If you have a standard internal or external filter for your tank there is some basic maintenance you will need to do around once a month. All media (sponges, pads, ceramics etc) should be washed in OLD TANK WATER only, never tap water as tap water will kill of all the good bacteria you worked so hard to colonise in there Polishing pads (usually white) should be replaced each month. If you have 1 pad, cut it in half and replace half at a time so as not to decrease the bacteria too much at a time. If you have more than one pad then just change one at a time For any remaining pads, just squeeze them out a few times in a bucket of tank water to get the worst of the gunk off them. Any ceramic media should be rinsed in a bucket of tank water. If you have filter pads, usually black, these only need replacing once a year or so, contrary to instructions given by some manufacturers, again, just squeeze these out monthy to get the worst of the dirt off them. Mechanical filter parts can be washed in tap water as there is no significant bacterial build up there and its important they are cleaned properly so your filter will run smoothly. I blast mine under the shower head until the water which runs out is clean. If you find your filter clogs up regularly or the pads need cleaning/replacing more than once a month then your filter is probably not coping and you need a larger one
Most tanks need cleaned weekly although others, which may be understocked or have very powerful filtration may get away with bi-weekly cleaning. When you clean your tank, the basic cleaning regime is as follows...
1. Wipe down the glass inside to remove any algae etc (I use a standard kitchen sponge scourer for mine and it works a treat)
2. Clean gravel. This can be done either using a gravel hoover or a syphon which will remove your water at the same time. Cleaning your gravel takes out all the fish waste and rotting food and therefore reduces sources of ammonia in your tank. This can be done weekly or bi-weekly. Dig down into the gravel to turn it over and get all of the dirt out.
3. Change your water. The standard amount of water to change on a weekly basis is 25-30% although this will vary from tank to tank. You should never remove more than 50% of the water in your tank at a time. Replace the water removed with fresh dechlorinated water. If your water authority adds Chloramine to your water you need to make sure that your dechlorinater removes Chloramine as well as Chlorine, not all do. One which does is Nutrafin Aqua Plus. To bring the water your are putting into the tank up to temperature, use boiled water from your kettle as hot water from your tap contains metals which will harm your tank inhabitants. You can use a thermometer to check the temperatures match or judge it using your hand for a rough check.
These are very basic pointers for filter and tank maintenance, others will have a different routine and methods but this is a good starting point
I think the biorb/biube instructions about changing entire filter cartridge every month/6 weeks are misconceived as filter sponge also contains colony of bacteria needed to break down waste, not just the ceramic media. Don't waste your money and harm your fish by doing this. After 6 weeks when you are doing your weekly partial water change you can take out filter cartridge, chuck out the black and white granules (black ones are carbon which you only need if you are removing medication from the water, white ones are zeolite which help remove ammonia from the water - which bacteria should be doing when your tank is cycled), rinse sponge in old tank water and put it back in plastic holder back in biube. Just keep doing this until it is in danger of falling apart - at that stage buy a new one, cut it in half, and replace half at a time so you dont chuck all the bacteria out at once. You will need to buy a bottle of dechlorinator for the water for your partial water changes to use instead of that mysterious sachet supplied with the replacement cartridges. It is probably also a good idea to increase biological filtration by adding an extra pack of ceramic substrate too.
Soem water companies use chloramines though as well as chlorine and not all dechlorinators remove this so you need to check the bottle first or contact you local water supply to see if they use chloramine or not.
Hi Leanne, looks like you didn't cycle your tank before adding fish- don't panic though, you will just need to keep a close eye on the levels for the next couple of weeks. Have a read of this thread, it will explain about the nitrogen cycle which is important to know about- http://www.fishkeeping.co.uk/modules/ ... php?topic_id=559&forum=14 and will explain what to do for the next few weeks until your tank is fully cycled