The aquarium is set up and running, the fish are schooling happily, and everything is going to plan. Try not to get too comfortable watching the fish swim by yet. To keep it all functioning will require regular care and maintenance.
The exact upkeep procedures and their frequency will differ depending on the individual
aquariums in question. The following is a guide that can help you establish the correct aquarium care procedures for your circumstances.
As a general estimation you should be willing set aside 10 minutes per day and about an hour once a week. If this routine is going to clash with your schedule then perhaps keeping an aquarium is not for you.
Daily Care - 10 Minutes Upkeep Time
Each day aquarium fish require feeding. You should feed only what will be eaten in a few minutes. If there is any food left after 5 minutes remove it from the water before it decays. Alternately you can keep a freshwater snail to clean up any excess fish food.
While feeding do a head check to account for all of your fish. If any have been died it is best to find them sooner rather than later. This will allow the decaying body to be removed and any possible fatality causes to be corrected.
Also check that the filter and heater are functioning correctly. Sometimes plugs can be accidentally pulled from the wall or appliances can develop a fault. Be sure to switch off all aquarium appliances before placing your hands in the water. If your filter has lost a significant amount of it's flow follow the filter maintenance procedure below.
If you have no lid on your aquarium it may be worth considering the water level. If your days are hot and the evaporation high replace the lost water with new de-chlorinated water. Aquarium heaters can easily burn out if the water level drops below the correct operation level.
Weekly Care - About 1 Hour Upkeep Time
Each week (and perhaps more often) at least 25% of the aquarium water should be changed. This is necessary for the removal of toxic nitrate which is the end product of biological filtration.
Remove a quarter of the water before topping up to the full level. The new water should be de-chlorinated and adjusted to match the temperature, pH and hardness of the original water. When making the replacement more water will be added than what is removed so as to replace evaporated water.
If your aquarium has illumination some algae removal may be required. This and other glass scum can be removed using an algae magnet, a non abrasive scourer or even some clean cotton cloth and patience. You may consider only cleaning the front viewing pane. Doing so will allow more surfaces for beneficial microorganisms to live upon. Such cleaning may be unrequited in aquariums with cleaning species such as bristlenose catfish.
A weekly feeding of live or frozen food is excellent for the health of all fish species. On a regular basis be sure to include some extra tidbit in your fish's diet.
Aquarium filters are best cleaned as required. When the water flow has slowed down substantially it is time for a clean.
Depending upon your type of filter it will contain one of more filter media. Charcoal should be discarded and replaced. Sponges of fiber should be replaced or cleaned. When cleaned be sure to use only aquarium water so that useful bacteria can be preserved. New sponges of fiber can be seeded with a little gunk from the unclean filter to kick start the maturation process.
Under gravel filters should be left for up to six months between maintenance. The gravel filter will continue to function as long as it's structure does not become clogged. If the aquarium floor is looking blocked with refuse siphon of these debris with care. Try not to disturb the aquarium substrate substantially as it's biological filtering capacity will be diminished.