Excellent job on completing your aquascape aquarium! We know how much work has gone into this and we are here with helpful tips on how to maintain your tank. As is the case with every other passion, maintenance is key in aquascaping.
It is called a hobby because it takes a lot of you; during and after the creation of your aquarium. In other words, your commitment does not end after setting up your aquascape aquarium; as a matter of fact, you need extra dedication at this stage to keep your creation in top-notch condition.
The aquascape aquarium tank can be likened to the frame that holds your work together and aesthetically displays it for the world to see. It also serves as home to your aquarium’s elements and its inhabitants.
A tank is a container used for storage; especially for liquids. It can be enclosed or opened; depending on what it is to be used for. The word ‘tank’ is rather generic and potentially misleading; hence the addition of the prefix ‘aquascape’ to clearly define the purpose tanks serve.
Before proceeding to the ways to efficiently and effectively maintain your aquascape tank, knowledge of your type of tank is necessary. This will intimate you of how best to keep your tank in good form.
Come along now, as we share with you the ultimate guide to maintaining your aquascape aquarium tank for maximum quality lifespan.
Types of Tanks used in Aquascping
The aquascaping hobby features many glorious design layouts; most of which may puzzle beginner aquascapes. While some hobbyists suggest that newbies stick to natural aquariums as they are relatively easy and straightforward to set up, feel free to let your imagination decide! Creativity is boundless and you can create your very own style that may set precedents in the aquascaping niche.
There are two common types of tanks used in aquascaping; glass tanks and acrylic tanks. Now, there has been seemingly endless debate over which of the tanks is the best for aquascaping.
At a glance, both tanks look almost the same—but they aren’t. What makes them so different and how do you tell one from the other? Let’s explore that, shall we?
We already established that glass and acrylic tanks look almost the same; this is because they are both transparent, and other the right conditions, which can give the scenic, gorgeous view that your aquarium deserves.
WEIGHT: The first point of divergence is weight; glass tanks typically weigh five to ten times the acrylic tanks. This makes the latter easier to carry around—even with water in it. However, if you do not plan to move your aquarium around a lot, this is hardly a problem.
SCRATCH PROOF: Glass tanks are reputed to be scratch-resistant; a sharp contrast to their acrylic counterparts. Acrylic aquarium tanks get scratched by the slightest contact; a little scratch here and there over time detracts from the beauty of your tank, and by extension—your aquarium. If your acrylic tank aquarium is situated in a place with minimal third party interference and away from accident-prone areas, you may not have t worry about scratches. Also, when carrying out maintenance routines on your aquarium such as cleanings, you need to be extra careful if your tank is acrylic.
SHATTERPROOF: Acrylic tanks win this round! The strong impact will not shatter your acrylic tank as it is very sturdy. But for glass—well, we all know how it goes. As a result of the strength of acrylic, aquarium tanks made out of it can be drilled into for the installation of equipment you need in your aquarium. You cannot drill into the fragile glass without shattering it…can you?
MALLEABILITY: Some times, aquariums are erected on stands for better viewing and other convenience purposes. Stands that do not provide base support for your aquarium are not compatible with acrylic tanks. Acrylic tanks are predisposed to be dented or bent without base support to hold the tank in shape. If your stand only has a frame, a glass tank will be your best bet to avoid over-pressuring your tank, causing leaks. Interestingly, malleability doubles as both a disadvantage and an advantage of acrylic tanks. Specifically, because of its flexibility, acrylic can be made into different tank shapes. Glass is more rigid to work with; hence the availability of limited shapes. If you are big on aesthetics and variety, acrylic tanks come in many amazing shapes that will bring your dream aquarium to life.
MAINTENANCE: Stains and scratches on an acrylic tank are next to impossible to get rid of. Consequently, the tank is prone to discoloration After a long period of use, acrylic tanks are known to start turning yellowish. Then, the view of your aquarium is tainted with hues—an eyesore; we do not want that. On the other hand, glass tanks are capable of retaining crystal clarity almost throughout their lifespan. They are also easier to clean; lighting and chemical activities going on in your aquarium having nothing on glass!
COST: Glass tanks are cheaper than acrylic tanks; owing to the ease of manufacture—glass tanks are made seamlessly, compared to acrylic. The latter also incurs extra shipping costs; accessories for it are rare to come by.
Acrylic and Glass tanks have their strengths; and a fair share of downsides; so whichever one you decide to go for an understanding of the challenges to expect, and how to prepare for them, is required. Plastic tanks are a no-no for aquascaping!
How to maintain your Aquascape Aquarium Tank
The key to effective maintenance is understanding how it affects the quality of your aquarium. Apart from the fact that spending time carrying out these routines will elongate the quality lifespan of your aquarium, you get to learn new things as activities in your aquarium unfolds; it is a rewarding experience.
