When you are first starting out, it’s very likely that you will run into at least a few minor fish problems— and understandably so. Setting up a brand new fish tank is an incredibly exciting time, and it’s hard not to leap before you’ve looked! Here are a few easily avoided mistakes that many commit which have the possibility of leading to much bigger fish problems along the way.
Stocking Your Tank too Quickly
Once you’re caught up in the rush of seeing your tank up and running, it can be incredibly easy to start adding your fish too soon. As a general rule, in order to avoid one of the most common fish problems you should resist adding any tank inhabitants until your aquarium has been established for a minimum of one week. If you start too soon, the colony of beneficial bacteria in your tank will not be strong enough to handle all of the new fish waste– in fact, it will not even exist.
You should still be very careful not to stock your tank too quickly even after it has had time to become established. The bacteria colony that it has in place will only be large enough to adequately support the bio-load you already have. In other words, you will chance losing a few fish while your bacteria colony is essentially playing catch-up in an attempt to support the larger amounts of fish waste in the water.
Until you have some more experience keeping fish a good rule of thumb is to only add a couple of fish every week or so until you are at maximum capacity. That being said, don’t feel like you have to stock your tank to the limit! Less fish will be easier to keep healthy in the long run, therefore placing you in a less likely position to run into fish problems.
Inadequate Research on Your Chosen Species’
Another costly mistake that new fish keepers tend to make is neglecting to do any research before they go shopping for fish to take home. You should avoid making your choices at the pet store– the information presented there may or may not be factual. In any event, it is not comprehensive enough for you to truly know what the care requirements of your new fish will entail. Don’t allow yourself to buy on impulse– that $2 fish can end up costing you several hundred if you aren’t careful.
You’d be surprised at how much trouble this seemingly innocent mistake can cause. For one, if you don’t know about the fish you’re buying you will likely be placing it in the wrong environment. Many new fish owners are dismayed to find out that the cute little baby the pet store said would only grow to the size of their tank is suddenly so large it can barely turn around. Once this happens, you can either choose to get a larger tank or give the fish away. If you choose to keep it at this point, you will only be causing it to suffer until it finally dies prematurely.
Some Final Words
There are a few basic rules you should follow when you begin stocking your tank that will save you a lot of frustration later one. For instance, make sure you don’t add your fish too quickly or pick unsuitable tank mates for your existing community. As long as you remember that the best thing you can do for your fish is to research them on your own, you will be fine– don’t rely heavily on the pet store employees and you will avoid a lot of common fish problems in the beginning. And always keep in mind that there is a huge difference between thriving and surviving- the line is nowhere near fine.