The equilibrium of an aquarium is fragile and can rapidly be disrupted if a few
simple rules are contravened. The first of these rules requires a daily inspection
of the tank and its occupants, at feeding time, for example. In this way you can
detect any sickness, worrying fish behavior, or an abnormal water color.
The second rule is to maintain the aquarium. When undertaken on a regular basis,
the upkeep of an aquarium is not timeconsuming, and only demands 1 or 2 hours a
week. Some operations need to be performed every day, others less often.
Bad water can cause problems unnoticeable to even the most discerning eye, so
it is important to monitor its quality regularly. In both fresh and sea water, three
main parameters have to be monitored: the temperature, the pH, and the nitrites.
Additionally, in sea water, the density must be checked, and, in fresh water, the
Certain parameters of the water, such as the pH, must be
monitored once or twice a week.
Checking the equipment
You must also keep a close watch on the systems for lighting, heating, aeration,
The more regular the maintenance of an aquarium, the less
time-consuming it becomes.
As regards the lighting, make sure that the electrical contacts do not get rusty
(especially with salt water). In the aeration system, the small lozenge which filters
the air needs to be changed twice a year. The diffusers eventually get blocked by
algae or calcium. It is best to change them, but they can also be unblocked. Clean
the filtering medium regularly. Any malfunction in the heating will quickly be reflected
in a decrease or increase in the temperature: in this case, it is necessary to change
Cleaning the panes
A Scrapers allow access right to the bottom of the
panes, to get rid of any unwanted algae.
The glass panes of the aquarium can accumulate green or brown algae (page 194),
calcium, or biological deposits (bacteria and non-pathogenic micro-organisms). These
deposits vary from one aquarium to the next and do not in themselves represent any
danger to fish - the damage sustained by an aquarium through a dirty front pane
lies more on the aesthetic plane. So the panes must be scraped with a razor blade
or one of the small devices found in specialist stores.
Domestic scouring pads can also be effective, but in the long term they scratch
the glass of the aquarium. Do not forget to clean the glass lid, which gradually
gets covered with algae and calcium (or salt, in a marine tank) on the inside and
dust on the outside, restricting the passage of the light needed by plants.
Looking after the bed
An assortment of debris piles up on the bed: fish excreta, bits of plants, surplus
food, and sometimes, in a quiet corner, even fish corpses. All this disrupts not
only the visual harmony but also the balance of the tank as more oxygen is required
to degrade this debris. These are two very good reasons for getting rid of it by
siphoning (see box, page 255). Small specially designed vacuum cleaners are available
in the aquarium trade, but you can also use a flexible pipe draining out into a
plastic bowl, a sink, or a toilet.