One of the more frustrating aspect of keeping fish is contending with issues that cause sick fish. Responsible fish keepers pay close attention to the appearance and behavior of their fish to check for any signs of illness. While checking for illness is a responsible thing to do, I have found that the far better method of keeping healthy fish is to do everything you can to ensure they never become sick in the fish place. With this in mind, I have created a list of 5 important tips to follow for disease prevention in aquarium fish. I call them “Healthy Fish Tips”.
First Healthy Fish Tip - Do regular water changes: This particular fish tip is the single most important tip to follow if you are interested in healthy fish. Regular water changes prevent harmful buildups of contaminants and waste byproducts in the aquarium. In addition, trace minerals are added to the water with each water change. Make sure to create a water changing schedule and stick to it. The total volume of water changed should be in the neighborhood of 50-100% per month. You should never change more than 30% of the water at once under normal circumstances. Some common water change routines include a twenty-five percent water change once a week or a ten percent water changes twice a week.
Second Healthy Fish Tip - Keep your aquarium temperature consistent: Fish differ from humans because they are not able to regulate their body temperatures. Variations in water temperature are quite stressful to a fish, especially if the change is sudden or extreme. Research the recommended temperature range for your particular species of fish. Also, be sure that all of the fish in your tank can thrive in the same temperature range. Once the proper temperature is determined for all of the fish in your aquarium, do you best to keep the temperature steady. Buy a aquarium quality heater and be particularly careful when doing water changes. If the water is too cold or too hot it can cause undue stress.
Third Healthy Fish Tip - Don’t use too many chemicals or water treatment products: Using chemicals to adjust the pH of your aquarium or chemicals designed to clear the water may seem like a quick fix to an issue, but these are temporary solutions. Chemicals designed to raise or lower pH do so for a short period of time. The same is true of water clearing chemicals. Most medicines designed for use in aquariums stress the fish in one way or another. Some of these stress the fish directly and others reduce or eliminate the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium leaving the fish subject to ammonia poisoning. The only substances for water quality that I use in my aquarium are tap water, water conditioner to remove chlorine, charcoal in the filters and aquarium salt (if needed). If a pH adjustment is needed for the water in your aquarium, you should use rocks or substrate to raise the pH or wood or plants to lower it. This will stabilize the pH on a long term basis and prevent wild swings in pH.
Fourth Healthy Fish Tip - Always use a quarantine tank: A disease outbreak is quite unlikely if you have an established tank with no real problems and follow all of the healthy fish tips. The surest way to introduce new disease into an otherwise healthy fish tank is to introduce new specimens to the aquarium without proper quarantine procedues. The fish may look perfectly healthy in the pet store, but some diseases will not take full effect for quite some time. I always quarantine my fish in a separate quarantine tank for three or four weeks before introducing them into an established aquarium.
Fifth Health Fish Tip - Reduce stress by reducing aggression: If you have an aggressive tank such as an African cichlid tank then there will be aggression and territorial conflict. This is normal and probably healthy for the fish because it is natural. However if you notice a fish that is too aggressive or one that seems to be getting picked on by all of the fish in the tank, then you need to find a way to resolve the problem. Sometimes merely rearranging the tank can change the tank dynamic and perhaps give a “picked on” fish some new hiding spaces. If rearranging the tank does not work, then consider removing the problem fish from the tank and placing it in a different tank or perhaps trading it in to the local fish store. Stressed fish are prone to disease and once a stressed fish becomes diseased it is more likely other healthy fish in the tank will contract the disease from the stressed fish.
The goal of following these healthy fish tips is to avoid having to treat the fish after they become sick. Happy fish keeping!