Aquarium Fish Health: How NOT to Kill Your Fish.
Fish are easy to keep if you provide the right conditions.
One of the biggest mistakes, though, is to believe that fish are not sensitive creatures. Just like us they are absolutely dependent on their environment. Sudden changes in their little world can be a shock.
It is impossible to keep every disease-causing organism out of an aquarium and anything that damages a fish's immune system, which certainly includes shocks and long term stress, is bad news.
Find out what matters if you want to keep your fish stress-free and fit enough to survive.
Aquarium fish are fussy about how their water tastes and what chemicals are floating around in it. One thing they hate is chlorinated water. Always let chlorinated tap water stand 48 hours before introducing fish. De-chlorinating chemicals from a fish hobby shop can be a good option if you are in a hurry.
Get to know the characteristics of your water supply and get to know what your fish like. Water with a lot of dissolved metals, like copper, is very bad for fish. Local fish hobbyists should know if the tap water in your area is OK and what local well water contains.
Water with the wrong amount of acid and alkali can upset fish and sudden changes in these things can cause big problems.
If the local water supply is bad for fish you might be forced to buy water from a pet store. If you have to, it is better to buy from the dealer who raised your aquarium fish so there are no sudden surprises.
One of the worst options is getting 'natural water' from a river or lake. You have no way of knowing what metals or other chemicals (like farm pesticides) are in it- or what diseases could be lurking there.
Overfeeding fish will lead to a fouling of the tank. All sorts of bad things can happen if there is a lot of uneaten food decaying in the water. One is oxygen depletion as bacteria multiply. Another is a bad smell.
If a tank is too small for a fish, it will stunt the fish’s growth and this often results in early death. Overcrowding in any fish tank can also lead to stress. Fish like their space.
Mixing the Wrong Species.
Sometimes, mixing the wrong species can be fatal immediately. A large carnivorous fish like a cichlid will soon eat its way through a group of defenseless guppies.
At other times, fish can be harassed in harmful ways by aggressive species, especially in overcrowded conditions. Look out for chases, tail biting and other behaviors that can cause harm to the fish's skin. Missing scales open a fish to infection from fungi, one of the biggest fish killers.
The best thing is get advice about what fish mix well from hobbyists and expert store keepers.
Driving Your Fish Crazy with Too Much Attention
Stress also kicks in for fish with an owner who is just too much in love with them. Rearranging the furniture- moving plants, trying different ornaments etc- will stress fish as much as neglecting them. Fish like care but as little disturbance as possible. Every fish you ever meet will be an introvert and shy of busy hands.
Partying with Your Fish
Young children love fish tanks and they love fish. This is great if they only want to look. When kids get too involved, dropping sandwiches in the water, like taking the fish to look at out the window, drumming on the sides of the aquarium, then stress will hit your fish like a hammer.
If children are going to be around it's a good idea to chose a place for the aquarium where the fish won't be vulnerable to the wrong kind of attention.
If your fish look under the weather be wary of over-medicating. It can be tempting to try treatment after treatment on the off chance one will improve fish health but this can mean the fish are swimming in a sea of chemicals that don’t go well together.
The best cure for any illness is information. Try other hobbyists, read books from your local library, get involved in online forums. The right medication is the only one you should be giving.
Other Things That will Promote Stress
- Cats. Good covers are important if there are cats about. They are not that good at fishing but they are pretty determined.
- Doors slamming nearby. If your fish jump every time a door is opened or closed, the aquarium might be too close. Try moving it to another wall or fitting a gentle door-closer.
- Loudspeakers. Fish get used to background noise but a few hours of wild music can shred their nerves. If your Hi-Fi makes ripples in the water, the fish are suffering.
- Going away on vacation without finding someone to care for your fish. A weeks supply of fish food before you leave won't do the trick. Most of the food will just rot. Fish can go a few days without food but after that they start to suffer.
- Aquarium fish health is also improved by regular equipment checks, Descaling and cleaning of pumps helps prevent failures which can have very serious consequences.