If you own a fish tank you would know how difficult fish water aquarium maintenance is. It’s true that fishes do not require a lot of your attention and time when compared to most of the regular pets like dogs and cats. Nevertheless, you need to take care of them and the fish tank to some extent. Having a fish tank at home can really brighten up your living space and fishes can be wonderful companions if you have kids at home. Observing fishes and helping to take care of them will plant a lot of important values in your children like caring and being responsible. It also helps them to learn more about the aquatic life and their survival patterns.
An aquarium at home can add a lot to its interior beauty apart from the fact that fishes as pets help you relax after a tough day at work. However, not everyone knows to handle fish tanks well. If you’re a beginner, the major issues that you need to watch out for are death of your fishes, diseases, and bad water condition in the tank. No matter what kind of fish tank you have, there are a few accessories that are mandatory for the tank like filters and gravel vacuums. Also, there are other accessories that are not really necessary but add beauty to your aquarium. Here are a few accessories that you need to buy for better fresh water aquarium maintenance.
- Aquarium Filters
- Sponge/ Air Driven Filter
- Hang On Back/Power Filters
- Canister Filters
- Undergravel Filters
- Internal Filters
- Wet/Dry Or Trickle Filters
- Fluidized Bed Filters
- Fish Tank Heater And Thermometer
- Hanging Aquarium Heaters
- Submersible Aquarium Heaters
- Aquarium Substrate Heaters
- In-line Aquarium Heaters
- In-Fitter Aquarium Heaters
- In-sump Aquarium Heaters
- Substrate/ Gravel Cleaner
- Sponge For Fresh Water Fish Tank Care
- Water Conditioner
- Test Kits
- Air pumps
If you do not have an aquarium filter, the environment that you’re providing your fishes will become totally unhealthy after a few weeks. There are different types of aquarium filters that you can choose based on your requirements and the size of your tank. Before getting into the types of filters in detail you need to know the three basic types of filtration that happens in an aquarium- Mechanical, chemical, and biological.
Mechanical filtration is when the water in your aquarium is forced through a filter which is designed to catch particles that contaminate it. Chemical filtration process works by forcing chemicals through the aquarium water to treat other undesired chemical components and specific excessive nutrients that are present in the water. The third type of filtration is biological filtration which involves the breaking down of bacteria. It is also called the nitrogen cycle which has to be maintained well in the tank so that there’s no production of excess ammonia that can harm your fishes.
Sponge/ Air Driven Filter
These filters are mostly used for nurseries and fish tanks with very small fishes. A sponge filter is powered by an air pump that pulls the water in and filters it mechanically. Biological filtration also happens in this case since there are beneficial bacteria present on the sponge. You have to use the aquarium water to clean the sponge so that you don’t kill the beneficial bacteria.
Hang On Back/Power Filters
These are the most common types of filters that are used by people who maintains fish tanks at home or in their workplace. They hang at the back of the fish tank and are capable of all the three types of filtration namely mechanical, chemical, and biological. Mechanical filtration happens when the aquarium water is sucked in through a siphon attached to the filter. This water is then treated by activated carbon that is present in the filter. The carbon removes all the toxins and undesired chemicals from the water. The last process is the biological filtration that happens inside the filter cartridge. A large number of beneficial bacteria living inside the cartridge are responsible for this filtration. Most of the hang on back filters today come with biowheels or biological filter pads.
Canister filters are another popular option for you and they are best used for fish tanks of capacity equal to or more than 40 gallons. They are great for salt water and planted aquariums because they can perform much better filtration (all mechanical, chemical, and biological) due to their bigger size. Canister filters are bigger and more powerful than most of the hang on back filters which makes them an ideal filter for larger fish tanks.
Undergravel filters are placed under the gravel layer of your fish tank and they work by pulling the water up through tubes inside them called the “uplift” tubes. You can get these tubes working by attaching airstone and air pump or a power head to the top of them. Sadly, undergravel filters can perform only mechanical filtering.
Internal filters are ideal for small fish tanks with capacity below 20 gallons. These filters come with suction cups and they stick to the sides of the glass of the fish tank but some people prefer to place it at the bottom of the tank so that the dirt does not have any time to swirl around before it gets sucked in. Some types of internal filters may require you to attach an air pump and airline to get water up the filter.
Wet/Dry Or Trickle Filters
These are not as common as the filters we discussed till now and they are ideal for salt water fish tanks. One major portion of this filter is exposed to air while the other part is exposed to the aquarium water which encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria perform biological filtration and process waste products.
Fluidized Bed Filters
Fluidized bed filters also hang on behind your fish tank and the aquarium water is pumped through layers of granules like sand, plastic or silica chips. You may need to buy a separate pump to pump up the water into the filter.
