Agree with all those great answers. Just one more thing: don't overfeed the fish. If you feed them alot, they poo and pee a lot and you have to change the water more often. I give mine 2 small feeds per day.
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Depending on the fish, you may only need to feed them once a day. However, sometimes I indulge my fish and give them an extra algae wafer because some fish are excellent beggars. lol :) An air pump can be beneficial, as you can attach a filter to the air hose, to help with surplus waste. If you can, keep the tank in a well lit location, or provide it with a light. Natural light cycles should be a ten hour minimum, to allow for plant growth..unless it is already in light. :) Finally, ensure that your fish are compatible and similar in size. As seen in Darwinism, the bigger species tends to be the winner. As a sub note: make sure the water has movement at the surface, which shall effect the whole tank, and prevent algae from clogging your filter. (I prefer whisper filters, because they waterfall into the tank, and create surface movement..My fish do too.)
use a filter with "reverse osmosis" feature. See for more info: http://www.onlineaquariumstore.com/acatalog/Aquarium_Reverse_Osmosis.html
Everyone here has pretty much covered what you need: Ecosystem: Include plants. They use a lot of the 'waste' products for nutrients. Don't have too many fish for your system to handle the waste. Mechanical filtration: Under gravel, pump filter, canister filter, etc. Water changes: routinely change a chunk of the water with fresh Biological filters: Usually goes after the mechanical filter and has high surface area to support probiotic life which breaks down waste. Chemical additives: control ph, proteins, and a bajillion other water factors. Physically cleaning the glass. Yes, work is involved. The bigger the filtration system the less time between maintenance, having to clean it, etc. The bigger the water system compared to the polluters (fish, animals, etc) the less often it will get dirty to the point of needing cleaning.
The Victorians did their fresh water aquariums without bubbles or powered filters. They used a balanced system of materials, plants, and animal life (not just fish) to produce a closed system...while not so closed that it would just survive on its own, they *were able to do without filters or bubblers...kinda impressive if you ask me, and I would not be at all surprised if someone doesn't already or will start to promote the techniques they used 100 years ago as those it were just invented.
Try aquaponics, it looks promising.
I do 25% water changes weekly, vacuum the gravel thoroughly every other WC, and clean the mechanical filter media once a month (I have a 55g FW aquarium with canister filtration) Also, make sure that your aquarium is cycled properly. You can find LOTS of great information and many helpful people on AquariaCentral.
Vacuum your substrate regularly to reduce accumulated fish waste, which will reduce the nitrate buildup and unclog your undergravel filter. Also, do partial water changes frequently.
A well maintained filter a aeration system should keep the water pure for years unless you have too many fish, feed too often/ much, or some other imbalance.
. Under-gravel filter and power-heads.