Fish Keeping IS NOT difficult. It may seem overwhelming in the beginning. But if you follow these rules, you will see how simple Fish keeping actually is.
1) Set the tank up first, and let it run for at least a week. Aim for two.
During this period, the tank begins to grow good bacteria. This good bacteria aka Aerobic bacteria will consume Ammonia and Nitrites (from organic material and fish poop), converting them into less toxic Nitrates. It is part of the tanks' BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION SYSTEM. You want to make sure there is plenty of good bacteria in your tank befrre you add fish. As soon as you add fish, the level of ammonia and nitrites will go up. And if there is not enough food bacteria, your fish will get sick because the level of bad bacteria will be too high. Give your tank time to develop that necessary good bacteria.
Plus, this way you can make sure all over your tank pieces are working ie. the heater, the lights, the airstones etc. You want to make sure the water is at the correct temperature, the filter is running, the thermometer is keeping track. You would not want to put your fish in before you checked everythinhg first.
2) Don't over stock the tank with fish.
Having lots of plants are GOOD. Fish love hiding and swimming through them. Plants also can convert harmful ammonia and nitrite (*decomposing organic material) into nitrate, which is less toxic to fish.
Having too many fish is BAD! If it is overcrowded, they will stress out and get sick. They may also fight.
Our rule of thumb: 1 inch of fish PER GALLON of water.
3) Don't Over-feed Fish
Over-feeding is more dangerous than underfeeding. Whatever you feed a fish will be pooped out. So the more that you put in, the more poop you will have to clean from the water. Fish poop, and any food that is NOT eaten will settle on the bottom and decompose, furter contaminating the tank water with Ammonia and Nitrite*. Remember, fish in the wild are always seaching for food. They do NOT get regular feedings in lakes, or rivers, or the ocean.
Our Suggestion: One pinch of food, whatever they eat in 2 minutes - once a day.
4) Once-a-week water change
Scrub any algae off your tank. Then remove 10-20% of the bottom dirty water in the tank using a syphon. NEVER more than 50% should be removed. Removing the dirty water helps keep the ammonia level low. Add fresh dechlorinated water and optionally beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria is a great addition into the water because...remember... the good bacteria eats any bad bacteria still in the water. Remember: Fish do NOT need to be removed for water cleaning. Only if they are sick should they be taken out and separated.
5) Once-a-month filter maintenance
Background: A filter helps separate particles from the water. The filter cartriges consists of Foam and Carbon. The Foam inserts are part of the MECHANICAL FILTRATION SYSTEM. As the water flows through the foam, bigger pieces of dirt get caught in it and the water leaves cleaner. The Carbon chemically cleans the water. The Carbon, and often Zeolite, is part of the tanks' CHEMICAL FILTATION SYSTEM. Changing your filter cartridge or refilling carbon and zeolite once-a-month is vital to keep your fish healthy. Eventually the filters will get dirty and clogged making it hard to filter out dirty particle sin the water.
Weekly rinsing of the filter cartridge is necessary to remove the sludge. Tap water is okay, but make sure they are properly drained. After a month, they won''t rinse clean. Replace Monthly.
6) Do NOT force a pH.
People become obsessed about maintaining a neutral pH. They add chemicals to make it go up, or make it go down. The forced fluxuations can stress the fish out quickly. Remember: the pH is always changing. It is one way right after a water change, it is different in the middle of the week, and it is different by the end of the week, right before you do another water change. Use it only if you think something is really wrong in your system.
If you follow these 6 steps, to the best of your ability. You will have an easily maintained balanced system. .