Tank maintenance for beginners

Keeping an aquarium can be a rewarding experience. Freshwater tanks are inexpensive – both to set up and maintain – and come with a wide range of fish that can live in them.

That being said, you’re essentially building up an ecosystem of animals and plants and figuring out how to balance everything out can be a challenge. Understanding what fish to buy and then what’s needed to maintain them can be a little confusing at first. For first time tank owners, this can be confusing and sometimes a bit contradictory given all the information that’s out there. How do you know where to start?

Today, we’re going to clear it all up. Here are some tips for beginners on how to properly maintain your fish tank. Let’s jump right in!

Cycle your tank before you put the fish in

Cycling a tank is basically taking all the steps necessary to bring water conditions up to the level they should be at. This is something that should always be done before you put the fish in the tank. In fact, we don’t recommend even purchasing a tank and fish on the same day.

Cycling helps promote the growth of healthy micro-organisms within the tank that will help break down waste and keep the water in good condition for your fish to thrive. Some experts even recommend waiting as long as a week before you add fish.

Test your water

So how do you know your water is where you need it to be? Well, we recommend purchasing a water testing kit and it’ll tell you all the different levels of ammonia, nitrates and even the pH of your water. These are all normal, healthy things to have in your tank so long as they’re kept at relatively low levels. If left unchecked – they can build up to unhealthy amounts and it can harm your fish.

Change your water regularly

We recommend removing at least a third of the water every week and replacing it with fresh, clean water. This will help to dilute the chemicals in the water and make the environment healthier for your fish. Not doing this will make it increasingly difficult to keep your water’s chemical parameters where you need them as waste will buildup and pollute the water to the point where it’s unhealthy for the fish. Oh – and don’t forget to purchase a siphon to make sure you’re getting all the gunk out of the bottom of the tank in your gravel.

Don’t overfeed your fish

Trust us when we tell you – it’s really hard to starve a fish. One feeding per day is PLENTY. Good flake food meets most needs but if you have bottom feeders, sinking pellets should probably be on the menu. That being said – don’t feed a fish more than what they’ll eat in a few minutes. Excess food isn’t good for the fish and can lead to disease. But it can also dirty up the tank and throw off the chemical balance. It can also help spike algae levels as well. Long story, short – go with the ‘less is more’ approach.


Hopefully these tips will help you maintain a healthier, cleaner tank early on. Be mindful of things like filtration media as you become more comfortable experimenting with your tank as it can make a significant difference. And of course, if you have questions – feel free to give us a call. Good luck!

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