Fish Tank Heater And Thermometer
A good aquarium water heater comes with a thermometer built in to it. Fishes cannot withstand sudden rise and drop of temperature and if you live in a place where the environmental temperature fluctuates a lot, you have to get a heater. Fishes do not produce heat on their own and they completely depend upon the temperature of the water which is highly influenced by the external environment temperature. While some fishes can thrive in cold water like the goldfish, tropical breeds like Betta requires warm water to live in. You need to get a water heater for your aquarium if you intend to keep tropical fishes.There are different types of aquarium heaters based of their size and functioning. Below are a few of them explained for you:
Hanging Aquarium Heaters
Hanging aquarium heaters are the most common and inexpensive aquarium water heaters that you can purchase to maintain optimal temperature for your fishes. These heaters are hung behind the fish tank and a glass tube with the heating element is suspended into the water. Hanging heaters are inappropriate as well as dangerous for salt water fish tanks since the salt water will pass electricity and can cause electrical shorts. In this case, the salt can corrode the tubes of the filter as well.
Submersible Aquarium Heaters
These are safer and more efficient when compared to hanging aquarium heaters. Submersible aquarium heaters are attached to the fish tank using suction cups or with a clip at the back of the fish tank. They can be immersed deep in the tank and can be placed horizontally, vertically, or in any other angle preferred. If your submersible aquarium heater has a thermostat attached to it, it’s better to place it horizontally in the fish tank.
Aquarium Substrate Heaters
Substrate heaters are not very common among aquarium hobbyists and others who just want a simple aquarium at home. This is because it consists of a coil or grid of wire in an insulator and the whole set up is immersed in the substrate of the water. This coil or the wire heats up and radiates the heat to the water to maintain the desired temperature. These heaters are usually used in planted aquariums and aquariums where the gravel acts like an insulator, keeping the roots away from the warm temperature. Substrate heaters solve this issue by heating the gravel as well and by maintaining their temperature warm which is good for the roots.
In-line Aquarium Heaters
In-line aquarium heater requires water to be pumped through it so that it can heat it and send it back to the tank. These heaters rest alongside of a plumbing line which is external and are usually attached to a filter that’s mostly a trickle filter, a canister filter, or a UV sterilizer.
In-Fitter Aquarium Heaters
These heaters are built inside the aquarium water heater and hence they are called In-filter aquarium heaters. Water is pumped through the filter and is cleaned as well as heated at the same time before returning it back to the tank.
In-sump Aquarium Heaters
These filters are not very common but you may have heard of them if you’re into aquarium as a hobby. In-sum aquarium heaters are set up in the sump of trickle filter and are placed outside the tank. They are different from In-filter aquarium heaters because they are fixed outside the filter. One of the major benefits of having an In-sump aquarium heater is that it keeps your fishes away from the danger of accidental burning. Fishes like Oscar may swim around and hit the heater which may also lead the heater to damage. To avoid all these issues, you can get an in-sump aquarium heater.
Substrate/ Gravel Cleaner
You need to keep cleaning the fish tank water every once in a while so that there are no sediments in the tank that will choke your fishes to death. The waste from the fishes and dust particles that fall into the water will be effectively cleaned if you’re using a gravel vacuum. If you have a planted fish tank, there are high chances of you’re a getting clogged fast because plants produce waste too. If you do not use a gravel cleaner regularly, there are chances of waste material and dead and decayed fishes (In case of any death) turning your fish tank water into a killing arena. This is because of the accumulation of ammonia in the water which is fatal for your fishes. Fresh water aquarium maintenance is much easier when you get an automatic gravel cleaner than a manual one.
Sponge For Fresh Water Fish Tank Care
Using a soft sponge to clean your tank can be a good idea if you have an acrylic tank. If your fish tank is made of glass, you can use a rough sponge since glass has better tolerance. However, make sure that you don’t scratch the glass which will reduce the visibility of the tank.
Water conditioners are used to condition the water and create chemical balance so that your fishes can thrive well. Tap water may not be the ideal thing for your fishes because they may be chlorinated and their pH level may not be optimal. Water conditioners help in restoring the water quality of tap water so that you can use it in your fish tank. Also, you can buy water conditioners that help to add beneficial bacteria to your aquarium so that your fishes and aquatic plants are healthy.
Test kits help you to understand if your fish tank water is in good condition or not. Test kits for aquarium are usually pH adjusters and kits that help you to keep a check on buffers and other miscellaneous chemicals. It is a must to conduct tests on water before you add it to your fish tank. Tests to ensure water quality must also be done monthly so that your aquarium is healthy.
Air pumps are vital for fresh water aquarium maintenance since they pump air mechanically into the water which helps the fishes to breather better. Even though some people do not think that air pumps are necessary, it is important that you have them so that your fishes do not feel suffocated inside the tank. If you have many fishes and the space is limited in your tank, an air pump is a must.