How To Buy Healthy Cichlids
A lot of beginner aquarists simply buy their fish from the store located closest to their home. Unfortunately, there are a lot of less well kept fish and pet stores out there and the one next to you home might not be the one that you should buy your cichlids from. Many aquarists have found out the hard way that spending some time to find a high quality fish store will save them a lot of trouble, and expenses, in the long run. Today, there are also several fish stores available on the Internet and the same is true for them – you should dedicate some time to browse through several aquatic web shops before you decide which one to buy you cichlids from.
If you buy cichlids from an offline fish store you should ideally make several trips to the store to find out if the aquariums are constantly well kept or just subjected to an occasional clean up once in a while. Check the cichlids carefully for any sign of disease or stress. Begin with checking the overall appearance of the cichlid. Does the fish in the aquarium seem active and alert? Do they swim straight or do they tilt? A healthy cichlid will look energetic and swim lateral. Do not buy cichlids that stay close to the surface all the time and look as if they are having trouble breathing. Flat fins that lay limp next to the body can also be a sign of disease or stress. In addition to the overall behaviour, your cichlid must be free from white spots since white spots are a sign of an ongoing parasite attack. Reddened raw spots in the body or on the fins, or fins that are ripped and ragged, are also bad signs. Healthy cichlids that are doing well in the aquarium will have a good appetite. If possible, you should ask the fish store when they feed their cichlids and stay around to watch the cichlids eat.
Before buying your cichlids, you should try to find out if the fish store has quarantine aquariums for new fish, since quarantine aquariums is a very good way of stopping diseases from spreading. If the fish store has special ‘sick tanks’ where diseased fish is taken care of this should not be viewed as a bad sign. It is actually a very good sign, since it shows that the store keeper care for the fish and separates sick fish from the others. If one of the employees seems to know absolutely nothing about cichlids when you ask him or her, talk to the manager instead or ask for the person in charge of the cichlids. A fish store can have clueless employees working at the counter but still have a very knowledgeable person taking care of the cichlids.
Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. This is true regardless of whether it is a large chain store, a small fish shop on the corner or an online fish shop. You can test the shop by asking questions regarding the cichlids, such as “how large can this cichlid grow”, “can I keep these two cichlid species in the same aquarium” etcetera. It is always advisable to do some research before you contact a fish shop, to know which questions to ask and which species you are interested in. A lot of cichlid information can be found online, even for the less known species. Most libraries also have at least general info regarding cichlids since they are such popular aquarium species. If you are pondering the idea to buy from a web shop, you can check the available information on their site. You can also send them e-mails or call them. All reputable sites will display contact information that makes it easy for you to reach them by phone and/or e-mail.
An online store can be a good alternative if your local stores don’t have the species you are looking for. Online stores that specializing in Cichlids and have a good reputation includes:
Tangled up in Cichlids - Specialising in rare South and Central American cichlids.
Big sky Cichlids - Mainly African Cichlids
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