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An aquarium can be a distinctive and exciting aesthetic addition to a home or business.

An aquarium often boasts colorful flora. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
An aquarium often boasts colorful flora.


Aquarium enthusiasts should know how to perform basic maintenance and cleaning on their home aquariums. Spending two or more hours each month cleaning and maintaining an aquarium prevents disease and helps to keep fish and other aquarium inhabitants healthy. There are three basic steps to appropriate aquarium maintenance:

  • Cleaning the aquarium
  • Testing water quality
  • Ensuring filtration and oxygenation

Many educational organizations, like SeaWorld, offer free information on aquariums and maintaining aquatic species. Those looking to establish an aquarium or care for an existing aquarium should spend time researching the best cleaning and maintenance techniques before purchasing fish for the aquarium.

Cleaning and Filtration

The most basic element of aquarium maintenance is changing the water regularly. In most cases, experts recommend changing aquarium water once every two weeks. To remove water from the tank, the aquarium owner will need a water vacuum. Operated either by motor or manual suction, the water vacuum is used to remove dirty water from the tank and to suction waste and other material that has settled in the aquarium substrate.

Many aquarium maintenance guides recommend removing 10 to 20 percent of the water in the tank every two weeks and replacing it with fresh water that has been warmed to approximately the same temperature as the water in the tank.

Aquariums also require filtration, to ensure that the water in the tank has enough oxygen for the fish to survive. Filtration can be accomplished using marine plants to provide oxygen to the water. Alternatively, standard aquarium filters can be used to continually filter and oxygenate the water. If an aquarium filter apparatus is used, the filter must be changed regularly as directed by the manufacturer.

Testing Aquarium Water

Another basic element to aquarium maintenance is ensuring that the water in the tank maintains the appropriate temperature and chemical content to ensure the optimal health of aquarium inhabitants. In addition to salinity, aquarium owners may need to measure and adjust the pH, temperature and other chemicals in the aquarium.

Different fish species thrive at different temperatures and aquarium owners should take care to ensure that the water in the aquarium is kept at the optimal temperature. An aquarium thermometer can be used to measure water temperature and various underwater heaters can be purchased to adjust water temperature.

Aquarium supply vendors and pet stores sell water testing kits which measure the chemical content of the water. The most important element to measure in freshwater aquariums is the pH level which measures the acidity of the water. Certain fish have different pH requirements and aquarium owners will need to adjust pH levels in their aquarium accordingly. Different chemicals are used to raise and lower the pH level to achieve the correct balance for the species in the aquarium.

Learning about Aquarium Maintenance

The first step in setting up a functional aquarium is to research different types of aquarium animals and plants and their environmental requirements. Prospective aquarium owners should inquire about appropriate care before purchasing fish or other aquarium inhabitants. The prospective owners can also purchase a book on basic aquarium care.

Vendors selling aquarium supplies, like ALGONE provide information and educational supplies to help potential aquarium owners learn how to care for their aquarium community. There are also a variety of aquarium test kits offered by companies like The Aquarium Guys to help owners care for their aquariums.

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