This is a follow-up post to “Something Fishy! (1)” – inspired by my Comet Goldfish (see image, below)
In this part I give a bit more information on fish, tanks, husbandry, and more! Following on from fish diseases and foodstuffs, I have decided to talk about the tank and what goes into it, in this; part 2…
Hygiene and Husbandry
Water changes should be done 10% weekly or 50% monthly. More than a 50% water change should not be done at any one time, unless a new tank is being set up – this can cause an imbalance in the chemicals in the tank, which is quite likely to lead to problems!
A siphon is used for suctioning out dirt and debris from the gravel and décor. It also sucks out water so a bucket is needed to put the dirty water in. This dirty water is the water the filter sponges and the décor, should be cleaned in.
Tap water, at the correct temperature, with “Tap Safe” – the chemical that is added to the water to make it safe for fish – should be used to refill the tank. Chlorine and chloramines are strong chemicals which are added to drinking water, this kills bacteria and makes tap water safe for humans to drink. Untreated (without “Tap Safe”) tap water contains these chemicals, which can strip the protective mucus coating (what makes fish ‘slimy’) off the fish making them susceptible to disease and infections, and can lead to the death of your fish. Putting “Tap Safe” or “Safe Guard” makes the water safe and comfortable for your fish to live in, and must be done EVERY time you do a water change.
ELECTRICS SHOULD BE TURNED OFF BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR HAND INTO THE TANK!! – Due to the filter (and heater) and light, there is electricity dangerously close to the water. If the water becomes electric due to a fault, the fish will be unaffected as they are unearthed – meaning you will not see it. You will know about it though, if you put your hand into the tank as you will get electrocuted. So be safe rather than sorry – especially if there is nobody else around to help you if you do get hurt!
Housing and Environment
Tanks and Location
Fish should be housed in a decent sized fish tank – bowls are insufficient in space and are a poor home for your pet. Ensure your tank is big enough for how big your fish will grow, and the amount of stock in the tank. Never overstock your tank; this could lead to aggression, fighting and even death. Remember when you buy your tank that the space will be lessened with the décor added, so remember to account for this.
Put your tank in a quiet place as too many vibrations; from noise from TV or people walking past often, will cause stress to the fish. Fish have something called the lateral line, which detects vibrations; over-stimulation of this causes excess stress to fish, thinning the mucus coating, which can lead to ill health in your fish. Ensure that you put the tank away from windows, as excessive sunlight promotes algae growth; algae upsets the chemical balance in the water as well as mucking up your tank.
Depending on what species you want to keep will determine the water in the tank – cold, tropical or marine. No matter what temperature, or water type you have you will always need “Tap Safe” in the water to make it safe for your fish to live in. The chlorine in tap water is unsafe for your pet fish and will cause very poor health, and even death; however, there are treatments to add to the water to make it safe. Depending on brand of the product, the name will be different – “Tap Safe” and “Fresh Start” and “Safe Guard” (not “Safe Water”) are 3 of these treatments; differently named as they are manufactured by different companies, however do the same job. Always ask advice from the pet shop staff if you are unsure about which one to buy – if shop staff are unsure, go to a different shop!
Décor needs to be added to the tank for enrichment – natural is always best, however some people do prefer funny décor such as; sunken pirate ships, fake plants, characters (see image, below), and “No Fishing” signs. Fish however, prefer natural rocks, pieces of wood, and live plants.
Live plants also add oxygen into the tank making it a better environment for the fish. Although, it can become and expensive upkeep to have live plants if, like my fish, they just eat the plants resulting in the necessity to buy more… and more… and more! So I keep false plants in my tank – one larger and one smaller (see image, below) – to provide a hiding place, as well as a bit of colour in the tank.
For extra oxygen you could put an aerator in the tank (or as the Yellow Tang in Finding Nemo calls them, “MY BUBBLES!”) – which can be in standard form, or in the form of décor such as; an opening/ closing treasure chest, a scuba diver, or other items. Another option (as mentioned in part 1) is to position your internal filter high enough to keep the surface of the water moving (see image, below).
Fish like somewhere to hide, in case they feel threatened and need to get away. Large, leafy plants and tunnels are common hide-away’s; as are castles, houses, and sunken pirate ships! Natural looking, artificial hide-away’s are longer lasting than real bits of wood, etc. – and are easier to clean! An example of a hide-away is my tank’s natural looking, hollow of wood (see image, below).
A substrate needs to be provided – gravel is the most common, but sand or bark can also be used. Ensure that the gravel is bigger than your fish’s mouth, as during foraging fish often pick up bits of gravel, and are likely to choke if the gravel is small enough for silly fish swallow!
Backing paper is optional, it is for the owners benefit only – it hides wires at the back of the tank, and makes the tank look nice. Backing paper is fitted onto the outside of the tank on the back ‘wall’; image facing the inside of the tank. When a person looks into the tank from the front, the backing paper image can be seen.
A filter is necessary in all tanks; to filter the dirt, bad chemicals and faces from the water – leaving clean water. This could be an internal, external, or under-gravel filter. Filters need to be cleaned out regularly and thoroughly, in ‘dirty’ tank water – not tap water.
These go on the inside of your tank are best for single tanks of standard sizes (best for your everyday fish tank). Internal filters come in a range of sizes to fit with most standard tanks and even some smaller ones, and are very easy to clean.
These are larger than internal filters, and sit on the outside of the tank, with a bit attached to the inside – these are great for large tanks where the filter size needed is just too big to put in the tank.
These are often found in small, starter tanks and are unseen, because (as the name states) it hidden under the gravel. The gravel being on top of the filter can cause issues with the filtration, and under-gravel filter performance is not great (not recommended – even for starter tanks).
Filters need to be cleaned out weekly or fortnightly (at least). The filter has a sponge (or sponges) inside which need to be cleaned in the tank water itself – not tap water – because the chlorine will get into the filter and get into the water rendering your “Tape Safe” or “Safe Guard” useless.
In tropical and marine water type tanks; a heater needs to be placed, as well as a thermometer on the outside of the tank to ensure the optimum temperature is regularly maintained. Ensure the temperature is not too hot or cold for your species – research into the species you will house before you get them. Ensure, in multi-species tanks, that the temperature is suitable for all species of fish that are in your tank.
Lights are also a fixture beneficial to the tank. The light can be turned on to see the fish in the evening, and can be on during the day – but lights should be turned off at night so the fish can sleep. Fish lack eyelids so need complete darkness to enable the to get a good night sleep! Different light types can be purchased – daytime and night-time lights; night lights usually being a blue colour and not as bright as day lights. Day lights can be standard tank bulbs, or UV bulbs which imitate sunlight by providing vitamin D. Preference is down to you when picking a bulb, however if you choose to go with a UV bulb – ensure you remember to turn them off for a minimum of 10 hours each night as too much vitamin D can also cause health problems.
One of my Comet Goldfish was not too pleased with me for photographing him, his tank-mates, and his tank! I thought I would share with you the photographic evidence of this, in the form of a meme… enjoy!