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5 Rules For First-Time Fish Owners

Setting Up Your Tank For Long-Term Success

By Carolyn Mitchell Published 2 years ago 3 min read

Not only do fish tanks add a beautiful interior element to your space, but they can actually be good for you. Seeing the variety of colorful aquatic life flowing briskly through the backlit waters can boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and make you feel more relaxed.

However, if you’ve never had a fish before, getting started can be a bit overwhelming. There are some things you’ll need to keep an eye out for and rookie mistakes can easily be made. If you do your due diligence, your aquarium can thrive.

Here are 5 essential rules for first-time fish owners to keep in mind.

1.)Make sure that your tank is ready before introducing your fish.

Adding fish to your new aquarium before ensuring your water parameters are stable is a surefire way to quickly lose your fish. Water chemistry for your tank varies depending on fish and plant species. For instance, Axolotls need cool tanks, while Bettas need warm tanks. Getting your aquarium’s pH, KH, GH, and other parameters correct might seem like overkill if you’re new to fishkeeping, but neglecting this factor can result in disaster. To avoid a potential tragedy, focus on learning your fish’s water parameters and adjusting them accordingly before introducing your aquatic life to your tank.

2.)Don’t skimp on a quality starter water filter.

Starting an aquarium can be costly at first. You might be tempted to cut costs by purchasing a cheap starter water filter. The problem is that most of the time, these filters just aren’t big enough. Cheap filters might turn the water over only 2-3 times per hour. This is considered inadequate filtration and can be dangerous to your aquatic life. As a rule of thumb, you should be using a filter that turns the water over at least 4 times per hour.

3.)Understand the nitrogen cycle.

One of the most confusing aspects of starting an aquarium is understanding the nitrogen cycle. Rookies to fishkeeping tend to approach this in 2 ways: ignoring it altogether or stressing too much over it — neither of which is good. Failing to encourage and perpetuate the nitrogen cycle of your aquarium will almost certainly result in saying goodbye to your fish. While it’s a pretty complex aspect of tank maintenance, we promise you’ll get the hang of it.

4.)Don’t add too many fish.

Did you know that adding too many fish to an aquarium could destabilize your tank’s water parameters and cause the nitrogen cycle to stall? Many fishkeepers tend to swear by the general rule of “one inch of fish per gallon”. While it’s a good guideline, it isn’t necessarily a failsafe measure. The amount of fish you add depends on several factors like the size of the fish, how different species get along, types of plants, size of your tank, and more. Do your research and use a stock level calculator to determine the right amount of fish to stock in your new aquarium.

5.)Know how to prevent accidental poisoning.

Accidental poisonings are probably one of the most common mistakes beginners tend to make. This can happen by failing to properly understand the nitrogen cycle, excessive fish food and waste left in the tank, too many chemicals being used unnecessarily, and filter malfunctions or shut-offs. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to understand your aquatic life’s water parameters to maintain an optimal habitat and prevent accidental poisonings or sickness. Part of that means observing your fish and learning how to spot problems such as abnormal behavior, discoloration, refusing to eat, and more.

Off you go!

As with anything new, the more you know about it, the better prepared you’ll be and the more you’ll enjoy it! Getting your fish’s habitat right might be intimidating at first, but we promise that by taking the time to do your research and learning exactly what your fish needs for a happy, healthy life — you’ll no doubt be set on the right path!


About the Creator

Carolyn Mitchell

Carolyn Mitchell is a freelance writer with a passion for home décor and maintenance. She can often be found re-painting & updating the furnishings in her home, and she is also a dedicated cat mom to two adorable kitties.

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