Fish-keeping is thrilling but seeing your swirling creatures die is heartbreaking. When we are a beginner in fish-keeping, we make a lot of mistakes. While some mistakes are not harmful, some could pose a threat to the life of fish. Therefore, attaining a thorough knowledge and accustoming with the ‘dos and don’ts of fish keeping’ is essential.
If you often experience your fish falling ill or dying, or your tank getting cloudy, there are chances that you are doing something wrong. So, here we are with a few possibilities that could be the culprits behind your unwell fish and untidy tank.
- Not making a proper plan before starting
Planning is the key to success. Fish-keeping is indeed an exciting hobby but requires proper planning before execution as it involves live creatures. Prepare a plan and know what your goal of fish-keeping is. Answer the following questions beforehand-
- What is your budget?
- How much time can you spend on this hobby?
- How big you want the aquarium to be?
- Which fish are the best for beginners?
- Do you want only fish or live plants too?
- If live plants, then what plants will be apt?
- What are the essential equipment for an aquarium?
If you jumpstart without proper planning and thorough knowledge, the chances of failing in fish-keeping get high. So, make a plan and execute it accordingly. Take the guidance from aquarium experts for better management.
- Buying the tank and fish on the same day
This is another mistake that beginners often make. With the temptation to have fish at home, people buy aquarium and fish on the same day from the shop, little knowing the fact that it could be disastrous for the fish. It is important that you buy the aquarium first, add water, aquarium filter, air pump, and other essential equipment, cycle the tank, and complete the installation work. You should add your fish only after your tank is ready. So, buy your fish a few days later.
- Adding the fish without cycling the tank
Establishing the nitrogen cycle in the tank is something one should not overlook. The nitrogen cycle is a biochemical process with different steps. Fish excreta and other aquarium wastes produce ammonia, which is toxic and extremely harmful to the fish. The nitrogen cycle helps in converting the toxic ammonia into nitrate, which is not as harmful as ammonia for the fish. In the absence of the nitrogen cycle, the toxic ammonia harms the fish, making them sick and sometimes dead. Therefore, cycling the tank before adding the fish is vital.
- Skipping the fish quarantine
Although it may seem, fish quarantine is not a new concept. The new fish you bought from the shop could be infected or diseased and may spread the same to your stock. Also, a new fish takes time to adjust to the new environment of your tank. Therefore, quarantining it in a separate tank for a few days is always a good idea. There are two benefits of fish quarantine-
- You protect your stock from probable diseases and infections.
- You protect your new fish from stress and give them time to adjust to a new environment.
So, do not add a new fish in the main tank directly. Instead, quarantine it for a few days for the safety of every fish.
- Not cleaning the tank adequately
You have to do more cleaning when you set up a new tank. There is a misconception that a new tank requires less cleaning. On the contrary, it is a new tank that develops more filth. The dust from the newly added substrate, dyes from the décor, and toxicity buildup in the absence of nitrogen cycle are very common. All these make a new tank susceptible to cloudy and milky water.
Therefore, for a newly build tank, frequent changes in water by replacing one-third of water two times in the first week is recommended. Later, the frequency of changing the water can be reduced to 10 to 20% every week for the best results. Apart from water, it is also advisable to replace the filter media weekly for new aquariums and later bi-weekly.
6, Overcleaning the tank
Many aquarists are extremely possessive about their fish and tank and, out of love, perform frequent and vigorous cleaning. Since beneficial bacteria take time to build up and promote the nitrogen cycle, recurrent cleaning may purge them. Beneficial bacteria keep the environment of the tank clean and healthy; therefore, their presence is a must.
In a newly build aquarium, the nitrogen cycle is partially developed, and the beneficial bacteria are invaluable. Overcleaning may diminish them and make things worse. So, clean, but do not over-clean your tank to maintain the right balance.
- Overdosing the medicine
Overdose of any medicine can be deadly for the fish. Do not introduce medications in the tank if you do not have the proper knowledge of them. Always take the prescription from the vet and know the right dosage of medicine. At the same time, it is advisable to transfer your sick fish to a separate tank and treat it there only. Likewise, when you are dosing any water care chemical, follow the instructions on the label.
- Choosing the wrong substrate
It is important that you choose the right substrate, especially when you are a beginner. Medium-sized crushed gravels are considered the best if you are new to fish-keeping. Larger gravels or pebbles create wider gaps that could make the bottom of the tank dirty and difficult to clean. Also, the aquarium wastes get trapped and make the water polluted.
