Welcome to Fishkeeping Tips
Ongoing list of useful gems about tropical freshwater community fishkeeping.
Stumblers please thumbs up.
In no particular order:
- Water Quality
- Feeding Tips
- Water Change
- Cleaning Tips
- Which Species?
- Fish Tank Size
- How Many Fish?
- Filter Types
- Filter Cleaning
- Water Acidity
- Temperature/ heaters
- Good Community
- Aquarium Internal Furniture
- Aquarium External Furniture, Electrics and Fittings
- Sex (gender) of Fish
- Fins Info
- Lighting Guidelines
- Moving House
- Bagging Fish Properly
- Introducing New Fish
- Cleaning Glass
- Aquarium Position
- Lifespan of Fish
- Going Away on Holiday
- General Ongoing Maintenance
- Electrical Safety
- Dead Body Disposal
water quality is an essential aspect of fishkeeping. Broadly speaking,
if you have a good community and you look after the water quality, the
fish will look after themselves. See other topics below for further tips
about maintaining good water quality.
- Regular cleaning
- Good filtration
- Not over-feeding
- Minimum dead space
- Not having too many fish
- No dead/decaying plants
Do not overfeed your fish.
are cold blooded and as such they only need food for energy and health.
They do not needs huge amounts of food to heat their bodies like us.
Your aquarium heater does that.
Overfeeding is a common mistake and leads to unhealthy fish in dirty aquariums.
I recommend feeding daily and have one day a week where you don't feed them at all.
If your fish are hungry at feeding time and visibly excited, this is a good sign that you have healthy fish.
and give them a bit of variety in their diet. Buy them a few different
food types and mix it up. Over the course of a week, I recommend 5 days
of various dry foods, 1 day of frozen or live food. The dry foods are
packed with nutrients, but live food and frozen live food are a great
source of protein and they love it.
It is not good to give too much
live/ frozen food as it makes a mess and dirties the tank and doesn't
contain good balanced nutritional content.
The instructions on
fishfood packets usually says to give them as much as they will eat in a
few minutes several times a day. I believe this is wrong! Fish will eat
an enormous amount in a few minutes and feeding this much will lead to
dirty aquariums and unhealthy bloated fish. The manufacturors of food
clearly have a vested interest in you using more food. Once a day as
much as they eat in one minute will usually be fine.
like small amounts blanched lettuce or spinach or pieces of cucumber. Do
not leave these in the tank though. Remove the remains after 1 hour.
may well need to use different types of food for different fish. For
example your bottom dwelling catfish will not feed on flake. It can be
hard to get the right food to the right fish. I recommend using the
following tactic. Feed bottom dwellers first and let their pellets or
wafers sink to the bottom. Delivery through a piece of filter tube to
the bottom can be useful to stop your fiesty middle dwellers stealing it
before it reaches the bottom.
Next very quickly feed the middle top dwellers, to distract them from stealing the bottom dwellers food.
on your fish, you may need to device other tactics to get the right
food to the right fish. It can be funny to watch, but if middle dwelling
fish get hold of catfish wafers a game of fishtank rugby often ensues.
of frozen live food are best delivered by half filling a glass with
tank water, dropping in the food blocks and leaving for 10 minutes to
thaw. Give it a stir to break up all the bloodworm, brineshrimp or
whatever and then poor into the tank. The act of filling a glass in the
tank sends my fish into a frenzy of excitement. Water Change
Water changes are essential to healthy aquariums. I recommend at least 10-15% of the water every 10 days.
recommend cleaning the algae off the glass up to a day before you do
the water change. This gives a great polished clean aquarium the day
after the water change. Water change is also vital to replenish
electrolytes and other important elements in the water which the fish
need for good health.
Water change may seem like a chore, but it
needn't take more than 30mins. This amounts to roughly 1/300th of your
waking hours which is not much to have a beautiful aquarium in your
home. Combine the water change with a cleanout at the same time, see 'Cleaning Tips
Water can be replaced very carefully by bucket.
easiest/ most painless method I think is using a clean hose from your
cold water tap. The hose must have only ever been used for this purpose.
