Fish keeping seems to be something that most people do when they feel like they want to have a pet but don’t think they could pour too much attention on the care that a dog, or even a hamster or bird might require. However, fish keeping can be a very time and money consuming hobby.
About a year ago my wife and I decided that we wanted to get a pet that wasn’t going to be too expensive or time consuming. At the time we had a hamster that had just passed away and were kind of upset that we had not really given it all the attention that such a complex animal needed. We had also had our share of fish keeping and fish dying but we decided to give it another try. We spent about $150 on a new 10 gallon aquarium, filter, heater, bubble wand, cleaning supplies, water treatment and 6 small fish. After a few months only one fish survived and we had gone back to our usual care (cleaning once every 3 months and struggling to remember to feed the fish every night).
Early this month a friend of mine started to get into buying fish. He bought an aquarium for his family and soon acquired about 5 different sized aquariums from friends. I decided that I would refill my aquarium and bought a few more fish plus a magazine (AQUARIUM USA an annual special edition of AQUARIUM FISH INTERNATIONAL) for my friend. What I discovered in the magazine is that fish keeping is an extremely complex and interesting hobby.
Water Chemistry: Most people I know, including myself, don’t really know or care that certain fish need a certain water chemistry. I far as I was concerned, I thought fish just needed water, period. This assumption is dead wrong. Different fish need different water temperature, hardness (how many minerals are in the water) and acidity (ph level of the water). I found out that you can buy some fairly inexpensive and easy to use “test kits” or you can buy slightly more expensive water monitors that tell you how much ammonia there is in the water, the ph level of the water and the temperature. Most tropical fish that you find at the store need an ammonia level of 0, ph level of 7.0 and water temperature between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Illness: Another thing that I didn’t know is that fish get sick. Yea, it seems obvious but I don’t think it is something that I had ever thought about before. One of the most common illnesses for fish is called Ich. Ich is a protozoan (microscopic animal) that feeds on the fish’s skin tissue and looks like lice. Another illness is “pop eye” which is a sort of eye infection. Most pet stores sell medications that you put into the water for a few days. Ich takes about 6 days of medicating to get rid of and even if the fish don’t show the little white bumps you should still keep on medicating because the bacteria reproduces and grows more resistant to the medicine. Before you apply the medicine remove the carbon rock part of your filter because it will filter the medicine out of the water.
Breeding: You would figure that breeding fish is something that happens by chance if you happen to have a male and female fish in your aquarium but, despite the fact that it may sometimes happen by chance, breeding the fish is something that needs exact conditions that vary according to the kind of fish you have. The water chemistry and temperature, the amount of plants you have in your tank, and the amount of hiding places are some of the factors that lead to fish breeding. Some people have a lot of information on how to breed different kinds of fish and for some fish you need to have the conditions just right or you’ll never see any offspring.
Much More: Water chemistry and all those other things are just a small bit of information that might come in handy if you have fish that are mysteriously dying, or if you are planning on buying fish. However, if you are indeed planning on getting fish and you really care about the well being of any living creature in your house you should research fish in general and the particular fish you are thinking about buying. You have plenty of time to decide on fish since it is usually recommended that you run your new aquarium empty for at least one week in order to test the water and ready the aquarium. Remember that fish keeping can be very complex depending on how much you care, how much you want to control and how much you just want to leave up to chance. Fish keeping can be a hobby, even a science so enjoy!