Let’s just clear up the misconception that fish are suitable pets for lazy owners right at the onset. As a fish owner, you might not have too much interaction with your pet, but there are definitely certain duties that you will have to fulfil. At the end of the day, you are responsible for another living being, albeit a very small and forgetful one.
So to start with, what fish do you want? A small one or a big one? An active, aggressive one or a calm one? Will a plain-looking fish do, or would you like a flashy, colourful one, who’s iridescent scales you can spend hours staring at?
The best part about having fish as pets is there’s so much to choose from, so many species, to suit everyone’s tastes (aesthetic, not culinary) and budgets.
Goldfish are a popular choice, although most people are unaware that there are about 100 species of goldfish alone to choose from, and feature a huge selection of sizes, patterns and even colours.
Betta fish, or the Siamese fighting fish, are beautiful and are very popular as pets, particularly because they’re available in a myriad of vibrant colours. True to their names though, they’re very aggressive and territorial, and two males cannot be kept in the same tank to prevent them from seriously injuring or even killing each other. Other than that, they make great pets.
Angelfish are another very popular variety, these too are available in a lot of varieties. Very pretty and not too big, these fish, however, need to be kept in groups since they are community fish and also need large tanks in order to keep them happy.
Before you buy the fish, if you’re getting different kinds, make sure they’re compatible with each other to avoid turning the tank into a fish battle field.
After you decide on which fish to get, but before you actually get it, you need to zero in on a tank for it to live in, and the necessary equipment to maintain it. Not to mention the decoration for the tank.
Any gravel you buy for the tank must be washed thoroughly before being installed. Then start adding any features such as rocks, shells, plants you might want, as long as they’ve been okayed to keep in a tank. Ask the pet store if you’re not sure yourself, they’ll generally have an idea regarding what the fish needs and what’s bad for it’s health. Make sure the fish have plenty of cozy nooks and crannies to hide in, they love those.The temperature of the tank needs to be similar to that of their natural habitat. If you have tropical fish, that normally live in warm waters, they should be fine in summers. But if you live somewhere where it temperatures dip in winters, you will need a heater to keep the fish comfortable.
As for the tank itself, the bigger, the better, for both the fish and you. Bigger tanks are easier to maintain, smaller tanks get dirty much more easily. Needless to say, if you were planning on keeping your goldfish in one of those cute cartoon bowls, then you’ll have to rethink your choice. The water you keep them in needs to be fresh and a neutral pH of 7, unless specified otherwise.The most important equipment you’ll need is the water filtration system. This is needed to keep the tank clean and make sure you don’t have algal growth. These algae not only dirty the tanks, making the clear water cloudy, but they also compete with the fish for the oxygen in the tank. Which brings us to another important aspect of the tank.
If the tank is too deep, or if there are a large number of fish in the tank, you will need an oxygenation system, to make sure there is enough oxygen in the tank. Creating movement of water also helps dissolve and distribute oxygen throughout the tank. This is something a filter also does, but of your tank is overcrowded or too deep, it isn’t going to be enough. Keeping the tank clean of waste and algae will go a long way in preventing low oxygen levels.
Some fish tend to jump out of their tanks, and if nobody is present, or nobody notices, this may cost the fish it’s life. To prevent this, and also solve the issue of lighting simultaneously, consider combining the lights with an over-tank cover, as shown. The lights need to be turned off during the day.
Fish generally need to be fed around two times a day. They might appear hungry and swim towards the surface to gobble flakes every time you feed them, but that’s instinctive, regardless of whether they’re hungry or not. Overfeeding can cause clogging of your water filtration system and turn the water stale and toxic very quickly. The exceptions are fry (baby fish) and herbivores. These need to be given small meals several times a day.
Lastly, fish are sensitive creatures and are easily stressed out, so make sure the tank is in a quiet corner. Flashy lights and loud, sudden noises will upset them. As will dirty surroundings. And lastly, the idea might be very tempting, but no matter how much you want to do it, DO NOT stick your hand into the water. Not only will you freak out the fish, you might also introduce dangerous germs into the tank.