Taking care of a fish may not seem like a big deal. In fact, many people do go into the pet store – without expecting or planning to buy a fish – and purchase a tank with some fish to put in. But, it is important to understand that owning a fish is more complicated than it may seem at the outset, and the decision deserves some thought, time, and care.
1. Understand the Responsibility of Pet Care
Taking seriously that owning a fish can come with the understanding that it is a pet: it is completely dependent on you to ensure its environment is healthy, it will be fed, and otherwise taken care of.
- Who is going to care for the fish while you are on vacation?
- How many years are you prepared to care for it?
- Are you willing to feed it every day, turn lights off at night and clean its water filter?
- Will you make sure it is healthy and seek support if you’re concerned?
You first need to know you’re serious about owning a pet, as it would be a huge shame for your pet to be neglected after you have taken it home. Here are some other things to consider before making this investment.
2. Consider Fish Breed
Do you know which fish breed you’d like? Choosing your fish can be easy, but should be planned. Some fish are territorial or aggressive and do not take well to being put into a tank with others. In this case, consult a professional who can help you decide which fish go well together and how to best accommodate their needs, for example, feeding and tank requirements.
If you have spacing constraints at home, keep in mind that the size of your tank should be big enough to comfortably contain all your desired pets at their mature size. This is just one of the reasons it is never smart to make an impulse buy!
3. Plan the Tank
Tank Features and Design
It is a great idea to consider which objects, features and plants could be placed into the tank. Gravel (or even sand) provides a surface media for the bacteria to attach to, as well as a substrate for plants to root and flourish. Fun features can provide an interesting environment for your fish and other smaller aquatic creatures, and it is definitely possible to decorate your tank with everyday items once you’ve brought it home.
Ensuring a good tank size is key, with experts warning that tanks should be no smaller than 10 gallons. Even though many pet shops have a wide range of sizes available, ideally, a 20g tank is excellent! Without compromising on the swimming space and comfort of your pet, choose to invest in a tank that can accommodate your fish at a fully-grown size.
4. Ensure Tank Health!
The health of your tank water directly impacts the health of your fish, as fish do not have immune and internal filter systems to protect themselves against undesirable pathogens. The balance of bacteria, micronutrients, waste, and fish is a sensitive one, and one that can be disturbed easier than expected.
Importantly, one should invest in a recommended water filtration system. You cannot run the risk of over-filtering the tank, but under-filtering is rather easy. Consider this carefully, as a good filter can save you lots of cleaning time and prevent your fish from becoming vulnerable to various diseases in their cloudy tank. Some experts say that if your tank needs cleaning in the first 2 or 3 weeks of set-up, the filter is inadequate.
In addition to getting a good air pump to help oxygenate the tank, you should look into an overflow system. With so many box designs to choose from, in-store and online, you should carefully assess these options to see which one will suit your needs. Considering the time you have available to clean the tank will also inform how much mechanical filtration support you will require, plus how much waste will need to be removed from the system each week. All these factors help you judge what your fish will be needing.
Get Educated about Common Care Problems
Chat to the professional where you are looking to buy your fish from and ask them about specific things you’re concerned about, as well as asking about the most common mistakes people make in their care of fish. You can learn a lot and hopefully maintain healthy, happy fish!
Set up your tank and when it’s ready to receive your new pets, make sure you follow good care instructions and follow a recommended feeding schedule. If you’re ever uncertain about the condition of your fish health or the tank, do contact a specialist to help you!