Buy a cheap hosepipe specifically for your fishtank water changes. I
also run the hose through a nitrate/phosphate filter (Nitragon). This is
not entirely necessary, depending on the quality of your water supply.
Make sure to use a commercial dechlorinator solution.
Buy the most economical available.
from being stressful, I find that healthy settled fish are usually very
interested and playful when you clean/ change the tank water. If you
have any fish that hide away abnormally, make a note as this can be an
early sign of stress or illness. Cleaning Tips
is essential to keep your aquarium clean. This includes water, all of
the dead spaces where water does not flow freely, filters, gravel or
substrate, algae removal and within/ around the leaves of plants. Some
of these topics have sections of their own below.
You will need a
good quality suction, syphon device. This will be the best 20 bucks you
spend on your tank. Use this to suck water through the gravel or
dirtiest parts of your tank. If you have ornaments, bog wood, fish
hideaways or other internal furniture, move these and clean around where
they have been. These spots are usually the muckiest in the tank as
dirt and poo can lodge there and build up due to lack of water flow.
you do not want to disturb your fish too much for example a catfish in a
tube or hideaway, make sure that these items sit on the bottom glass of
the tank, to minimise the muck underneath. Clean as best as you can
Try to avoid big movements, be gentle and flowing
with your work so as not to scare the fish, but by and large I find that
happy fish enjoy water changes.
Don't waste your dirty fish tank
water. House plants, garden vegetables etc love this stuff. It is
perfect fertilising water for any plants.
Make sure not to get
any oil, detergents or soap products anywhere near the fishtank water as
these are all very bad for fish health. Which Species?
the correct species is the single most important aspect of fishkeeping.
You will not have healthy happy fish if they don't get on with each
other in the space they have.
This is obviously a bigger topic than I can write here, but a few general guidelines are as follows:
Balance your fish across the top/middle/bottom levels of your tank.
feeders generally can be territorial, so limit these fish. In tanks
less than 4feet, one catfish or Loach may often be enough.
Small-medium sized middle/ top feeders often like company. Try and keep small schools of these fish together.
you have large middle feeders like Oscars, Discus, Angels let them have
the whole tank strata to themselves unless you have a large tank.Do not overpopulate...period.
single most common mistake is to buy too many fish. This will always
result in premature death. Buy fish that you really like and give them
space to live happily. See 'How Many Fish' below. Be mindful that most
fish should live more than 5 years (some much more). Only tiny fish such
as Danios and Tetra live less at perhaps 3 years.
Be aware of
the nature/ requirements of any species you buy, before you buy them.
They may look really pretty but have really bad attitude problems once
mixed with the wrong company. If in doubt, ask the shop staff or consult
reference books. If the advice is to not get them, don't get them.
not mix Siamese Fighter fish with any other fish (inclucing other
Siamese fighters) except perhaps a bottom dwelling catfish or tiny
tetra. None..Never..or they will die. Fish Tank Size
the biggest tank that you can afford or fit in your home (within
reason). It is possible to get great bargains on the second hand market.
Never buy a tank with fish included unless you specifically want these
fish (See 'Moving House
It may seem counter
intuitive, but it is actually much easier to keep a bigger aquarium
than a small one. The ideal starting size is a 4 foot tank, not a 1 foot
If you only have space for or only want a small tank, you
will find that your cleaning regime will be tougher to maintain and the
number of fish will be far fewer. Cramming fish into a small tank is bad
form and will lead to deaths.
I recommend the very minimum tank size of 2 foot wide (60cm) or 60 litres volume.
How Many Fish?
||Obviously tanks can be different proportions, the important factors are
total volume of water and area of surface water, as this dictates how
much oxygen can get into the water. It is harder to get oxygen to the
bottom of a tall tank, so you will need to improve water circulation and
airation in higher tanks. In general stick to standard proportions. I
recommend 4' x 12" x 18" (120cm x 30cm x 45cm) as a basic size tank.
With a depth increase to 18" or 45cm being a big bonus for you and your
Make sure that your floor can support the weight of water.
Fish tanks are very heavy. Make sure that you have a very sturdy or
purpose built base.
