Looking after a tropical aquarium is fairly easy but there are some problems that can arise and it is essential that you are aware of the causes and how to deal with them. Problems in your aquarium are much easier to deal with if they are dealt with promptly as soon as they arise so you must know the common problems that can occur and how to deal with them. Knowing how to maintain your aquarium properly and what to look out for will go a long way to ensuring your tropical aquarium is a healthy place for your pets.
When you first set up your tank is may look wonderful at first but slowly problems can occur and your sparkling tank can begin to look cloudy and dull. Ugly green algae cover all the surfaces or the water starts to look murky and the fish appear distressed. What went wrong? How can you overcome the problems and restore your tank to it's former beautiful and healthy condition?
The wrong thing to do is to panic, rush off to the local pet shop and buy a load of chemicals. Dumping chemicals in the tank rarely solves any problems and can make them worse. Cleaning out the tank and starting again is also a mistake as you will destroy all the good bacteria that you carefully cultivated when you started the tank. You did cycle the tank properly, didn't you? What you need to do is to identify the cause of the problem and take appropriate steps to remedy it by restoring the natural, healthy balance of the tank.
Poisonous Chemicals Building Up in the Tank
The most worrying difficulty is sudden fish death. Did you take the time to cycle the tank before before you stocked with fish? The usual reason for fish dying suddenly is high concentrations of nitrites or ammonia from the fish's waste products. You'll need to use an aquarium test kit to see if this is the cause. If the tank wasn't properly cycled there will be insufficient nitrogen fixing bacteria to cope with with all of these toxic chemicals, particularly if you have too many fish. Do you have too many fish in the tank? This will over stress the bacteria that deal with the waste and cause an increase in the concentrations of ammonia and nitrite.
Have you made sure you have the correct combination of species in your aquarium? There are many fish that can live peacefully together in a community aquarium but some, even if they are fine when young, can grow up into bullies! A good example of this is the Tiger Barb. If you see fish being bullied remove the offender and give it away or provide it with its own tank.
Not Enough Water Changes
Water in your aquarium should be partially changed at least every two weeks. Never do a total water change, 30% is adequate. This will remove the nitrates which the nitrifying bacteria produce from the ammonia waste produced by the fish. Although nitrates are much less toxic than ammonia or nitrites they are still toxic in large amounts and the only way to remove them is to remove some of the water and replace with fresh, clean water.
Using Chlorine Containing Water
Water from the tap will always contain contains chlorine which is easily dealt with by leaving the water standing in a bucket for two days. Some tap water also contains chloramines which can't be removed so easily. If your tap water is contaminated with chloramines, or you don't know, you must use a chemical treatment to remove them before putting the water in the fish tank.
Overfeeding Your Fish
A common problem, especially with those new to keeping fish is overfeeding. Excess food sinks to the bottom of the tank where it decays, releasing toxic chemicals. Always watch the fish after feeding and make sure they eat all the food. if any is left over vacuum it from the bottom of the tank and give them less next time.