Aquarium Management For Healthy Fishes

Kesavan Devarayan, Monikandon Sukumaran, Anand Theivasigamani, Department of Basic Sciences, Department of Basic Engineering, Department of Fisheries Sciences College of Fisheries Engineering, Tamil Nadu Dr. J. Jayalalithaa Fisheries University Nagapattin

2018-06-05 08:02:14



The quality of water in aquarium ensures the aquatic health of the fishes in the aquarium. Maintaining the water quality of aquarium within the permissible limit for all the required parameters and within the prescribed healthy range is not very tedious. Just a little idea about the water quality parameters with some patience, planning and ready to spare few minutes for laborious work is enough to maintain a beautiful aquarium.

 Acclimation of fish to fresh water in aquarium:

The common unknown mistake that many of the hobbyists do is they just release the fish in to the aquarium tank filled with tap water. Just releasing the fish into aquarium tank immediately after purchase from the shop or hatchery is not a good practice because of transport from the hatchery or sales point and also due to sudden changes in the water temperature the fish gets stressed. Acclimation is considered as a key process to relieve the stress of the fish. In order to acclimate the fish in the bag add water from the aquarium tank into the bag slowly so that the fish can adopt the new surroundings. Fish belongs to the category of cold blooded animals and the body temperature of fish relates closely to the water in which it lives.

Best practice to release the fish in to fresh water tank.

 It is best to float the plastic bag along with water in to the aquarium tank fresh water for atleast 20 minutes for acclimation. If the water temperatures in the plastic bag matches with the aquarium tank temperature add more water in to the plastic bag, ensure that the fish inside the plastic bag has sufficient water for its survival without injury. Now add more water and tap outside of the bag such that the fish swim in to the tank on its own or gently release the fish in to the water. If the water temperature in the plastic bag does not match the temperature of the tank float the plastic bag for longer than 20minutes acclimate until it matches the fresh water tank temperature.

Aquarium Water

 Many aquarium beginners and hobbyist find the source water as a difficult challenge and sometimes the challenges may be beyond the experience of them. There are number of sources available for water but mostly used source water by hobbyist is tap water. The quality of water varies on hardness and pH depending on the source and location. Sometimes the quality of water may vary from season to season throughout the year or even may vary from time to time in a particular season. Every aquarium hobbyist should keep two things in mind about tap water. First one is checking of suspended solids in the tap water. In some occasions there may be rain or storms in the source point and thereby suspended solids enter in to the tap water. If the tap water is brownish in colour or sediment is visible hold the water in a tank until the solids gets deposited and water becomes clear. The second thing is hobbyist find the tap water as reliable source even though the source is reliable, sometimes there may be changes in the pH of the water so it is important to check the water before it goes in to the aquarium tank. When tap water source is used for aquarium add dechlorinator to remove the chlorine in water. The chlorine in tap water will not directly harm the fish but it will prevent or kill the beneficial bacteria in the tank. During the partial change of water in the aquarium tank the tap water which is to be added has be tested for pH, hardness and chlorine residues

Testing Tap Water Before Water Goes in the Tank

A good start for hobbyist is to test the tap water for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, General Hardness, and Phosphorus. When basic tests are carried out in tap water the hobbyist may have the results very close to Ammonia: 0 ppm, Nitrite: 0 ppm, Nitrate: 5.0 ppm, pH: 7.4 (mildly Alkaline). The basic tests carried out in aquarium tank water and recording the results may help the fish keepers for future reference and inference.

Aquarium nitrogen cycle

The ammonia level in the tank water will rise due to the fish fecal waste accumulation. When the ammonia level rises in the tank water nitrifying bacteria develops on its own and convert the Ammonia in to Nitrite and then the Nitrite is converted in to Nitrate. . This cycle of conversion is known as aquarium nitrogen cycle.  In aquarium tanks the end cycling is nitrate and this nitrate levels in the water has to be removed by partial exchange of water.

Aquarium Water Testing for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH

One routine thing that every aquarium hobbyists should follow is to test the aquarium tank water at a schedule. Testing aquarium water at regularly in schedule makes the aquarium hobbyist to ensure that the parameters are within the range and also makes the aquarium hobbyist to understand about aquarium nitrogen cycle its interrelationship with the waste accumulation. Aquarium hobbyist often concentrates on testing of Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite but it is good if phosphorus and pH are also checked. If the alkalinity and nitrite level increases in aquarium water partial exchange of water is the best method to control both the parameters.

