Choosing fish for your freshwater tank
I hate repeating myself but it is extremely important you do research into what will work in your tank. The Internet is an abundant source for information about every type of fish that is available. Forums, like this one, are a great way to ask for further information or opinion about your choice. Many of the people you talk to more than likely own, or have once owned the fish you are looking at getting.
You should also research your local fish stores. While your tank is cycling, visit the stores, ask questions, check out their tanks make sure their fish seem healthy. You may need to visit a few times to find the most reputable one.
You must also take into consideration the available space you have in your aquarium. There is a ‘general’ rule for choosing fish that states about 1 inch of fish for 1 gallon, you will proberly come across several times. This isn’t the best way to choose how many fish you can have. Different species require different territories and may need your entire tank. This is where research is imperative. Having an overstocked tank will cause you many problems starting with bio load, and may cause your fish to constantly have diseases.
The information you will need about your fish is as follows:
Minimum size required – this will usually be per fish so if keeping more than one you will need to increase the size. For example for a single Oscar the minimum size is 55 gallons, for two minimum size is 75 gallons. You must have at least the minimum size required, if you have anything less you will cause your fish to suffer. The common myth of your fish will only grow to the tank size is a lie and if you do this you could cause permanent spinal damage to your fish and increase it’s risk of getting diseases.
The size the fish will grow to – you will want to know what size your fish will be when it is fully mature. Most sizes given are for guidance; your fish may not grow as big, or may grow bigger. You also don’t want to keep fish that are going to be large with smaller fish as they may end up see the smaller fish as a snack.
Temperature – you must find out what temperature is optimum for the fish you want to keep. You shouldn’t keep fish with different temperature requirements in the same tank. It will cause your fish to suffer.
Strata – this indicates where in your tank the fish prefers to swim, top, middle or bottom. It is unwise to overload a certain strata in your tank as this will cause territorial issues and stress your fish.
Compatibility – there are different compatibilities of fish. Some are single, aggressive fish, some are semi-aggressive and some are peaceful community fish.
The aggressive fish will defend its territory and constantly harass, chase and pick on other fish. It is not a good environment to keep semi-aggressive or peaceful fish in. It will eventually lead to their death. Aggressive fish are usually kept as a single fish in the tank
Semi-aggressive fish are active and playful and will live with other fish. They can show aggressiveness defending their territory and may harass other fish. However they will not constantly chase and harass your other fish. It is safe to keep them together as long as they have the right territory requirements.
Community fish are the breeds of fish that with peacefully co-exist without much trouble. You can keep semi-aggressive fish with community fish successfully as long as territory requirements are kept. Some community fish prefer to be in packs of three or more, so you must take that into consideration.
*Avoid mixing large, boisterous fish with smaller peaceful fish. You may encounter bullying or the larger fish may eat most or all of the food and the smaller fish will become malnourished.
*Do not overload one strata of the tank, have a variety from top, middle and bottom.
*Should I get adult or juvenile fish? This is entirely up to you. Buying adult fish gives you the assurance of the fish being robust and any irregularities can be easily seen. Adult fish also enhance the exhibition or overall appearance of your tank. However, an adult could be well into its full life span so you will not be able to keep them for very long before they die of old age. Juveniles, on the other hand, allow you to enjoy your fish for longer. You have the satisfaction of watching them grow and develop and give you a fuller attachment to them. Juveniles are also cheaper.
*Getting your fish home. Fish are generally sold in plastic bags with half water, half air secured with a rubber band. As the oxygen in the water depletes it is replaced by the air above. It is important to get the fish into your aquarium as soon as possible. Do not leave the bag sitting in your car for too long. Usually just long enough to get it from the shop to your aquarium.
*Select healthy fish. Healthy fish will be active with good colour, clear eyes, complete fins and interact normally. They should not show signs of disease, such as white spots, inflammation or fungus, or have any other physical damage. They should not be hiding away at the bottom of the tank or at corners.
*Don’t be put off buying from a store with a tank with a quarantine sign on it. It may be a responsible precaution taken by the owner to nurse sick fish to health before selling on to you, or checking fish for health after stock arrival.
choosing fish for your tank
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