The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Fishkeeping
Fishkeeping is a great hobby for people wanting to keep pets, but with not enough time to keep a cat or a dog. It’s a really peaceful hobby which has proven benefits in stress relief; it’s also quite an inexpensive option in comparison to keeping other animals.
The following guide will cover everything from choosing the best beginner fish, to setting your tank up, to maintenance tasks.
Choosing the Right Fish
You only have to walk around your local pet store to see the wide variety of fish available for beginners, in all different colors, shapes and sizes.
The best beginner fish should be peaceful, hardy, easy to care for, and require a small to medium tank. The following five species make ideal fish for beginners:
- Zebra Danios – minimum tank size 10 gallons.
- Platies – minimum tank size 10 gallons.
- Mollies – minimum tank size 10 gallons.
- Bettas – minimum tank size 5 gallons.
- White Cloud Mountain Minnows – minimum tank size 5 gallons.
Selecting Your Equipment
The tank that you choose will depend on the fish you want to keep. That’s why it is important to decide on the fish first so you can then design the tank around them.
An ideal beginner size is a 10 or 20 gallon tank.
All tanks will need a filter, the size and type of filter will depend on the tank size. Usually, smaller tanks (less than 20 gallons) will need a hang-on-back filter, and larger tanks (more than 20 gallons) need an external canister filter.
If you want more of a variety of fish, you should include a heater in your setup. Creating a tropical, warm water setup will give you a wider variety of colors and species to include.
You’ll need to buy gravel or sand for the bottom of your tank, and a range of decorations, rocks, driftwood or plants.
You’ll also need to buy all your other equipment including:
- A bucket for cleaning
- A gravel cleaner/syphon
- Water testing kit
- A fish net
- An algae magnet
Setting the Tank up
Once you’ve bought all the equipment, it’s time to set the tank up.
Make sure you choose an area in your home which is away from any heat sources, and natural light. In other words, keep it away from radiators, air con units and windows. This will prevent unwanted algae growth.
Wipe the inside of the tank to remove any debris or dust, and then rinse your gravel in a large bucket.
You can then lay a thin layer of gravel on the bottom of the tank, and place your decorations on the gravel.
Install your equipment, including your filter and heater.
Add the water to the tank, and use a dechlorinator to remove any chlorine from the water, and then turn on the equipment.
Now you’ll need to leave the tank to complete the nitrogen cycle which can take anywhere from four to six weeks.
This is necessary to allow all the beneficial bacteria to build up which will help convert your fishes waste into less harmful compounds.
You can take the water to your local fish store to have it tested, or if you want to test the water yourself you’ll notice the ammonia and nitrite levels rise and the drop back down to zero. Nitrate levels should also be as close to 0 as possible.
Adding the Fish
Once your tank has completed the cycle, it is safe to add your fish.
Fish typically come in a plastic bag, which you can leave to float in your tank for around 20 minutes. This will help the water in the bag to reach the same temperature as the water in the tank.
Then, add one cup of water every 5-10 minutes until the bag is full.
Use a net to remove the fish from the bag and add it to the tank, then discard the water in the bag.
Maintaining the Tank
You’ll need to carry out a number of daily, weekly and monthly tasks on your fish tank to ensure the fish stay healthy.
- Feed the fish
- Ensure fish are all looking happy and healthy
- Check thermometer
- Check equipment is working
- 20% water change (using a gravel cleaner will clean the gravel and remove water all at once)
- Remove algae using algae magnet
- Replace filter media
Are You Up For Fishkeeping?
And there you have it, a beginner’s guide to fishkeeping, complete with fish suggestions, to maintaining your tank. Fishkeeping can be an entertaining and satisfying hobby to start, and it’s great for people who don’t have enough time to care for other animals, but still want to nurture a life.
To learn more about maintaining a healthy fish eco-system, visit FishkeepingWorld.com.
Robert Woods is a fish keeping enthusiast and expert of all things fish related. He started his website, FishkeepingWorld.com, to educate and share his knowledge with millions of people around the world. He loves to write about caring for specific species as well as provide beginner and expert advice.