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Keep Your Fish Aquarium Healthy and Happy

Updated on February 11, 2013

A fish aquarium can actually be self therapeutic. This simple form of entertainment has been proven to lower stress levels and high blood pressure. Watching fish move about their environment has a similar physiological effect to the stroking of a dog or cat.

While the keeping of decorative fish tanks can be traced back to the Sumerians five thousand years ago, it was not until the 1950's and the introduction of the ubiquitous "goldfish bowl" that fish keeping for decorative purposes became a hobby within the financial range of the average person.

The almost mesmerizing movement of fish about their tank helps the mind settle down to a more normal wave level and give you the time to find that still place within yourself to contemplate the beauty of this planet through the slow movement of a few of its beautiful creatures.

It was not long before this relaxing hobby caught on and within ten years the introduction of acrylic tanks to replace the heavier and less versatile glass tanks created a new form of pet keeping that had many advantages over the traditional forms of animal companions. The new type of tank material could be molded and formed into many shapes and sizes to better fit into a multitude of decors.

Greater knowledge of the specific needs of different fish allows not only the keeping of fresh water fish but also the maintaining of tanks for the more colorful salt water varieties of fish.

Besides the relatively minor upkeep in maintaining a healthy tank of fish you will not have to work at keeping your residence cleaned up of fur or litter.

Once the equipment is set up there is little need to do more than feed daily and clean it out or change the water occasionally.

Unless you have an exotic piranha, you will not have to worry about your pet fish attacking a visitor or family member and creating an expensive lawsuit.

When you make the decision to set up and aquarium with some cool fish you are making yourself responsible for their care and, in fact, for their very life.

You should acquaint yourself with some of what is involved in "running" an aquarium full of live fish, plants and other critters.

The job isn't too difficult but it must be done as well as possible in order to help ensure longevity and fitness among your "fish tank" community.

Plecostomus And Other "Cleaners"

A lot of what needs to be done can be greatly alleviated by having the right inhabitants.

Hypostomus plecostomus
Hypostomus plecostomus

The Plecostomus is a very popular algae eater who will work continuously to clean rocks and glass. The Plecostomus can get pretty big but there are a lot of different types of bottom feeders. Find out what works best with the fish you have. Get a couple, or a few depending upon your tank size, bottom feeders to help clean the bottom of your tank. Loaches, corey cats and several others will "root" around on the bottom searching for scraps. These guys are providing you a valuable service and most of what they eat are the scraps that were destined to rot and ruin your water quality.

Snails, if you have only 1, can be fairly affective at cleaning rocks, ornaments and glass.

So, you have typically; A main fish or group of fish, a group of bottom feeders, and algae eaters.

The idea is to try to build a community of life in your aquarium. A community that actually works together to minimize cleaning and maintenance.

While one can create very detailed and varied fish tanks with multiple breeds of fish and aquatic vegetation others opt for a more basic setup.

An aquarium full of plants and assorted fish and colors is beautiful, but even a simple tank consisting of goldfish, guppies or a lone male betta can afford you hours of peaceful contemplation as you watch them function in their watery environment.

This simple form of entertainment has been proven to lower stress levels and high blood pressure. Watching fish move about their environment has a similar physiological effect to the stroking of a dog or cat without the danger of being accidentally clawed or bitten.

Taking Care of Your Fish

Fish are some of the most interesting creatures that can be kept as pets. Keeping an aquarium of fish can certainly be a fun and rewarding hobby, but there are some things one should know before making that commitment.

Before you buy fish you should know how to properly care for them so you can enjoy your fish and they can be in the healthiest and happiest environment possible.

Neolamprologus brichardi
Neolamprologus brichardi

Introducing New Fish to the Tank

In order to introduce your fish into the tank there are some important yet simple steps that you should take.

If you buy your fish and bring it home in a plastic bag you should leave the fish in the bag. Put the whole bag into the tank. Let the bag float in the aquarium for 30 minutes, then you can open the bag and let some of the aquarium water into the bag. Close the bag and let it float in the tank for about another 15 minutes.

This method will allow the fish to become accustomed to the temperature and the make-up of the water in the aquarium. Then you can release the fish into the tank without overly stressing it.

How many Fish?

It is better to have less fish opposed to more. Some fish species are not compatible and my tend to feed on one another.

It is important for you to check your tank daily, and watch for any signs of illness in your fish.

Make sure that the fish are compatible and not attacking one another.

Make sure that all of your fish are eating, them not eating could be a sign of illness.

Changing the Aquarium Water

Choose one day of the week to NOT feed your fish, check the water temperature and the filter to be sure that all is running properly. It is recommended that you change 1/3 of the aquarium water at least once a week.

Do not just pour the new water into the tank, this may cause the fish to go into shock. Let the water sit until it is room temperature, then slowly pour it into the aquarium.

It is recommended that you use distilled water to fill your aquarium and to change the water. If you use tap water it is possible to poison your fish because of the amount of chlorine in city water supplies.

Blue Peacock African Cichlid
Blue Peacock African Cichlid

Aquarium Fish Feeding and Health

Remember that all fish do not eat the same. Some species prefer a live diet, while others will do fine with dry food. You should ask the shop owner about feeding when you buy the fish.

It is possible for fish to have health problems, the best way to notice these illnesses is to watch your fish and learn their behaviors. Some warning signs of illness may include color changes, a change in eating habits or behavioral habits.

Young Oscars Enjoy Big Redworms
Young Oscars Enjoy Big Redworms

This is a picture of my own Oscar. It has at least doubled in size since I bought him (. He refuses to eat the pellets. He prefers chicken, beef, and worms. Oscar will carry a worm around like a protruding tongue but eventually it will have it all "in there" and be wagging for more. This fish will eat about 3 to 4 of these red worms in a days time but I don't feed him worms exclusively. To be honest the Oscar usually eats whatever I do. The rascal even likes the meat from a pot pie!

Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants

A fish can also react abnormally during the reproductive cycles. They may hide more than normal and they may even seem to shiver.

If you notice changes in your fish, check the tank to be sure that all is normal with the aquarium. If you can't seem to diagnose the problem, the shop owner where you bought the fish may be able to help you.

Got Fish?

Do You Have A Fish Aquarium In Your Home Or Office?

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Salt or Fresh?

Do You Prefer Salt Water or Fresh Water Fish?

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Thanks goes to Wm Douglas Mefford of for his assistance on this page


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    • teresa8go profile image

      teresa8go 7 years ago from Michigan, USA

      I've spent quite a few years in the retail pet business. I've even kept a tank or two myself. This is a very good article for beginners to read.