I’ll admit: I am probably not the cleanest person on planet Earth. I’m willing to let dishes sit for a few days and I tend to let things get messy until I can’t take it anymore and I have to spend a little bit of time tidying up. My philosophy is that it’s better to spend your time doing relaxing or fun things than stressing over appearances and order.
That philosophy doesn’t apply to fish tanks. I’m generally cool with a bunch of random junk sitting on my coffee table, but I hate it when aquariums get dirty. You may as well not even have an aquarium if you’re going to let it get messy. Probably the number one reason to have an aquarium is to have a visually relaxing and beautiful aquascape. That all goes out the window if your plants are overgrown, your water is murky, and there’s a film of algae over the glass. If you don’t bother taking care of your aquarium, your beautiful piece of aquatic art could become a disgusting scene or, eventually, a fish graveyard — and that’ll just be even more disgusting. Nobody likes the smell of dead fish!
Today, we’re going to do a little bit of spring cleaning by going over important tips for tank cleanliness. Follow these guidelines, and you wouldn’t be getting a disapproving “tsk-tsk” when your mother stops by. Well, she may disapprove of the pile of dirty laundry or that odd smell that you can’t find the source of, but at least she won’t have any reason to complain about your aquarium!
1. Do Your Research
Some plant species can be trimmed as much as you want, while other species require a bit more care. Make sure that it’s cool to trim your aquatic plants before you start slashing off leaves. Also, some plant species can be cut in special locations and replanted. Read up on your plant life and you could double your plant population without spending a dime.
The same goes for offending organisms, like algae. Learn how to identify the different strands of algae so that you can select the best weapon against it. Knowledge is power!
2. Purchase Curved Scissors
Sticking your arm through the top of an aquarium kind of puts your hand at an odd angle. Using straight-edged scissors will probably create a jagged cut on your aquatic plants, kind of like a washboard. Curved scissors will allow you to comfortably snip away the overzealous plant life with a much more even cut.
You might want to grab a few other tools for the job to make aquarium maintenance easier and more effective. This Robosnail, for example, will scrub your aquarium glass without getting your hands wet.
3. Fight Plants with Plants
Algae is a plant. It needs all of the same nutrients that your more desirable plants need: light, nutrients, CO2, etc. The more plants you have in the aquarium, the more resources they’ll suck up that would otherwise go to algae. Likewise, having a lot of algae in your tank can starve your beautiful plantlife of the resources they need to survive. Give your plants the advantage in the war against algae by scraping algae off the glass and sifting it out of the sand or substrate. This will keep your plants in tip-top shape and the algae just barely hanging on.
4. Get Algae Eaters
These guys do pretty much what their name suggests: they chow down on offending algae so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s kind of like having a maid that you don’t have to pay. Or, more accurately, it’d be like having a maid who eats everything that she sucks up in the vacuum cleaner (gross).
5. Perform Water Changes
Much like food, aquarium water will get old and funky after a while. Performing water changes can keep your water crystal clear by getting rid of algae, fish waste, and tiny organisms that are growing in the old water. Just remember to be patient with water changes. You never want to switch out more than 20% of your water in a single day. Switch out a little bit every single day until your aquarium water reaches the desired clarity.
These are just some basic guidelines, so of course things could still go wrong even if you follow every step religiously. Generally speaking, though, this basic tank maintenance should help you give your fishy pets a good home!