Aquarium Algae Buildup in a Freshwater Tank

The most alarming issue that an aquarium hobbyist undergoes is the excessive algal growth in the fresh water aquarium tanks. An in experienced hobbyist may not have knowledge of eliminating the problems of excessive algal growth. Generally the growth of algae may be due to excessive feeding or excessive lighting or it can be the combination of all these. The aquarium hobbyist has to worry about only the fast growing algae and the slow growing algae do not contribute to major water quality issues. Some of the aquarium algae are beneficial for fishes. To control the growth of algae it is important to maintain and care the tanks.                                                                                                                                                                       

Aquarium Algae & Tank Maintenance

Proper tank maintenance from the very beginning is the best way to control the algal growth.

Testing of water Early and Often:  Aquarium test kits are available at a reasonable in online. The test for aquarium water has to be carried out  regularly  The aquarium hobbyist generally concentrate more on Nitrate, Ammonia, and Nitrite but every aquarium should keep in mind also the phosphate levels in the tank water since phosphate is the key limiting nutrient in freshwater for algal growth. . It’s always good to keep record of the results of the parameters that are tested and these results will be useful for knowing about the long term changes that has occurred in the tank water.

Tank Cycle: The most important thing in aquarium keeping is proceed methodologically until the tank establishes its own cycle. The aquarium water cycle developed on its own slowly will reduce the problem of algal growth and that is proper way for a healthy tank. Rushing up the aquarium cycle may lead severe algal growth problems.  

Monitor Lighting: Excessive lighting may lead to algal growth; the lighting depends on several factors such as how many hours the lights are activated during day time and age of the bulb, how closely the lights are placed, etc. Proper controlling of excessive lighting can reduce the aquarium algal growth.

Do Not Over Stock: Capacity to handle bioload can contribute significantly to water quality issues and algal growth. It is important to keep the organic waste in water to the capacity of the tank if excessive organic wastes build up in the tank it will lead to algal growth.

Do Not Over Feed: Excessive feeding can also contribute to water quality changes and algal growth. When the fishes are overfed the excess food disintegrates into smaller pieces and settles at the bottom of the tank or in the gravel substrate. As the uneaten food by fish accumulates the bioload of the tank increases and exceeds its capacity the water quality suffers and excessive algal growth may occur.

Do Regular Partial Water Changes:  Partial water exchange in the aquarium tank is the best practice to control the nitrates and organic loads. Partial water changing can keep the water quality within the acceptable range for a long period as well as the algal growth can be controlled.

Keep Algae Eating Shrimp Or Snails:  Keeping aquarium algae eating species of snails or shrimps in the aquarium tank is a good substitute to control the algal growth.

 The algae eating snails or shrimps feed on the algae for its diet and all species of algae cannot be consumed by a species of algal eating snail or shrimp so it is better to have few varieties of algal eating snails or shrimps. 

Cleaning New Aquarium Gravel

 For maintaining the water quality it is important to clean the new aquarium gravel even though the aquarium gravels are precleaned and prerinsed by the manufacturers before it is packed for marketing. The packed gravel bags may contain sand, dust or debris. Pour water and agitate the gravel vigorously as the lighter particles may float to the top and the water may appear dusty film in nature if it contains dust. Rinse the gravel thoroughly until it appears clean and the water is free from dust and debris. After cleaning the gravel soak the gravel in dechlorinated water for 20minutes. Then empty the dechlorinated water and the clean gravel is ready to be placed in the tank.

Mineral Deposits in an Aquarium: Buildup & Removal

Mineral deposits may build on the sides of the tank as the water evaporates. The mineral deposits occur as a thin band on the glass at the side on the water line. These mineral deposits build up and finally form interesting colours or patterns on the tank.

Issues related to mineral deposits

Mineral deposits cause over a long period of time and it may be an aesthetic issue or sometimes harmful to the tank. Whenever mineral deposits occur hobbyists try to remove them. New hobbyists sometimes make mistake that can even damage their freshwater tanks. The most common mistakes are trying to physically scrape the hardened, dry mineral buildup. Scratching the glass or acrylic sides of the tank, and this damage cannot be repaired.