5 Jul 2012

Malawi Tank Maintenance

Contributions by Jill Brevis

Water maintenance
It doesn't matter what size tank you have. Keeping the water clean is the most important thing you can ever do.

In our hobby, there is a saying: “we are not keepers of fish, we are keepers of water.”

Water changes should be at the top of your list of jobs to carry out no matter how busy you are and should be carried out at least once per week.

As Malawi Cichlid tanks will most likely be over-stocked to minimise aggression, water changes are of paramount importance. If you don’t keep on top of them, disease and death will quickly follow. If you do them regularly and properly, the fish will be happy and you will get the best out of them, as they will display better colours and will breed prolifically.

50% water changes once per week will keep your fish healthy and happy. It will help them grow quicker and produce healthier fry. Changing your water can also kick-start breeding. So if your fish are not breeding you should be asking yourself if you need to change your water more often. You will often notice that your fish will breed after a cold water change.

Unless your water is really good (some places don't add chemicals), you will need dechlorinator to add to your water when first setting up a tank and future water changes. This eliminates the chlorine and chloramine in the water, which are harmful to the fish. There is another way of getting rid of the chlorine: to put your water in a big tub or barrel and gas it off over 24 hours. This requires time and space, and still doesn’t get rid of the chloramine still. If you want to know what chemicals are added to your water contact your local water board.

Filter maintenance
Depending on the make, size and whether you’re running an internal or an external filter will depend on how often you have to clean your filter. The best way to know when to do this is to watch the flow from the outlet of the filter. If it becomes slow it is time to clean it. What you need is at least 2 buckets that you only use for your fish tanks.

For externals, you should shut off the inlet and outlet pipes before you pull the plug to stop it running as this will make it easier to prime when you’re finished.

Open the filter and take out all the old filter floss (if you use it) and the sponges. Take out some old tank water from your tank and put it into one of your buckets. This will help you get all of the gunk out of your sponges. Wash your sponges in the old tank water and bang them on the inside of the bucket a little to help get the gunk out of the holes. Once the sponges are done, take out any other media and swill it in the old tank water. Put everything back and close the filter. Give the tank water chance to fill the filter again. Then open the inlet & outlet pipes and plug in the filter.

Treat the filter media like a fish: don’t keep them out of the tank water for too long. They harbour the bacteria that stabilises the water parameters, and so keeping these in the tank’s water to preserve them is important.

General maintenance
Apart from water changes and filter cleans, there are a few other things that you will need to do on a regular basis to get the best out of your fish and your tank. Feeding the fish is obvious, and there is a guide here for their diets.

When you do a water change, it is a good time to clean the glass, which will get dirty because of the algae. A dish scourer (used just for the fish) is best for this, gently scrubbing the inside of this. Be careful of anything like the substrate getting caught between the sponge and the glass, to prevent scratches.

Spare equipment
It is always a good idea to have spare equipment. Filters can go wrong for no reason at all. Heaters can malfunction for no reason at all. Tanks can crack or leak. So always have a back-up plan, so that you can quickly deal with any problems that may arise. 

For tips on setting up a Malawi tank, click here.
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1 comment:

  1. I want to make a careful maintenance. But I'm worry about its huge budget.