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Fish Make a Great First Pet!

Just For Pets

4 min read

Fish Make a Great First Pet!
Find out how to successfully keep your fish nice and healthy.

Many of you may have had tanks when you were younger and probably have a story that ended with the fish tank being placed in the shed. However, with recent advancements and developments in technology of products, fish keeping has become a lot easier. While there are a lot of options for setting up aquariums, with many different sizes and shapes along with all the different equipment options, the best way to set up an aquarium if you are a beginner or getting back into it, is to purchase one of the new ‘all in one’ aquarium. These come with the aquarium, lights, and the essential filter all built into the aquarium and are very easy to set up.

Unlike your furry four-legged friends, which have a separate place to go to the toilet, fish go to the toilet in the water they live in. As a result, the most important factor in keeping your fish healthy, is setting up a working filter to keep your fishes’ environment clean; it is our responsibility to make this happen. Consider your filter as the ‘heart’ of your aquarium and without it your fish are unable to survive. The filter is critical in removing waste materials, ‘toxins’. In a natural body of water such as a creek, river, or dam, special bacteria establish on tree roots, plants, stones, and rocks on the bottom and naturally break down the waste material produced by the fish and other inhabitants. In the aquarium, we need to make sure this natural process is also able to occur.

The main toxin found in an aquarium which can be lethal to fish and must be removed is ammonia. Ammonia is the main waste product produced by fish and is also produced from uneaten food. Luckily, there are special bacteria called nitrifying bacteria that love to eat ammonia. Once the ammonia is eaten, another toxin, but not as lethal as ammonia is produced, known as nitrites, but again, there are special bacteria that love eating nitrite as well. The by-product after the nitrite has been eaten is nitrate. Nitrates can be removed by plants which use it to grow or by doing small regular water changes. This process of converting ammonia to nitrite and then finally nitrate is a process called Nitrification and is also often referred to as the Nitrogen Cycle. This process mainly occurs within the confines of your filter (or heart). It is essential to establish this process in an aquarium to prevent ammonia building up to toxic levels. In a newly established aquarium, filters will not have these bacteria and it may take up to a month to establish this cycle and care must be taken during this critical time to ensure your ‘heart’ is working properly before adding your fish. This step is considered the most critical step and can account for up to 70% of the reasons why people are not successful in fish keeping and why so many aquariums around the country are sitting in sheds.

So how do we get our heart started?

There are lots of ways this can occur, including, having ‘patience’ and waiting 4-6 weeks until the bacteria establish, adding filter material from an established tank or fast tracking the whole process by adding live bacteria to your tank.

One product that allows fish to be added on the same day as buying your new aquarium is a product called “Start-Up”. Produced by a French company called Prodibio, “Start-Up” contains those essential live bacteria, but also includes a convenient product “Stop-Ammo”, which reduces the amount of available ammonia in your tank. Most tap water contains chlorine which will kill the live bacteria, so it is important to add a chlorine neutraliser, which removes chlorine to ensure your bacteria thrive. You are now ready to add your fish only 4 hours after you add the beneficial bacteria to your tank. These “good” bacteria fast track setting up a new aquarium quickly establishing the filter and allowing fish to be added much sooner than the conventional way of waiting 4-6 weeks.

Your local Just For Pets store is a wealth of information about setting up a new tank, be sure to ask them if you have any questions.