With Christmas almost here, many of us are already starting the countdown to 2018. Every year, we’ll make a pledge to change our lives in some way whether it’s to lose weight, stress less or clean the house more often. However, for fishkeepers out there, getting your aquarium or pond in the best shape could be the most rewarding resolution to make.
Ongoing maintenance and fish health should always be a priority, but sometimes we all need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. To help, I’ve compiled my top tips below to make sure 2018 is the year of the perfect pond or amazing aquarium.
Record water chemistry data
Water chemistry parameters change over time. Carbonate hardness, which balances the pH levels, declines in all closed fishkeeping systems, and close monitoring of ammonia and nitrites give vital feedback on the health of the biological filter bacteria. When helping fishkeepers with aquarium and pond problems, it seems so many reach for the water test kits only when problems begin to happen. However, this is too late for fish and can impact their health negatively. If tested regularly problems can be nipped in the bud before catastrophe arises, which is why professional aquarists maintain water chemistry logs of all their systems. Although this is a legal requirement in public aquaria, it’s also a great routine for fishkeepers to get into, to allow them to notice any changes.
Tetra have developed an app meaning your smart device can do all this for you. Simply dip one of our 6 in 1 testing strips into the tank or pond water, take a photo of the strip and let the device do the rest. The app will interpret the values for you and most importantly store the data allowing you to observe the trends. Easy!
Feed little and often
Most ornamental community fish lack a stomach in their alimentary canal meaning they forage for small amounts of food throughout the day rather than eating full meals. In addition to storing food, the stomach is also the site of protein digestion by enzymes. For carnivorous fish, taking large, protein-rich meals infrequently requires their stomach to expand and accommodate the meal and to enzymatically digest the protein. Research has shown feeding tropical ornamental community fishes little and often leads to better nutrient utilisation by the fish where more food is digested with less waste leading to less water pollution.
Fertilise pond plants to help them beat the algae
Preparing for algae season in early spring will mean you’ll be able to react quickly. Algae love the increasing day length and rising water temperatures that the season brings so be ready to act quickly. Be sure to have a new UV clarifier bulb ready, clean the quartz sleeve in your UV clarifier and apply a preventative dose of algaecide, such as Tetra AlgoFin, for reduced algae growth. Giving your pond plants the best possible start in spring will also help them to out-compete the algae for the available nutrients and sunlight. Repotting plants in new aquatic compost and adding a liquid plant fertiliser will also allow resident plants to come out of winter dormancy and into spring in peak condition. Algae is the scourge of garden ponds, it can only be beaten if attacked early in the growing season and on several fronts.
Keep an eye on fish food
Food doesn’t last forever, and fish food is no exception. Expired food will lack nutrients and will be unappetising to the fish so be sure to keep an eye on expiry dates. Also, once the freshness seal is broken, the decay of these volatile nutrients accelerates, especially if the food is stored in a warm, damp place. At Tetra, we can guarantee that unopened food will have the specified concentration of vitamins, minerals and types of oils for happy healthy fish if it’s kept in a cool, dry space. To limit waste, only buy enough fish food to last you six months, then buy a new pack.
Keep aquarium wiring neat and tidy
If you have an established aquarium, it is likely that the tank has accumulated some interesting technology over the years. From new pumps to canopy lighting, the result in the tank is fantastic but the wiring behind and underneath the tank can be a disaster. Overloaded power adaptors can overheat creating a fire hazard – check the power rating of any extension cables and multiway adaptors you are using, and ensure they are not overloaded. Coiling power cables can look neat, but can be a hazard as they can again overheat, if the current is sufficient. Use cable tidies and shorten power cables where possible to keep wiring neat, tidy and organised.
Upgrade to a larger tank
If you have space and the money consider installing a larger tank the larger your aquarium the more stable the water chemistry, the more swimming space for the fishes and the more dramatic the aquascape. Your fish will grow too, so the 60L tank housing three tiny goldfish is soon going to become rather cramped and the occupants would benefit from a much larger home. Tetra’s new 80L StarterLine aquarium will be available from January onwards, giving fishkeepers everything they need for an easy and safe aquarium transition.
Don’t always trust the internet
I searched ‘treat aquarium white spot’ and the first result told me to ‘use aquarium salt at 1 teaspoon per gallon, (4 litres)’. Firstly, I’d be very sceptical of this having any effect. Salt is effective against protozoal infections, but at a dose much higher than specified here. Also, the white spot parasite shows much resistance. The advice did not mention anything about side effects of salt – many soft water fishes are salt intolerant, and this is a good way to kill off most aquarium plants! Finally, the article did not make any reference to a diagnosis of the disease – what else could the cause of the problem be?
A novice fishkeeper reading this advice is unlikely to successfully purge the infection from their tank and is very likely to make matters much worse. The internet is a great source of information but there is rarely any editorial control, so we must be very critical of anything we read online. Fact-checking and cross-referencing is essential, alternatively, get a good aquarium or pond fishkeeping book, written by experts, reviewed by other experts – then you’ll be in much safer hands.
The New Year is a great time to review your aquarium or pond to ensure everything is in working order and your waters are healthy allowing your fish to thrive. By following the advice above you’ll be able to have peace of mind that your aquaria are in the best condition for happy, healthy fish and if you do have any problems, you’ll be able to tackle them head-on before they develop into anything bigger.