Can’t wait to invite your first fish into your home? Launching into fish keeping is an adventure. From feeding them to adding to your aquarium, you can look forward to plenty of fun experiences to come.
With a few easy tips for cold water and tropical fish, you’ll have everything you need to ensure a long and happy journey with your colourful new pets.
How to choose your first fish
First up, what type of fish would you like to keep? It’s best to choose just two or three to get you started. As different fish require different tank conditions, it’s important to make this decision before you buy equipment.
Cold water fish
If you’ve always wanted goldfish, you’ll want to set up a cold water fish tank. This is a common choice for beginners, as cold water breeds are generally hardy, inexpensive and easy to care for. Some of your options include:
- Assorted goldfish, like fantail, oranda, comet and shubunkin types, are perfect as first pets. Goldfish are best kept with other goldfish and are simple to look after.
- Sucking catfish are fun to watch as they graze on algae and keep your tank clean too. They are also generally quite compatible with other species.
- Danios are lively freshwater fish that constantly zip around your tank. These also get along well with most breeds in a fish community.
Aquarium set up for cold water fish
When you’re choosing a fish tank, speak to an expert to ensure it’s big enough, as some types of cold water fish continue growing. Consider the space available in your home for a tank and your budget in terms of maintenance.
Next, you’ll need a filtration system to keep the tank clean. Gravel is the best choice for the foundation, as it’s easy to clean with a gravel vacuum. Suitable live or plastic plants and decorations make life comfortable for your pets. Lastly, you’ll need water conditioner to reduce chemicals in tap water, test kits for the upkeep of ammonia, pH, nitrate and nitrates levels, and a net.
Before you set up your tank, rinse it in hot tap water, along with gravel and decorations. Fill it half way and add your equipment slowly to avoid cloudiness before filling it all the way. Only turn on your electrical equipment once submerged. The last step is to let your tank cycle for a least a week before adding fish, to let a healthy environment develop first.
Tropical fish provide a colour explosion for your tank, with a huge variety of exotic shapes and sizes to choose from. Although they require a bit more maintenance, they’re still fairly easy to care for. Pick from many options, including:
- Tetras, a species of fish with neon colours and the ability to mix with other small fish.
- Guppies are robust, active top-feeders that live best with other peaceful fish.
- Angelfish are beautiful in a tank by themselves, in pairs or schools. They also co-exist well with species like phantom tetras, silver dollars and catfish.
- Barbs are perfect for beginners, as they’re hardy, active and compatible with most other breeds.
Aquarium set up for tropical fish
You’ll need the same equipment and set up technique for tropical fish as for cold water fish, with a few extras. As their natural habitat is about 26 degrees, they require a heater and a thermometer to ensure the ideal water temperature. An air pump is also necessary, as the volume of oxygen decreases in heated tanks.
Taking care of your first fish
When you bring your fish home, it’s important to float them in the tank in their bag for 5 to fifteen minutes, so they get used to the temperature. Avoid adding water from the bag into your tank by scooping them out with your net and placing them gently in the tank.
Don’t feed your fish for 24 hours, to reduce stress. When it is time for feeding, the best way is with small amounts, twice a day. Fish feel satisfied in about 30 seconds to a minute of feeding. So, be careful not to overfeed them, as fun as it is to watch! To ensure they get the nutrients they need, opt for a variety of food combinations, such as flakes, crisps, pellets and frozen food.
It’s easy to maintain your tank, with daily checks to make sure equipment is working, weekly algae cleaning and water testing, plus fortnightly water changes of 25% with your gravel vacuum.
With these tips for choosing your first fish, setting up and maintaining your tank, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the company of your colourful new pets!