Fish are beautiful creatures. Providing proper fish care will keep your them happy and help them live a healthy life.
Fish are somewhat common pets, and it’s easy to see why. They are beautiful, relaxing, and easy to care for.
However, there are some fish that need special care and some unique ways you can provide fish care, such as exotic fish. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
Selecting The Right Aquarium
Before getting your first aquatic animal, you should research aquariums. Aquariums come in various sizes. Consider the type of fish you’re getting when shopping for aquariums.
The size and cost of a new tank are the two main factors in making the decision. People often underestimate what they actually need. This can cause issues down the road, so take time to get ahead.
The Size is Important
It’s best to avoid any tanks that hold less than 10 gallons of water. If it’s possible, consider going with a 20 gallon tank or larger. There’s more room for error and it will be a better choice for the long haul.
Additionally, less water allows for pH levels and temperatures to changes drastically. This can be harmful to most fish breeds.
Most pet stores and big retail stores carry miniature aquariums that hold around five gallons of water. These should be avoided altogether. While the price may seem nice, they’re a terrible choice your first aquarium.
Although smaller fish tanks may seem easier to manage, they’re not. Toxins build up rapidly in smaller volumes of water.
Good Fish Tanks Aren’t Cheap
If you’re looking to bring fish into your home, it’s best to make the jump to a quality aquarium. This won’t be cheap, but it will save you money in the future.
Be ready to shell out anywhere from $150 to $250 for a nice aquarium. Some tanks that cost more include basic equipment like fish tank filters.
If this is out of your budget, saving up for a while might be a wise choice. Save yourself a hassle.
Avoid Overstocking Your Aquarium
Don’t get carried away with too many fish or accessories in your tank at once. Ammonia and nitrites build up if you have too many fish in your tank.
You can combat this by adding live aquatic plants. However, live plants have their own requirements. They need certain lighting to stay alive. Finding the right balance for this is a task in itself, but it can help greatly with caring for your fish.
Like with too many fish, too many accessories can leave your aquatic friends fighting for space. Use your best judgement to determine the right amount of plants and obstacles.
Setting Up The Aquarium
Now that you’ve purchased your aquarium, it’s time to get it setup and prepared for your new fish. If you don’t have a quality aquarium stand for your tank yet, you need to purchase one.
You’ll want to position your tank away from direct sunlight. This helps avoid algae growth.
You should also put your tank in a room or area away from excessive noise and foot traffic. This makes the environment for your fish more peaceful.
Don’t smoke in the same room as your aquarium as it damages the air quality. Additionally, be mindful of other pets that may try jumping on your tank.
Remember that you will need to plug in some devices such as lighting and filtration systems, so place your tank within reach of an electrical outlet.
Heating and Filtration System
Most fish breeds require the water temperature to be between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Some breeds are an exception to this, however, as they prefer colder water.
A fish tank heater allows you to regulate and maintain the necessary temperature. Some heaters go under the substrate you add to the tank, while others hang on the side. Follow the instructions closely when installing the heater.
The filtration system is essential for fish care. It removes pollutants and keeps the water clean. There are three types of filters for fish tanks.
Mechanical filters catch debris in traps that you empty periodically. These are pretty basic and simple, making them ideal for beginners.
Chemical filters absorb pollutants with activated carbon, and biological filters balance the chemicals in the water by using active bacteria.
Some filters hang on your tank, while others are placed underneath the gravel. Canister filters go inside the tank.
Add Substrate and Accessories
Now it’s time to start adding in a substrate, which is the sand, rock, or gravel at the bottom of the tank. Whichever substrate you choose, you should have one pound for each gallon of water.
Thoroughly rinse the substrate before placing it in the tank to remove any dust or potentially harmful particles. After this, gently place the substrate in the bottom of your aquarium.
Start adding a few decorations to give your fish a sense of its natural habitat. Decorative rocks and driftwood are good choices. They give your fish a place to hide and feel safe.
Avoid overcrowding by only using one large decorative piece. Place larger or taller decorations towards the rear of the rank to balance the decorations.
While many people prefer fake plants as they’re easier to clean, live plants are a great choice. Adding live plants is beneficial as they increase oxygen levels, remove nitrates in the water, and create a more natural look.
If you go with live plants, you need to consider their lighting needs as they may differ. Some require 10 hours of lighting minimum per day.
Java grass, java fern, and amazon sword are a few among many live plants great for beginner fish tanks.
Whether you choose real or fake plants, make sure they’re secured by the substrate so they don’t move much.
Before you place any decorations or plants in the tank, you should wash them off thoroughly. Additionally, inspect them for sharp edges or anything else that can harm your fish.
Adding the Water
The time has come to start filling the tank with water. A great way to have optimal water conditions is setting water aside in buckets and treating it before putting it in the tank.
Fill buckets with enough water to fill your aquarium. Use a de-chlorinating treatment on the water until it does its job. Follow the directions provided on the package. Once the water is ready, pour it gently into the tank.
