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Water changes 

Routine water changes are absolutely essential, even if everything looks fine and the water is clear. Gradually trace elements and minerals are depleted and pollutants, such as nitrates, increase. Regular, partial water changes help to replace trace elements and dilute pollutants.

Routine maintenance - monthly water changes are essential

The amount of water changed every time varies from tank to tank, if you have large or particularly active fish you would need to change water more often than in an under-stocked well planted tank. A good general rule of thumb is to replace 25-30% of the aquarium water every four weeks. However, a more accurate way of telling if you need to carry out a water change is to test for nitrate. Nitrate levels of  50mg/l or more indicate a change is needed. Water changes are often carried out in combination with cleaning the substrate as most gravel cleaners come complete with a siphon tube.

It is neither necessary nor advisable to remove the fish whilst changing water, the less stress the fish have the better. Try to avoid big water changes, it is far better to carry out smaller changes more often, than large changes sporadically. The replacement water should be as close to, if not identical to, that already in the aquarium in terms of pH, temperature and hardness.  'Matching' the water will help to reduce the risk of any shock to the fish. Any fresh water added must be free from chlorine. Only ever use buckets or containers that are kept solely for the purpose of holding aquarium water, chemical residues can be deadly to your fish. If you pour the fresh water into the tank slowly the temperature difference will be far less noticeable, most fish are untroubled by a small drop in temperature.

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