So, you’ve set up your brand new tank, your aquarium lighting (using T5 bulbs if you’ve listened to anything we’ve said) and maybe you’ve even splashed out on a hanging bar – but what’s next? Oh that’s right – the fish of course! Speaking to many aquarists, you’ll quickly realise that keeping fish is probably one of the most stressful aspects of their ongoing aquarium maintenance regime. The thing is, keeping fish is also one of the most rewarding parts of our hobby, which is why we’ve collated the following beginner tips to get your aquarium off to a healthy, thriving start.
1. Calorie Control
Although most respectable pet shops will keep a close eye on their stock to make sure they’re not selling unhealthy fish that might potentially damage your aquarium, it always pays to inspect them carefully before purchasing. It’s commonly accepted for you to ask the seller to feed the fish before you buy them, a savvy technique that allows you to assess their overall physical state; fish in peak condition should be very active, and swim quickly to the nearest source of food immediately. This will also give you a chance to check for external blemishes and marks that could be the signs of fatal disease; fish with missing scales, damaged fins and lack-lustre eyes should all be avoided.
2. A Slow Burner
When you’re first developing your aquarium, patience and moderation are both key. As we’ve said many times before (in fact, our keyboards are breaking from just typing it too often) your aquarium should be a carefully balanced ecosystem. Naturally, introducing any sort of foreign agent in bulk is likely to upset this balance, which is why it’s integral that you slowly introduce new fish into the aquarium over a series of weeks. This will give the algae that dispose of their waste time to grow and adjust to the tank’s new levels – it will also make cleaning the tank, and general aquarium maintenance, much easier.
3. Settling In
Let’s face it, moving house is always going to be an arduous, stressful experience filled with change and uncertainty… and it’s really no different for your fish! After you’ve purchased your first stock, it’s important to travel straight home, taking care to avoid any drastic changes in light and temperature along the way. You’ve also got to account for the ambient temperature difference between the water in which they’ve been transported, and the tank itself. Leaving the bags to float in your aquarium for a short while is a popular method of acclimatising your fish to their new environment, and letting them adjust to temperature changes naturally.
4. You’re So High Maintenance
It might sound slightly bizarre to novice aquarists, but the truth is that different species and breeds of fish all carry their own unique characteristics and personality traits. Some species are naturally very active, and can even be aggressive towards other aquarium inhabitants at times. Others lead a much slower, more sedentary existence altogether. It pays to research into which species can co-habit alongside one another, instead of just picking the brightest bunch in the shop, as difficult living environments can cause stress, malnourishment and even disease.
Above are just a few tips to get you started when it comes to building your stock. Over the many tumultuous years of having an aquarium, you’ll naturally pick up your own tricks and tips which we’d encourage you to share at our social media. For more on on-going aquarium maintenance advice, visit our dedicated blog.