7 Changes That Make a Big Difference in Your Fish Tank

In Aquariumsby PaulK

Water Changes

Water changes are vital for maintaining the vitality and health of your aquarium. It helps to maintain the health and growth of your fish, encourages breeding behavior, and removes organic waste.

Now, there are different factors that come into play when determining how much and when you should change the water. Good filtration goes a long way in helping you lessen the frequency of water changes. Good filtration can help get rid of particulate matter and improve water clarity but is not a replacement for doing water changes.

Over time organic waste and food accumulate and must be removed from the gravel. The only way to dilute this is by vacuuming your substrate regularly and changing out some of the water with fresh water. Evaporation is not enough.

You have to remember your fish live in a closed environment, not like out in the wild so it’s up to us to keep the water clean with good filtration, and regular water changes as well as vacuuming substrate. I recommend about a 20% water change and vacuuming weekly.

Adding Good Biological Filter Media

Having good bio media is crucial to growing the beneficial bacteria that is needed to absorb the harmful ammonia and nitrites that fish and fish food produce. A good bio media is one that is very porous with maximum surface area for the bacteria to grow. The more surface area the better. I recommend getting a porous ceramic like Biohome Plus to do the job.

Adding Algae Eaters

Adding algae eating fish, shrimp, or snails are all good for managing algae that will naturally grow in your tank. Different species of fish, shrimp, or snails will specialize in certain types of algae, so you’d want to get the species that will take care of your particular type of algae problem.

Siamese Algae Eater: They are the most aggressive, ravenous algae eaters out there. They really eat all types of algae and are peaceful in nature.

Bristlenose Plecos: They are bottom feeders and like to get in the nooks and crannies of the substrate and rock. They will eat the hard to get at algae. They’re also very colorful.

Otocinclus Catfish: These are very small and only grow to about 1.5 inches. They like to eat brown algae.

Livebearers like Mollies, platys, and guppies are known to eat various hair algae.
Nerite Snails: These colorful snails will graze on almost any type of algae in the tank. One nice feature is that they don’t breed in the tank like other snails do.

Mystery Snails: Another snail that will eat almost any type of algae. They will also eat leftover fish food and decaying plants.

Cherry Shrimp: These guys specialize in eating hair algae from the tank as well as leftover fish food.

Amano Shrimp: The eat various types of soft algae as well as decaying plant matter and leftover fish food.

Adding CO2

Basically, plants need CO2 and light and other nutrients to grow properly. If you have weak plants, this will allow the algae to grow. Now some CO2 is produced naturally from the fish taking in oxygen and releasing CO2 much like humans do. There is also some release of CO2 from the bacteria that naturally grow in the tank. If you have low light “easy” plants this may be all you need. If you have plants that require stronger lighting, then you will need to add CO2 to the tank to keep them healthy.

One way is a pressurized tank. You add the CO2 until you have reached the required pH in the table, and the required pH depends on the carbonate hardness of your water and on how much CO2 you wish to have in your aquarium. A bit of CO2 (e.g. 3-5 mg per L) is better than nothing. Plants that are marked “Medium” require about 10-15 mg CO2 per L, but “Advanced” plants require 15-30 mg CO2 per L.

Here are the top 5 plants for beginners.

Reducing Lighting

Too much light can cause algae growth in your tank. Too little light could stunt the growth of your plants also causing algae growth. If it looks like your plants are doing fine and you find that you have an algae problem, you should reduce the amount of time your light is on. You only need about 8-10 hours per day depending on the type of plants you have. Any more than that would cause the plants to grow too fast. When plants grow fast they need increased CO2 to sustain the growth, otherwise, they start to wither and die. This leaves room for algae to take over. Reduce the light about an hour or two per day will curb this. It’s a good idea to have some sort of timer if you have fluorescent lights or programmable LED lights so you don’t have to worry about it.

Changing The Mix of Fish

If you have problems with your tropical fish not getting along or maybe hurting each other it could be you have too many males to females. The standard mix for most species is 1 male to every 2-3 females. If you are going to keep a community tank with many species, stick to community fish and don’t try to keep predatory fish with the smaller community fish. Reducing the number of fish can also help the tank as there will not be as much waste produced to filter out.

You’ll want to find fish that are compatible with each other. Here are the most compatible fish.

UV Sterilizer

This piece of equipment can improve the clarity, cleanliness, and overall health of your aquarium. It’s a tube that contains a fluorescent lamp that produces light of a specific wavelength. The water flows over or around the bulb and as the light hits the bacteria or algae, it’s DNA mutates preventing them from growing. The result is clearer, cleaner aquarium water.

Most of them are self-contained and are kept in the fish tank. They have their own powerhead and are easy to install. If you unscrew the cap you see the bulb which is housed inside a quartz sleeve. The sleeve insulates the bulb keeping it from the cooler aquarium water which allows it to maintain a higher UV output.

The longer water is exposed to the UV light, the more effective it will be. This is referred to as “dwell time.” There are a few factors that influence this. One is the flow rate of the filter. Second is the size of your tank which in conjunction with the flow rate will determine how much water goes through the UV sterilizer per hour. If you have a big tank with great filtration flow rate and a small, cheap UV sterilizer it’s not going to do you much good. Do some research to get the proper size.

A UV sterilizer is not a replacement for filtration or water changes. You still need those.
Do not use a UV sterilizer when first cycling a tank. The light will prevent beneficial bacteria to grow.

The end goal is to have a nice clear tank for you and your fish, so use these tips to get the aquarium where it should be. If you have a cloudy tank, here is how to clear it up.

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