How to Properly Care for an Aquarium, We Reveal the Secrets of the Master

In our article, the professional caring for the Tetra aquarium display at the Pharmaceutical Garden will share the secrets of how to maintain a beautiful aquarium with minimal effort. A properly equipped aquarium does not require much attention, but it should be maintained regularly. Every week you need to spend 30-40 minutes cleaning glass and soil, changing water, as well as caring for plants, and monitoring the main parameters of water. From time to time, it is also necessary to carry out additional procedures – to clean the filter or change the feed in the auto feeder. In between these procedures, the aquarium can exist autonomously, without the intervention of the aquarist. It remains only to enjoy the beauty of your underwater world. Let’s dwell on each item in more detail.


Cleaning the glass and lid of the aquarium

5-10 minutes

Over time, fine organic matter, food remains, and sometimes algae appear on the inner glass of the aquarium. This reduces the transparency of the glass, and the aquarium may appear unkempt. Therefore, cleaning the inside of your aquarium glass is an important part of your aquarium maintenance. To clean the glass from the inside, we use a scraper with a Tetra Tec GS 45 blade. The scraper has a movable head and easily cleans even curved glass. Thus, we get rid of algae deposits and other dirt particles that have appeared in a week. Cleaning the glasses usually takes 5-10 minutes.

Also, over time, whitish lime spots appear on the glasses and the lid, if they are relatively easy to remove from the glasses with a scraper, then in hard-to-reach places, on hoses and wires, it is sometimes quite difficult to remove them. This is where Tetra EasyWipes come in handy. They are excellent at removing limescale, while they can be used directly in the water because the napkins are absolutely safe and do not harm the inhabitants of the aquarium.

Water tests

2-5 minutes

Testing is a very important step, which allows you to quickly determine the condition of the aquarium and take action if necessary. For express assessment, we use Tetra Test 6in1 test strips. Thanks to them, in just a minute, you can find out six important parameters of water: pH, carbonate hardness (KH), total hardness (GH), the concentration of nitrites (NO2), nitrates (NO3), and chlorine (Cl).

We pay particular attention to pH and KH. It is recommended to maintain them at the level of 6.5-7.5 and 2-6, respectively. It is with such water parameters that nutrients are best absorbed by living plants.

In case of problems in the aquarium, such as algae, we use drip tests for nitrate (NO3) and phosphate (PO4). Normally, nitrates should be in the range of 12.5, and phosphates, 0.5. Departures from this ratio most often provoke the growth of unwanted guests in the aquarium.

We test the water before the change. However, if this test shows that the current water parameters are far beyond the normal range, then we do another test after the change. If the figures are still too high, then we use the drugs Tetra NitrateMinus or Tetra PhosphateMinus. In this case, a third test is done a few days later to control the rate of decline in indicators.

Soil cleaning

5-10 minutes

Aquarium Soil is a place where a large amount of organic debris accumulates. Waste fish, uneaten food, dying parts of plants – all this sinks to the bottom and begins to decompose gradually. Excessive accumulation of such compounds can lead to an imbalance in the aquarium, and in especially advanced cases, to the death of fish. Therefore it is very important to regularly clean the soil with a special siphon. In our aquariums, we use neutral soil without a nutritious substrate. Therefore, it can be siphoned, if necessary, without fear that the soil layers will mix. In places of dense planting of plants, however, we do not recommend stirring the soil, it is enough just to carefully collect the silt from the surface.

Cleaning the soil, depending on the diameter of the siphon tube and the volume of the aquarium, also takes about 5-10 minutes.

Water change

5-10 minutes

Simultaneously with cleaning the soil, we drain about 25-30% of the water and add fresh water. Usually, it is recommended to settle water – this is necessary to get rid of the chlorine contained in it. However, in addition to chlorine, there may be other toxic compounds in the water that are dangerous to fish, which cannot be removed from the water by ordinary settling. At the same time, the main danger is that the maximum permissible concentrations of these compounds for humans (according to SanPin) are incomparably higher than for aquatic inhabitants.

