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Fish Care Hints

Pet Fish Care

Fish are easy to take care of... it is their tanks that often cause grief.

Fortunately, the new equipment on the market is better, quieter and longer lasting.

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Fish Tank Water Quality


It is not adequate to simply top-off the fish tank to replace water that has evaporated. Ammonia and heavy metals from tap water accumulate. Simply adding water does nothing to remove them.

It is best to periodically replace a portion of the water. Every week, replace 10% and every month, replace 20%.


Between 6.5 and 7.5 is the ideal pH for freshwater tropical fish tanks.

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Learn a few new things that may help you take better, easier care of your pet fish.


Between 76 and 80 degrees is the optimal temperature for most freshwater aquariums.

Fish Aquarium Salt or Kosher Salt

When the tank is full of water and empty of fish put one teaspoon of fish aquarium salt or kosher salt per gallon of water to help the fish resist disease.

Click for more information on setting up a fish tank.

Pet Fish Feeding

It's a good idea to feed your fish two or three times a day with approximately the amount of food they can eat in a minute. Feeding them too much will only result in food falling to the bottom of the tank and rotting.

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Pet Fish Aggression

Aggression in the fish tank is the most common behavioral problem. Some fish are territorial and will chase other fish from their established territory. Others, like angel fish, will chase or nip the fins of more peaceful fish. (Makes you wonder why they are called angel fish!)

Is some of your pet fish are aggressive, you may need to isolate some fish.

Abnormal Fish Behaviors


Bottom sitting is normal in some fish like lungfish, Chinese algae eaters, bichir, plecostomus, polyterus, and some catfish. However, if other, usually active fish are sitting on the bottom of the tank, it could mean the presence of a bacterial of parasitic disease. If all of the fish are acting that way, the water is probably contaminated and needs to be changed. If only one fish is bottom sitting, treat it for bacteria or parasites.


Circling may be caused by one blind eye or by fin damage. Circling will start before the fin damage is noticeable.

Change in Color

Blanching or paleness (decreased color intensity of the whole body) is commonly caused by stress from cold shock or low levels of dissolved oxygen.

In neon tetras, a paleness of the lateral line may indicate an infection.

An increase in color intensity or new colors is usually not a problem, but may signal courtship.


Aimless, unpropelled movement usually signals a dying fish.


Flashing is when a fish turns on its side and swims rapidly in a semi-circular motion. It may also rug itself on objects. This is the sign of a itchy fish! It probably means that the fish has an e ctoparasite infestation.


Head-standing is when the fish points its head downwards and swims around that way. This is a serious condition. It is caused by a loss of equilibrium or buoyancy. In catfish, the organism Edwardsiella tarda will commonly cause this condition.


Hovering, where a fish stays in one position in the tank, is probably not a problem. It is common behavior for some fish like glass catfish, Siamese fighting fish, hatchet fish, angel fish, and some fancy gold fish


Piping is gulping of air at the surface. This is indicative of a severe lack of oxygen. You may need to change the aquarium water. Or the fish may have gill parasites. However, some fish like lung fish and some eels naturally breathe air. Others like leaf fish live at the surface and may appear to be piping, but are not. Still others build nests for their eggs by making bubbles.


In tail-walking, the fish swims with its head pointed toward the surface. In tetras, this may indicate an infection of microsporidian Pleistiphora.


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