It is very important to maintain a regular maintenance schedule for your aquarium. This must be either weekly or bi-weekly, as waste tends to build up quickly. Here are some tips for your maintenance:
Unplug all electrical accessories before placing your hands in the aquarium.
Remove any algae build up from the inside glass surface with an approved algae cleaning pad.
With a siphon, clean the waste from the bottom of the tank removing approx. 10 to 20% of the water from the tank.
Change filter media if needed, it is best not to replace all of your media at once, but alternating weeks.
Replacement water should be dechlorinated tap water, either by using aged water or by using a suitable product to remove chlorine. Water should also be the same temperature as the water in your tank (drastic temperature changes can cause stress and illness).
Never remove all the water and clean your entire tank as this will destroy your biological filtration.
It is also a good idea to test your water once a week for pH level, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Here are some basics:
It is important to maintain a stable pH level in your aquarium as your pH level should not fluctuate, this can shock the fish if there is a drastic change in this level. If you must alter the pH level in your tank, it is very important that this not be changed more than .2 a day to avoid shock.
High ammonia levels can cause ammonia poisoning, if your tests show that there is a high concentrate of ammonia in your aquarium, you must get that level down. The best way to do this is not with chemicals, but rather water changes. Ammonia can be lethal.
Nitrite is slightly less toxic than ammonia, but once again, it can be lethal to your fish. Water changes are recommended for bringing the levels down.
Nitrate is a mild toxin, but is none the less a toxin. Standard water changes are recommended to reduce these levels.
To sum it all up, regular maintenance is a must when it comes to the health of your fish. Poor water quality can lead to disease and death of your aquarium inhabitants.