Even if you are just starting out in the aquarium hobby and have done minimal research about tank maintenance, you probably understand the importance of water changes. The water chemistry in your tank is extremely important to maintain because, if it changes suddenly or the water quality decreases, your fish could suffer. Water changes are a key element in maintaining stable water chemistry in both freshwater and saltwater tanks but, unless you do them correctly, you could actually be putting your fish at risk.
Common Mistakes with Water Changes
If you do not have a grasp on the chemistry of maintaining a freshwater tank, you may be making dangerous mistakes in regard to your routine water changes. Over time, ammonia and other toxins build up in your tank water and the goal of a water change is to remove these toxins. What you may not realize is that simply topping off evaporated water or siphoning water from the top of your tank then replacing it with fresh water could actually result in further decreasing the water quality in your tank. If you add more water to your tank without first removing some of the toxic chemicals, your tank water could become hard and the toxin levels may become so concentrated that your fish begin to suffer.
Using a Gravel Vacuum During Water Changes
The key to performing a good water change is to get rid of some of the bad water in your tank before you add new water. In most tanks, the place where organic wastes and toxins are most heavily accumulated is the substrate – just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there and that it isn’t affecting your water quality. In order to remove these toxins and organic waste during your water changes, it is best to use a gravel vacuum. Gravel vacuums are actually very simple devices and they are quite easy to use – most consist of a simple plastic pipe connected to a length of plastic tubing. To use your gravel vacuum, submerge the head of the vacuum in the tank and create suction in order to draw the aquarium water up through the pipe, along the tubing and into your collection bucket. Once you have started the suction, simply dig the head of the vacuum into your gravel and move it around gently, collecting as much debris as you can.
Tips for Keeping Tank Water Fresh
Once you have used your gravel vacuum to remove accumulated wastes and toxins you should refill your tank with the appropriate amount of dechlorinated tap water. It is best to perform small 10% to 20% water changes on a weekly basis and to perform one large 25% change each month. In addition to regular water changes, introducing an EcoBio-Stone into your tank or some EcoBio-Pebbles into your filter will help keep your tank water clean and clear. EcoBio-Block products are made from porous volcanic cement and are infused with live beneficial bacteria along with the nutrients those bacteria need to thrive. Once they have been introduced into your tank, the bacteria will multiply and begin working to maintain the nitrogen cycle, helping to convert harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrites into less harmful substances like nitrates. The best part about EcoBio-Stones and EcoBio–Pebbles is that once you add them to your tank– the beneficial bacteria will do much of the work for you reducing the need for water changes and tank maintenance, so both you and your fish can reap the benefits of a cleaner tank.