4:22 PM

Don't mix the wrong fish

New fishkeepers tend to want a large variety of colourful, different looking fish, but not everything in the shops will be suitable.

Choose a good aquatic shop with informative labels and always ask for advice. Write down the make and model of your tank, and how many litres or gallons it holds.

Do your own research as well as asking advice from retailers. Read books and PFK to give you an idea of the sort of fish you wish to keep, and try the hardiest fish first.

Don’t be tempted by juveniles of big fish. If your tank won’t house them at an adult size, don’t buy them.

Aim to keep community fish first, as these often stay small, and are easy to keep. Non-community fish may be large, predatory, aggressive, or all three, and are not good for beginners.

A community of small fish offers you the most choice, and you will be able to fit more of them in your tank than any other fish.
3:22 PM

Don't forget to acclimatise your fish

This causes lots of confusion and you will hear differing opinions depending on where you shop.

When you buy fish from a shop, you must tell them how long it will take you to get home so that the fish can be packed accordingly. Always take them straight home.

Once home, turn the aquarium lights off. If the fish have been packed in the dark for several hours, expose them to the room light slowly so as not to shock them.

Float the unopened bag in the water for about 20 minutes to allow the water inside the bag to attain the same temperature as the water in your tank.

If the bag is sealed with a rubber band, remove it and roll down the sides until it floats freely on the surface of the water. If the bag is tied, cut the knot off with scissors and then roll the sides down.
6:21 PM

Don't leave the lights on too long

A common cause of algae. Phosphate, ammonium and nitrate aside, if you experience a lot of algae, you may simply have the light on for too long in your aquarium.

Lighting is developed to be brighter than ever before, and is aimed at encouraging a particular response from your plants or corals, or to enhance your fish colours.

Plants and corals typically need the light on for around 10 hours per day, but only really need full spectrum (all your lights) for six hours per day. Anything more than this and it may cause algae.

If you are using bright lighting for plants, make sure that you have sufficient plants to out-compete any algae.

This can mean 70% coverage in your tank. One or two bunches of plants, plus 10 hours of light daily, mean algae, so either increase their number or use plastic plants instead.

Fish aren’t really bothered about lighting, and most would prefer it subdued. If you don’t have live plants or corals, cut the lighting right down so that you just have it on when you are at home.

Four or less hours per day will make it difficult for any algae to grow, and the fish will be fine in ambient room light at all other times. Never leave the light on 24/7.
7:00 PM

Don't Overfeed Fish

Overfeeding is one of the biggest causes of fish deaths. The type of fish that you keep will determine how often they should be fed.

As a general rule, small fish like tetras and Guppies need feeding small amounts of food throughout the day. This can be as much as three times per day if your filtration and water changing regime is good.

Larger fish can be fed less often, and once or twice per day is fine. Very large fish (60 cm/24”and over,) should be fed every other day.

There are other considerations, and they include how active the fish is, and whether they are herbivores or carnivores.

Herbivores gain little nutrition from the plant or algae matter that they eat. As a result, they have to munch on it constantly. Mollies and mbuna cichlids from Lake Malawi are herbivores.

Carnivores are adapted to deal with large, protein-rich chunks of meat, but eat it far less often. Predatory fish that eat other fish should be fed once or twice a week on large, fishy foods. Oscars and Piranha are carnivores.
10:32 PM

New to fishkeeping?

The most important consideration when keeping fish is the fish themselves. These live animals are totally dependant on you to keep them alive and healthy. They demand the right care and respect, and it is your duty to offer them the best conditions that you can.

Don’t stock too quickly

A common no-no. If you stock your tank too quickly, there will be insufficient bacteria to cope with the amount of waste being produced, and ammonia and nitrite will build up to toxic levels.

When you have a newly set-up tank, the choice in aquatic shops can be overwhelming. It is all too tempting to fill it with fish within days, but you must resist and cycle the tank first.

Cycling means maturing the tank by leaving it for days or weeks before adding fish.