Do not try and move a tank with water in it.
you do buy a second hand fish tank, make sure the silicone seals are in
good condition. It may be worth thoroughly cleaning and resealing them
yourself before you fill with water. This is easily done as sealant is
widely available. Aquarium sealant is magic stuff and is always useful
around the house for all sorts of non aquarium related DIY jobs. It
literally sticks anything to anything forever.
When it comes to fish numbers, less is always more.
Never cram a tank full of fish.
Always think through any fish purchase with care before hand and don't buy fish (or any animal) on a whim.
say a puppy is for life not just for xmas and this also applies to
fish. Especially since fish may outlive any cat, dog or horse. I have a
catfish that is still going strong after 18 years.
guide to fish numbers is a ratio of fishtank surface area (length x
width) divided by total fish length (not including tail fins). You
should aim to have no more than 2.5cm (1") of fish length for every 70cm2
of tank surface area.
This guide is based on the amount of oxygen in the water rather than fish comfort.
recommend understocking your tank. If you give your fish space to swim,
their personalities and colours will come out and everyone will be
An understocked tank will keep cleaner and clearer and will require less maintenance.
Keep a bottom dweller, one or two schools of middle dwellers and a school of little top feeders.
Keep a bottom dweller, one or a few bigger middle dwellers (depending on species) and a school or two of top feeders.
Provide folliage and features for fish to swim and hide behind and make sure the tank is well filtered and airated.
can be done either by strong water flow from filter outputs or using an
air pump. If you are using the gravel as a filter media, an air pump is
essential anyway, otherwise a carefully stocked and well filtered tank
should be fine without an air pump. Disease
In a well kept aquarium, fish should never get disease.
is nearly always caused by poor water quality. Be aware than even if
the water seems clear, the nitrate and Phosphate levels may still be
If you stick to the guidelines on this page
about care and maintenance, you will always have good water quality and
disease free fish.
Never let diseased fish into your tank. Be
vigilant about the health of the fish that you purchase. If the aquarium
shop has poor fish tank hygiene, don't shop there. If you see an
unhealthy fish go into your bag when you purchase, ask for it to be
replaced. If a tank has a dead fish in it, do not buy any fish from this
Stressed animals get ill, just like you and me. If water
quality is low, or a fish is being bullied it may well get ill. If a
fish gets ill, it can then pass this on to other fish.
Prevention is always better than cure. Keep your tank in good order and the fish will stay healthy.
is perfectly possible for a fish that you have kept for years to get
ill, even if no external disease has been introduced. This may be due to
stress which reduces immunity and symptoms may arrise.
example of this is hole in the head disease in Cichlids. These fish all
have the bacteria all the time, but symptoms only arrise if the fish is
Good filtration is essential to a healthy fish tank. There are many types of filtration, see 'Filter Types
Most filters use bacterial cultures to convert toxic ammonia and nitrites into less toxic nitrates.
The bacterial collonies work in combination with mechanical filter media that physically break down and trap dirt.
recommend using two types of filtration in every tank, but don't use
two of the same type as these can get into weird bacterial phases where
they kill each other off.
In my experience a high quality
external filter for deep bacterial filtration used in conjunction with a
smaller internal filter for water clarity is the perfect combination.
This also has the added advantage that when you clean one, the other
will seed the newly cleaned one with 'friendly' bacteria.
advisable to position one of your filter outlets above the heater, so
that the temperature of water is spread evenly around the tank.
Filters have different cleaning requirements, see below.
Also be aware that as the filters clog with dirt between cleaning, the
output flow will slow dramatically. This is not necessarily an indicator
that the filter is not working, as the water spends longer with the
bacteria and thus gets cleaned more effectively, but it may reduce the
water flow in your tank which has a knock on effect on fish exercise and oxygen levels. Filter Types Gravel filtration
If you want to have a thick gravel layer, I recommend setting up a
gravel filter underneath it. Gravel holds a huge amount of dirt and if
not used as part of a filtration system, it will over time probably
render the tank unuseable.