After the tank is full, get some brown beneficial bacteria growing on the filter media. Do this by putting some fish food in the water.
Test the water qualities. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0ppm, and nitrates should be under 20ppm.
This entire process usually takes about six weeks, but it can be sped up slightly by adding beneficial bacteria. You can also add a used filter media.
Once the water is ready, you can get your fish acclimated to the tank.
Choosing Your Fish to Care For
When selecting the fish you want, consider if you want freshwater or saltwater fish. Each have their own special requirements for the water in the aquarium. You want to find the right fish for you.
Freshwater fish are a popular choice. They’re great for first time owners. They don’t require as much maintenance and usually have fewer health problems in their new environment.
Saltwater fish are beautiful. However, they require saltwater aquariums which is a task in itself to manage. Additionally, the fish themselves require move maintenance than freshwater fish.
Going with a small breed is ideal to get you started. Zerba danios, neon tetras, and livebearers are a few good choices.
You should get at least five smaller fish at a time, if you choose to go with the smaller breeds. All fish feel safe with companions, especially schooling fish that swim together.
Choosing Companion Fish
Picking the companion fish isn’t as easy as going for the ones that look the prettiest. Their behaviors and natural instincts need to be taken into account.
Why is this important? If you mix an aggressive fish with a passive breed, the aggressive fish will usually attack the passive fish.
So either get all aggressive or all passive fish. Don’t mix them in together.
Where To Buy The Fish
Once you’ve settled on the type of fish and breed, it’s time to buy. You’ll want to go to a reputable store to get your new aquatic friend.
Pet stores have fish on display so you can see what you’re buying before you make the deal official. If your fish dies before a certain date, many stores offer refunds or a replacement. You can also grab items needed to care for your fish while there.
While there is an option to buy fish online, you lose those benefits of buying in a store. If you choose to buy online, however, make sure your have clear contact with the seller.
After you receive your fish, whether from in store or online, inspect their health and overall well being. A healthy fish will actively swim around. The scales should be intact and have no scratches.
Acclimating Your New Fish
As you purchase new fish, they need to adjust to the water. Dumping them straight into the tank can cause shock and even death.
Float the bag your new fish are in for about 15 minutes. Scoop about a fourth of a cup of water from the tank. Add it into the bag, reseal it, and let it sit for five more minutes.
After time’s up, tip the bag gently into the water and release your fish into your tank.
Some breeds require drip acclimation which requires a siphon device and some method to regulate the amount water entering the container. Two to four drips of water from the aquarium are added per second.
General Aquarium and Fish Care
Your fish are swimming and enjoying themselves in their new home. The hardest parts are over.
Now it’s time to care for your new aquatic friends like you would with any other pet.
A pinch of food twice a day is usually a sufficient way to feed fish. However, your veterinarian or the pet store can advise you on the best amount. Otherwise, you can feed each fish an equal amount.
If you notice food in the tank after 30 minutes of feeding, you should cut back on the food. This excess food can lead to clogged filters, spikes in ammonia and nitrite, and algae growth.
It’s important to feed the right type of food. Some bottom feeders require sinking pellets, although most fish eat the classic flakes or freeze-dried foods.
Maintain the Water
Managing the water is a very important step in your fish care routine. Poorly managed water can cause your fish to have severe health problems or possibly even die.
The pH levels should be tested weekly. Grab a water testing kit and measure the pH in the water. The acceptable levels range from 6.6 to 8.
You can fix a low pH by adding crushed coral to the filter. High pH can be fixed by adding peat moss to the filter, or put driftwood in the rank. The water may turn a yellow tint by doing this, but your fish will be safe.
Once a week, you should partially change the water. Saltwater tanks need to be cleaned multiple times per week. .
Freshwater tank owners should change about 20% to 30% of the water. This can be done with a suction wand to remove water while also removing debris from the substrate.
After removing the necessary amount of water, replace it with freshly treated water. To get the treated water, repeat the same process you did when you initially filled your aquarium.
Clean the Filter
Check your filter media. If it’s close to overflowing, it needs to be cleaned out. If it’s left in the water for too long, it can become clogged.
You need to completely remove many filters to replace them with new ones. It is possible in some cases to use old tank water to rinse the first filter media. Check the directions for your specific filter.
Only clean the first filter media though, as cleaning all of it will cause your nitrite and ammonia levels to spike. Your filters have useful bacteria needed to combat those levels.
Treat Unhealthy Fish
Spectate your fish often to ensure their color is healthy and they’re actively swimming. They should be breathing normally and not struggling. Look at their scales closely to ensure spotting and flaking aren’t occurring.
If you notice any signs of illness in one of your fish, isolate it in a separate tank and monitor them. Contact your veterinarian for medication advice. Only add medication as needed, never as a preventative measure.
If a fish has unfortunately died, remove them immediately.
Overall, you should treat your fish with care just as you would any other pet.
Take care of them. Help them live a healthy, happy life.