Selecting Your Freshwater Aquarium Fish: 6 Helpful Tips
There are many factors you should consider when selecting your aquarium fish. Once you have decided on an area in your home to place the aquarium, it’s time to start choosing your fish. Here are six helpful tips to keep in mind as you begin your search.
1. The size of the tank
If you have a small tank, don’t choose an aggressive fish that may bully others. You should also take into account how big the fish will grow and what type of water environment it needs to thrive. There are 5-gallon aquariums that are perfect for starting out and only require one or two tropical fish. They can even be kept in your bedroom. For 10-gallon tanks, it is best to have only one type of fish. There should be about 1 gallon per inch of fish you keep in the tank.
2. Water temperature and quality
The water temperature for your aquarium will directly relate to what fish you can keep. Most need water between 75 and 85 degrees F (24-29 degrees C). When you take your fish home, it is important to acclimate the temperature slowly before introducing them into the tank. You should let about half of the water in the bag run out into a towel or bowl, then add that same amount back to your aquarium gradually over fifteen minutes. Water quality is equally important as temperature. Tap water may contain harmful chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride that may harm your fish. It’s best to use water from an outside source if possible, or buy some product for tap water, so you can safely fill up your tank.
3. Substrate and plants
When setting up your aquarium, it’s best to use a substrate such as gravel or sand. Gravel can be easier to clean, and you can even find natural rocks at pet stores if you want something more decorative. Don’t use any chemicals when cleaning the tank, as they can be harmful to fish. Be sure to rinse off any decor with water before placing them in the tank. Plants are a great addition to your tropical fish tank, but only add live plants if you have a good source of nutrients for them- otherwise, artificial plants will do just fine. You may also want driftwood or decorations that will not leach into the water and harm your fish. Before adding anything new to your aquarium, make sure you do research on the product to make sure it won’t be harmful.
4. Fish compatibility
Choosing fish that are compatible is extremely important, or you risk having your fish injured or killed. You should also take into account how active your fish will need to be. For example, if you were keeping an African cichlid in a 10-gallon tank, it would be best not to keep any other aggressive species with them because they’d likely kill and eat them.
If you wanted a schooling school of tetras for this same tank, you should consider only keeping 8 of them together at one time because larger ones can become skittish and turn against each other when startled. If you have territorial fish, they should only be kept with other species that will not harm them. There is also a strong possibility your territorial fish won’t show their true colors and may pick on others in the tank if disturbed by another type of fish.
5. Number of fish
This is a very important step in setting up your aquarium. In general, you want one inch of fish per gallon of water to keep the tank from being overcrowded. If you have a larger aquarium, it’s best to only have half that number, so the water doesn’t become polluted. When first introducing your fish into their new home, it’s a good idea to wait three weeks before adding any other fish- just in case they don’t get along with others or might need time to adjust after being moved from another environment. If you plan on breeding your own fish, you should plan to have at least 20 gallons of water per fish.
6. Fish feeding
You may have heard that your fish can eat anything from an algae wafer to a dead shrimp. This is only partially true- what type of food you feed your fish depends largely on how often you do so, their dietary requirements, and what size they are. If you’re keeping goldfish, for example, it’s important not to feed them too much because they will grow larger than your tank if allowed to eat all the food offered.
Selecting your freshwater aquarium fish isn’t as hard as it seems! Just make sure you take your time, do your research beforehand, and be willing to spend money on the supplies you think you’ll need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your local pet store if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all this new information!