My mom has taught me many things over the years, not the least of which is the importance of having a clean house. Not just because it looks nice-but because it helps keep you from getting sick! Not surprisingly, Mom's advice translates to fish homes, too. Good fish aquarium maintenance doesn't have to be a huge time commitment-it's mainly a little elbow grease and a lot of common sense.
Here are some simple tips to keep your fish happy and healthy:
Keep the water clean. Water is a fish's air, and when it isn't clean it's very difficult for them to get the oxygen they need. A water filtration system helps keep it the water pure on a day-to-day basis, but to really ensure a good environment for your fish, change 20% of the aquarium's water twice a week.
Clean the tank monthly. Once a month, do a complete deep-clean of your aquarium. Completely replace the water, wash the gravel, change the filter and thoroughly clean every inch of the tank. Do not use soap or detergent to clean the tank-hot water works just fine and won't make your fish sick.
Check the temperature and pH regularly. Too much fluctuation in water temperature can be very stressful for fish. Make sure your aquarium is in a stable place away from A/C vents or direct sunlight. Test the pH of the water when you're doing your twice-a-week replacement, and if it's off, you can add chemicals to balance it (you can find them at your local pet store).
Watch your fish. If your fish are sick, they'll show it. Watch for patches on their scales, sliminess, clamped fins, erratic behavior...just about anything that doesn't look normal. If you have a fish you think is sick, quarantine it while you figure out what's wrong with it. There are a lot of good websites out there to help diagnose fish diseases and appropriate treatments. And of course, be sure to feed your fish regularly!
Finally, don't get suckered into buying expensive chemicals or treatments that you really don't need. The best way to keep your tank clean and well-maintained is by doing it yourself using the steps above.