Most of the fish you will start out with are store bought. That means that they were living in a particular habitat before you got them home. The fight against disease begins from the moment you go to get your fist fish. Here are some things that you should keep in mind while selecting and buying new fish:
- Go by the looks of the fish. Physical characteristics of good health include bright colors, good finage etc. Do NOT go for fish that look dull or pale. Before you buy a particular variety, it is important to know what that fish looks like in normal conditions. Dark or patchy coloration may be an indicator of stress.
- Look for any signs of disease. There should be no boils, ulcers or peeling scales.
- Look for any visible parasites clinging to your fish's body. Parasites can appear as small white crystals, black tiny nodules etc.
- Individual parts of the fish need to be closely examined. The eyes should not be bulging and or clouded. The fins, especially the dorsal fins, should be erect and spread well. The gills should be a nice pink. Fins should not appear ragged or torn, and they should definitely not be clamped close to the body of the fish. Flat and smooth scales, well-rounded stomachs and a well-proportioned body are all indications of a strong and healthy fish.
- Fish waste should be dark in color.
- Behavior of fish should also be observed. Fish should not gasp for air. Breathing should be normal. Gill movements that seem to be very quick may indicate stress.
- Look for positive interactions. You do not want fish that seem to be hiding or creeping about. Also, do not choose fish that seems to bully or getting bullied. Healthy fish will swim horizontally throughout the aquarium.
- Choose fish that eats well. Feeding traits are very good indicators of fish health.
These indicators are true for most fish and all beginner fish. You will however notice that there are exceptions from these rules as you grow more experienced.
If you know what to look for, you will be surprised at how much information you will be able to collect by just observing the fish you are going to buy. Never buy a fish that looks stressed in the store. Any hopes that you will nurse it back to good health are misplaced. Fish that act "weird" in the store hardly ever settle down at home, especially if you are a newbie.
Once you have bought the fish, there are some more things that you need to keep in mind. Introduce the fish slowly into your own aquarium. Allow the fish some time to get used to the new water that is his home now. If you can, it is a good idea to use an antibiotic dip before you introduce the fish into the aquarium.
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