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Should I Get A Pet Fish?

Updated on October 14, 2009

Yes, if you are ready to be drawn into an exciting underwater world full of mystery, chemistry and whirring machinery that goes 'bump' in the night.

Essentially there are two types of fish keepers. There are the killers (this may sound like a harsh term, but their efforts always end in premature death,) and there are the obsessives. You see, fish keeping is much more involved than popping down to your local pet store, picking up a kit and a couple of fish and having at it.

You can always take this route of course, but you are likely to be plagued with a smelly, dirty tank and sooner rather than later, a dead fish. Why is this? Well, the bulk of the blame unfortunately resides with pet stores. It is quite common for pet stores to sell tanks that are too small, bundle inappropriate accessories, and give bad advice.

For example, did you know that the common goldfish needs a bare minimum of a 30 gallon tank? Yet many pet stores will happily give you a 6 gallon tank, a couple of goldfish and send you on your way with some food. It is imperative that you put some time into researching the type of fish you want to keep and setting up for their needs, otherwise you will simply end up with a dead fish and an empty tank.

Once you get into the ins and outs of fish keeping, it is quite fascinating. There is so much to learn, and if you enjoy learning, then you'll have a blast. There are chemicals and test tubes and color charts and a million types of filter, lights, heaters etcetera. Doing your research up front will save you a great deal of money, not to mention heartache.

Fish keeping is also not a cheap hobby, in spite of what some might think. Set up costs for a decent set up, even second hand are likely to be over $200.00

Basic fish keeping supplies include:

  • A decent sized tank (around 30 gallons is the minimum if you want your fish to be healthy.)
  • A filter appropriate for the size of the tank. (A filter should cycle the amount of water in the tank four to five times an hour in the case of tropical fish. This means for a 30 gallon tank, a filter needs to cycle 150 gallons per hour.)
  • If keeping tropical fish, a heater
  • Fish Food
  • A testing kit that allows you to test Ph, Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia.
  • Patience. It is best to have your tank up and running for around a month before you get any fish. This is because you need to cycle the tank to build up bacteria in the filter. These bacteria will later on convert the fish's waste into less toxic compounds. Fish commonly die within weeks of being put into a new aquarium because waste ammonia levels build up quickly and there is no existing colony of bacteria to convert them, thus the fish is slowly poisoned to death by its own filth.

If the idea of becoming a skilled and caring fish keeper excites you, and if you have the time, patience and money to make it work, then I deeply encourage you to get started in the hobby. There are a wide range of very informative sites and forums around the internet, though I would advise staying away from sites like Yahoo Answers, and taking advice from experienced people on forums.

Aquaria Central - A good place to start.


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