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There are many reasons why fish maintain their own balance, but mostly they are the result of a lack of what is called “nutrients.” Nutrient balancing in fish tanks is one of the most difficult things to master, because you have to watch for every possible nutrient deficiency and then try to make sure that your fish get everything they need. Many nutrients, especially nitrates and phosphates, are toxic to fish. If a deficiency does occur, you can lessen the effects by buffering the water, adding a substrate like peat to the bottom of the tank, or raising the water level for a while. Whatever you do, don’t add any new fish into the tank until you have fixed the nutrient imbalance. Otherwise the whole tank is ruined!
One of the most important things that a new aquarium owner needs to understand is the concept of substrate. This is simply a way to help plants like alopecia or corals flourish in your fish tank without taking up all the nutrients that these animals need to survive. Surrounding the plants with gravel or layers of rocks will prevent the plant roots from taking up all the water and leaving the gravel bars, which would starve the fish of oxygen and the nutrients they need to survive. It is also a good idea to use some floating plants in the water, since they will also help to aerate the water and keep it nutrient rich.