Aquarium maintenance is all about finding efficiencies. One simple trick I discovered is to have makeup water in a container, dechlorinated, and ready to use to top off the aquarium.
Beyond feeding the fish and cleaning glass, topping off your aquarium is the main maintenance task between water changes. It’s not nearly as critical for freshwater aquariums as it is for marine tanks, but maintaining water level is a good practice. It assures your pump/filters operate correctly and it keeps the aquarium aesthetically pleasing by minimizing the hard water creep (at the water line). Our 5 gallon Spec V nano operates without a top, so evaporation is a bit more than the stock setup (with the acrylic cover) – we need to top every few days to keep the water level consistent.
When it was time for a top off, I used to prepare the make-up water one bowl at a time – Get out a quart Tupperware, fill with water, add a few drops of dechlorinator, pour in tank to top-off, put bowl and dechlorinator away. That is too many steps and often, the hassle kept me from adding water to our aquarium when it needed it.
An Easier Way: Have Make-up Water at the Ready:
Here is an easy way to deal with make-up water for a small aquarium. Get an old gallon container with a lid – I used this one that drinking water came in.
- After your regular water change and maintenance, take the time to fill the container with water.
- Add dechlorinator (just a few drops of Seachem Prime is all that is needed) to make it aquarium safe.
- Put the container of make-up water somewhere convenient where you or others in the home can quickly get it. We keep ours in the pantry, just 20 feet from the tank.
- For a nano aquarium, a gallon of make-up water is plenty to last between water changes.
- If you are on vacation and someone is helping look after your aquarium, just keep the make-up water container right next to the aquarium so it’s easy for your caretakers.
Marine aquariums may have more stringent requirements (such as using RODI water for top-offs). However, the need for make-up water is even more critical for Saltwater tanks. Only freshwater evaporates from the saltwater in the tank, causing ever increasing salinity. Marine aquarist should stay on top replacing the evaporated water often to lessen fluctuations in salinity over time.