Proactive Fish Keeping
Many fish keepers and aquarium hobbyists seek to treat problems once they’ve already occurred, and in some cases, even once they’ve escalated to the point where they are no longer manageable. This is why it’s prudent to maintain a healthy aquarium once you’ve established it. The result will be healthy and happy fish, and an aesthetically pleasing, tranquil aquarium.
We recommend that one of the first steps you take to secure your aquarium’s health is to properly maintain your filter/filtration media. Ensure that your filter is big enough for the size of your tank, and that it is running smoothly and without hindrance. Your media cartridge should also be clean and free of waste build-up. Most filter media are rechargeable – simply rinse under cold water and replace in your filter.
Another step you can take to ensure the health of your aquarium and fish is to keep the natural aquarium cycle running smoothly. This has to do with beneficial bacteria, which is initially released into the water in the form of waste and uneaten food as ammonia or ammonium (ammonia is toxic to fish if left untreated – ammonium is not). This ammonia is naturally converted into nitrite. In the case of starting a new tank, nitrite levels will begin to rise around the second week of establishing your tank. After this occurs, nitrite will then naturally convert to nitrate, which is only harmful to fish in large amounts.
With a good understanding of how the nitrogen cycle works, you’ll now need to start it in your own tank. You can (and should) do this initially without fish, to eliminate any potential for fish loss. You can start by adding a few fish flakes or pellets into your tank. As they decompose without being eaten, this will release ammonia without posing a threat to your fish so that the natural biological filter can begin. Another (faster) way you can start the natural biological filter in your tank is by adding API® QUICK START to your aquarium. This solution makes instant fish addition possible, without any waiting period.
One additional step you can take for improved aquarium health is performing bi-weekly water changes. This can be done by removing the top section of aquarium water from the tank (about 25%), and then proceeding to vacuum your gravel using a syphon, rinsing any ornaments/artificial plants, and replacing the top layer of water with fresh tap water. It’s important that you treat this new tap water with dechlorinator before adding it to your tank, such as API® STRESS COAT or API® TAP WATER CONDITIONER. These partial water changes will ensure that your parameters remain within healthy ranges.
Lastly, pay attention to tank activity. Normal behavioral patterns of your fish will reveal a lot when it comes to healthy behavior vs. unhealthy behavior. If your fish suddenly seem lethargic, lose their appetite, or begin hovering at the top of the tank when they ordinarily don’t, they are likely ill and need to be treated with the proper medication. Don’t assume that your fish will bounce back from disease on their own – treat them as soon as you notice symptoms.
Taking these preventative measures, you can be assured that your tank and your fish will remain healthy, beautiful additions to your home or personal space.