Use a syphon cleaner regularly to
clean the gravel, but unless a gravel filter is installed, don't put
more than half a cm of gravel into the tank. A thin layer can be cleaned
effectively, any more becomes unsustainable.External filters
filters are the bread and butter of filtration. I recommend a good
external filter for every tank. Inside the filter, you should use a
layer of wide bore ceramic mechanical substrate to trap dirt, followed
by a load of sponge to house your bacterial colony and then some filter
wool to extract the last particles of dirt and give the water a shine. I
also recommend using the baked ceramic filter media alongside your
sponge layer. These have huge amounts of tiny holes in them and are
perfect for dense bacterial colonies. This media is quite expensive, but
If the output of the filter is too powerful for the
fish, get a longer outlet pipe, with multiple little holes to spread the
The filter output is a good way to simulate natural water
flow in your tank and the fish like this, but if it's too powerful, it
will stress the fish out.Internal filters
simple, small internal filter is invaluable for keeping your water
clear. They mostly use sponge and add extra water flow and boost
your tap water is of a low quality, you may want to use a nitrate
filter to pre-clean your tap water before putting it into the tank.
These work by ION exchange. Far from essential, these are good if your
water supply has a high nitrate or phosphate level, or you are keeping
sensitive fish such as discus. Filter Cleaning
cleaning is a necessary evil of keeping fish. It is essential to keep
your filters in good working order and this requires ocassional
cleaning. Second only to moving house, filter cleaning is the biggest
chore of fishkeeping.
You will need to get your hands dirty, but
despite the look of the black filth that comes out, they are not too
toxic or smelly. Make sure to clean your hands and arms afterwards
though. Internal filters
easy to clean. Syphon 2/3rds of a bucket of water. Switch off the unit,
remove and clean the sponge elements in your fish tank water and
replace. Make sure to clean your internal filters at least once a month
or one in three times that you do a water change. You do not need to
worry too much about killing off the filter bacteria if you have another
filter running, as these will easily repopulate. Also their purpose is
as much for 'skimming' the water clean as for bacterial effect.External filters
are, I can't lie, always a bit of a pig to clean, but luckily they do
not need to be cleaned too regularly. Once per year is often OK, as long
as there is still some flow through. If they stop working, you will
also need to go through the following routine to replace parts or fix
It is common for external filters to initiate a
reverse syphon as soon as you switch them off, so some care is needed,
so as not to flood your room.
Buy an external filter with flow
switches/ valves, so that you can closed the in/outputs at the same time
as switching off. This will also hopefully keep some water in the pipes
so that the syphon will continue straight away when you turn them on
Fill a bucket with fish tank water, as you do not want to
clean the sponges and bacterial filter media with tap water as the
chlorine and cold will kill off all the bacteria. You may need several
buckets of water in all to clean it out as the amount of muck that comes
out is extraordinary. The contents of a well used external filter could
turn a swimming pool black.
Place your filter in a bath or other
large basin before opening. Clean the filter wool/floss in normal cold
water until it's original colour returns.
Clean the sponges and other bacterial filter media in the fish tank water until their original colour returns.
all the media is clean, place it back in the container. You may want to
replace any elements which have worn away, decayed or dissintegrated.
Also take a moment to inspect the rubber seal as these can deteriorate
Before putting the lid back on, fill the filter up to
the top with fish tank water and then place the lid on. This should
spill some water. This way, you know that it is as full as it can be.
the filter under the tank or where it is housed and connect the pipes.
When you are ready, take a deep breath and turn the power on. Very
quickly then switch the in/out open pipes together to allow the flow to
start again. All being well the filter should start to syphon correctly
with a flurry of bubbles into the tank. If it doesn't work, close the
valves and switch off again. You will need to refill the filter and the
pipes with water and try again.
Once you get it going again,
every couple of minutes lightly rock the filter to release any trapped
air bubbles. If left, these can collect in the filter and stop the flow. Plants
Plants provide shelter and home to your fish, they add visual effect and generally enhance your aquarium.
you have a passion for living aquatic plants then I thoroughly
recommend keeping freshwater plants in your tank. If you don't then I
recommend using only plastic plants.
