Unlike other, cuddlier pets, fish are relatively low maintenance and as you sit there and watch them swim in their tank, they can have a lovely calming effect. While for some pet owners the novelty can wear off, building an aquarium at home can be more beautiful and rewarding than any other pet. Unfortunately, really taking care of fish is a little more complicated than just putting them in some water. Here are ten things to keep in mind when getting a pet fish for the first time.

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Choosing the Right Fish

This should be your first step when buying a fish. Once you know what you want, it will make all the other steps in getting ready for your fish much easier. One of the most important things to keep in mind when building your first aquarium is that not all fish get along. Some fish will aggressively attack all others until they are dead. It is pretty brutal to watch.

Ideal fish are easy to maintain, potent breeders (but not TOO potent), and compatible with other fish as well as the surroundings you will set up in your aquarium. The best option for choosing, if internet research isn’t helping, is to go talk to your local fish-stocking pet store.

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Choosing the Right Aquarium

Providing you want something more than your typical goldfish, you will need something a little more complex than your average glass bowl. However, when picking out an aquarium there are a few things to consider:

  • Is it high functioning?

  • Is it appropriate for your fish?

  • Is it compatible with your environment?

While its functionality and suitability for the desired fish you want is vastly more important, the great thing about fish is that they don’t impact your life majorly. So naturally, you also want to pick an aquarium that looks good wherever you intend to keep it.

Find a Reputable Store

It is probably for the best if you don’t buy your aquarium fish from a big chain store like Walmart. Bigger stores specifically targeted at pets are better, but if all possible, find a store that is specifically dedicated to fish.

It is best to find a store that can not only provide you with fish, but everything you need for them. This includes a tank, lighting, food, decorations, and cleaning materials. You don’t want to be stopping all over town each time you need more essentials.

Picking a Healthy Fish

Don’t just let the pet shop employee hand you a bag and gamble it. Be sure to inspect your fish before you buy them, asking for any unhealthy ones to be taken out. A healthy fish is active and alert with clear eyes. That means no fogginess that looks like the fish has cataracts. You should also make sure that the fish doesn’t have any visible sores which can get infected or hint at some other health problem.

Where to Place Your Tank

An aquarium will need to be constantly connect to a power source, or rather, its water pump and other attachments will. So you will need to be sure your tank is near a power source unless you want to run a lot of extension cords. You should also be aware that sound carries better through water than it does through air, this is why fish are so sensitive to loud sounds. Be sure to place your aquarium away from areas where there is constantly door slamming, feet stomping, or TV noise unless you want some seriously crazed fish. A dark corner opposite a window away from noise is the best location.

Choosing the Right Water Pump

Water pumps are available in many shapes and sizes, catering to everything from a simple set up to professional tanks. When choosing an appropriate water pump, look for the following:

  • Flow rate

  • Durability
  • Heat generation

  • Power consumption

  • Noise level

Some of these factors, like power consumption and noise level, are more for the owner’s satisfaction, but the heat generation, durability, and flow rate can mean the difference between a couple months of enjoyment and a long fish lifetime.

When choosing the fish for your aquarium, many guides will have recommended temperatures and flow rates for when you pick out a water pump.

Choosing the Right Food

When choosing an appropriate fish food, you need to make sure it fits the dietary requirements of all your fish. While different fish eat different things, you will need to provide each fish with fat for energy and amino acids so that they can build up protein. The food should also be digested quickly so that you do not have an overly large build-up of ammonia in the tank. This will mean more cleaning than necessary for you.

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Cleaning Your Fish Tank

Speaking of cleaning your fish tank, it is important. However, the good news is that it is easier and faster than you might think. Contrary to the weirdly widespread misconception, if your fish are not sick, you will only need to change around 10 to 20 percent of the water per weekly cleaning.

Decorating a Tank

Aside from choosing and buying your fish, now it is time for the other fun part – decorating. Decorating an aquarium not only makes it more pleasing for you to look at, but it creates an atmosphere for your fish as well. A well decorated aquarium can not only be the perfect accent to any room, but it will keep your fish entertained and happy. Be sure to give larger fish enough room to swim around while also providing nice hidey holes for smaller, quicker fish.

Choosing Your Lighting

Aquarium lighting may not seem particularly important, and if your aquarium gets proper light, it isn’t. In its most basic function, aquarium lighting allows for you to fully see the inhabitants of your tank. However, it also provides vital light for the photosynthesis of plants and the day-night cycle for your pet. So if you are considering not getting lighting and your aquarium is kept in a dark corner, think again. Having lights on a timer enhances the physiology and health of your entire mini-ecosystem.