Cleaning a Fish Aquarium Instructions

It’s essential to clean your pet’s habitat on a regular basis to maintain their optimal health, and fish are no exception. Cleaning an aquarium top to bottom should be done about once a month, with more frequent water changes only on a weekly basis.

  1. Start by removing some of the water from the tank.
  2. Remove and rinse with warm water any statues or artificial plants you are using for decoration.
  3. Gently remove any algae growth that has accumulated on the sides of the tank with a special algae scraper designed for aquarium use.
  4. Using a gravel vacuum, clean out about 25% of the dirty water from the bottom of the tank. To use the vacuum, place one end in the tank all the way below the gravel level and one in a bucket on your floor below the surface of the water. To create suction, quickly move the vacuum up and down at a slanted angle. You will know the vacuum is working when dirty water starts to drain out into the bucket.
  5. Replace clean decorations.
  6. Collect water from your sink and combine with water conditioner made especially for aquariums. Typical dose is one drop per gallon of water. Add back into your aquarium until full.
  7. Unplug your filter and use a special aquarium brush to clean out any accumulated algae inside the chambers. Rinse out in your kitchen sink.
  8. Remove old filter and replace it with a new one.
  9. Put cleaned and reassembled filter back into the fish tank and plug back in.
  10. Add water cleaner, such as Stress-Zyme to water per dose recommended on bottle. This will help keep your filter running properly and will help keep the water clean.
  11. Add some aquarium salt to the cleaned tank to help gill function and prevent disease.

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Feeding Fish With Worms

Tubifex, a red mud worm, can be obtained throughout the year in any good pet shop. Unfortunately, Tubifex worms are often contaminated with heavy metals and other poisons that can cause severe illness in aquarium fish. Under no circumstances should Tubifex worms be fed to delicate fish (such as discus fish). Feed them to hardier species only when you cannot get any other live food.

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If you use Tubifex as food, soak the worms thoroughly for a few days prior to using them. Put the Tubifex clusters in a container with flowing water; in stagnant water the worms will die in a few hours. Once a day lift up the cluster of worms and rinse away the dirt that has accumulated. After about three days, the Tubifex can be fed in small portions. They are not rich in vitamins. Shortly before feeding add a few drops of a multivitamin preparation to the water. The Tubifex will then absorb some of the vitamin product. Earthworms can be bought in bait shops or dug up in your yard or garden. Since they are very nutritious, you can feed them to the fish exclusively for a long time without the fish showing any signs of deficiency. Earthworms provide good nourishment for large cichlids, catfish, and other carnivorous fish. The red earthworm (Lumbricus rubellus) is a favorite of most of these fish. Before using earthworms as food, you should keep them for a few days in darkened crates with damp toilet paper (unbleached, uncolored), so that they will shed their outer mucous covering and lose the earth that adheres to their skin.

Earthworms can be bred in a compost heap or in nourishing, loose earth mixed with sawdust. They should multiply when fed a mixture of grass and garden clippings.

White worms such as Enchytraeus alhus and Enchytraeus buchholtzi are relatives of Tubifex and earthworms. After you purchase these (for use as starter cultures), place them in very large plastic or styrofoam containers. These containers must be thoroughly washed, so that they do not smell of plastic or release chemicals. Fill the containers about 2 inches (5 cm) high with damp peat that has been softened for a few days in water and then squeezed dry and finely ground. The containers must have tiny air holes and remain dark.
Enchytraeus albus worms multiply at 50 to 59°F (10 to 15°C) on a diet of oatmeal, brown bread, and powdered milk at a ratio of 1:5. Enchytraeus buchholtzi worms multiply at 68 to 77°F (20 to 25°C) on a diet of oatmeal, brown bread, and powdered milk at a ratio of 3:3:1. All the ingredients are mixed, put on the damp, loose peat surface, and gently tamped down. The peat is sprayed with water, and the containers are covered with thin material such as gauze or dishcloth. Warning: If there is too little air during breeding, the food will begin to ferment and get so hot that the worms will crawl out of the containers. Mold can also form. If the worms are afflicted with mites, they must be washed and put in fresh peat. A breeding setup should be replaced every two months by a new colony. To use the worms as food; press a glass pane gently to the peat surface. The worms will stick to the glass pane; they can then be washed off and used as food. Do not overfeed fish with these worms because they have a high fat content.