It is actually quite hard to keep aquatic plants well unless you have very bright lighting and good consistent CO2
levels. Most freshwater species of fish do not really appreciate very
bright lights and they lead to lots of algae, so all in all I think it
is usually better to use plastic alternatives.
Plants are prone to decaying inside the tank. Dead leaves can make a mess of your valued water quality.
There is quite an art to keeping real aquatic plants and it is beyond the scope of this article.Plastic plants
The fish do not care if the plants are plastic.
New plastic plants often look a bit lurid, but with time, they cover in a thin layer of algae and look more authentic.
It is advisable to regularly clean your plastic plants as they can house a lot of muck.
little trick is to remove them and clean them under tap water. Leave
them out of the tank for a few days to a week until they are dry and
then replace them.
You will probably find (depending on fish
species) that after a couple of days they appear almost brand new again.
This is because the fish like to eat the dry algae off them. Water Acidity
the world the acidity of freshwater bodies varies and as such different
fish require subtly different pH levels. Amazon river fish such as
discus and angels are used to slightly soft water due to the amount of
folliage in the river. On the other hand African rift valley fish such
as cichlids are used to slightly harder water due to the amount of
course limey rocks which are breaking down into the water.
aware before you buy any fish if they have a specific pH requirement. In
truth, most general fish that you buy will be OK in standard tap water
and adjusting pH levels is not something I would recommend unless you
are an experienced fishkeeper.
In general stick to fish that have no specific requirements, but check first. Temperature/ heaters
Anywhere between 24-28o
will be fine for most freshwater fish. Some freshwater fish are better
at handling temperature changes than others. Some
catfish/guppies/mollies/danios can survive fine in colder water.
Gouramis suffer greatly in water over 28o
Buy a good quality heater and replace it every 2-3 years. If you get a layer of lime on the heater, make sure to clean this off.
you need to remove the heater from the tank, turn it off and leave it
to stand for 20mins before taking it out of the tank to allow it to cool
down and not crack or damage.
Strangely I have always found that
my fish really enjoy the cold water and bubbles in any colder water
that I put into the tank. Obviously there is a limit though and the
'global' temperature of the tank should not drop below 240
a note, some species of fish can be triggered to breed by lowering the
water level of the tank over a period of 1-2 weeks and then putting in
slightly colder water afterwards. This simulates the seasonal flow of
water in rivers (particularly the Amazon) which is when these fish would
breed in the wild. Good Community
See 'Which Species
' above. Aquarium Internal Furniture
putting too many items into your tank. It is important to provide
appropriate home for your different species, but any object that you put
in will collect muck underneath and around it. It must be possible to
move and clean around anything that you place in the tank. See 'Cleaning Tips
' section above. Aquarium External Furniture, Electrics and Fittings
sure that your tank is placed on a very strong and secure base. Ideally
use a stand that is purpose built for aquariums. I recommend buying the
nicest looking unit you can afford, since you have to live with it and
once the tank is set up, it is very hard/ impossible to replace. A unit
with cupboards is ideal as you will innevitably have tools, nets and
bits and bobs that are best hidden.
I recommend placing the whole
unit and tank on a tough rug, so as not to damage the flor/ carpet and
also to absorb any spillages.
Make sure that all the electrical
fittings are positioned away from possible leakage. It is a very good
idea to loop all cables running near the tank so that the lowest point
is a loop below the plug sockets. This way any drips will fall to the
floor and not run down into your plugs.
Make sure that over time dust doesn't build up near light starter units and other electrical elements.
Your aquarium will be a permanent fixture in your room and should be a clean bright proud showpiece. Breeding
Breeding is, for the minute at least, beyond the scope of this article.Sex (gender) of Fish
species of fish vary as regards to how to sex them. Some species are
clearly obvious such as guppies, rainbow fish and some cichlids where
they look clearly different with males showing fancy colouring and tail
fins. Other species, like some catfish cannot be sexed without
dissecting the fish and studying their tiny inner ear bone.
also possible for fish to change sex in some species over their
lifetime or in response to chemical or environmental pressures. The use
of suntan lotion in the mediteranean Sea for example is having this
affect on many species. Fins Info Lighting Guidelines
If you keep live plants, the guidelines are different.
general, in a tank without live plants you should have medium bright
lighting with shaded areas in the tank for fish to escape the light.
