So you’ve decided to get yourself an aquarium. You have a friend or a family member with fish, or you’ve seen some pictures in a book or on the internet, and you’ve decided to get involved in this beautiful and relaxing hobby.
Well congratulate yourself right now! You are already several steps ahead of most new hobbyists in that you are doing some research before running down to the pet store and buying the first thing that catches your eye. In this series of articles, we will try to give you a good head start on the art of keeping fish successfully. If you follow a few simple steps, you will give your fish a much better chance to live and thrive, and you will save yourself a lot of money and aggravation in the process.
First off, let’s start with something fun, fish-keeping is supposed to be a joy, right? The very first thing you should do is decide what kind of fish that you’d like to keep. You can begin right here on the internet. Put your feet up and enjoy the descriptions, stories, and pictures taken by your fellow hobbyists. Chances are good that you can get a lot more help here than you’ll ever get from the poorly paid staff down at the local big box store. On the ‘net, you will find people with years, or even decades of experience, and there’s a good chance that they enjoy helping a new aquarist like yourself.
Set your search engine for aquariums, fish keeping, marine fish, cichlids, or even gold fish, and spend some time looking at all of the glorious fish. You can keep salt water or fresh water fish; predators or community fish; tiny guppies or monster cichlids; and/or anything and everything in-between. When you have narrowed down your choices to only your favorite few, use your Google for an image search so you can see exactly what the adult fish will look like. You will find dozens of images of your chosen fish; aquarium photography is another hobby that is widely available on the internet.
It is vitally important for you to remember that many fish are not compatible with one another. You may love the idea of keeping a school of small brightly colored fish with a couple of large cichlids, but large fish view small fish as snacks, so make sure that the fish you’ve chosen have similar needs and dispositions. Believe me; you will be quite annoyed when you spend thirty to forty dollars on a brightly colored school of fish, only to find that it completely disappeared the first night that you put them in your tank.
Make absolutely sure that you discover how large will your chosen fish is going to get, as well as discovering how its behavior will change as it grows. Remember that most pet stores only sell young fish, and that those cute one and a half inch fish that you found swimming there in the pet store’s tank may well grow into eighteen inch monster fish with the disposition of a pack of rabid wolves. Fish are fairly predictable really; if the book says that this fish is extremely aggressive, assume that the fish will be extremely aggressive, and then plan accordingly!
Whatever fish that you decide to keep, always remember that you are not in this alone. If your chosen fish is available within the aquarium hobby, then thousands of them have been sold over the years, and you will be able to get lots of help and advice in keeping them healthy and happy for their entire lifespan.