HomeInspireAnimals & Pets

How to look after tropical fish


1st Jan 2015 Animals & Pets

How to look after tropical fish

Tropical fish can be a beautiful addition to one's home, but you need to make sure you look after them properly. We've assembled a quick guide to looking after your tropical fish.

Follow the tips below and you can rest assured everything will go swimmingly.


1. Choose the fish wisely

It can be tempting when buying fish to base your choices on the appearance of the fish alone. However, certain fish should not be put in the same tank, so make your decisions carefully. First of all, never put goldfish and tropical fish in the same tank as they have very different temperature requirements. There are three main types of tropical fish: community fish, semi-aggressive fish and aggressive fish. Community fish, like guppies, tetras and swordtails, can all co-exist happily in the same tank. Semi-aggressive fish, like barbs, sharks and loaches, generally need bigger tanks and also may be aggressive and territorial. To prevent this, make sure you do not have a tank purely of semi-aggressive fish; balance it out with some community fish too. 

Make sure all the fish are a similar size to prevent bullying. Finally, there are aggressive fish like cichlids, catfish and oscars. These should not be mixed with community fish, and don't fare well with semi-aggressive fish, either. Your best bet is to keep them in separate tanks. If you're new to fish-keeping, probably avoid buying this kind of fish to begin with, and always do your research. 


2. Choose the right size tank and keep it clean 

Choosing the right fish tank is a tricky business. The right water conditions are very important for keeping tropical fish alive and healthy, so make sure you are able to test your aquarium's pH and hardness levels. It's also useful to be able to test for ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels, which at some levels can cause health problems. When you buy the fish, make sure you educate yourself on the right pH levels and water hardness required for them, and be sure that your tank can cater to that. Regularly clean the tank and its contents (plants, stones, figurines, etc.) and change the water, checking the pH levels when you do so. Also, when you first bring your fish home from the store, never introduce them into the aquarium right away; they always need a quarantine period to become gradually acclimatised, so when you buy them, make sure you ask the retailer about the best way to do this.


3. Be vigilant about disease

The most common tropical fish disease is white spot. You can tell when fish have this disease if they develop white spots on their scales. These spots can be very uncomfortable, and you might see the fish rubbing against objects or plants, indicating possible infection. The disease is dangerous; it can kill the fish within a few days and quickly spread to other fish in the tank. If one of your fish has been affected, you will need to treat the entire tank. Make sure you regularly take a look at all the fish in the tank so you can spot problems quickly and prevent diseases spreading. 

This is only a very rough guide - it's imperative when buying tropical fish that you do extensive research beforehand to ensure your fish have happy, healthy lives. All the same, bear the above in mind and you're already well on your way to keeping a beautiful aquarium.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...