Too much light will create algal blooms. See 'Algae' below.
For most freshwater community tanks, a single flourescent
strip will suffice and you should replace this every 1-2 years as the spectral colour balance fails.
is your choice what 'colour' lights you buy. They range from near UV to
very green and this can have a big impact on the look of the tank. It
is always very weird when you replace a flourescent strip as it will
seem wrong for a few days. It's a bit like the sensation of a new
toothpaste which seems weird the first few times you use it.
Some people like to have a couple of hours of moonlight in the evening with a second blue (moonlight bulb) for effect.
not keep the lights on too much and make sure to set up a timer.
somewhere between 7-10 hours a day is fine. Set it to be on when you are
most likely to be able to enjoy the tank, in the evening perhaps. If
you are most active in the room when the lights are off, this may also
stress the fish.
Other lighting types most commonly used for marine aquariums are hallogen
and metal hallide
. These are much brighter and in general not suitable for freshwater tanks without live plants.
It is now possible to buy LED lighting
which uses a lot less electricity. These units are currently quite
expensive, but I predict that these will rise in poularity and drop in
price over coming years. Moving House
This is a biggie!
Moving house is a stress at the best of times, but having to move a fishtank on the same day can be a nightmare.
However, there are certain tricks to make this less stressful.
Firstly, I am a massive advocate of giving your fish a new house at the same time.
advance of your move, buy a new fish tank. It is a good idea to change
the fish tank every few years anyway, so this is the perfect
Having two tanks makes everything much easier for
both you and your fish. Next thing is to arrange a crossover of 1-5 days
between houses. This may or may not be possible, but even if you have
to do it in a day you can now set up the new tank in your new home ready
to transfer the fish across.
Set up the new tank in your new
home first as early as possible (a week is good if possible). Make sure
to take as much water as you can from the old tank. I have a plastic
catering grade wine fermenting barrel for this purpose which holds a
number of gallons. This will introduce some of the filter bacteria to
the new tank and some familiar water balance for the fish. You can
collect this water over a period of weeks before the move if you like.
up the new tank in your new home to nearly, but not quite full and turn
on your heaters. If you have a spare heater, put that in as well to get
the temperature up as quickly as possible if necessary. I recommend
keeping your old filters running when they arrive at the new house as
these will be primed and will work straight away. Now is not the time to
change filters. Be aware that without flow of water/oxygen the filter
bacteria will start to die off after a number of hours.
large dose of dechlorinator and aloe remedy to the tank. Biological
filter booster syrum is also recommended to kick start the filters
again. The fish will be stressed and will dirty the tank quickly on
The aim is to get the new tank as close as possible to the condiions of the old one (temperature, water quality).
With the new tank set up, you can simply transport the fish in bags (see 'bagging
below) and slowly introduce them into their new home. This will also
introduce some more of the old fishtank water and fill the tank to the
It only remains then to add any of the plants and bits from the old tank.
You can now dismantle the old tank and sell it on. Keep all the best bits of gear from the two tanks and sell the weakest. Bagging Fish Properly
If you need to transport fish, good bagging practice is essential.
Get some elastic bands ready and bags big enough to house the fish comfortably.
It is important to fill the bag 1/3 - 1/2 full of water. There must be enough oxygen in the bag or the fish will suffocate.
the bag on the fish tank water and net the fish by species. I find it
best to catch mid sized fish first as they can be the hardest to catch
and will get increasingly stressed and jumpy as more fish are removed.
Two nets can be better than one. The object is to cause the least amount
of stress possible.
