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How To Choose Your Tropical Fish

Knowing how to choose your new tropical fish is going to be one of the most important things you ever do in this new hobby. But how can you tell which are the best fish for your tank? This is the question I will answer for you in this article.

The first thing we need to discuss is the temperament of your fish. There are only three main different temperaments a fish can have. Here they are:

Social breeds. These breeds of fish will get along with any other type of fish. S...

tropical fish, saltwater fish, freshwater fish, aquarium fish

Knowing how to choose your new tropical fish is going to be one of the most important things you ever do in this new hobby. But how can you tell which are the best fish for your tank? This is the question I will answer for you in this article.

The first thing we need to discuss is the temperament of your fish. There are only three main different temperaments a fish can have. Here they are:

Social breeds. These breeds of fish will get along with any other type of fish. Some of the most common fish to fit in this category are Danios, Tetras, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies and Corydoras.

Semi-social breeds. These breeds can comfortably be kept along with other fish that are of equal size without them showing signs of aggression. Think of fish like Barbs, Angelfish and Gouramis.

Aggressive breeds. These breeds of fish must always be kept by themselves, or at most, in pairs with another fish of the same breed. An example of these type of fish would be Male Bettas, Oscars and Jewelfish.

If you’ve got a good local pet store, they should be able to give you further advice on what kind of fish you can keep together. A good question to ask the pet employees is if the fish have been kept in quarantine for at least two weeks before being available for sale.

If they haven’t been quarantined the fish will be much more susceptible to disease and early death if they have been exposed to high amounts of stress (such as being on an airplane) without a few weeks rest time.

Another important thing to look for in a fish is its color. You want to choose a fish that has a dense and well-defined color. If the fish has a pattern, check to see there isn’t any signs of blurring between colors.

 

How To Set Up A Quarantine Tank For Tropical Fish

Ah, yes, the often dismissed but very necessary part of the tropical fish hobby, the infamous quarantine tank. Do you really need one to be successful in this hobby?

quarantne tank setup

Do I Need A Quarantine Tank?

Ah, yes, the often dismissed but very necessary part of the tropical fish hobby, the infamous quarantine tank. Do you really need one to be successful in this hobby?

For freshwater fish you may be able to get by without having one. Freshwater fish are generally more suited to captivity because they are usually tank raised and don't seem to break out in disease as readily as their saltwater counterparts. However, if newly acquired fish do come down with something, you will surely wish that you had one ready to go. One newly bought fish that is introduced to your main tank can easily wipe out the entire tank population. Better safe than sorry, right?

For saltwater aquarium keepers, I would say that you definitely need a quarantine tank. Marine specimens are mostly wild caught and not used to being kept in captivity. Their journey to a dealers tank is usually much longer and much more stressful for them. Stressed out fish will usually come down with some kind of disease if they don't simply die from the whole ordeal. Saltwater fish keepers will usually have other things in the main display tank such as invertebrates and live rock, that they don't want to expose to the harsh medicines necessary to treat one or two fish. Some medicines can wipe out all of the invertebrates in a tank, so be sure to research any medicine before using it in your tank.

Quarantine Tank Setup

You don't need to go all out here. A simple 10 - 20 gallon aquarium will suffice for most people. If you have larger fish then obviously you want to get a bigger quarantine tank. All you really need is a bare bones setup with the following equipment:

Some type of filtration (a hang on the back of the tank power filter will work, just use filter floss without the carbon since carbon will remove medication from the water, being counter productive)
Heater
A powerhead and/or an airstone for increased surface agitation
Test Kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate
Fish Net - don't use the same net for your main tank

Fill the quarantine tank with water from the main tank and then turn everything on in the quarantine tank.

Freshwater & Saltwater Fish Quarantine

For newly acquired fish you will want to acclimate them to the water in the quarantine tank and monitor them very closely for a period of two to three weeks. Monitor the water parameters with your test kits and check for signs of parasites or bacterial infections.

If the newly acquired fish does come down with something you will need to use the appropriate medication and you will need to keep them in quarantine for a further two weeks to make sure that you have indeed treated them effectively. If after a few weeks no problems develop, you can then acclimate them to the main tank water and then introduce them.

If a fish comes down with something while in your main tank, just net them and plop them into the quarantine tank. There should be no need to acclimate them because you used water from your main tank. If you didn't use water from the main tank you will need to acclimate them to the quarantine tank water. Diagnose the problem/disease and treat appropriately. After the disease clears up you will still want to keep the fish in quarantine for a week or so monitoring the water parameters with your test kits the whole time.

More On Saltwater Quarantine

Always have some extra saltwater ready in case you need to perform an emergency water change. Remember, you want to monitor those water parameters frequently (daily or at least once every two days). Many saltwater hobbyists always have saltwater ready just in case. You never want to mix up saltwater and add it right away. Freshly mixed saltwater can be fairly toxic to fish, in turn causing you more problems.