For high-quality water treatment, we use the Tetra AquaSafe conditioner. It binds and safely removes chlorine and heavy metals from the water and, thanks to the B vitamins, reduces stress in fish caused by water changes. In this case, there is no need to pre-settle the water, you can use fresh tap water. You just need to monitor the temperature, it should be close to the aquarium temperature – the fish do not like sudden changes in parameters. Add conditioner to a bucket of fresh water at the rate of 5 ml for every 10 liters of water to be replaced.

We also add Tetra FilterActive at the rate of 2.5 ml for every 10 liters of volume with every water change. It quickly restores the colonies of nitrifying bacteria, and also maintains the required number of heterotrophic bacteria, which actively decompose organic residues, reduce soil, and filter material contamination.

Plant care

2-5 minutes:

During the service, we look at the condition of the plants – we remove dying or damaged leaves, pull out excess, overgrown bushes. This must be done extremely carefully, since the roots of the plants are in close contact, following one bush, neighboring ones can also be pulled out. It is advisable to thin them out while the bush is young and does not have a formed root system. Long-stemmed plants, when they outgrow, can be selectively pruned and cut cuttings planted side by side. If the planting density is high, you can gently pull out the overgrown plants, cut off the bottom, and plant the top again.

Plants need feeding. We apply the following fertilizer package: Tetra PlantaMin, Tetra PlantaPro Micro, and Tetra CO2 Plus:

  • Tetra PlantaMin is a source of vital potassium and iron, and it is these deficiencies that are most often found in herbal aquariums. It is enough to make it once a month;
  • Tetra PlantaPro Micro – fertilizer with microelements for weekly application;
  • Tetra CO2 Plus is a carbon source for living plants. It is an excellent alternative to CO2 gas. Depending on the density of planting, the product is applied 1-2 times a week.

This completes the weekly care procedure. On average, an aquarium with a volume of 60-100 liters is maintained in 30-40 minutes. However, from time to time the aquarium needs extra care. It is necessary to periodically refill the auto feeder and rinse or replace the filter media. In-display aquariums, you can find two types of filters: external filters for 100-liter aquariums and internal filters for smaller volumes.

Internal filter maintenance

Tetra EasyCrystal is an innovative internal filter that comes with Tetra aquarium sets. Its key feature is the use of replaceable cartridges. Replacing them is so easy that you can crank it up without getting your hands wet. We recommend replacing the cartridges once a month. After changing the filter material, it is recommended to add Tetra FilterActive and Tetra Bactozym capsules to the aquarium. The first drug restores the culture of nitrifying bacteria and bacteria that promote the decomposition of complex organic matter, the second one creates a favorable environment for the rapid formation of new colonies of nitrifiers on a replaceable cartridge.

External filter maintenance

The external filter does not require frequent cleaning and is serviced on average once every 2-6 months. Since we have an aquarium with a small amount of fish and, therefore, waste, this period is usually close to six months. Visually, you can navigate by the intensity of the water flow from the outlet, as soon as it begins to weaken, the filter should be cleaned. At each service of the filter, be sure to replace the white fine sponge, the rest of the fillers will simply be rinsed out. Tetra FilterActive and Tetra Bactozym are used to quickly restore colonies of nitrifying bacteria.

You can learn more about maintaining an external filter in our article “How to properly maintain an external filter: step by step instructions”.

Auto feeder service

The auto feeder is serviced approximately once every two weeks, it is necessary to check the battery charge (it is displayed on the display), if necessary, wash and dry the drum and add fresh food. We do not recommend using old feed leftovers as they will oxidize over time.


Despite the fact that the maintenance of the aquarium should be regular, this business can hardly be called troublesome. In most cases, maintenance of your underwater corner will take you less than an hour a week. Agree that this is quite a bit, considering that in return you will receive a real piece of wildlife at home, which will become not only wonderful interior decoration but also an excellent means of relaxation.

But if you are still in doubt, we invite you to visit our permanent exhibition in the “Pharmaceutical Garden” of the Moscow State University Botanical Garden. You will get a unique opportunity to admire interesting compositions with living plants and get creative inspiration. All presented aquariums were purposefully launched without the use of complex technical means, so you can create and maintain similar aquariums at home without any special difficulties.

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