Depending on a variant of factors, maintenance tasks are divided into daily, weekly and monthly tasks. The first few days after creating your aquarium surely need close monitoring—you do not want all that fine work to go to waste.
Daily Maintenance Task
1. Trim your Plants
When exposed to the right conditions, plants tend to grow very quickly in an aquarium. Typically, some may tower high above smaller plants; blocking light and making your aquarium tank look unsightly. To keep this in check, it is necessary to make plant trimming a daily maintenance routine.
Note that some plants grow faster than others, and it is essential to be familiar with the personalities of every type of plant in your aquarium tank. For instance, stem plants grow super fast. The advantage to it is that after you trim off a few inches, these cut-outs can still be replanted into your substrate and they flourish.
That is why it is advised that stem plants be purchased in small quantities; you can make do and recycle! Fern and moss plants are at the other end of the equation; they typically grow very slowly and can be trimmed using specialized scissors. Potted plants like hair grass, crypts, and red tiger lilies tend to grow in width rather than length; so you want to ‘slim-fit’ these guys a bit to prevent them from taking up too much space in your tank.
Plant trimming may seem difficult to achieve underwater but it is quite easy; all you need do is have the right attitude and the right set of tools; these include aquarium specialized scissors, tweezers, shears, and razor blades.
2. Feed your Fish
You may wonder how this affects your tank; well it does! Starving your fish can kill them and when they decay, it pollutes your entire tank. Pay close attention to the behavioral patterns of your fish to determine whether or not they are in good health.
If you can, do a headcount. However, be careful not to overfeed them as this can surge the number of nutrients in your aquarium and breed algae.
3. Remove Algae
Algae infestation is perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced in aquascape tank maintenance. Chemical and biological activities going on in your aquarium usually cause a build-up of algae.
While this is not exactly avoidable, it can be very effectively contained by simple full-on preventive measures. The lighting in your tank; especially if too bright and prolonged creates an environment for algae to thrive; direct sunlight also contributes to this.
You may want to dim those lights in your aquarium tank a bit and not keep them on 24/7. If your aquarium is situated in a place that is exposed directly to the sun, you may want to consider relocation.
When adding nutrients to your substrate, ensure you are putting in just enough that your plants need; too many nutrients especially nitrate will invite algae to your aquarium tank, and the cling-ons are quite a displeasing sight.
Algae can be removed on sight, using a scraper if they grow on your tank. If they are growing on the rocks, scrub them off gently. An old trick used by aquascape hobbyists is to remove algae biologically is by adding algae-eating fish to your aquarium.
Species such as Siamese algae eaters, otocinclus catfish, twig catfish, amino shrimps, etc will make excellent recruits for your anti-algae squad. However, before taking this step, you must consider and research extensively on the compatibility of your choice of algae-eaters and the other fish in your aquarium—you don’t want them eaten up by the other fish; or vice-versa before they even get to eat any algae.
To avoid this clash, you may keep these algae eaters in a separate tank and move them to the main tank only when you need their services.
Weekly and Monthly Maintenance Task
1. Clean your Tank
This doubles as a daily maintenance task; especially if is acrylic. Check for dents and scratches and mild stains and clean them before they become too permanent.
While cleaning, ensure that the materials used are dedicated to cleaning your aquarium tank ONLY—you do not want household chemicals getting into your tank.
Clean your water filters, scrape off algae, and gently wipe the tank inside-out, using a soft padded sponge. Detergents and soap are dangerous to your aquarium; avoid them completely!
2. Changing Water
This is vital to the health of your aquarium and all in it—for obvious reasons. You cannot keep plain water sitting in a place for too long; it will get contaminated, right?
Now imagine water in an aquarium tank with plants, fish, and chemicals in it! New aquarium tanks are susceptible to PH instability which may be lethal to your plants and especially fish.
That is why it is recommended that you do not purchase your tank and the fish at the same time. You need time for those PH swings to balance; creating a friendlier atmosphere for habitation.
Water change is the process of replacing old water with new to keep the quality of your aquarium. Do you have to empty your tank during water changes? The answer is no! You need to change only about 25% of your water to conserve nutrients.
This process is to be done carefully to avoid sharp changes in ph, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and phosphate levels. You can monitor these before and after your water change by using testing kits. Check the expiry dates on these kits to ascertain their potency.
3. Equipment Check
Check your connections, tubing, lighting, filters, and other equipment to ensure that they are in good condition. Replace them if needed. As much as possible, avoid undue contact with your aquarium tank, especially from a third party—best to locate your tank away from accident-prone areas.
Check for dents and scratches on your tank; this will inform you if your tank needs polishing, repair, or outright replacement.
Aquarium tank maintenance may seem like a daunting task but it isn’t. You will find out that it is easy to pull off as long as you inculcate it into your daily life. You’ll learn to love it!