Once you have a fish in the net, cup your
hands around the net and fish, quickly lift the net out of the water and
put it into the bag then uncup your hand to release the fish into the
Large fish should go 1 per bag. Mid size 3-4 per bag and small up to 10.
catch the small fish and finally the largest. Big fish can put up a
struggle, but their size betrays them and you can usually get them OK.
had quite a struggle with a school of barbs once when moving house,
eventually catching them all followed by all the others. I then put a
larger net into the water to catch my sizeable catfish. I was amazed
when after watching all this, he deliberately swam straight into the
net. It was the third time I had moved him over 10 years, but I was
Twist a good portion of the top of the bag, loop this
over then wrap a couple of elastic bands tightly around this to seal
It is a good idea to insulate the bags with polystyrene.
If you ask nicely in your aquarium store, they may be able to give one
one or two of the polystyrene boxes that they use for shipping fish.
These are great, as they keep the fish in the dark (which is important)
and well insulated.
Transport the fish to their new home as quickly as posible. Introducing New Fish
Introducing fish to a new tank is simple.
recommend turning the aquarium lights off and floating the fish bags on
the surface to allow them to warm up to the same temperature as the
Turning the lights off subdues all the fish and stops too
much unwanted interest from the existing inhabitants (if there are any).
You may want to leave them off for the rest of the day.
undo the elastic band ties to let air in and drape the top of the bags
over the side of the tank. Start adding small amounts of the new fish
tank water into the bags every couple of minutes. This will slightly
aclimatize the fish to the new water.
After about half an hour,
gently release the fish into the tank making sure that they don't stay
in and get stuck in a bag with no water as they may be reluctant to
leave the bag at first. Just gently pour the contents in until they have
all been released.
If the fish are from a shop, try to put as
little of the bag water into your tank as possible. If you are
transporting between tanks simply pour the whole lot in. Cleaning Glass
is important to keep the fishtank glass clean. If you do not scrub your
glass every couple of weeks, it will build up with algae, even in the
cleanest of aquariums. It is always nicest to have clean glass anyway,
so that you can enjoy your fish to the full.
If you leave the algae on there, it will grow and escalate to the detrement of the tank.
is very simple and takes one minute to clean. Buy yourself a glass
cleaning scrubber. I find that most of the magnetic and fancy glass
cleaners are waste of money and take longer to use than a simple
Be careful not to scrub away the silicone sealant
around the glass joins. This is important, it is fine to have algae
growing in the corners of the tanks. I have heard of people causing
leaks due to overscrubbing the sealant areas.
The only other
thing to bear in mind is that your fish may well be inquisitive and will
swim around your hand as you do it. Be careful not to injure them with
Whenever you put your hands in the tank, make sure
that you don't have any lotion, detergents, oil or cremes on your hands
as these may well be toxic to your fish. Aquarium Position
your aquarium in a place that it will be a feature and easily viewed
and enjoyed. It must be in a location where you can easily access it for
maintenance and feeding.
The tank must not be near a window or
in strong direct sunlight. This will cause excess algae, may overheat
the aquarium and may also clash with your lighting timer, giving the
aquarium too much light during the day.
It is clearly ideal if the tank is positioned close to electricity
supply (that will not be tampered with or unplugged) and also within
fairly easy reach of a water supply to make water changes painless.
is important not to put your fish tank in a busy or confined space that
people use. Continual motion close to the tank may well stress the
fish, especially at night when the lights are off. Huge shadows passing
across the tank can literally petrify the fish. I have seen the contents
of a community tank so scared by lots of people around at night time
that all of the species school together in a frenzied manner. This is
If you have other pets, especially cats, make sure that they have no access to the top of the tank.
recommend not having the tank exposed on all sides. It is best for the
fish if the back wall of the tank is next to a wall or covered by a
mural, so that there is never any movement across 1800
their vision. Aquariums that are islands in a room or built into walls
and viewable from 2 rooms often cause the fish to feel trapped and
stressed in the long term. If you really do want to do this as a
feature, make sure that there are plenty of hiding spaces in the tank.
One nice aspect of fishtanks is that they can provide a lovely source of
side or ambient lighting for a room or hallway. I have a fishtank in my
hall, which means that even with the main room lights off, the room is
light enough to walk through without having to reach for the light
switch. Aquarium lights on a timer can make a house look occupied which
may have security benefits and often when I get home, there is already a
light on when I walk in the house. As mentioned above, I don't
recommend putting your tank in a hallway if it is narrow or confined. Lifespan of Fish
can live from 2 to 80 years depending on the species. Many catfish can
live for more than 20 years. The humble goldfish can live more than 50
if kept well. Many small barbs and standard freshwater species can live
more than 10 years. Be aware of this when you buy new fish for your
For more information, see the 'Which Species
is common for the dominant fish in a school to be the first to die.
