Caring for an aquarium can be an incredibly fun and rewarding hobby. I know this for a fact because I’ve had aquariums most of my life. Unfortunately, learning to maintain one can be very challenging because there are a lot of misperceptions about how to maintain your tank. The most common one I see is the idea that every month you need to empty the tank and scrub it down in order to clean it. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you do that, you are actually killing all the beneficial bacteria in the aquarium and preventing it from cleaning itself. Without that bacteria, the fish will usually die in a few weeks.
It makes sense when you think about it. No one empties out the lakes and pond and cleans them. Instead, bacteria colonies are established that clean the water and make it safe for fish. For an aquarium, all you need to do is change part of the water on a regular schedule and clean off any algae that is growing on the glass. It’s a lot easier that emptying everything out and it won’t kill your fish.
If you want to learn more about this - and why it works, check out the book Sunken Gardens.
If you want to really take things to the next level and add plants to your aquarium, try these books as well:
Beginner's Guide to Freshwater and Freshwater Planted Aquariums