How to Spend Minimum Time on Aquarium Maintenance

Clean aquarium, clear water, green plants, and bright fish. Visitors often ask how long it takes to maintain an exhibit and how difficult is it? In fact, everything is very simple!


Many would like to have a beautiful well-kept aquarium at home, but from the outside, it often seems that this hobby requires a lot of experience, knowledge, and huge labor costs. However, this is not at all the case. The aquarium is easy! And in order to clearly demonstrate this idea, a branded exposition of Tetra aquariums with live plants was created in the “Apothecary Garden” of the Moscow State University Botanical Garden.

Visiting the exhibition, you can admire the beauty of amateur herbal aquariums ranging in volume from 30 to 100 liters, which were purposefully created without the use of sophisticated technical means. Any of them can be easily recreated at home, and even novice aquarists will not have any difficulties.

The exposition exists independently during the week. We come only once a week to clean the aquariums and fill the car feeders. We do not use balloon CO2 systems, we are not engaged in daily monitoring of water parameters and fertilization. All the necessary equipment works in automatic mode: the timer turns on and off the light, the auto-feeder pours a portion of high-quality dry food into the aquarium 1-2 times a day, which is eaten with pleasure by the fish living in it.


Our exposition in the “Pharmaceutical Garden” is an example of how a beautiful plant aquarium can be obtained with minimal maintenance. Aquariums exist for a whole week without the intervention of a specialist, only once a week we come to carry out their minimal maintenance. It should be noted that the process of caring for each individual aquarium takes only 30-40 minutes. This is exactly the time it will take for you to maintain your hobby herbal aquarium at home. Agree, this is quite a bit!

We would like to share our experience in starting and maintenance, as well as tell you about small tricks that will help you to make your aquarium beautiful and easy to maintain. And let’s start with the fact that first, you need to think about what you need to start and who will live in the aquarium.

What do we pay attention to during the planning stage so that the aquarium does not require much attention in the future?

Aquarium volume

The overwhelming majority of aquariums at our exposition have volumes of 60-100 liters. And such containers were chosen for a reason. On the one hand, it is easier to maintain the biological balance in them, on the other hand, they do not require large labor costs during changes. And the consumption of auxiliary means (water conditioners, fertilizers, etc.) in such aquariums is the most optimal. We strongly recommend that beginner aquarists pay attention to aquariums from 60 liters, they are more likely to “forgive” possible beginners’ mistakes. And do not forget that the larger the volume of the aquarium, the more diverse the community of fish and plants can be recreated in it.


Each aquarium is equipped with a filter. Volumes up to 60 liters – standard internal, 100-liter – external Tetra EX 600 Plus. The external filter provides the highest quality three-stage cleaning, keeps the water clean for a long time, and is serviced no more than once every two months (in some aquariums up to six months). Internal filters – EasyCrystal – are serviced once a month, just replace the cartridge.

The light in the aquariums is standard, no additional lighting is used. It is quite enough for most unpretentious plants. Each aquarium is equipped with a timer. It turns on and off the light at a specific time without outside interference. After starting up the aquarium, the day length should be increased gradually to avoid causing an algae outbreak. For the first month, the timers turned on the light for 6 hours a day. Now, after the plants have taken root and started growing, daylight hours are 8-10 hours.

It is recommended to feed aquarium fish every day. However, visiting the exposition every day is laborious and irrational. And this is where the Tetra MyFeeder comes to the rescue, which is able to pour dry food into the aquarium in accordance with the program set by the aquarist. In our case, aquatic inhabitants receive a portion of food 1-2 times a day. The feeder should be washed approximately once every two weeks and fresh feed should be added.


Inhabitants should be selected compatible, not spoiling plants. These can be schools of small fish such as neons or rhodostomuses, or there can be larger inhabitants – bright apistograms or majestic scalars. It is advisable to have someone to help control the algae. The best option is shrimp. In small aquariums these can be “cherries”, and in large volumes, Amano shrimp. You can also use Siamese algae eaters. It is imperative not to overpopulate the aquarium, as unnecessary inhabitants are not only stressful but also excess organic waste, which can lead to an algal outbreak.


Plants for an amateur aquarium are selected relatively unpretentious, not requiring much attention. We advise you to pay attention to Sagittaria, Vallisneria, Cryptocorynes, Anubias, from long-stemmed plants – creeping Ludwigia, Cinema hygrophila, polished hygrophila, Schisandra. Ground cover plants are quite capricious, but they take root in amateur aquariums, for example, Marsilia or the dwarf Echinodorus. You can also use mosses (Javanese, Christmas) to decorate snags. Ferns are also a good option, they retain their appearance for a long time, do not outgrow, but are more sensitive to water parameters.

Water quality

Keeping aquarium fish and aquatic plants are recommended in water with certain parameters. This is especially true for representatives of the flora. Maintaining optimal water parameters ensures active plant growth and prevention of algal outbreaks.

What parameters require regular monitoring? First of all, it is the pH value. The optimal range is 6.5-7.5. In such water, the maximum amount of dissolved carbon dioxide is in an easily assimilated form.

The second important parameter is carbonate hardness (KH). It is best if it is within 2-6 DH. Carbon dioxide and some other important elements are best absorbed by plants in water with just this parameter.

We use Tetra Test 6in1 test strips for a quick assessment of the condition of the aquarium. Thanks to them, in just a minute, you can find out six important water parameters and take measures to change them in case of deviations. For example, if the pH and KH values exceed optimal values, Tetra pH / KH Minus comes to the rescue.


At first, glance, maintaining an aquarium seems like a complicated and time-consuming procedure. In reality, 30-40 minutes a week will be enough to maintain beauty in your small corner of the underwater world. So that you can personally verify this, we invite you to visit the Tetra Gallery in the “Apothecary Garden” of the Moscow State University Botanical Garden.

This is a great way to get in touch with the living world of aquarium plants, recharge your batteries and find inspiration for your own aquarium exploits.

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