Aquarium Lighting Tips

If hobbyists select the wrong type of lighting for a home aquarium, it can result in algae overgrowth, die-off of benthic plants, poor visibility and behavioral problems in fish. Fortunately, the challenge of lighting an aquarium is simple to address when the needs of the aquarium are taken into account. A proper lighting setup can make the difference between an unattractive, imbalanced aquarium and a beautifully aquascaped paradise.

Evaluating Biotope
The most successful aquariums are not hodgepodge “community” tanks; they instead combine fish that require similar water parameters and tank setups. These natural-environment tanks (called biotope aquaria by enthusiasts) mimic the lighting and water chemistry of wild aquatic ecosystems. To select a proper lighting strength, aquarists should research the lighting needs of each resident fish species. Some popular fish, like zebra danios, thrive under very bright lights. Others–including most tetras and cichlids–become shy, sulky and dull-colored in the presence of bright lights. Lighting requirements should suit the biotope of every species in the tank.

Selecting Kelvin Rating
Aquarium lighting fixtures are usually labeled with a Kelvin rating. This rating is a number–usually 5,500, 6,500, 10,000 or 20,000–followed by the letter K. Kelvin ratings indicates the wavelength or color spectrum provided by the lighting fixture. Shorter wavelengths, like 5,500 and 6,500, provide a reddish or yellowish cast, and longer wavelengths are blue-violet in color. Most aquatic plants can thrive under lights with shorter wavelengths, but reddish-toned plants and coral reefs require the ultraviolet rays found in 10,000 to 20,000 K fixtures. Additionally, tall tanks may need higher-Kelvin lighting because longer wavelengths are able to penetrate deeper water.

Timing and Cycling
Most fish and aquatic plants need anywhere from 10 to 14 hours of lighting per day. Too much light can cause fish to develop behavioral problems and may encourage the growth of algae; too little lighting can cause plants to die off. It is critical to set up a regular and predictable lighting schedule. For very sensitive biotopes, it may be necessary to set up a timer. While fish from dark, tree-shaded environments do not require a “night light“, fish native to open-water ecosystems can sometimes benefit from a whitish LED-based fixture that imitates moonlight. Breeders and professional aquarists may also adjust lighting times to mimic seasonal and lunar cycles; this can encourage temperamental fish to breed.

How to Care for Aquarium Fish

Feeding Aquarium Fish


One of the three rules of fishkeeping is to not overfeed the fish. All uneaten food in a tank quickly pollutes the water. Overfeeding kills the fish with kindness. The best guideline is to feed only enough food each time for the to fish finish it within five minutes.

Most fish will do well on a diet consisting primarily of dry flake food. Use only brand-name, high-quality food. There is a wide variety of flake foods, and it is best to purchase several kinds and feed a different one each time. This helps ensure a more balanced diet for the fish.

Larger fish and many catfish will do better on pellet foods, which have more bulk. Freeze-dried foods are particularly good for fish that need a lot of protein. By occasionally offering fresh-frozen or live foods, you will ensure that your fish are getting a nutritionally complete diet.

When shopping for food, remember that commercial foods have a limited shelf life. If the containers are dusty or look like they have been on the shelf a long time, go somewhere else.

Purchase small containers. Yes, it is more economical to buy larger sizes, but once the containers are opened, the nutritional value of the food will begin to deteriorate.

Within three to six months, less than half the original nutritional value remains. For this reason, do not buy bulk-packed flake foods unless you have enough fish to consume it within a few months.

For vegetarian fish, there are flake foods that are formulated to provide much more vegetable material and less protein. Flake foods can be supplemented with freeze-dried, frozen, and even live foods, all of which are available at the aquarium store.
Many hobbyists keep small catfish in their tanks to eat excess food that falls to the bottom of the tank. These fish must receive the same quantity and quality of food as the rest of the residents.

