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Pet Fish Care Tips
Essential products for your tropical fish aquarium
Although many people love having dogs and cats as pets, it's sometimes just not feasible to have one because of space constraints, lease agreements or allergies to pet fur. One nice substitute that also makes for an enjoyable hobby is having an aquarium filled with colorful tropical fish. However, with the fish in an enclosed tank, it's necessary to make sure the aquarium is a healthy, livable environment that supports fish and other additions, such as snails. To do this, you need a good aquarium, fish food, filtration and heating supplies, and items to keep the aquarium's water clean and the fish healthy.
Although you can choose to put a small number of tropical fish in a small bowl, aquariums allow you to create a complete environment for your fish. They also allow you to aerate the water in the tank, which is important for fish health. You can place your aquarium on a stand that comes with it, or it can rest on any flat surface that'll support it. Choose an aquarium based on how many gallons of water it can hold. The choices available range from smaller than 5 gallons to more than 55 gallons. Most aquariums are glass encased in metal, although plastic and acrylic are options, too. Most are rectangular, but many different shapes are available, including cubes and hexagons. Choose the number of gallons based on how much space you have and how many fish you want. As a general rule, your tank should have one gallon per every inch of fish. What this means is that a 3-inch-long fish needs at least 3 gallons for itself in the tank.
Once you have the home for your fish settled on, you need to ensure the environment is a healthy one. This means buying filters, a heater, an aerator, lighting and a thermometer. Aquarium heaters range in power from 25 watts to 300 watts and is based on the size of the aquarium. Heaters are submersible and regulate the temperature of the water for the fish. The aerator, which is also submersible, introduces oxygen into the water. If you don't include an aerator as part of your system, your fish may suffocate and die.
A thermometer lets you know at a glance what the water temperature is inside the aquarium. Although some tropical fish prefer warmer water and some do better in cooler water, the temperature range for your aquarium should be generally between 76 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for tropical fish. Aquarium thermometers can be submersible or stick on the outside of the aquarium.
Aquarium filters clean the water between water changes and work like most filters where the water enters through an intake valve or pipe, is cleaned by the filter and then passed back into the aquarium through a return pipe or valve. Filter cartridges only need infrequent replacing, so you'll want to check with the manufacturer to see how often to do this. Some recommend rinsing the filters with cool tap water when you perform a water change.
Because you want to be able to see your fish at all times of the day and night and to provide your fish with a steady amount of lighting, you should place a light into the hood of the aquarium. Tank lights are low-wattage lights that produce very little heat to avoid disrupting the aquarium's delicate environment. Most bulbs are fluorescent, and some are incandescent.
To make the environment seem more natural, you can add decorations and substrate to the aquarium. Gravel is a good foundation because not only is it decorative, but it also provides beneficial bacteria to the environment. Sand and moss are also options for substrate, depending on the type of tropical fish you have. You can also choose to provide plastic plants to make the environment more lifelike, or you can add live plants, which help add oxygen to the water. Add some decorations to the tank that give fish places to go, explore and even hide in, if necessary.
Flakes and pellets are the most common options for food, and the food can be fish meal-based, algae-based or seafood-based, as with shrimp pellets and bloodworms. These types of fish food, which you usually feed once or twice daily, help protect your fish's immune systems and give them the required minerals, vitamins and trace elements. Fish food is available in containers as small as 2.2 ounces or in pails that hold up to 10 pounds. There are also supplements, like calcium, that you can add if any deficiencies appear in your fish.