I have struggled over the past year to keep our Spec V maintained. Specifically, the weekly water changes have often stretched to every two, three, or even four weeks. I have seen the tank suffer at times with poor plant growth and run-away algae.
I think the big issue is the time commitment to “do it right”, which in my mind (and for our aquarium) includes: clean glass, trim all the plants that need trimming (and then fish all the clippings out), 50% water change, clean filter media and filter/pump section, wipe down glass.
Sometimes, when faced with all of that, I just get overwhelmed and lazy and decide to put it off, thus the weekly maintenance stretches to 2 weeks, then 3 weeks. . .
The thing is, there is much benefit in only performing one of the tasks in that list – the 50% water change. Water quality is very important in any aquarium and performing a 50% water change helps keep healthy fish and maintain a good water clarity. In a planted tank, it is even more important as it is integral in ‘resetting’ the accumulated fertilizers that are added as part of regular EI (Estimative Index) dosing.
It’s for this reason that when I don’t feel like I have time to do everything, I go ahead and perform only one task – the 50% water change. I leave satisfied that this one action has helped the tank greatly and delay a full maintenance session for the following week.
By alternating full maintenance weeks with a simple maintenance week, the end result is the water changes are much more regular and the tank health is better (than it would be with 2-3 weeks between water changes).
Plant Trimming Schedule – Divide and Conquer:
I further save time in plant trimming. I find that I get bogged down if I try to trim all the plants in the tank, so I have decided to try and only trim one species each week (of those that require regular maintenance). For my tank, I’m alternating rotalla, staurogyne repens, and HC (Cuba) – only trimming one of those every week. Every few months I’m pulling, thinning and replanting the Blyxa Japonica. An added advantage is that by not trimming everything, I am putting the planted system through smaller changes and thus, less shock. I think smaller changes are good and help reduce the chance of algae outbreaks. If I take a week off and only do a simple water change, I might have to tackle 2 plant types instead of just one, but I try not to do all three in a single go.
All of this I’m writing to encourage those (like myself) who struggle with time to dedicate to their aquariums – If you don’t have time to tackle it all, prioritize on what will make the biggest difference in a quick effort, which is most likely a quick water change.
Use Your Aquarium Journal to Track Maintenance:
If you are keeping an aquarium journal, use it to track the longer duration maintenance items. I even log what plants I trim and on what date so I can understand how often this is performed and predict when I will need to trim certain species again.
I can use the log to keep track of the longer term maintenance items. A good example of this is cleaning the CO2 diffuser. This is a very important maintenance item that can slip through the cracks if you don’t track. A good way to keep these long term aquarium maintenance items from being neglected is to set a calendar reminder to perform these tasks.