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How To Look After Tropical Fish

Pets : Fish

You must follow all the steps and rules I have outlined in this guide if you are to successfully keep tropical freshwater fish. Remember to be patient. It takes time to set up a new tank. It cannot be rushed. There are no short cuts to success.

(1) Setting up your new tropical fish tank:

Fill tank with tap water. Set up the pump, filter and water heater.

Set the water heater temperature to 20-22C. (NEVER higher than this)

The Light should be on for NO MORE than 8 hours a day.

The pump should be on 24 hours a day every day.

Leave for AT LEAST 6 weeks.

DO NOT change the water during this time.

After 6 weeks take a small sample of the tanks water to your local fish shop to be tested. They will be happy to do this for free. (if they are not then they are not a reliable source of information and advice and you should take your custom elsewhere) Tell them that you are setting up a new tank and you would like to know if it is ready for fish. They will test it for traces of ammonia nitrate. They will tell you if your tank is ready to receive fish.

(2) Introducing Fish to the fish tank:

After the 6 weeks are up and the fish shop have given your water the all clear, you can begin to introduce fish to the tank. Buy NO MORE than 5 very hardy fish (i.e. Guppies or Platies). They will be able to withstand the water in the new tank, which will not be functioning at 100%. DO NOT put the fish straight into the tank. Place the bag they are in, into the tank to let them get used to the temperature.

- Leave them like this for AT LEAST 10 minutes.

- Open the bag and let some of the tanks water into the bag.

- Leave for AT LEAST another 10 minutes. This will let them get used to the different water chemistry gradually.

- Allow fish to swim out of the bag and into their new home.

- DO NOT introduce any more fish for AT LEAST 6 weeks.

- NEVER over populate with fish. The water will not be able to stay in balance.

- NEVER put in more than 5-6 new fish at a time.

- Allow AT LEAST 6 weeks between introducing new fish.

- Make sure you buy Tropical Freshwater fish. NOT Marine or Coldwater fish

(3) Caring for your tropical fish tank:

- Perform a partial water change NO MORE than every 3 weeks.

- NEVER under any circumstances change all the water. (you will be right back to stage 1).

- Fill 1 bucket with tap water and leave to stand for AT LEAST 24 hours. This is to get rid of the chlorine, which is poisonous to your fish.

- After the 24 hours are up, switch off all power to the tank (pump and light).

- Using a second bucket remove dirty water from the tank. (only remove 1 bucket full)

- Pour away half the dirty water you have removed from the tank.

- Use the other half of the dirty water to clean your filter and any tank ornaments.

- NEVER use tap water to clean the tank (remember Chlorine is poisonous).

- Clean the inside of the tank's glass to remove any algae.

- Put filter and ornaments back into the tank. (replace filter if necessary - see filter instructions for help)

- Pour away the rest of the dirty water.

- Pour the new water into your tank (the one which has been standing for 24 hours).

- Switch power back on. Make sure the pump is working ok.

- NEVER use detergents or soaps of any kind. These will kill your fish instantly.

(4) Feeding tropical fish:

- DO NOT over feed your fish. This is one of the quickest ways to kill them. They will simply eat themselves to death. Also the excess food which is not eaten will pollute the tank's water and cause disease.

- IGNORE all feeding instructions on the packaging. They want you to use lots of their product so they can make more money!

- Feed them 1 small pinch of food every 2 days. This might not sound like enough, but they DO NOT need anymore than this.

- They can go without any food for up to 3 weeks. So don't worry about them not getting any food while you are on holiday.

- DO NOT give them a big feed before going on holiday, again they will simply eat themselves to death. (remember - 1 small pinch of food every 2 days is the absolute maximum)

(5) How to have healthy tropical Fish

- Fish do become diseased and die. This is a fact of life.

- As soon as you see a fish that is diseased remove it from the tank and get rid of it. This is to stop it spreading to the rest of the fish.

- Remove dead fish straight away. As they decay, they pollute the water and cause more disease.

- You can buy tonic's which you can place into the tank's water to help prevent and cure disease. Aquisil General Tonic is good and you should place 1 small capful into the tank every time you do a water change.

- Most disease comes when you introduce new fish. This is why you should never buy more than 5. One diseased fish can wipe out the whole tank and prove very costly.

- Choose your fish shop carefully. Some are very bad at looking after their fish and they will be diseased.

(6) Golden Rules of keeping tropical fish:

- NEVER change all the water

- Water change every 3 weeks. (only 1 bucketful)

- NEVER use tap water directly (leave to stand for 24 hours)

- DO NOT over feed.

- DO NOT over populate the tank with fish.

- NO MORE than 8 hours of light a day.

- Your tank should NEVER be in direct sunlight. Shield it from the sun if necessary.

- The pump and filter should NEVER be switched off (unless doing a water change)

Well that's my fishy knowledge for you, hope it helps. Remember to be patient. It took me about a year to get my tank nice and if you follow all these points you should be fine. Buy hardy, cheap fish to begin with. Good luck and stick with it!


No photo yet
By: Iain Rosie on Sun, Jun 16th 2002

More tropical fish advice

Hi Iain, can you possibly give me some advice. I have a small tropical fish tank. After reading your article regards looking after the tank I seem to be using the light too offten and I also use a night light as well. Is this correct? Or should the light only be on for eight hours during the day then switched off with no other light at all. Thats my first problem. Second problem is this, I am getting a build up of what i can best discribe as a "brown rust" on the back wall of the tank, the ornements and plastic fauna. I have to keep cleaning it out. Any idea waht I am doing wrong?

Kind Regards Craig Hildersley

I am currently having an issue with my 29 gallon aquarium my water is slightly cloudy not bad but water is usually crystal clear the tank has been set up for roughly 5 months the tank is slightly over populated at the moment but most fish are babies but my concern is that my fish are getting white stuff on them and it isn't ich my water has a pH of 7.8 a little high but my nitrates are 0 and my ammonia is 0 so I have no idea what could lead to any of this because most diseases and cloudiness in water is due to poor water quality and it isn't the case here so please help

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