Maintaining Your Fish Tank

Once established, regular maintenance of your fish tank is essential to continue to provide a healthy environment for your fish. Some routine tasks will help keep your aquarium and fish looking their best.

Water exchange

It is recommended to routinely exchange 20-30% of the water in the tank once a week to once a fortnight while performing a gravel siphon. The gravel siphon can be done with a commercially available plastic gravel cleaner, which removes the organic waste in the tank while leaving the heavy gravel where it is.

There is no need for emptying your tank. Simply start the siphon and walk the cleaner through the gravel. Just prior to siphoning, trim up any rogue plants and scrub algae from the glass and other solid objects. Let this debris settle then start the siphon. Algae is an aesthetic problem, really. The fish could not care less and, unless all of the algae dies overnight, it really doesn’t cause any water quality problems.

The water needs to be exchanged with clean, aged water. This water needs to be de-chlorinated and should have the water parameters that your fish require.

Temperature and Filters

Regularly check the temperature in the tank and the filters to assess that they are clean and working at capacity. If they are not doing so, then investigate and clean them to get them operational, or replace heaters or filters if necessary.


Your plants will periodically require some form of fertilisation; there is a wide range of products that can be used safely. Water exchanges appear to be very beneficial for aquatic plant propagation, so routine tank cleaning and water exchange will be beneficial for your plants. Choose plants that are truly aquatic so that you are not continually having to replace them and clean out any organic material left behind from dead plants.

By Dr Stephen Pyecroft – Last updated 1 May 2017
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