Quick Tips for Newbies
You have finished cycling your tank either by using the fishless cycle or have used fish. Even better, you have planted your tank with live plants and no cycling was necessary at all. If you plant your tank heavily and stock with a sensible amount of fish to start, the plants will eat up the toxins produced.
Picking out your fish: Next to not cycling correctly (or at all) picking out stock is the biggest mistake made by us fish keepers.
Do not over stock your fish tanks. Often you will read that 1 inch per fish per gallon is a general rule. This rule applies to small fish only!! It does not apply to larger fish or fish yet to grow. It does not apply to dominate fish or breeding fish. It does not apply to schooling fish that want room to do so. As an example, I would easily put 30 neon’s or cardinals tetras in my 20-gallon tank but I certainly would not put my 5-inch angelfish in a 5-gallon tank.
Read up on the fish you are interested in purchasing. Check out the compatibility sites to see if they belong together. Make sure you have the space for them when they grow up. As an example, one of my first fish selections was 3 Bala Sharks. I had a 10 gallon tank and these fish grow to about 8 inches each. Oops
Another common error is buying pleco’s. These fish grow huge and belong in large tanks only. And never in new tanks as they have nothing to feed on for several weeks ....unless it's been planted.
Do not put goldfish in your community tank. They are coldwater fish and do not belong in a warm water tank. If your tap water has a constant high pH, consider going with cichlids so you will not constantly be trying to lower your pH. Raising pH is very easy but lowering it and keeping it low is almost a losing battle and your fish will suffer from the constant fluctuations.
Fish are adaptable to many levels in pH so try not to mess with changing it in community fish. Most are farm raised and have grown to different pH levels than their cousins in the wild.
Do not buy fish with the intention of rescuing them. If they are ill or diseased, why bring it home to your other fish? If possible, try to quarantine any new stock in a separate tank for a couple of weeks to make sure it appears disease free. If you have no quarantine tank, check these fish out very well at the store. Make sure you see no white spots, clouded eyes or the fish is swimming strangely. If a fish acts differently from the others, not hanging with the others but hiding in the corner or sitting on the bottom, leave it. Are there dead fish in the tank? Don’t buy any fish from that tank.
Do not allow any salesperson to cram too many fish in one bag. If they are larger fish, one to a bag. Three or four smaller ones to a bag but no more than that. Too many in one bag causes too much stress for them and depletes the oxygen faster. If you have a cooler, you may want to add the bags in that cooler so they will remain upright for the ride home. Fish can not go long distances in these bags and you should be able to complete your trip within 45 minutes or less.
Longer trips may require that you add the fish and water directly in the cooler and add a portable air pump. Or have the storekeeper put them in larger bags so there will be more oxygen.
Do not allow salespeople to "talk you into" fish unless you have done your own research. Very bad advice often comes from people who work in petshops and haven't got a clue how fish are kept or what is compatible. They are there to sell you fish, not give you lessons on cycling and caring for stock. That's your job!
There are many subjects on the proper way to acclimate your fish. Some float the bag in their tank. Some do the drip method. And others add the contest of the bag into a pail with a bit of tank water adding more tank water over a period of time netting out the fish and adding to the main tank in that manner. Never pour store water into your tank. Netting your fish helps prevent snails from entering your tank as well.
You will find your own way to acclimate and which gives you the least loss of fish. The last method has always worked for me so that's the method I use but this is a personal choice which some fish needing much more care in the acclimation process.
Turn your aquarium lights off to prevent further stress for these fish and do not feed them until the following day. They are highly stressed and need to rest and get used to the tank and a dark tank will help them recover.
A quarantine tank is very helpful as many fish you purchase may carry a fungus or ick and need treatment before putting in your main tank. It's nice to have a 10 gallon handy for this purpose.
If you use your fish net in an Ick tank, do not use that same net in other tanks until it's been treated or you will simply transfer Ick to other tanks. Soak it in some mild bleach, very hot water or Ick medications or simply allow it to completely dry out.
Do not bore your fish to death with the same old flake food day after day. Most fish appreciate a variety and many like zucchini, romaine lettuce, pea's and other vegetable matter. Frozen shrimp, beef heart and blood worms are great treats but they are "treats". If you feed these to your fish, feed a couple times a week after they have had their regular food. They also eat the dried shrimp and blood worms if the frozen are not available in your area. (Make sure your fish are supposed to have meat produces, as well.)
Never spray glass cleaners, hair spray, room spray, perfumes or any other sprays around your fish tanks. You can spray a paper towel with windex and wipe the glass in this manner but do not spray near the tank.
Do not clean anything that goes in your aquarium or is being used for your aquarium in soap. However, you should always wash your hands before and after having them in the aquarium in hot, soapy water.
Decorations and plastic plants can be scrubbed in a light solution of bleach water, rinsed well and then soaked in de-chlorinated water if they become dirty. Never soap.
Your fish will reward you with many years of happy fish keeping if you perform regular water changes, feed them properly and keep their tank clean.
Are your fish gasping at the top of the water, dying for no apparent reason or being unsocial and not eating.
CHECK YOUR WATER.....THE AMMONIA, NITRITES AND NITRATES. Don't ask why your fish are dying but know why they are dying.
They ask for very little and that does not mean we need to give them very little. Do your water changes! Your fish will thank you with a long, disease free life.
Last edited by Lady Hobbs; 01-31-2011 at 05:13 PM.