Aquarium keeping is a fun and exciting hobby. However, even the most dedicated and enthusiastic beginning hobbyist can encounter common pitfalls that make aquarium keeping more challenging than it should be. Spend more time enjoying your aquarium by avoiding the following common pitfalls.
I'm new to the
hobby and find it
difficult to keep the
water clear. What
can I do?
Make sure your filter is properly sized for your aquarium and fish load. The filter unit should provide 3-stage filtration with efficient biological filtration. Also, perform media changes at regular intervals and adjust feeding to avoid excess.
1. Avoid overcompensating
Instead: Assess the situation and determine a prudent course of action. Many situations benefit from patience rather than misguided action. For example, during cycling, ammonia and nitrite levels can be all over the chart. Before attempting to "fix" the situation with chemical additives, give your system a chance to remedy itself.
2. Avoid adding too many fish too soon
Instead: Allow two to three weeks between each introduction of new fish. Also, use a biological additive with every addition. Adding too many fish too quickly taxes the biological filter. The subsequent spike in ammonia level can often result in fish loss.
3. Avoid skipping quarantine
Instead: Always house new fish in a separate quarantine aquarium for a minimum of 2 weeks for observation and treatment of potential illness. All hobbyists should quarantine new arrivals. New fish may harbor disease-causing agents that infect fish in your main aquarium.
4. Avoid neglecting water tests
Instead: Test aquarium water regularly to make sure water parameters are within acceptable levels. Many common aquarium pollutants are invisible. Regular water testing is the only accurate way to detect toxins such as ammonia or nitrite.
5. Avoid over-cleaning
Instead: Stagger water changes and perform partial gravel cleaning to preserve vital beneficial bacteria. Aggressive cleaning can upset established biological filtration by removing beneficial bacteria. An imbalance may result where ammonia levels exceed the processing capacity of the diminished bacterial population.
6. Avoid under-cleaning
Instead: Perform routine partial water changes and follow the manufacturer's recommended schedule for replacing filter media. Lax maintenance habits have a cumulative negative effect on overall water quality. Not only do pollutants accumulate to unhealthy levels, it becomes more difficult to bring aquarium conditions within acceptable parameters.
7. Avoid skipping research
Instead: Research care requirements of the species you are interested in first. Resist impulse purchases. Make sure you are able to properly provide for the species and that your aquarium is capable of supporting the new addition. Also, confirm compatibility of existing aquarium inhabitants.
8. Avoid "generic" equipment selection
Instead: Purchase equipment that satisfies the specific needs of YOUR aquarium inhabitants. Each aquarium setup is unique, so research and customize filtration, lighting, water movement, and aeration requirements. For example, aquariums housing large fish that produce excess waste benefit from a filtration system larger than the recommended rating.
9. Avoid improper nutrition
Instead: Offer a wide variety of foods, including flake foods, freeze-dried foods, and frozen foods. Avoid over-feeding by following the manufacturer's feeding instructions. Adjust feeding amount so fish are able to finish the dispensed portion within a couple minutes.
10. Avoid improper use of bottle remedies
Instead: Always read and follow the manufacturer's label completely before dispensing any medications, water conditioners, or algaecides. More does not always mean better results.