Proper Maintenance Schedule Question

Discussion in 'Cleaning and Maintenance' started by Jrobber, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. JrobberWell Known MemberMember

    Now that my aquarium has finally stabilized, I am looking at starting a good maintenance schedule in order to keep my water parameters steady and to encourage good fish growth and lifespan. I had no idea of what I was getting into when my wife-to-be bought me my tank for Christmas, but I have learned so much just from Fishlore and these forums. I tried dealing with an ICK outbreak and it completely killed off my tank, therefore I am looking to prevent that from ever happening again. Please feel free to post any tips or tell me I am doing something wrong since I'm still a newbie. Ok, this will probably be a long post, I'm sorry. :) I will post what I plan on doing and I have some questions after that.

    1. Water Parameters
    pH 8.2
    Ammonia 0.0 ppm
    Nitrites 0.0 ppm
    Nitrates 10
    Temperature 79

    2. Tank Setup
    29 gallon, Aqua-Tech 20-40 Power Filter containing a Cartridge filter and BIO-Fiber, ZooMed 214 Powerhead with a sponge filter attached to the intake tube, Tetra Whisper 40 air pump attached to a 7 inch bubble wand, Aquaclear Heater.

    Currently: 2 Datamation Mollies(females), 1 Swordtail(male), and a Bristlenose Pleco.
    What I would like: 5 Mollies(females), 3 Swordtail(2-to-1 female to male), 2-3 Guppies, 1 Dwarf Gourami, and my Pleco

    3. Schedule
    -Every Sunday: 10% water change - just removing 2.5-3.0 gallons of water
    -Every 3rd Sunday: 30% water change with a gravel vacuum. Removal of artificial plants and decor and rinse.
    -Once a month: Replace Filter Cartridge


    I have seen posts telling people not to change out they're filters, just rinse them in tank water during water changes. Since I have a BIO-Fiber filter, I should replace the filters without replacing the BIO-Fiber filter?

    When doing a gravel vacuum, should I dig deep into the gravel or just suck whats off the top layer? When my tank had ICK, I sucked off the top layer, then shuffled up the gravel to remove any remaining debris.

    Stupid question: When I remove 3 gallons of water from my tank and I add 3 more, should I add water conditioner for just the water I have removed or the entire tank capacity?

    A local fish store worker told me I could rinse my gravel with bleach water, but why would I do that?

    I've never cleaned the Impeller or Intake Tube of my filter, how often or should I be doing this?

    My artificial plants have some brown algae growth on the tips, but it wipes off. Should I worry about this?

    I can't think of anymore questions right now, but I am sure I have more. Please feel free to tell me if I will be doing something wrong with this schedule or post any tips you may have.

  2. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    I can only tell you what I do, other member's schedules might be different.
    Every week to week and 1/2 I change 25%-50% of the water and do thorough gravel vacuums. I go deep, but my tanks have been established ranging from years to months.
    My tanks are under stocked but I tend to over feed.

    I'm not familiar with different kinds of filters. If the Bio-Fiber is a coarse sponge, that never has to be replaced. Rinse it in used tank water when it gets gunky.
    You can also rinse any other filter media in used tank water. Replace it when it starts to fall apart.

    Treat however much water you replace with the correct amount of conditioner that it says on the bottle. Btw, that's not a stupid question :)
    Some members treat for the full tank.

    Don't bleach your gravel, you'll kill whatever bacteria lives there.

    I try to clean the impeller and tubes once every month or two, but sometimes it just doesn't get done on schedule. :p

    When you do a water change, you can swish the plants in used tank water and wipe off any algae.

    Ask as many questions as you need :)
    Good luck.
  3. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember


    For water changes, I would keep it simple, you really only need to change about 25% about every 7-10 days. Doing water changes is to keep the water clean, keep nitrAtes low and to replenish what was lost. My schedule is about 25-30% a week or more and i perform a gravel vac with each water change on my 20g due to it's overstocked and has a Bristlenose which produces alot of waste, I get down into the gravel and under ornaments, that is where debris collects. Don't overfeed is another importent thing. On my 55g I will do a gravel vac every other water change but still do a 25% w/c every 7-10 days. It really depends, you will get to know your tank. Start somewhere and adjust.

    I don't take out my fake plants or ornaments to be rinsed. No reason to.

    Don't listen to your LFS about needing to bleach your gravel. That's crazy! Some good bacteria lives on it.

    Your filter is where most of the nitrifying bacteria lives due to that is where the most water movement is. When you replace your cartridge do not replace the BIO-fiber. You can just rinse it in bucket of tank water, if needed. Same goes for the cartridge. Replace when it doesn't cleanup as well or falling apart. Stick the old one in the tank for a few weeks before throwing it out. I usually cleanout my intake tubes when they start to look gunky. My filter maint. is every 2-3 weeks. I take the whole filter off and rinse in bucket of tank water, including the impeller.

    When changing out water you only need to add enough conditioner for the new water.

    That brown stuff sounds like Diatoms. Whiping it off is just fine. It's not really an algae. Appears when new tanks are done cycling and from lack of lighting and nutrients.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  4. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Christine, the link you provided provides solutions for SW tanks.
  5. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    For what it's worth, here's my general maintenance:

    Test water parameters Weekly (pH, GH, KH, Amm, nitrIte, nitrAte, phosphate), although I could really get away with testing every other week now, it's a very stable tank.

    1-2 Weeks - 15% water change, treating with Prime (for change amount only), with partial light gravel clean (i.e. maybe half tank one week, the other half the next), but always vaccuum around driftwood (b/n catfish detritus)

    I never clean my driftwood/rocks unless there's a particular need to (i.e. algae), but that's done in old aquarium water if required.

    Every 8 weeks or so - replace/clean filter media (except for biological). I haven't cleaned any of my filter tubes yet, but will do when flow rates are greatly diminished.
  6. RhanWell Known MemberMember

    It really is a personal decision and every aquarium is different. The way I worked out the best schedule for me and my tanks was starting off with 25%, and testing ammonia, nitrites and nitrates each week before a water change. Through this, I've worked out that for my 2foot tank, I need to do a 40-50% change a week to stop nitrates from getting past 15. But, for my 160 litre tank, a 10% water change a week is enough to stop nitrates from getting past 15.

    I also gravel vacuum every week, I think at least a light gravel vaccing a week is required, just to suck up the debris. While the tank is new, I would say doing one half each week would work. Or perhaps do one side thoroughly and one side very lightly each week, then swap sides the next week.

    As everyone has already said, don't replace biological filter media. Just rinse it with tank water when it gets a bit yucky.

    I do the impeller around every 2 months. I also clean out the spray bar when it gets a bit icky looking. I'm not familiar with your particular filter, so I can't help too much there.

    Draw up a maintance plan and stick to it as well as you can. I record my test readings and how big a water change for each tank every week, just in case I need the info. Also when I add carbon, or clean the impeller, etc. It just helps me keep track of things, and lets my pedantic side have free reign for a while ;)
  7. JrobberWell Known MemberMember

    Alright, thanks guys. I will probably do a gravel vacuum every week just to make sure I remove any leftover food or debris laying around.

    I just want to make sure I have a clean tank as possible to make sure I don't have another go around with ICK or something worse.

    Thanks again.
  8. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    :;laughing I think I was tired.
  9. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    ;) It was late. lol