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Cleaning Your Tank

A clean fish tank can go along way in helping you save money and most importantly, having your fish happy and healthy.

Here are some tips to help you maintain a well balanced fish tank :

Always stand your tank on polystyrene before setting it up as it helps to cushion the base.

In a new tank the good beneficial bacteria which is responsible for the biological filtering of fish daily waste takes about 4 weeks to mature. This can be speeded up by adding a maturing agent to your tank. (like Mature tank or Safewater).

When it comes to stocking a new tank with fish you should only put in a few fish to start off with and then build the stocks up gradually over the next month or two. This is to let the tank mature slowly and to stop the nitrites going very high too soon.

You should always ask for advise when choosing fish to put in your tank to see if they are compatible with what you have in your tank already.

When you have purchased your fish you need to introduce them into your tank carefully, this is best done by floating the bag for 15 minutes before letting them out. This lets the temperature of the water in the bag equalize to the temperature in the tank. Then dip a little water from your tank into the bag before slowly letting the fish into your tank.

When it comes to putting new gravel, rocks or bogwood into the aquarium make sure that you give them a good washing first of all. To wash gravel put a small quantity of it into a clean bucket and then fill this with cold water. You should now swill the gravel around releasing the dirt from the gravel into the water. This dirty water should be poured away and then swill the gravel again in the same way until the water is clear. Rocks need to be soaked in hot or preferably boiling water for about an hour. To clean bogwood you should soak it in a bucket of boiling water over night, this will make the water brown in colour as it removes the stain from the bogwood. It should be soaked over night in fresh clean boiling water until the water is clear the morning after.

Never use a bucket that has had chemicals like bleach, soap etc. in it as this will harm your fish. It is best to buy a new bucket and use it just for the fish tank, maybe even write on it "Fish tank" so that Dad doesn't use it to wash the car !

Never put shells, corals or anything off the beach into your coldwater or tropical aquarium as this will cause problems in the future.

Every 4 - 6 weeks you should do a quarter water change, this stops the potential build up of fish waste getting to high. When replacing this water you need to treat it in the bucket for 5 minutes before putting it back into your tank with a water conditioner. (like Aquasafe, Stress go, Fresh start or Haloex). These remove the chlorine and the bad metal ions from the water and put a coating in to protect the fishes gills. Remember to get the temperature of the water you are using to roughly the same as the tank.

The ideal tank temperature for tropical fish is 75 - 80 F ( 24 - 26 C)

If you should have to strip the tank fully then always try and keep some of the good mature water. This will give it a good start when setting it back up again and remember to unplug the heater/stat for 5 minutes to let it cool down before you remove the water.

If any of your fish appear not to get on, or have grown to large then you can return them to us and we will give you a credit to spend in the shop.

You should feed your fish sparingly twice a day, if any of the flake food sinks to the bottom then you have over fed and this can lead to cloudy tanks and poor water quality. Never crush the food as even a neon can eat a flake as its like tissue paper and folds up in its mouth. By crushing the flake it makes it very bitty and this tends to make it sink almost straight away again clouding the water after a while. If your tank is less than a month old then you should only feed once a day until it matures, which takes a month.

If your water goes cloudy then it is nearly always due to over feeding, so carry out a quarter water change and then add a product to help clear the water (like Accu clear, Filter aid, acurel) and from then on cut down on the food as overfeeding is the most common problem in this hobby.

Should you suffer from algae in your tank then this can be cured by cutting down the number of hours that you have your light on and also by adding an algae control product (like Algazin, Green away, Clear water).

To grow plants successfully they need about 8 - 12 hours a day of light. Its a case of getting a happy balance where your plants grow well and the algae doesn't ! If the plants still are not growing as well as you would like them then it might be time for a new light tube as after 12 - 18 months the strength of the light given off by the tube decreases. Adding a reflector to the light doubles the brightness and you will see a tremendous difference. You might want to replace your light with a brighter one to help with plant growth (like Power-glo, Triton, Freshwater lamp, or even Life-glo with its own built in reflector).

You should be testing the water from your tank every fortnight or every week for best results as the water in a fishes life is the most important thing (other than the temperature in a tropical tank). You should be testing for two main things, Ph and Nitrites. These important water qualities keep the fish in tip top health and prevent the fish being stressed which would normally lead to poor health. You can bring some tank water to use for us to test and advise (50 pence charge per test) or you might want to buy your own kits so that you can test the water in the convenience of your own home.

When cleaning internal or external filters always use water from the tank to wash out the media as using hot water or even cold tap water (full of chlorine) can kill the good beneficial bacteria which is responsible for keeping your tank biologically clean.

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