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Let's face it. Most of us were busy outdoors throughout the summer. Whether it was gardening, fishing, or just taking it easy, we were not thinking about our aquariums. But now it is time to give our fish some attention. They depend on us to keep their home clean and healthy! Below, you'll find some easy clean-up tips that will get your aquarium looking good and help you keep it that way with very little effort.

Throughout the summer your aquarium kept losing water due to evaporation. Most likely you just added more water when the water level got too low. Simply "topping off" the aquarium allows pollutants and minerals to build up in the water. In nature, rains and floods flush away pollutants and keep the water fresh and clean. In the aquarium, partial water changes remove pollutants, like algae-promoting nitrate and phosphate, that build up naturally over time. Now change about 20% of the water in the aquarium, using a Big Al's Gravel Cleaner. A Big Al's Gravel Cleaner is like a vacuum cleaner for the aquarium, cleaning dirt out of the gravel bed while you're removing the water. Remember to add Big Al's Multi-Purpose Water Conditioner and Stress Zyme when you add water back to your aquarium. Big Al's Multi-Purpose Water Conditioner replenishes the protective slime coat fish need, heals torn fins, reduces stress and removes chlorine. Stress Zyme further develops the biological filter and helps clean the aquarium.

Power filters have only one moving part, the impeller. It must be clean if the filter is going to work efficiently. Take your power filter apart and inspect the impeller. If it is dirty, clean it with a small brush. If the impeller is cracked or worn, replace it. Be sure to clean the intake tube and screen. Discard the old filter cartridge and purchase a replacement. If the new filter cartridge opens up, pour in a little more Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Activated Filter Carbon or Ammo-Carb. Activated Carbon removes colours, odors and organic materials that pollute aquarium water. It will really make the aquarium water sparkle.

When was the last time you tested your aquarium water? Your fish depend on you to make sure their water is healthy and free of harmful ammonia and nitrite. Test the water for ammonia and nitrite. These harmful substances build up when the fish are overfed or if a fish death goes unnoticed. There should be no measurable ammonia or nitrite. if there is, check for over-feeding. There should never be uneaten fish food on the bottom of the aquarium. Also check the pH level. pH is the level of acidity in the water. Most fish like a pH between 6.6 and 7.6. You can adjust the pH with Proper pH powder. Proper pH adjust and holds the pH at a pre-set level of 6.5, 7.0, 7.5 or 8.2. Proper pH 7.0 is recommended for most community fish. If you have goldfish, use Proper pH 7.5. Proper pH 8.2 provides excellent conditions for African Cichlids. (Available at all Big Al's Supercentres)

In nature, fish eat a variety of plants and insects. Your aquarium fish need a variety too. Treat your fish to Big Al's Frozen Brine Shrimp or Big Al's Bloodworms several times a week. Aquarium fish like to eat a variety of Big Al's Flakes or Big Al's Pelleted foods. Try offering them Big Al's Colour Enhancing Flake Food or a vegetable pellet every so often. When fish obtain the proper vitamins and minerals they will be more colourful and more resistant to disease problems. Remember it may take several days for fish to get used to a new food. Feed lightly until your fish accept the new foods.

Having a beautiful, clean aquarium is easy. Just change a minimum of 20% of the water each month. Keep an eye on the pH, ammonia and nitrite levels. Don't over feed the fish. They'll always look hungry, but keep them on a diet. The fish will be healthier and the water cleaner if you do. While you're changing the water, be sure to replace the filter cartridge and add new activated carbon. Keep the glass clean with a Big Al's Deep Reach Algae Brush and use Algae Destroyer to prevent the growth of algae. Avoid using household cleaners on the outside of the aquarium. Use plain water on the glass. Polish the aquarium stand and aquarium light with Safe & Easy aquarium cleaner. It is completely non-toxic to aquarium fish.

By Jim Layton
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals

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