Best Practices for Aquarium and Animal Exhibit Maintenance

Launching and maintaining an aquarium is no easy task. Trust us — we get it. Knowing the essentials of keeping up with the cleaning, filtering, and fish is key to having a happy tank. Your aquarium’s upkeep should be relatively simple and include regular water changes, filter service, and water testing. Whether you’re getting ready to unveil a brand new zoo exhibit or putting together a tank in your home, our team at American Sealants, Inc. (ASI) came up with a list of some of the best practices for aquarium and exhibit maintenance.


Water is what gives life to everything in the tank so having a balanced aquarium ecosystem is essential. Spending a little bit of time every week to monitor and maintain the water helps prevent problems from occurring. Besides water changes, which are one of the most important parts of routine maintenance, conducting water testing is critical. Nitrate, nitrite, pH, carbonate hardness, and salinity are vital parts of keeping the water in perfect condition. To help break it down, here are the items that require regular testing:

Nitrates — in freshwater, nitrates should remain below ten ppm (parts per million) and five ppm or lower in saltwater and reef aquariums.
Nitrites — nitrites should be undetectable except during cycling. If not, test for ammonia as well.
pH — The pH must remain stable, between 6.5-7.5 range, which is acceptable for most species. If pH is slightly out of range, this is normal.
Carbonate Hardness — KH (carbonate hardness) is a measure of pH stability.

Daily, it is essential to check that tank equipment is working correctly and the water temperature is just right. Water temperature should run between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit for tropical freshwater fish. For saltwater or reef aquariums, try to keep the temperature between 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.


Every week, counting and keeping track of the fish is essential. Smaller species tend to decompose quickly, leading to a spike in ammonia, eventually causing high nitrite levels. A rise in nitrite goes hand in hand with an increase in ammonia. Nitrite levels are critical to monitor as this chemical inhibits oxygen to the bloodstream, causing fish to suffocate. Every other week, you should change 10-15% of the water and clean the walls.


Clean and service the filter every month or more often, depending on how populated the tank is. You can think of the tank’s filter as a trash basin; once “full” or “dirty,” you must replace it. Otherwise, you will risk contaminating the ecosystem. Inspect the tubing, connections, airstones, skimmers, and other operating parts as part of a monthly routine.

No two exhibits or aquariums are the same so figure out what type of maintenance routine works for you. Your aquarium’s upkeep should be reasonably simple and include regular water changes, filter service, and water testing to get the most out of your tank. Don’t let the thought of maintenance keep you from enjoying your aquarium! From fabrication and installation to maintenance and removal, ASI provides all the services you need for a beautiful, long-lasting product, every time. Contact us today for your quote, visit our website for more information, or give us a call at (970) 523-6001.

American Sealants

ASI facilitates a legacy of impactful experiences by creating world-class water features and animal exhibits that impress and entertain for a lifetime. Our mission is resiliently fulfilled through consistent professionalism, innovative solutions, social responsibility, and unparalleled excellence.