Making Your Fish Feel at Home
Fish come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, patterns and areas of the world. There are freshwater fish and saltwater, tropical fish and coldwater, bottom feeders, middle and top feeding fish. The needs of each species of fish vary greatly but there are some basics for making your fish feel at home.
Rules of Thumb for Tanks
- Although space issues vary with the individual needs of each species, a good guide to follow is to have a gallon of water in the tank for each inch of fish inside.
- There is better oxygen distribution in a tank that is long and wide rather than tall.
- Mixed species of fish in a tank should share the same temperature and PH needs.
- It’s best to have a well layered tank of bottom, middle and top feeding fish to prevent food and space competition.
- Know the requirements of every species of fish before putting them inside your tank.
PlacementKeep the tank away from doors, open windows, heating and cooling systems and anything else that might drastically alter the temperature of their tank. Also be aware that tanks that are exposed to too much sunlight have a problem with algae bloom. If you have pets, don’t put the tank in an area they can peer into or get paws inside. The tank should be in an area that’s easy for you to get into and clean, as well.
Water QualityBefore putting water into a tank, you need to test the PH level to make sure it’s at a neutral level of around 7, not too acidic or alkaline, that it is a comfortable temperature for your fish and that it’s been conditioned. This means you let the water sit for a week before exposing fish to it so the water has time to develop good bacteria that helps filter the water for your fish. Water filters will help keep the water clean, air pumps and airstones keep oxygen flowing through the water. Using a net to clean excess food out of the water after a feeding helps water quality as well.
TemperatureYou will need to maintain the tank temperature at whatever level the fish you choose are used to, so look into their needs to determine whether you’ll need to put an in-tank heater. Tropical fish will definitely thrive in water heated to between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while for goldfish and koi a water heater is unnecessary in a home kept at a basic constant level of warmth. Use a tank thermometer to monitor the temperature and try to place heaters where water is circulating most heavily.
LightThe best combination of light for your fish is a blend of natural and artificial light, but this can be hard to manage in homes without a lot of space. Putting tanks near north or east facing windows but out of direct sunlight, combined with artificial lighting of about 8 to 12 hours a day is considered ideal. If your water goes green, it’s a sign that too much light is being supplied to the tank, if your fish seem to be getting pale you need to increase the amounts of light.
EnvironmentRocks, plants and other places to get out of sight makes fish feel more natural and secure and add to the visual appeal of your tank. For low maintenance you can use plastic plants for this purpose, but for those fish owners willing to get a bit more ambitious, live plants are lovely and do double duty to help clean the water of phosphate and nitrogen waste products that fish create. Remember that taking live plants into your tank requires additional care taking to maintain. Here are some things you’ll need to do to keep plants alive and well:
- Full spectrum lights
- A water temperature of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- A water PH of 6.6 – 7.5
- Substrate like gravel or sand
It’s a temptation for new fish owners to keep fiddling with all the elements of the tank to get it all perfect. Keep in mind that with fish, the less you have to change once they are in the water, the better for their health and peace of mind. Be satisfied with ‘good enough’ if it’s working and the fish seem healthy.
For more information about keeping fish and tropical fish, why not visit www.tropicalfishexpert.co.uk.