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Fresh Water Fish Tank Maintenance

A tank will only survive for so long without regular, thorough maintenance. Regular water changes and cleaning are vital to the health of your fish.  It is a good idea to schedule the weekly and monthly tasks on your calendar, just so you don’t forget them or put them off for too long. If you leave too much time between water changes or cleanings, the damage may be irreversible.

Daily Maintenance

Take advantage of your daily feeding time to check a few things in your tank. First, look at your fish. Take at least a few minutes to observe them each day. Get to know their Fish Tank Maintenanceappearances as well as their behaviors. Once you become very familiar with your fish, it will be easy for you to notice any changes that could indicate a problem.

Check the temperature of the tank every day to make sure it is at an appropriate level and the heater is functioning properly. As long as the temperature stays within a range of 3 or 4 degrees, your fish should do just fine, but if it is varying more than that, you will want to inspect your heater and perhaps consider purchasing a new one. Another good idea is to touch the tank with the back of your hand any time you are near it, just so you can immediately recognize an extreme temperature change.

Checking the filter should be another part of your daily maintenance routine. Many filters will run reliably for years and years, but at any time, a problem can arise. Make sure the filter is still running and that the water is flowing at the same rate as usual. A filter that is partially clogged or has stopped running altogether will immediately begin to put the health of your fish at risk.


Weekly Maintenance

Several tasks should be performed on a weekly basis, if possible. These include water changes, glass cleaning, and vacuuming.

Water Changes

One of the most serious problems a fish tank will encounter is waste buildup. In the wild, waste will quickly disperse throughout the water, but in a tank, waste can quickly accumulate. Waste buildup is a problem because it can make a tank appear dirty, but it also brings a much more serious problem: ammonia. Recommendations on how much water should be changed during each water change vary greatly, from 10 percent to 100 percent. Simply put, the bigger the water change, the better. If you can change all of the water on a weekly basis, your fish will be better off for it.

Glass Cleaning

Cleaning algae off of the glass once a week will keep your tank looking clean and make for easy viewing of your fish. Keep in mind that algae is not a bad thing, when confined to the glass, so it is a good idea to clean only the panes of glass that you use for viewing and clean any others less frequently. Glass cleaning will be performed with a scraper made of metal or plastic blades or an abrasive pad. Work slowly and smoothly, being careful not to scratch the tank.


Some hobbyists do not vacuum the gravel ever time they change the water, but a good vacuuming once a week is highly recommended. Keeping the gravel free of detritus will allow the filter to function more efficiently. To vacuum the gravel, use a siphon with a gravel tube on the end, plunging the tube into the substrate. As the gravel is lifted partway up the tube, dirt particles (including uneaten food and feces) are sucked up and out of the tank, and then the gravel is dropped back to the bottom of the aquarium

Monthly Maintenance

 Filter Cleaning

Bio-filters can become clogged with debris, preventing a smooth flow of water. A gentle rinsing with water from the tank at its normal temperature should be sufficient to clear the filter of any clogs.

Cover Glass Cleaning

Whether you have a glass top or a hood top on your tank, any tank cover will require a regular cleaning. The outside will be dusty, and the inside will have accumulated calcium deposits and algae, particularly near the light. It is especially important to clean the cover regularly if you’re keeping live plants in the tank, as buildup will significantly reduce the amount of light reaching the plants.