They tend to eat the most food and as a concequence their lifespan
decreases. Once they have been ousted from the top spot, they tend to
become reserved, stressed and die. Algae
Green algae is not to be feared and can be scrubbed away and will also
provide extra food for the fish. Most fish will eat a certain amount of
algae, often sucking gravels and nipping at the tank contents to scrape
off the algae when you are not looking.
Brown red or black algae is a sign that you have poor water quality. If
you have brown algae, clean tank elements, do a thorough water change
and think about cleaning out your filters.
If the algae is
growing into long strands, this is also a sign of deteriorating water
quality or too much light in the tank. Make sure to remove any long
strands from the tank.
See the 'Cleaning Glass
' section. Going Away on Holiday
From time to time, you will need to leave your aquarium when you go away.
vast majority of healthy fish can last 10 days or more without food
with no problem at all. In the wild, fish are used to periods of little
food and periods of plenty.
Most fish will still find food enough to keep them going. They will peck at any algae in the tank.
If you are going away for more than 2 weeks, then get a friend to visit once or twice a week to feed them.
Make sure that they don't overfeed. This is a worst case scenario and don't get them to feed everyday.
The tank will not be cleaned and excess mess will slowly (or quickly) deteriorate the water quality.
you go, do a thorough water change and cleanout. Check that all the
fish are healthy. In the event that you have a very sick fish when you
go, it may (your call) be better to remove it before you go to protect
Double check the timers and electrical safety, so
that if there should be a leak, it will not cause an electric fire.
Wires should loop below the level of the plug sockets, so that any drips
do not enter the live plugs.
Leaving your aquarium for a few days is just fine and not something to worry about. General Ongoing Maintenance
a little bit of regular time to enjoy your fish tank, watch the fish
and their behaviour. You can tell if your fish are happy and healthy if
they respond to your presence by wanting food. Be aware that fish
behaviour may well change when you are present. This can be a good
indicator though, if fish hide away when you are around the tank, there
may well be a problem. Fish that do not come out for food may well be
ill or stressed.
Some species may become a little fiesty with
each other if you are present and you do not feed them. I have
especially noticed this in Barb species, if you are around for a while
the dominant fish may weel want to demonstrate that they are the boss.
This is quite ordinary and rarely results in any serious injury. If your
fish are seriously hurting each other, then you have a problem and you
may want to remove one to balance out the community.
colouration of your fish is another good indicator of tank and fish
health. If your fish are looking pale you may well have a problem.
that the filter flow is OK, check the temperature is stable and
correct, check that there isn't too much algae. Smell the water to check
that there is no decay. If the water smells noticably bad, you probably
have a problem.
If you see any large piles of muck, do a water change/ clean asap. Electrical Safety
See section on 'Aquarium External Furniture, Electrics and Fittings
' for more information. Snails
are a pest to aquariums. You may wish to keep some of the larger
aquatic species as they can be quite fun, but do not let the smaller
species into your tank if you can help it at all, as they may well
reproduce and infest the aquarium. Make sure not to bring back snails
from your aquarium shop with fish or live plants. Do a thorough check
for snails when buying and before introducing any new members into your
Your aquarium must allow enough oxygen into the water for the inhabitants to breathe.
See sections on 'fish tank size
' and 'filter types
' for more information. Dead Body Disposal
your fish die, remove them from the tank asap. As soon as they die,
they will start to decompose and even small fish can have very
detrimental effects on the health of the fish tank and it's contents if
Say a quick thank you for being a good friend and then wrap
them and throw them away as refuse. Do not flush them down the toilet
as this may introduce unwanted bacteria to our water supplies and sewage
If you wish to bury your loved fish, make sure to bury
them well as they will be detected and dug up by other animals such as