Here are few easy tips and instructions that will help you create and maintain a healthy aquarium from the start.
1. Purchase Healthy Fish - Purchase your fish from reliable sources and avoid fish that appear to be sickly.
2. Practice Population Control - When increasing a fish population, it is always best to build the number up slowly, introducing only a few fish at a time.
3. Quarantine New Fish - If you have the space and finances to do so, putting new fish in a quarantine tank is a good idea. This will allow you to observe and treat any fish that do not look well before adding them to your existing aquarium.
4. Acclimate New Fish - New fish should always be acclimated properly: 15-20 minutes in the bag in the aquarium, add 20% aquarium water to the bag, wait another 15-20 minutes, and then release fish gently.
5. Plants - If you keep live plants in your fish tank, be sure any dead leaves are removed and excess plant growth trimmed
6. Condition Water - Chlorine, chloramines and metals are damaging to aquarium inhabitants be sure to condition water properly using one of the many commercially available de-chlorinating and cycling products. Take extra care when monitoring for metals if copper is used in your plumbing.
7. Regular Tank Maintenance - It's a good idea to regularly practice tank maintenance by testing and changing the water.
8. Algae - Using an algae magnet or scraper, clean off algae from the front glass as well as decorations.
9. Practice Precaution After Any Loss of Power - Power failures will stress fish, immediately after experiencing one, check all equipment, take a temperature reading and observe the fish.
10. Regulate Lighting - Fish and plants need regular lighting; timers can be used to ensure you are not over or under lighting your aquarium. 8-10 hours a day of light is more than enough.
11. Behavior Check - Always take a few minutes to watch the fish to see if they are swimming normally. Additionally, look at their skin, looking for any sign of disease.
12. Clean the gravel - Push the gravel vacuum through the gravel. Fish waste, excess food, and other debris will be sucked into the the vacuum. If you have very small, weak, or delicate fish, you can put a never-worn stocking over the end of the syphon (but be sure the mesh is large enough to get the debris).
13. Practice Safe Medicine - If medications have been used, perform additional water changes and use carbon to remove residual traces. Test your water frequently.
14. Create a Feeding Schedule - It is best for your fish if they are feed on a regularly scheduled basis. As always, remember not to overfeed!
15. Change the filter cartridge about once a month - The carbon inside of the filter cartridge can become detrimental to your fishes' health if left unchanged. Not much beneficial bacteria lives inside the filter, most is in the gravel, so changing it will not affect the biological filtration in any way.