Beginner to Fish Keeping - Part 4: Grand FinaleOnline Aquarium Fish Magazine | Beginner to Fish Keeping - Part 4: Grand Finale
Caring for Your Fish
As said above, there is a wide variety of foods available to fish. It's a good idea to vary their diet to provide a wide variety of nutrients.
To perform a water change, turn off anything that will be left above the water line as you remove water. Truthfully, the best thing to do is unplug everything from the outlet. In this way, there is no chance of water getting to the socket and either running into the tank or grounding out in you. If your aquarium has an air pump, verify that the water doesn't flow back into the line when you cut the power. With a backflow device, this shouldn't happen, but it still can.
Then use a siphon to draw out some of the water. There are several ways to start the siphon. One can simply submerge the hose in the water, cover the non-vacuum end with one's thumb, pull that end of the hose out, and uncover the end over a bucket. There are also squeeze bulbs that can be used to start a siphon. One thing that this author would not suggest is to follow the instructions that come on most gravel vacuums. They say that you can "vigorously shake the vacuum in the water" to start a siphon. This is traumatic for the fish, and potentially harmful if they get struck by the vacuum. Various aquarists suggest anywhere between 10% and 50% (or more) of the water be changed every week. 20% is a good number, 50% would be better. The more you change out on a regular basis, the better it is for your fish.
One caveat to this is that you should never change out all of the water at any one time. Too much of a water change will be a shock to the system as the fish go from heavily polluted water to clean water. That's right, overly clean water can be harmful to fish, if their bodies have become accustomed to the pollution. If it's been a while since the last water change, several smaller water changes over a few days is a good way to acclimate your fish to a healthier water quality.
Observing Your Fish
The first thing you should do any time you see an odd behavior is test all of your water parameters. It is often the case that a change in water quality will stress a fish, opening the way for an illness.
The range of fish illnesses is too broad for this article, so this author will leave the extended topic for another article in this magazine.
This is the end of the basics of the aquarist's hobby. Learning all of this stuff is kind of like getting a black belt in karate. Now you are ready to begin learning about keeping fish. Everything up until this point can be considered "learning how to learn." So take good care of your fish, pay attention to them, and you will begin truly learning about keeping fish.
About the Author
Fish Keeping Beginner - Part 2
Fish Keeping Beginner - Part 3
Freshwater Aquarium Fish Beginner's Guide
Saltwater Fish Beginner's Guide
Aquarium Setup Guide
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