At the same time, you should avoid dyed pebbles or gravels as the dye dissolves in water and make it dirty. Apart from gravel, you can also use good-quality aquarium sand as the substrate bed.
- Using the unsafe décor items
Aquariums are very attractive, and when they have a few décor items inside, their worth increases even more. You can find plenty of décor products or ornaments that can beautify the tank manifold. We all want to make our tank look attractive, and in that effort, we keep on adding different décor items. However, you need to be specific while choosing décor items. For instance, using dyed décor items or products having chemicals could degrade the water quality and make it harmful for the fish. Some décor products may have sharp edges that could injure the fish. So, choose your décor items carefully.
- Always rearranging the décor items
Beginners seldom get satisfaction with their first décor arrangement in the aquarium. It leads to rearranging the décor items again and again to get the best aesthetic. However, this rearrangement could do more harm than help to the aquarium and its creatures. Since the fish are already new to the environment and this frequent rearrangement imposes more stress on them. Give your fish some time to adjust, and if you are not satisfied with the arrangement, do not change it before one month.
- Absence of live plants
Introducing a few live plants in the tank can do wonders in improving the quality of water. It also helps in maintaining a healthy biological cycle because water absorbs toxic products like ammonia, nitrates, and carbon dioxide and adds oxygen to the water. In this way, the water remains fresh and clean. At the same time, live plants also enhance the aesthetic of the tank. However, you need to have complete knowledge about the right aquatic plants when you are a beginner.
- Over lightning the tank
Lighting is necessary not only to enhance the visuals of the aquarium but for the live plants too. With the aim to make the tank look attractive all the time, people keep the light on for 24 hours, lesser knowing that over lighting promotes algae growth. Therefore, it is recommended to shut the lights off at night.
Oxygen deficiency and unclear or cloudy water are the outcomes when there is excess algae growth in the tank. Lack of oxygen may upset the health of fish, and cloudy water will make the tank look dirty.
- No routine maintenance
Beginners do not understand the importance of routine maintenance of their aquarium. Initially, out of excitement, they look after the tank daily, but later it becomes ‘once in a while’ work. It is mandatory to have routine maintenance and stick to it for the smooth running of the tank. Right from water change to filter media replacement, water care chemical dosing to vitamin supplementation, every work should be properly planned and scheduled.
- No backup plan for the power outage
Power failure is one of the most common causes of accidental poisoning in fish. However, if there is a proper mitigation plan, such incidents can be minimized. If the power supply remains shut for longer, the oxygen level drops down, which could be fatal for the fish. Similarly, the filter media can become poisonous with prolonging shut down. It is vital that the air pump, as well as filter, keep on working; therefore, having a backup plan of the power supply, is essential.
- Money over quality
We understand that budget matters, but compromising on quality should be a big NO. It often happens with beginners who do not have any idea about the importance of quality of products to be used in the aquarium. Whether it is about the filter media, air pump, décor items, lighting, or the tank itself, choosing only quality products from some good brand is a wise decision. Read the buying guides, check out the reviews, and take advice from the expert aquarists before you splurge on any aquarium equipment.
- Do not take advice from a layperson
Half knowledge is very dangerous. When your hobby involves live creatures, it is important to have complete information about it and guidance from the right person. Always gather knowledge from the right people, preferably an experienced aquarist or a vet. Always crosscheck and verify before doing anything. At times, the shop owners advice to buy products only for their own profit. Before you buy anything or perform any activity related to fish-keeping, seek help and advice from a trusted person.
- Not having patience
Good things do not happen overnight. Fish-keeping is one of those hobbies that take time to establish and flourish. Therefore, you need to have patience with your fish. An aquarium may take around 4 to 6 weeks to get stable. At the same time, fish also take time to adjust to the new environment. Getting habitual to the new feeding schedule and with the new tank mates is also a time-taking process. Just be patient and let your swirling creatures get accustomed to the new ambiance.
Seeing your colorful fish swimming happily in the tank brings so much relaxation. Fish-keeping is indeed an exciting hobby, but one wrong step can lead to dead fish in the tank. Therefore, you have to be extra cautious to get the best results.
Apart from the above, there are many common newbie syndromes like wrong fish selection, overstocking the tank, overfeeding the fish, not checking the water temperature and water pH, and a few more that we have already discussed in another article.
All you need is to have adequate knowledge about the right tricks and tips, and fish-keeping becomes an easy hobby. So, if you are deciding to be an aquarist, just know the basic things of fish-keeping to avoid fish tank problems later.
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