Keeping an Aquarium Journal
Bill Petersen  

What is a aquarium journal? An aquarium journal is a journal in which records are kept about an aquarium or aquariums. The types of things logged into this journal are water tests, water parameters, water changes, and dates. Also anything that might have been changed by the hobbyist or actions of the fish that have changed. Such as, the fish is suddenly sulking at the bottom of the tank.

The journal needs to be kept up to date and frequent. This only means, if you log entries once a week, make sure to do it every week. Some hobbyist may only need to log once a week, but others may need to do it more frequently like everyday or every other day. It is recommended that beginner log entries daily for the first three weeks and every other day for the second three weeks. You especially need to log more frequently when the tank is first set up. This will help give you an idea of where your nitrogen cycle is at in the cycle and will effectively help you determine if your biological filter can handle the bio load. Furthermore, this will give you a constant eye, you could say, on the delicates of the nitrogen cycle.

The benefits of keeping an aquarium journal are great. One of these benefits is that a well-kept journal will help you diagnose problems within the aquarium. A good example would be: A hobbyist comes home to find that all of his fish are breathing heavily, but he does not know why. The hobbyist does a water test and then turns to his journal to see what has changed. This is where he can see a jump in any of the test readings. This could be something as the nitrates have risen to critical levels. The hobbyist then looks when he did his last water change. He discovers that it has been two weeks, and the cure is a partial water change. So how has this journal helped? It has given the hobbyist the information needed to solve the problem and is further going to help him schedule partial water changes in the future. In return putting more experience under his belt.

Here is another prime example of how this journal can help. Let's say Brad has come home to find all of his fish dead. Brad has no idea why they died so he does a water test. The water test shows that his ammonia has risen to very high levels. This would surely tell Brad why his fish are dead, but what is the reason for the ammonia being so high. Well lets turn to Brad's journal. We see that two days before the ammonia level was 0 ppm in Brad's tank. We also see a note that his filter had broken and was replaced with a new one. So with the information at hand it is safe to assume that Brad had broken his biological cycle when he had to replace the filter. Granted all of Brad's fish are dead, but when he buys more fish he will have more experience. He will know what to look for in the future. If Brad ever loses a filter again he will surely test his water daily and correct the ammonia problem with media and partial water changes. Brad is now a better hobbyist.

The journal is not only for beginners and intermediate hobbyist. A journal can also be an invaluable source of information for the advanced hobbyist and the advanced breeder. A good example of this would be of a breeder who has a pair of fish that have been courting (flirting) extensively without any spawning results. Since it has been tested that fish normally spawn when something changes in the water, the breeder can now start experimenting with the water parameters among other things. The breeder can now start experimenting with the water parameters amongst other things. As the breeder experiments, he logs everything he changes into the journal. When suddenly the fish spawn! Now what did he do to make the fish spawn? Well, he can look at his journal and see what change sparked the spawning. In return for logging the information, he can now effectively reproduce that change again to initiate courtship between the pair in the future. The journal has again played a part in bettering the experience of the hobbyist or breeder.

As you can see there are many reasons to keep an aquarium journal. I am sure you will find hundreds more reasons to keep a journal that I have not listed and many more reasons that I have not thought of. Really there is no reason not to keep a journal. You do the water test so take the extra two minutes or so and log down what you tested and what you did. Be sure to date the journal when you make an entry. When you have a problem that you cannot figure out you will be thanking yourself for keeping the journal. Also, when you ask for help with a problem that you cannot solve, the people at the local fish store or on the message boards will be very impressed with you and be able to help you with your problem more accurately.

Bill Petersen

The Aquarium

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