Newest Review: ... buy some fish. We tend to keep silver and speckled mollies, clown loach and different types of bottom feeders to help maintain the tank an... more
Something Smells Fishy
Member Name: MollyWH
Advantages: Facinating to watch, lighten up any room
Disadvantages: More maintainanace that you would have though
I have been keeping fish for about 5 years now and have kept both tropical and coldwater tanks. At present, I keep just coldwater fish, as I prefer their temperament so I will base this review mainly on Coldwater fish.
Before you buy fish
Before you decide whether fish are the right pets for you, you need to consider a few questions:
· Are you willing to maintain the tank? People always assume that fish are easy to look after, this is a myth, they will need regular cleaning and fresh plants etc.
· Do you have the room for a tank? There is nothing worse than seeing fish all cooped up in a tiny tank. I always like to give my fish as much room as possible as it is great to watch them swim around and watch them go about their day-to-day business. Keeping 1, possibly 2 fish in a fish bowl would just about be ok but any more than 2 fish and you will certainly need a bigger tank.
· Are you happy to have a pet that you can't really interact with? Fish are pretty much there to be looked at and a lot of people say that as a pet, you don't get much back from them which to some extent is true
- obviously you wont be able to take your pet fish for walks or have cuddles with it and this is something that you need to bare in mind.
What you need
Obviously you are going to need a tank to keep your fish in. Personally, I think bigger is always better. I currently have a 3-foot long tank in which I keep about 8 goldfish, along with a 4 loaches. All this fish have plenty of room and there is leftover room for decorations etc. Another advantage of larger tanks is that larger tanks are easier to keep as a stable environment. Attractively shaped tanks are very nice, but the best type for your fish is long and wide. Remember, you are going to need to keep the tank on something that will be able to support the weight, for example, some tanks come with stands and cabinets which can be very attractive and fit in well with other furniture. Personally, I have my fish tank on a shelf, which my Dad has had to make extra strong to support the weight of the tank.
Great lighting shows off your fish and is essential for plants. However, there is a down side: light makes algae grow which means more cleaning for you. In addition, some fish don't like bright lights. There are special fluorescent lights available which emit very little heat and provide light at the correct wavelength for plants. Personally I like having a light as it shows off the fish nicely so you are able to watch them. My light in on a timer and the light it turned on in the morning and off in the evening with similar hours to our daylight hours.
You will need a lid for your fish tank. This prevents fish jumping out and other animals getting in (cats will love a fish tank, as do my dogs!) It also prevents dust and general household waste (such as the fumes from dusting polish) getting into the water. Another advantage of the lid is that the lights can be attached to the lid, which provides a safe place to attach the light and keeps them out of view, making the tank more attractive.
This is useful more so for tropical fish as they have to be kept in certain temperatures. However, it can also be useful for coldwater fish as it tell you if they are getting too hot/ cold although this is quite unlikely if they are kept indoors.
It is better to buy pre-washed gravel from a pet store. Gravel from other sources will have to be washed thoroughly and boiled for 20minutes to make sure you get rid of any bacteria on it.
Always buy your plants from a reputable pet store. Check that they are compatible with the fish you have in your tank, and that they will not grow too fast, therefore taking over your tank. Plants are good for your tanks and my fish love to nibble on the plants and swim against them. Plants can create a mess though as the fish can nibble on them, meaning that pieces can break off and lay on the bottom of the tank rotting so you need to be aware of this.
Every fish tank must have some form of water filter to remove waste products and debris. These should be cleaned regularly; I do mine every 2 weeks although you probably need to do it at least once a month. My filter was bought from a local fish shop and cost £20. It came with sucker pads and just attaches to the side of the tank filtering the water. My fish love the filter and it pumps back out the clean water and they love swimming in the flow of the water.
Normal household tap water will not be good for keeping your fish it as it has a fairly highly chlorine level. You will need to buy chlorine treatment which is about £3 a bottle (and last for ages). Anytime you do a water change (more about this later) or do anything to the water, you will need to use this treatment.
There are hundreds of decorations and ornaments to choose from. Fake plants, underwater scenes and cartoon characters to name a few. I prefer to keep my tank looking as natural as possible and only have a few rocks that look similar to coral and a few shells for decoration. I find that it is better to not have too many decorations as you do need to clean them regularly to remove the algae so its easier when you don't have so many to clean.
At the very least, you will need a net, a siphon and bucket (all to aid with cleaning). You can also get a little gadget (although I am not sure what it is called) and it is basically a magnet with Velcro on one side which you drag across the glass to remove the algae. This is very effective in cleaning the glass.
PICKING YOUR FISH
As I have already said, I prefer keeping Coldwater fish as I find tropical fish can be bullies and you have to be very careful about which fish you can keep together! No matter what type of tank you decide to keep, picking your fish is very important. Fish are not very hardy animals; they are small and therefore easily stressed. When picking you fish, make sure all the fins are intact and that it is swimming around happily rather than sitting near the bottom. Always, always make sure you ask someone which fish are ok to be kept together. For example, some of the fancy fish (with long flowing fins) cannot be kept with the non-fancy fish, as their fins will be eaten.
SETTING UP YOUR TANK
Place your tank out of bright sunlight. Once all accesories are in place, ie gravel, pump etc fill the tank with water. You will need to use the cholorine treatment and then leave the tank to settle for at least 48 hours before you actaully go and buy any fish to keep in the tank. The pH balance need to be correct in the water otherwise your new fish wil just die so it is vital you leave the water to settle.
GETTING YOUR NEW FISH INTO THE TANK
Your new fish will come in plastic bags. Place these bags in the top of the tank and leave them there for 30 minutes. This will allow the temperature in the bag and the tank to reach an even level so it is not too much of a shock / temperature change when the fish enter their new home.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR TANK
Once your tank is all set up and working, maintenance is fairly easy as long as you do it on a regular basis. It is important to look after your tank to keep your fish healthy. Every day, check that the water is clean and your fish are swimming about. Your fish will quickly become ill in a dirty tank. Every two weeks, change part of the water in the tank with a siphon that sucks up all the debris. Take about a tenth of the water out and replace it with new water (make sure you use the chlorine treatment). Clean the tank thoroughly. Cut back any plants that have grown too tall or bushy, and clean off any green slime off the inside of the glass with a scouring pad. If you do a 10% water change every 2 weeks, this should ensure the water never gets too dirty and any loose debris will be picked up in the filter which you empty every 2 weeks also.
FEEDING YOUR FISH
Fish food is available in nearly all pets shops. I buy a medium sized tub (which lasts for around 4 months) and it costs me £3. Many people overfeed fish which is pointless as any food that is not eaten will sink to the bottom and then rot, making the water pungent. Only feed as much as your fish will eat and more often that not, this is till too much. I always think it is better to feed too little then too much as you do not want that water going stagnant and your fish dying.
I have goldfish as well as plecos (ground feeders) so I also feed my fish with pellets that drop to the bottom of the tank, allowing the ground feeders to eat also.
On the whole, as long as you do your research and are prepared to clean your fish tank regularly, keeping fish is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. They are fascinating to watch and each one really does have its own character. Regular maintenance will ensure you have a healthy and long-lived tank.
Summary: Something Smells Fishy