These tips have been written by the team at The Goldfish Bowl (Oxford)
Perfect water quality in an aquarium or pond is the secret to keeping fish healthy and enjoying this wonderful and captivating hobby.
Our tips for maintaining excellent water quality:
- Water quality is all about making sure the environment for your fish, invertebrates or plants is spot on. One of the basics of fishkeeping is to ensure the nitrogen cycle is working efficiently. The nitrogen cycle is the name given to the process that converts ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate. In short, ammonia (NH3), which comes from fish's waste, excess food or decaying organisms, is broken down to produce nitrites. Nitrite (NO2) is then converted into nitrate (NO3) by good, nitrifying bacteria which are present in an established aquarium. Nitrate, in low levels, is far less harmful than ammonia or nitrite.
- Regularly testing your water quality is the best way to know if this vital nitrogen cycle is working effectively, whether you pop into your local fish shop, which usually offers this service for free, or if you purchase your own test kits, such as Aquarium Lab Multi-Test. Often, everything can look fine from the outside but bad water quality can have a detrimental effect on the livestock inside the aquarium.
- Do regular water changes. A weekly water change of 10-25% will help keep your water quality in excellent condition. It will not only help to reduce the build up of nitrates, but it will also freshen up the water in the aquarium. When doing a water change, always use a gravel cleaner as this will allow you to 'hoover' up the fish's waste etc. from the bottom of the aquarium. From time to time, lift up any ornaments and clean underneath to avoid harboring any bad bacteria.
- When refilling your aquarium after a water change, it is wise to use re-mineralized reverse osmosis (RO) water. RO water is heavily filtered, usually through a three-stage machine, removing any impurities and ensuring the water is ideal for your aquarium. Using RO water can help reduce nitrate and phosphate levels in the aquarium, which could otherwise allow algae to grow. Phosphates can also be removed using Phosphate Remover (Aquarium) or Algae Gone.
- Whether you opt to use RO water or tap water, you should always use water treatments alongside this to ensure the water is safe for the fish. Use Tap Water Safe (if you have a freshwater setup), which neutralises chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals, whilst also reducing the stress on the fish. Additionally, opt for something similar to Filter Starter, which is full of good bacteria to help keep the nitrogen cycle working.
- Test the temperature of water going into the aquarium during water changes. It is vital that the new water going into the aquarium is at a similar temperature to the water in the tank, so always check with a thermometer. A sudden influx of cold water can stress the fish and cause a stress-related disease such as ulcers or finrot, and whilst this can be treated with Anti-Ulcer & Finrot, it is far better to avoid this situation entirely.
- An important part of water quality is making sure the filter is maintained correctly. A good bi-monthly check of the filter is a great way of keeping your water in tip-top condition. It is also good to give some of filter media a clean from time to time, which you can do by washing it in the dirty tank water you have taken out of your aquarium during a water change.
- And finally, the secret to ensuring good water quality and healthy fish is to use a good quality food. If you keep tropical fish, use Probiotic Tropical food, which contains probiotic bacteria that helps to increase digestion, meaning less waste, a cleaner aquarium and better water quality.