Conclusion

Freshwater hobbyists may get away with not using a quarantine tank, but saltwater hobbyists would be crazy not using one. Save yourself some money, headaches and especially the fish by having a quarantine tank. The fish in your main tank will thank you for it.

 

How To Setup A Freshwater Tropical Fish Tank

This is an 11 step guide to setting up a freshwater aquarium in your home.

aquarium setup

This is an 11 step guide to setting up a freshwater aquarium in your home.

Equipment you will need:

Aquarium
Aquarium gravel
Aquarium filter
Replacement filter media
Heater
Other decorations (such as plants)
Chemical test kits
Fish food
Aquarium vacuum
Fish net
Glass Scrubber
5-gallon bucket
Pasta strainer

STEP 1: Realize the responsibility involved.
A tropical fish tank is just like having a dog or a cat when it comes to the amount of effort on your part. In order to have a successful fish tank you will have to work at it. Once a week, or at most once every two weeks, you will need to perform some kind of maintenance on the tank. Most of the time you will be performing water changes. You will also have to feed your tropical fish at least once a day. If you are up to the challenge, please proceed!

STEP 2: Decide on an aquarium size.
It’s a good idea to have in mind what kind of tropical fish you want to keep before you purchase an aquarium. Some tropical fish only grow to be an inch or two, whereas other types of tropical fish can grow 12 or 13 inches in length! Knowing what kind of tropical fish you want will help you decide the size of the tank they will need. If this is your first time with an aquarium, I would recommend going with a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium for now.

STEP 3: Decide on the aquarium's location.
Place your aquarium in an area where the light and temperature of the tank won’t be affected by external sources such as windows and heater vents. You will want to place your aquarium on a stand that will be able to hold its total weight. A good rule of thumb for determining the total weight of a full aquarium is 10 pounds per gallon of water. For example, a 55-gallon tank will weigh approximately 550 pounds when filled with water!

STEP 4: Buy your aquarium and equipment.
Now is the time to decide on the type of filtration you will want to use. You will also need to purchase a heater capable of heating the tank size you have. Buy the gravel, plants, a power strip and other decorations. A good rule of thumb for the amount of gravel that you will need is 1 to 1.5 pounds of gravel per gallon of water.

STEP 5: Set up your aquarium and stand.
Wash out your tank with water only! Do not use soap or detergents. Soap residue left behind will be harmful for your tropical fish. If you are going to use an under gravel filter (not recommended) now would be the time to set it up as well.

STEP 6: Wash Gravel, plants and decorations.
Be sure to wash the gravel thoroughly before adding it to your tank. An easy way to do this is to put some of the rocks in a pasta strainer and wash them out in your bathtub. Then place the clean gravel in a clean 5-gallon bucket for transport to the aquarium. After adding the gravel you can place your plants and decorations.

STEP 7: Add water to the aquarium.
To avoid messing up your gravel and plants, you can place a plate or saucer in the middle of your aquarium and direct the water flow onto the plate. Use room temperature water when filling. To remove the chlorine and chloramine, use something like Tetra AquaSafe for Aquariums. Don’t completely fill up the aquarium until you are sure of the layout of your decorations. Otherwise, when you place your arm in to move stuff around water is going to spill over. Doh!

STEP 8: Set up equipment.
Install your heater but don’t plug it in until the thermostat in the heater has adjusted to the water temperature. This usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Hook up your filter and any other equipment you have, then top off the aquarium water to just under the hood lip. Place your hood and light on the aquarium and then check your power cords to be sure that they are free of water. I would also recommend using a drip loop on all of the power cords to be extra cautious. Plug all of the equipment into a power strip and then “turn on” the aquarium.

STEP 9. Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more.
I know, you want to add some tropical fish. But, in order to do this right you must wait until your aquarium has cycled before adding any fish. There are ways of speeding up this process. Check out the nitrogen cycle page to learn more. If you must use fish to cycle, try to get a hardier species like the zebra danio or cherry barb.

STEP 10. Add tropical fish.
Only add one or two fish at a time. Adding a couple tropical fish at a time gives your filtration system the time needed to take on the increased biological load that the new fish introduce. When you bring the fish home let the bag float in the tank for about 15 minutes so that the fish can become acclimated to the temperature and pH of the aquarium water. After 5 minutes of floating the bag you should add some of the aquarium water to the bag so that the fish can become acclimated to the pH level in the aquarium. This will help reduce the amount of stress imposed on the tropical fish. Stressed tropical fish often leads to dead tropical fish! Don’t feed your tropical fish on the first day. They probably wouldn’t eat any food on the first day anyway. Let them get acquainted with their new home.

STEP 11. Get ready for regular maintenance.
Be prepared to spend some time once every week or two to clean your tank. Performing regular water changes will reduce the nitrate levels and keep your tropical fish happy and healthy.




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