This is not healthy for the fish, nor is it an ideal scenario for your home’s occupants…who wants to look at a grungy aquarium?
Thankfully, it is possible to enjoy the beauty that an aquarium can bring to your home without a huge maintenance commitment.
How you set up your aquarium will determine how much time you’ll need to devote to keeping it clean.
Consider the following factors when deciding on the aquarium you’d like to add to your home.
Don’t overstock your tank
Experts recommend that you have no more than one fish per gallon of water your tank holds, however you don’t have to have that many.
Fewer fish in your aquarium will naturally mean less waste, reducing the amount of cleaning you’ll need to do.
Don’t overfeed your fish
If you feed your fish too much the excess will not only foul up the water, it can also make your fish sick.
Ironically, the most recognizable – and often the most sold – fish is also the dirtiest.
Goldfish have high metabolisms, so they produce a lot of waste.
They also grow very big, which of course means even more waste…that you’ll need to clean up!
Instead of one gallon, goldfish need at least ten gallons if you want a low maintenance aquarium.
However, there are other types of fish that require less maintenance, so if your heart isn’t set on a goldfish you might look at different types of fish.
Bigger is EASIER to clean
It may seem counterintuitive, but in reality, larger tanks are easier to maintain.
This is because the larger volume of water will provide a more stable water chemistry for your fish, and create a mini ecosystem that can nearly clean itself.
Planning your low maintenance aquarium
Keep the aquarium out of direct sunlight to keep algae growth down.
Add an algae eater to your tank such as:
- ⬥ Siamese algae eaters
- ⬥Catfish (some types)
Don’t just pick one, however without understanding the types of algae your algae eater consumes. There’s no point in having an algae eater who won’t eat the type of algae growing in your tank, is it?
Note that some varieties of plecos can grow very big, and may need to be moved to a bigger tank or traded with another algae eater at your fish store.
Also, remember that algae eaters are also producing waste, so include this fact when you plan how many fish you’re going to stock your tank with.
Note: A reputable aquarium shop should be able to make the right recommendations for your new tank.
Under/overstocking your tank
When calculating the size of your tank, use the adult size measurements of the fish varieties you want to stock your tank with. Now that you know how many gallons you’ll need, add a few more gallons to your measurements for some wiggle room.
Choose your filter
When choosing a filter for your tank, pay attention to the filter flow rate.
Typically, you’ll want a filter that will cycle all of the water in your tank a minimum of four times each hour. However, for a low-maintenance tank, go with a filter that’s rated for a tank that’s much larger than the one you’re buying.
So for example, let’s say you have a 46-gallon tank.
You find a filter that’s rated for tanks that are 45 to 70 gallons and which has a flow rate of 340 gallons per hour.
340 gallons/46 gallon tank = 7.39 times per hour
As you can see, in this instance, the water in the tank would be filtered 7 times per hour.
In this scenario, you’d only need to change out 10 to 20 percent of the water in the tank every week or two. Hint: give your houseplants the water…they’ll thank you for it
Then, use a gravel vacuum or siphon to clean the gravel and to partially drain the tank. If you do this regularly, your tank should stay beautiful indefinitely and you won’t need to do a major clean at all.
It is a good idea to add cleaning your aquarium to your home maintenance schedule. This will ensure you keep your aquarium clean and also keep your fish healthy.