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Fresh Water Aquarium Care and Maintenance

Common problems and solutions

Cleaning your aquarium regularly will insure a healthy happy environment for your fish and plants.  In a few short minutes every week you can have crystal clear water, and vibrant aquatic plants and fish for years.  Cleaning will also help protect the investment you have made and make viewing your creations far more enjoyable.

Aquarium Maintenance Basics

The number one rule to a healthy happy environment for fish is clean, clear water, free from excess toxins and waste.  Fish are living creatures which produce waste like any other animal and they need to be cared for responsibly to insure their health.  In less than 5 minutes a week with our simple checklist you can have an abundant aquatic ecosystem.

Recommended Aquarium Maintenance Routine


  • Check equipment to make sure it is functioning properly.
  • Look at your aquariums overall environment.  Be sure there are no dead fish, dead plants, or drastic behavior changes in your fish.  Dead fish can lead to a spike in ammonia and nitrates which can damage fish and cause increased disease or death.
  • A well cycled tank will correct issues if they are caught in time through Fluval’s well designed 3 step filtration methods.  There is no need for immediate panic.
  • If conditions do not improve see our common problems and solutions  below.

Bi Monthly

  • Test water with a freshwater test kit for nitrate, nitrite, PH and carbonate hardness.API-Freshwater-Master-Test-Kit-0-0
  • Change approximately 10-15% of the water while vacuuming the gravel bottom to help reduce waste load on filters.  Use Fluval Water Conditioner to treat new tap water before refilling.
  • Clean walls of Aquarium with basic filter floss or other soft cloth to remove any algae build up.
  • Rinse top layer of mechanical filter to remove any large debris.


  • Replace top layer and carbon layer of filters with Fluval replacements.  Monthly replacement will make for continued crystal clear water and reduced odors and tonic build ups.  See Filters.
  • Inspect any tubing, pumps or other moving parts for proper operation.


Aquarium Common Problems and Solutions

While routine maintenance will greatly reduce problems in your aquarium, problems will occur and knowing the best way to deal with them can save time and money. Making sure to follow manufacturing instructions on all products you use in your tank will also help reduce problems.  The majority of problems are typically found in one of these three places, too much light, too much food, improper treatment of water introduced to the tank.  If uses can narrow down which one of these might be the culprit the solution might be as simple as reducing your feeding schedule and give the tank time to clear.

Freshwater Aquarium Problem #1: Algae!

  • First it’s important to realize that some algae will appear in every tank, even ones where everything is being done properly.  However, excessive algae may be a sign of a serious problem.
  • Algae needs two things to thrive.  Light and food.  
  • Remove any direct sunlight from the tank.  Also reduce light on the tank to only 2-3 hours per day.
  • Reduce daily feedings to every other day.
  • Vacuum gravel to reduce waste and uneaten food.
  • Test water to make sure levels are appropriate, and do a 10-15% water change.

Freshwater Aquarium Problem #2: Cloudy Water!!

  • Cloudy water is a broad problem that can actually be caused by all sorts of different issues.  The good news is by being consistent in your maintenance most should be easily cleared up within a day or two.
  • More than likely if you have consistent cloudy water it is the water you a using to fill your tank. The PH in your tap water is outside the recommended range and a PH balance would be helpful.  Test your PH levels and consider using RO water to replace 15%.  The RO water has a PH of 7 and will help pull the whole tank into balance.
  • Fine particle in the water from new gravel  or sand could also be causing the issue. Use Fluval Quick clear!


Freshwater Aquarium Problem #3: My Fish looks like he can’t breathe!

  • Oxygen in the tank might be too low.  Do a water change and wait 24 hours. If problem persists consider adding an airstone to the tank.

Important Reminder:

It’s important to remember that problems will arise when keeping live animals.  More often than not, replacing filters, and doing a simple water change of 10-15% with treated water will alleviate the vast majority of these problems!  It’s highly recommended to help boost your tanks natural biological filters to make sure the bacteria in Biomax is healthy by using Fluval Biological Enhancer whenever you are starting a new tank or when replacing the Biomax layer every three months.


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