Tropical Fish Care and Freshwater Aquarium Maintenance

Tropical Fish Care!!! OH NO!!!

Aquariums are a lot of work! Aquariums are SO hard to keep. I kill all my fish!

Yup, those are the things we hear from people all the time. Tropical fish care does not have to be difficult or a lot of work though! Hopefully we will be able to teach you some tips and tricks about taking care of your fish, and how to make it a very easy process. We really want you to enjoy the tropical fish hobby as much as we do.

aquarium plants

Tropical Fish Care Starts with Proper Aquarium Set-up

It is important to realize that the larger the aquarium the easier it is to maintain. We do not mean to tell you this to scare you away from a small aquarium, but it is a fact.

Picture this... Take a drop of food color (this represents fish waste, toxins, temperature fluctuations, etc) and put it into a small glass. What happens? The water changes color quite easily doesn't it! Now take that SAME drop of food color, and put it into a 100 gallon aquarium. What happens? NOTHING! Why you may ask? The answer is very simple. A large body of water is able to absorb small amounts of waste, toxins, and water changes much more than a small body of water. This explains why a larger tropical fish aquarium is easier to care for than a small one. Keep this in mind when you decide to set-up your next tank.

We recommend setting up as large of aquarium as you can fit into the designated area, and that you can afford. It will actually save you money and time in the long run.

So let's chat about some equipment real quick and let us remind you that it is easier and cheaper to set-up your aquarium properly the first time, than it is to have to add more equipment or replace bad or improperly fitted equipment.

Aquarium Filtration

Filtration should be broken down into chemical, mechanical and biological. This helps you to understand what types of filtration you need and how it works. This might be one of the most important aspects of tropical fish care. Make sure you do it right the first time!

Chemical Filtration

Chemical Filtration are things like carbon and resins. Basically anything that chemically absorbs waste and contaminants. Carbon is great for keeping water clear and absorbing organic wastes and odors.

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical Filtration is any type of strategy that is used to move water through the filters chemical and biological filtration. If you are looking for a great pump to run your system, check out the line of Mag Drive Pumps . This works great with larger aquariums that use sumps. Feel free to check out all the other types of filters. Over the back filters and canister filters can be great ways to go.

Biological Filtration

Biological Filtration has several components and is often the most important part of waste removal in a tropical fish aquarium. Bacteria and other microorganisms live and grow in these areas and break down the waste of the fish into less toxic substances.

The different types of freshwater filtration above can be mixed and matched in many ways. You can use both over-the-back filters and canisters on larger tanks. This can provide a lot of water movement and extra ways to utilize different chemical and biological filtration.

We feel this is a great time to remind you about the most important filtration type of all. Water Changes!!! There is no substitute for replacing old water with fresh clean water. 20% a week is great if you can do it, but 25-50% a month should be the minimum. To give you a twisted analogy: A water change is like flushing your toilet... Yup a good flush is important for proper tropical fish care. If you do not want to deal with carrying buckets of water, check out one of many automatic water change systems like the Python. Lee's also carries a similar version that you can ask your local tropical fish store for.

Undergravel Filters

Undergravel filters have been around for a long time. We really are not a fan of them. They do allow for beneficial aerobic bacteria to grow, but they also can form pockets of anaerobic bacteria to grow. These pockets can be very toxic to your fish. Undergravel filters work by collecting the waste in the filter under the plate. Why would you want to allow this waste to remain in your aquarium? We think it is much better to have a system with just substrate where you can simply syphon all of the waste out of your aquarium. It cannot become a problem that way. It is very difficult to remove the waste from under an undergravel filter. We prefer to use Over-the-back and canister filters.

Sign-up for our Tropical Fish Newsletter

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)
Then

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Tropical Fish Newsletter.

Other Aquarium Supplies

Lighting can be very important for certain aquariums. If you are setting up a planted tank, please take time to check out our aquarium lighting page. This area should help you to determine what type of aquarium lighting is best for your needs. If you are setting up a more basic freshwater fish tank, then basic aquarium lighting will be just fine for you.

There are many types of gravels and specialty substrates available now. Most tropical fish tanks will be fine with basic gravels. Just pick the color and size you would like. Make sure to wash it before you add it to your aquarium. If you are setting up a planted tank there are some great soils that will really help your plants to thrive. Carib-Sea also has some sands and gravels that are designed for African Cichlid tanks. This really helps to maintain the high PH that these fish desire. So make sure to check out their products as well.