Because they feed at the bottom of the tank, it is best to feed them just before turning off the tank lights. The catfish will feed in the dark while the other fish are resting. Heavy pellet foods sink and work especially well for this purpose.

Healthy fish can go for at least one or two weeks without eating. When you leave on vacation for a week or so, don’t worry about not feeding the fish. More fish have probably died from severe water pollution as a result of well-meaning friends or neighbors overfeeding the fish than ever suffered from not eating for a week.

Lighting
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Aquarium Fish Feed

Aquarium fish feed is plant or animal material intended for consumption by pet fish kept in aquariums or ponds. Fish foods normally contain macro nutrients, trace elements and vitamins necessary to keep captive fish in good health. Approximately 80% of fishkeeping hobbyists feed their fish exclusively prepared foods that most commonly are produced in flake, pellet or tablet form. Pelleted forms, some of which sink rapidly, are often used for larger fish or bottom feeding species such as loaches or catfish. Some fish foods also contain additives such as sex hormones or beta carotene to artificially enhance the color of ornamental fish.

Ingredients of quality fish food

Fish food should ideally provide the fish with fat (for energy) and amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and the fish food (whether flake or pellet) must be speedily digested in order to prevent build up of intestinal gas, renal failure and infections (such as swim bladder problems and dropsy) and to avoid aquarium pollution due to excessive ammonia. Aquatic diets for carnivores must contain vegetable matter such as spirulina.

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Building block ingredients of fish food

  • Amino acids are the basic components of proteins. An example of an aquatic diet that is a good source of amino acid is a crumbled hard boiled egg offered to small fry. Large amounts of DL-Methionine enhance the headgrowth of the Lionhead goldfish.
  • Fats that are broken down into fatty acids are the main source of energy in fish especially for the heart and skeletal muscles. Fats also assists in vitamin absorption. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble or can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.
  • Carbohydrates are molecular substances that include sugars, starches, gums and celluloses. Most of the carbohydrates that are incorporated into aquatic diets are of plant origin and are sources of the enzyme amylase. Carbohydrates, however, are not a superior energy source for fish over protein or fat but digestible carbohydrates do spare protein for tissue building. Unlike in mammals, glycogen is not a significant storage depot of energy in fish.

Sources of fish food

  • Fish meal (protein source) have two basic types: (a) those produced from fishery wastes associated with the processing of fish for human consumption (such as salmon and tuna) and (b) those from specific fish (herring, menhaden and pollack) which are harvested solely for the purpose of producing fish meal.
  • Shrimp meal is made from cull shrimp that are being processed before freezing or from whole shrimp that is not of suitable quality for human consumption. The material to be made into shrimp meal is dried (sun-dried or by using a dryer) and then ground. Shrimp meal is a source of pigments that enhances the desirable color in the tissues of fish. It is also a secondary supplemental protein source for fish.
  • Squid meal is made from squid viscera portions from cannery plants including the eggs and testis. Squid Meal is a highly digestible protein source for fish which provides a full range of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and cholesterol (1.0–1.5%) of cholesterol suitable for fish fry and young fish.
  • Brine shrimp (adult Artemia) is a common food source for fish that are available in adult-form, as eggs or freeze-dried. Brine shrimp is a source of protein, carotene (a color enhancer) and acts as a natural laxative in fish digestive systems. Brine shrimps can also supply the fish with vegetable matter due to their consumption of algae.
  • Soybean meal is a high protein source for fish and has become a substitute for traditionally-used marine animal meals.
  • Spirulina is a blue-green plant plankton rich in raw protein, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E, beta-carotene, color enhancing pigments, a whole range of minerals, essential fatty acids and eight amino acids required for complete nutrition.
  • Whole wheat (carbohydrates) is not the best source of energy in fish but is an excellent source of roughage for fish such as Goldfish and Koi. It is also a natural source of vitamin E which promotes growth and enhances coloration.

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