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Its fishy business!

To keep fish at home, maintaining a clean, hygienic aquarium is vital to your pet’s health and well-being

Its fishy business!

How often should I change water in the aquarium?

Most aquariums should be cleaned every two weeks on average. It is easier to combine cleaning and water changes by using a gravel siphon, as this also removes any dirt and waste from the bottom of the tank.

Can I add tap water directly to my aquarium?

Tap water contains chlorine and chloramines, which are added to our water supply to act as a disinfectants. They are very effective at keeping the water clean for human consumption but unfortunately fish cannot tolerate chlorine or chloramines. You need to add a dechlorinator to the water before adding it to your aquarium.

What is a biological filter and what does it do?

The biochemical function of the aquarium filter is to remove harmful substances from the water by biochemical reaction. This means that bacteria within the filter can alter a substance (for example, ammonia) to turn it into something else.

Nitrifying bacteria is responsible for removing dangerous substances called ammonia and nitrite from the water. They do this by using a small amount of oxygen to change the chemical composition of the toxic substances, and in doing so, turn them into nitrate. Nitrate is relatively harmless to fish and can be easily removed through water changes and by live plants, which use it as a food source.

Once a filter has been established in a tank for several weeks, it becomes 'mature', meaning that there is enough bacteria in the filter to cope with the amount of waste produced by fish. If a tank is overcrowded, then problems will continue to occur because the filter will not be able to cope with the large amount of waste.

In new tanks, the filter is not mature, meaning that it has not built up any bacteria. New tanks should be 'cycled', without any fish in for at least two weeks before adding fish. When adding fish, it is best to add a few at a time to allow the filter to mature gradually, otherwise the amount of waste will overwhelm the filter and as a result fish may die from ammonia or nitrite poisoning.

What causes cloudy water?

Cloudiness is usually caused by a bacterial bloom. Cloudiness is common in new aquariums. If your water is cloudy, then you should increase the aeration and make sure that the filter is working correctly.

Siphon the gravel and change a small amount of the water (20 per cent) regularly until it goes away.

Also, be sure to test the water to make sure there is not an underlying problem. Sometimes cloudiness can be caused by over feeding or by failing to remove any uneaten food.

How do I know if any fish in my aquarium is unwell?

Abnormalities on the fish's body and its behaviour are clues to know whether the fish is unwell or not .

Fish are usually active; therefore, behaviour such as floating, sinking, and hiding are often signs of a sick fish.

Another unusual behaviour is scratching against objects in the tank due to skin infections (parasite invasions). Lesions, spots, and puffiness on the fish's body point out parasitical infections or chemical irritation.

Also, if your fish is having trouble breathing, it will be gasping for air at the top of the tank, signaling unbalanced oxygen levels in the water.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to

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