The Five Golden Rules of Fishkeeping

1. Proper Cycling

By far the most common and fatal mistake made by the new fishkeeper is failure to cycle a new tank properly before adding fish. Cycling is the establishment of nitrogenous bacteria that breaks down fish waste in various stages some of which are fatal to fish or cause them stress. In a new aquarium it may take 90 days or more for the first cycle to complete. Until it is completed, there will be extended periods of time with elevated levels of ammonium, nitrate, and nitrite. During these peaks there should only be a small number of fish present who are more tolerable of these

2. Know your fish species

Research fish species before purchasing them. Different types of fish have different requirements and some are more critical than others. Know the water parameter requirements, feeding requirements, compatibility issues, size, temperament, and breeding requirements.

3. Proper Stocking Levels

Resist the temptation to add too many fish to the size aquarium you have. Crowded aquariums create a much larger bio load, (fish waste) that will overload the biological filtration and allow toxic levels to develop; put stress on the fish which make them vulnerable to disease, lower oxygen levels, and create more of a haven for algae and other problems. Give your fish enough room to move around, have their own œspace and territory. Schooling fish need enough room to actively move back and forth across the tank. Other fish need to stake out a territory to feel secure.

4. Proper Maintenance Routine

Proper maintenance includes, regular water changes, cleaning the glass, removing decaying organic material with a gravel siphon/vacuum, cleaning filters, checking heater operation, and checking water quality. Nitrate is not dangerous to fish in low amounts, but can cause problems if levels become too high. The only way to remove nitrate from the water is by diluting it with fresh water. A typical routine is changing 20 to 30% of the water bi weekly.

5. Proper Diet

Know what type of foods your fish should eat. Are they meat eaters, veggie eaters, or both? Give them some variety in the forms of appropriate food: flake, pellet, freeze dried, frozen and live. Do not over feed. Feed only what they can consume in a few minutes once or twice a day.