates a favorable environment for the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and fungi which can be a cause of many diseases.
In addition, the oxygen supply in the water is reduced by the presence of waste. On top of that, dirty water impairs the ability of fish to navigate their environment. Disorientation, in turn, causes stress to the fish, which can diminish their well-being.
7. Excessive Cleaning of the Aquarium & Filter
As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to clean the aquarium and filter, but it should be done in moderation. Excessive cleaning of a water tank is also dangerous for fish.
First of all, the beneficial bacteria that promote the health of your fish can easily disappear from the tank if it is cleaned too often and especially if you use unsuitable materials or chemical products for this purpose. Without beneficial bacteria, the nitrogen cycle is disrupted and ammonia and nitrite levels can skyrocket.
Excessive cleaning can also involve removing aquarium decorations or scrubbing and treating them with chemicals. All items and plants submerged in water develop a thin layer of beneficial biofilm with probiotic microorganisms needed to maintain a balanced environment. These microorganisms also live in the filtration system and increase the biological filtering capacity of the water tank.
Moreover, aquatic organisms are very sensitive to the drastic changes in water chemistry that normally occur after cleaning an aquarium.
The health of your fish depends on the water quality. Although it is important to keep the water clean of excessive waste and toxic substances, it should not be sterile, as the well-being of aquatic organisms requires the presence of beneficial bacteria.
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