Aquarium Plants. This is a decision for you to make. Are you going to use live plants? If so the initial aquarium set-up will be more money and a bit more work, but the results can be well worth it. Perhaps you just want to use plastic or silk plants. That is great. Pick what makes you happy!

There are so many different types of decorations you can add to your tropical fish tank. Rocks, driftwood, castle, boats are all popular and perfectly ok to use. If you are going to use items that have holes in them, make sure that your fish cannot get caught inside or hurt on any sharp edges. Remember to wash everything before putting it into your aquarium. Just another good tip for proper tropical fish care. The residue and dust from the manufacturers does not need to go into your freshwater aquarium.

Blue Discus

Tropical Fish Care

Tropical fish care can actually be very easy!

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you enjoy the hobby and these fish care rules apply to both freshwater and saltwater fish.

Never over stock a tank. There is a nice rule to follow. 1 inch of fish, per gallon of water (saltwater aquariums are closer to 1 inch per 4-5 gallons of water).

ALWAYS do regular water changes. The more often the better. See above for more details!

NEVER over feed your tropical fish. This is probably one of the most difficult rules for people to follow and actually to understand. Honestly, the rule about feed what your fish can eat in 5 minutes is PROBABLY over-feeding. Feed your fish 3-4 times a day, but only feed what they can eat in a minute or so. This is a very small amount, but remember that tropical fish have very small bellies. So the method of feeding very little several times a day is a MUCH better way to go than what they can eat in 5 minutes. Now for the caveat. Some species of fish will have special requirements and may need a different type of food to please them. Or you have a slow fish in a tank with a bunch of hungry fast swimmers. Use some common sense or feel free to ask us here or go to your local fish store for answers to your problem. We would love to help!

So how about bringing your new tropical fish home from the store? There really is a proper way to do this too. Oh boy... yet another tropical fish care rule!

Acclimation is really essential to tropical fish care. You can shop at the BEST tropical fish store in your town. It might really rock and have the best and healthiest fish. BUT if you do not acclimate your fish properly when you get home, then you stand a good chance of killing these great fish. This is usually when new hobbyists get mad, blame the store, bring dead fish back, and just start to not like the hobby. Unfortunately for the fish, poor acclimation and lack of knowledge are often the culprit. So, now after reading this you will ALWAYS acclimate your tropical fish properly and be a knowledgable and responsible hobbyist.

How often do we hear "just float the bag for 30 minutes." This is probably one of the worst bits of advice, that is often given out by lazy shop keepers. Honestly, why teach you to acclimate properly? If you kill the fish you will just be back to buy more. Well, we do not agree with this method or thought process. We think that if we can teach you to be successful you will be a much happier hobbyist and in the long run be a great customer for whatever store you would like to pick.

To acclimate your tropical fish properly is very easy. We recommend a bucket and either a 4 foot long bit of airline tubing or a simple cup or pitcher. You goal for the acclimation will be to SLOWLY add water from your fish tank to the water your new purchase is in. We like to open up the fish bag and put the fish and water into the bucket. Then get a small amount of water. Maybe 4-8oz and add it to the bucket. This should be plenty of room for your fish to swim around the bottom of the bucket. Now, every 5-10 minutes add another cup of water to the bucket. Do this until you have at least 3 parts of your aquarium water to 1 part fish store water. This process will take about 30-40 minutes. Once you are ready to add your fish, use a net and put the fish into the aquarium. Never allow water from a store into your aquarium. This really helps to prevent disease in your tank.

This does SO much more than floating a bad. Floating a fish bag only deals with temperature. Our method takes care of all water conditions. PH, temperature, hardness and even toxins. Tropical fish care can take a bit more work to do properly, but the rewards of live fish and an aquarium that is easy to keep is worth it.

Tropical Fish Care for Bettas

Tropical fish care really is worth taking the time to do it properly. You will enjoy the hobby a lot more and be more successful. Oh and it is always cheaper to purchase a fish one time, than it is to have to replace a lot of dead fish. If you have any questions about tropical fish care please let us know. Someone else probably has the exact same question.

How do you care for your tropical fish? If you have some cool tips or tricks please share them.

Let us know how you care for your tropical fish.

Enter Your Title

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

DON'T SHAKE THE BAG!!! Not rated yet
Seriously. DON'T SHAKE THE BAG!!! The experts are right on this one. Shaking the bag can cause the fish's brain to get shaken around inside its poor little …

Click here to write your own.

Roseline Shark
Tropical Fish