Although many people wouldn’t think of having pet tropical fish, they should be given the same level of commitment and attention as that of a dog or cat. Fish are living creatures who you have chosen and who will rely completely on you to provide a safe, clean and healthy environment for them to thrive and grow in. Even though they will not be able to return the affections that traditional pets would, such as the wag of a tail or the nuzzle and purr of a happy feline, they will provide hours of pleasure and entertainment as you watch them grow and interact with one another in the habitat you have created for them. There is a profound sense of accomplishment in watching them thrive in an aquatic home you have created, especially since that is more complicated than providing a comfy pet and food for a dog or cat.
It is a common belief by people that keeping tropical fish is difficult and complicated. Although it does require more work than a cat or dog, it can be a fascinating hobby and a great way for several family members to get involved in a group activity. Children will enjoy picking out the fish and learning about the different varieties available and how they grow. Another benefit of owning tropical fish over traditional pets is that they are free of fleas, dander and fur, which makes them great for people who suffer from allergies or have other sensitivities that prevent them from owning a cat or a dog.
As with anything, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Once you understand the basics and have prepared the aquarium for your tropical fish, you will find that being a fish enthusiast is quite pleasurable, not to mention the sense of satisfaction you will feel at having created a thriving, beautiful environment for these delightful creatures.
Before You Start:
In order for your fish to thrive you will need to understand their needs and any special requirements of their environment. To ensure you can create the best habitat and that it will fit easily into your lifestyle, you will need to do the following:
- Take your time planning your tank and researching tropical fish care. You will want this experience to be exciting and free of stress and problems. If you rush into this decision, you may encounter difficulties that can be avoided with good pre-planning. You do not want regrets.
- Decide what size tank you want to have or are able to afford comfortably within your chosen budget. If you can only begin with a small tank, you will be limited on what types of fish you can choose.
- Once your tank size is chosen, research which species of tropical fish can live in that size tank; including the maximum number of fish your tank will hold in order for them not to be too crowded.
- Once you choose the fish you will have, make sure you have done thorough research on the species and how they will interact with one another, if your tank will contain a variety of fish.
Choosing the Right Tropical Fish Tank
This is one of the most important steps in helping to ensure your tropical fish will survive and thrive. Choose the biggest tank your budget will allow. Resist the urge to buy a small tank or a cheap tank; as you will be surprised how quickly your fish will grow. A tank that is really small will require more work to keep clean as it will become dirty faster and its water temperature will be more difficult to regulate. A small tank will also limit the possibility of adding more fish later.
Important Tank Basics
When building the environment inside the tank, you will need to make sure certain elements are provided:
- Keep the number of fish low when you first create your tank, even if it can sufficiently house more. Getting used to a new environment stresses fish and the less they have to deal with, the better. Too many fish can cause unwanted competition between inhabitants. If there is plenty of room, then each fish will be able to gradually adapt to the new tank without the added pressure of fighting with its neighbors.
- It is best to limit the variety of fish in the beginning. Some breeds do not get along with others and in some cases cannot be put with any other species at all. Once your tank is established and your fish are thriving, you can add a new variety (if you’ve done your research and know that it is safe to mix the current occupants with the new species you are considering.
- When decorating your fish tank, make sure you allow a place for fish to hide. Even fish like a place to have some privacy from the other tank occupants and even the eyes of onlookers. Believe it or not, fish experience stress too!
- Location is a key element in how easy or difficult it is to regulate water temperature and algae growth. If the tank will reside in a sunny location, algae and bacteria will grow quicker and water temperature may become too warm for some fish. Remember to take sunshine (direct or indirect and length of exposure) into account when deciding where to place your tank.
- A tank’s weight when full of water, gravel and other tank equipment and decorations requires a substantial base to hand it safely and securely. Keep this in mind when choosing where to display your new aquarium.
Water and Maintenance
Fish will eat the food you provide, no matter how much or how little, so make sure you are not overfeeding them. If you are using flakes and see some at the bottom of the tank after feeding, then you are giving your fish too much to eat at one time. Over feeding can result in poor water quality and require cleaning more often.
Keeping the tank clean is essential to good health. Even if the tank doesn’t seem dirty, you should get in the habit of cleaning it at least once a month. Keeping your tank clean will help prevent disease. Fish can die quickly and it's easier to prevent illness in tropical fish than it is to treat them.
Different species require different water requirements, so make sure you are grouping together varieties that can exist under the same water conditions.
Keeping the water at a constant temperature is vital, but can be managed easily and successfully with a tank heater and thermometer. When compared to the annual costs of owning a cat or dog, this is very minimal.
Benefits of Tropical Fish
For people who want to enjoy some sort of pet, but have limited time, resources or are just looking for something different, tropical fish are a great alternative. Some of the benefits include:
- The annual cost of tropical fish food is approximately $30
- You do not need to exercise or walk them
- Other than a monthly tank cleaning, no further grooming or maintenance is required
- There are no veterinary costs for check ups, shots or fees for licenses
- As you become more experienced, you will be able to upgrade to bigger tanks, and more exotic fish species at a comfortable pace
- Supplies for your tank and fish are easy to get at pet stores
Do you have tropical fish? What species? Would you recommend it to others?