The pediatricians’ office I went to as kid had a big fish tank in the wall. Any time I had to go, I always sat in the chair right next to it. I don’t know why I was drawn to the aquarium. Recently I learned that recent psychological studies suggest that aquariums help reduce stress and reduceheart rate by creating a relaxing environment.
Sounds like a nice addition to your home, right? Well, before you go crazy putting a fish tank together, read on. Starting one is easy, but not as easy as just throwing a goldfish in a bowl.
Decide the type of fish you want
Fish live in two types of water: fresh and saltwater. Freshwater fish tanks are much easier to care for and less expensive than saltwater tanks. I would recommend starting with freshwater fish if this is your first tank.
When you’re looking at fish in the store, pay attention to the stickers on the tank – particularly the fish sticker that has massive teeth on it. This means whatever fish are in that tank are aggressive. Buying aggressive fish may limit the other types of fish you can include in the tank. I generally avoided having aggressive fish in my tanks.
Have a store clerk help you pick out fish if you really aren’t sure which will get along.
Can your fish swim solo or does it need a school
Another sticker to pay attention to is the one that has multiple fish on it. Some types of fish, like these tiny tetras, thrive better in small schools. Aquatic Community recommends purchasing several: “Schooling fish species should be kept in groups consisting of at least six specimens since smaller groups will make them stressed, prone to disease and very shy.” Let’s be honest, too; one fish is a little boring to look at.
Again, it’s always a good idea to talk with a pet expert when purchasing your fish.
Pick the right aquarium
A general rule of thumb that many pet store clerks told me is that one fish equals one gallon of water – although some fish, like bettas, require more space. Buying a tank that’s too small for the amount of fish you have can cause extra stress on the fish. Give them plenty of space to swim around.
Get some decorations
You’ve picked out the fish and the tank, now it’s time to buy some decorations for your replica-underwater world. More than just making you’re tank look awesome, little castles, shipwrecks and fake plants make fish feel more comfortable. Experts note that an empty tank could stress your fish out by making them feel vulnerable. Think about it though; in nature, fish have tons of safe havens to hide in from predators. Why wouldn’t you want to give them some places to hide out every once in a while?
Aquarium decorations can also hide not so appealing elements of your tank, like filters, air hoses or heaters.
Fill the tank with water
Don’t just fill the tank with regular tap water and put your new fish in it. Most tap water contains chlorine and other chemicals that are toxic to fish. Two days before buying your fish, fill your tank or a few buckets with water and let it sit. This allows chemicals to evaporate out. You can also purchase a water conditioner at the pet store that removes dangerous toxins.
Making the final move
The last and final step after you’ve carefully prepared your tank is buying your fish and putting them in. Don’t just throw your fish in though because you could kill them! Set the bag the fish came in in your tank for about an hour. This lets the fish slowly adjust to the temperature of the tank water. Also pour some of the water in the bag in the tank. This fosters good bacteria in your tank.
Taking the time and carefully putting your fish tank together ensures your fish will be happy and healthy in their new home.
Do you have a fish tank? What type of fish do you have? Share with other Zing readers!
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