In this time, beneficial bacteria will increase in number, covering all the surfaces inside the tank from the glass to the gravel to the filter media.

Bacteria can be added when you first set up the tank, giving it a kick-start into maturation.

Maturation products will either add live bacteria direct to the water or create a flock which offers a slimy home where the bacteria can live and multiply.

While bacteria are growing, water quality can change rapidly from being clear of ammonia to being high in ammonia and then nitrite.

You must not add fish within this time because they will probably die, poisoned by the ammonia and nitrite – yet the bacteria rely on ammonia produced by fish to increase in number.

Ammonia is food for bacteria, but toxic to fish. Fishless cycling is another way of feeding the bacteria with ammonia, but not exposing fish to it.

Raw ammonia (available from DIY stores and some chemists) can be added daily to feed the bacteria and make them grow in number before you add any fish.

The point at which they consume all the ammonia every day, leaving none behind, is when you add fish.

Another way of doing it is to add Waterlife Biomature or its equivalents, available from aquatic shops. A new tank takes at least six weeks to fully mature, and should be stocked slowly in that time.
4:55 PM

Blind cave fish are smarter than dogs

New research on Blind cave fish has found that they can put even dogs to shame in the intelligence stakes.

The behavior of the Mexican Blind cave fish, Astyanax fasciatus, which in the absence of working eyes, relies on minute changes in pressure to detect the presence of objects in the water.

By using the sensitive lateral line system to detect changes in pressure, they're able to swim around without banging their heads against the glass, rocks or other fish. Blind cave fish swim much more quickly when they are faced with landmarks, like rocks, which they haven't encountered before, presumably to enhance lateral line stimulation.
2:51 PM

Tips for Setting Up Your First Aquarium

There is nothing like a tank full of beautiful tropical fish to relax away the stress and cares of the day. Setting up a home aquarium can be a great family project, and a wonderful way to teach the kids about the wonders of nature. It is important, however, to get that fish tank off to a great start, and to ensure a healthy environment for your new finned friends.

One of the most crucial factors in setting up a new fish tank is to give the tank time to become established before adding fish. New aquarium owners are understandably anxious to enjoy watching beautiful tropical fish, but it is important to let the new tank sit for at least a week before adding the first fish. This allows any impurities time to dissipate from the water, and it allows the new tank owner to ensure everything is working properly.

It is important for new aquarium owners to invest in a high quality filtration system, since this filtration system is critical to establishing the biological system that will keep the tank functioning trouble free. There are many different kinds of filters to choose from, but it is vital to choose a filter that is sized for the tank. When in doubt, always buy a filter rated for a larger size tank than the one you have. Be sure to read the instructions carefully, and to change the filters at the specified intervals. A good filter will perform biological, physical and chemical filtration, so be sure to look for those specifications.

Unless you will be keeping only goldfish or other coldwater fish, a heater will be needed. It is important to also purchase a thermometer to ensure that the tank is kept at the proper temperature. The optimum temperature will depend on the type of fish, but most tropical fish will be comfortable in a range between 76 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to let the heater work for a couple of days to ensure that it is keeping the proper temperature.

Before adding those first fish, it is a good idea to take a sample of aquarium water to the local pet store for analysis. Many pet stores perform this type of analysis free of charge, and the staff will be able to assist you in making any necessary changes. In some cases chlorine and other contaminants will need to be removed from the water, and doing an analysis up front can save you a lot of time and hassle.

The staff at your local pet store should also be able to help you choose a good assortment of fish for the new tank, based on such factors as the size of the tank and your level of experience. Not all fish get along, and not all fish will be happy at the same water temperature, so it is important to choose compatible fish. When choosing fish, it is best to place only a few hardy fish in the tank at first, and to add fish slowly. The rule of thumb is to keep only one inch of fish per gallon of water, so a twenty gallon tank could be home to 10 two inch fish, 5 four inch fish, or some similar combination. Keeping to this ratio can help to eliminate many problems seen by first time aquarium owners.

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