Guest Writer: Samantha Kagey
Seemingly small decisions about your water-dwelling pets can have big consequences. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider aspects of your aquarium habitat such as water temperature, tank size, decorations, filtration systems and water conditioning.
Here are five tips that will help you raise happy, healthy fish:
1. Consider the type of fish you would like to acquire.
Do you want cold-water or warm-water fish? The cold-water fish are those that consist of the carp family, such as goldfish and koi. These fish typically prefer temperatures ranging from 68 to 72 °F and do not require a heater within the aquarium.
Goldfish can grow to be about four inches in length, but some are known to grow to eight inches. Koi, on the other hand, can range from between 12 and 15 inches in length. Guppies, danios, tetras, and bettas can range in size from half an inch to two inches in length, while platies and mollies can range from two to four inches.
Warm-water fish, consisting of guppies, mollies, platies, danios, tetras, and bettas typically prefer temperatures ranging from between 78 and 82 °F. For this reason, a heater and a thermometer are needed within the aquarium.
2. Figure out the size your aquarium will need to be in relation to the length of your fish.
Goldfish and koi need about 30 gallons or more to grow to their approximate size. Guppies, danios, tetras, and bettas need about five gallons or more, while platies and mollies need about 10 gallons or more.
Another aspect to consider is how many fish you would like to have in your aquarium. A general rule to follow is one inch per gallon. However, that does not mean you should stock your tank to the max, because the inches that your fish can grow to be is just a typical size they are known to reach.
3. Ponder how you wish to decorate your aquarium.
First, choose a substrate such as gravel or sand to put on the bottom of the tank. Second, you can choose to have plastic or silk plants. Third, pick out décor that your fish can hide in.
Keep in mind that silk plants are gentler to the fins of your fish because they do not have sharp edges like plastic plants.
4. Filtration, Filtration, Filtration!
A filter on your aquarium is essential for the condition of the water as they aid in removing waste products along with promoting beneficial bacteria.
An important component of a filter is the media, which is either a pad or a sponge. The media serves to “polish” the water of debris before returning it to the aquarium. Generally, the media should be replaced about every four to six weeks because, at that point, the activated carbon within the media is no longer contributing to the chemical side of filtration.
It is important to note that not all media contain carbon because for some aquarium hobbyists it is a personal preference to have activated carbon be a component of filtration or not.
5. Condition your water.
Most of those who keep an aquarium use tap water. Tap water contains chlorine and chloramine, which are toxic to fish. In order to remove the chlorine and chloramine, tap water conditioner is used. This conditioner can be found at virtually every pet store. I would personally recommend purchasing conditioner from brands such as API or SeaChem.
It is also important to change 25 percent of the aquarium water once a week or 50 percent of the aquarium water every two weeks. Filtration alone is not sufficient in keeping the parameters of the water at acceptable levels. Over time, the ammonia produced from the waste of your fish can build up to poisonous levels within the tank. Performing regular water changes will aid in cycling out the harmful chemicals that are present.
Samantha is a sophomore biology major from Noblesville, Indiana.