Changing the water in your aquarium on a regular basis is of vital importance if you wish to maintain the quality of the tank environment and eco-system. If you have live plants in your aquarium then changing the water every week is recommended as this will replace any trace elements that have been used up.
In a freshwater aquarium with artificial plants then it is certainly advisable to check the water parameters every week with test kits and subsequently change the water accordingly. A good rule of thumb is that even in aquariums that have a good filtration system you should still perform at least a monthly water change, primarily to reduce the number of nitrates present.
Following are ten stress-free steps to competently clean your freshwater tank and perform a water change while minimising fish stress levels.
- Unplug the aquarium heater from its power source.
- Remove from the aquarium any artificial plants and ornaments, and then clean all areas of the aquarium glass with an algae sponge.
- Switch off power to the pump. Disengage the filter and take it, along with all the artificial plants and ornaments, to a tub or sink.
- Manually Clean the filter, artificial plants, and decorations. Meanwhile, any debris that was stirred up in the tank during this process will settle on the floor of the aquarium.
- Connect a gravel cleaner. This may be a syphon which attaches to a tap, or a manual syphon used with a bucket to collect the water. Start the syphon and push the cleaner into the gravel right to the base, and then leave it there and let the debris rise into the syphon. Carry on with this until the remaining water in the aquarium starts to look clear, then just either pinch the tube or partly close the valve off to allow the gravel to fall back down. Lift the gravel cleaning tube out of the gravel and push it back down right next to the last section you just cleaned.
- You should cease the operation when 25-30% of the water in the aquarium has been removed (in other words the water level had dropped to 3/4 to 2/3 of its previous level). If you did not finish cleaning all of the gravel carry on with the next water change.
- Take a temperature reading in the tank, then return to the sink and adjust the water temperature to match. This is critical but is sadly often overlooked. Adding water of a different temperature can unnecessarily stress the fish, making them more susceptible to diseases such as Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis – commonly known as freshwater white spot disease, freshwater ich, or freshwater ick.
- Flip the tap pump to run water into the aquarium, or fill a bucket and pour the water back into the tank to the original level. If using a tap pump and you have chlorine in your water source add some de-chlorinator. If you are using a bucket then simply add the de-chlorinator to the water before pouring it straight into the aquarium.
- Carefully place your artificial plants and ornaments back into the aquarium and reconnect the filter.
- Plug in the heater and restart the pump.
Hopefully, this simple guide has been useful. Happy, peaceful and stress-free fish-keeping!