Beginner Aquarium Fish Keeping: Top Ten Things to Do to Keep Your Freshwater Fish Alive by Lev Ingman

1) PH

In regards to freshwater, most species are now captive bred and will acclimate to a wider range of PH. However, some species have specific preferences. It is best to try and mimic the natural environment of your fish as much as possible to ensure that they are healthy and happy. Depending on where your fish come from, they will prefer a different PH.

Discus prefer lower PH(6.5) but most captive raised discus will acclimate to a wider range of PH. Neutral Regulator can be used to bring any PH down to 7.0 and thenDiscus Buffer can be used to further reduce PH to below 7.0. African cichlid prefer higher PH depending on what lake they come from. Tanganyikan Buffer and Malawi Buffer are great products that will keep your PH in the correct range.

2) Temperature

Most tropical fish prefer temperature to be between 78-82 degrees. Most species also prefer that the temperature fluctuate as little as possible. It is important that a good heater be used to increase the temperature and to keep it stable. Generally the rule of thumb is to use between 3-5 watts per gallon of water. That means that if you have a 50 gallon tank you should use a heater that is between 150-250 watts.

Discus prefer higher temperature, close to 86, but most captive born specimens will do fine at normal 82 degree temperatures.

Gold fish, koi, and certain species of cat fish will be fine at room temperature and even outdoors in large bodies of water. Make sure that you introduce these species outdoors in the spring after your ponds start to warm up so that the fish can more easily acclimate to colder temperatures the following year.

You must also make sure that your aquarium does not get too hot. Most types of equipment used in fish tanks, like pumps and lights, will generate some amount of heat. As a result of these items producing additional heat, you must not rely on your heater alone to accurately control your temperature. A glass thermometer that sits in the tank is very important so that you can ensure that the temperature in the tank is actually what the heater says it is.

3) Parasites

Often times people loose fish and do not even realize that they have a parasite problems. The most common type of parasite in the fresh water is Ick which, can be seen on fins. When fish become infected it looks like their fins have been salted. The ick parasite can be seen as small white spots that cover the fins, bodies and even eyes. In fish tanks that do not contain any invertebrates or plants the use of a copperproduct is highly recommended as a treatment for ick. You should keep the level of copper at .05 and you should use a copper test kit to ensure that the level stays at around that point. Malechite green and Formaline can also be used, but make sure that you do not have any plants or scaleless fish. Heating the water up to 86 will also cause Ick to die but this may kill plants and some more sensitive fish species.

4) Electrical current

If you are going to invest into a fish tank, invest a few extra dollars into getting aGrounding Probe to eliminate any electrical currents that may be produced by your equipment.

Please buy a grounding probe and make your fish happy and healthy!

5) Water quality and chlorine

Use a de-chlorinating product every time you need to use water from the tap! Every time you need to top off your tank or do a water change you must use a de-chlorinating agent.

Proper biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration is also extremely important. Please refer to the blog about the three types of filtration that are necessary for each tank.

6) Oxygenation and Circulation

Fish use their gills to absorb air dissolved in water they are swimming in. It is very important to provide effective circulation so that your fish do not literally suffocate. Circulation should cause some surface agitation so that gas exchange can occur at the surface. Oxygenation via an air pump and air stone are not necessary if you have enough circulation and oxygen can enter the water via gas exchange caused by surface agitation. We recommend a water turnover of at least 5 times per hour. That means if you have a 10-gallon fish tank, your total water circulation should be at least 50 gallons per hour. The more fish you have the more circulation you will need.

7) Feeding

Your fish must eat! Be careful because overfeeding can also kill your fish! Feed enough so that your fish eat for between 1-2 minutes and minimize the amount of food that hits the bottom. It is better to let your fish eat a very small amount twice a day than to feed your fish a lot once a day. However, the minimum is once a day for most fish species. If you are going out of town get a good quality automatic feeder. The vast majority of people overfeed! If you have to ask, “Am I overfeeding?” The answer is probably yes, you are. Remember less is better.

8) No Chemicals

Do not use windex, or any other household cleaners on or around your tank because you will kill your fish!

9) Compatibility

Make sure that the fish you buy are compatible and are not going to kill each other!

10) Non-artificially colored fish

Make sure that the fish you buy are not artificially injected with dyes. This practice is inhumane and will often result in infection and death. If a freshwater fish has unnatural looking colors, do your research and make sure that it is not dyed.

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