General Aquarium FAQ
1. I just started and every time I get a new fish it dies.
Chances are your tank hasn't stabilized "cycled" yet and you've put in too many fish too early and may have introduced diseases. Get a few test kits (ammonia, nitrates & pH) or have your local fish shop test your water and read what I've got posted for water chemistry. You will also find that reading the articles "General Information", "Basics" and the others listed above in the navigation buttons to be extremely helpful. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. We all were the Guppy Grim Reaper, when we started. But learning and the cycling of your aquarium does happen pretty quickly.
However, sometimes it is the fish and not you. Best to buy your fish from a breeder through us, or your local pet shop. Fish bought at Walmart (sorry Sam) and other stores like this generally don't get professional handling & care, if any care at all. And how many times have you seen a clerk who knew less about the fish than you do and you are just getting started?
Best thing to do for a new tank is get a pair of cheap fish and put them in there. Having just a few fish in there for a few weeks, that are hardy (livebearers), will help your tank cycle.
Wait for a couple of months before you introduce a catfish, shark or other scavenger into your new tank. The reason is there usually isn't enough food for them and until the tank cycles, the ammonia (which is heavier and stays near the bottom) will fluctuate greatly until the tank stabilizes, which effects the scavengers first. If you see your scavenger getting into distress, first thing to do is test the water and if possible, take your sample from the bottom of the tank, about one inch above the gravel. If the ammonia level is high, do a water change of 10% - 25% to lower the ammonia and nitrates levels. Siphon off the water near the bottom of the tank to get the heavier contaminates.
2. My fish always seem to get white spots (Ich) or other diseases, why is this happening?
Chances are that new fish you're introducing had ich or another disease when you bought them from the pet shop. Remember these fish have gone through a ton of shipping and your tank is their latest and last stop. Having to acclimate to so many different water conditions and temperature changes lowers the resistance (immune system) of your fish. Then they get sick easily. If your fish are being attacked by pathogens (bacteria, fungus, worms, etc.) visit our Diseases page, identify the problem and treat accordingly. Don't forget to check your water chemistry first, to make sure everything is ok here.
Black mollies are usually a fish (notorious) that many people get from a department store that develops ich and fungus infections quickly. The reason is that mollies come from brackish (somewhat salty) water. If you do not have enough aquarium salt in your water, their resistance goes down quickly, as the salt diffuses into the water and then they are very prone to get ich and other diseases. More often than not, department store mollies are not housed in aquariums that have enough aquarium salt in the water to sustain the mollies' health. Add one more stress factor, moving into your aquarium, and these fish have really gone through a metabolic ordeal, get sick quickly and ultimately infect all of the other fish. Adding the aquarium salt, reducing the light and generally taking care of the fish, will usually bring them back around in a few days.
3. My new fish won't eat, what's wrong with them?
Most likely, they're just a little spooked from all of the shipping and the changing of environments, if they are new fish. They're probably eating, when you're not watching, because they've not quite figured out who you are just yet. But don't worry they'll grow attached to you quickly, showing excitement when you enter the room or walk up to the tank. If you feed them some newly hatch brine shrimp nauplii, chances are this will get their attention and appetites going and they'll eat no matter who is watching.
If they've not eaten in a few days, you may wish to check the Diseases page, test the water, and visit our water chemistry page, certainly if they have been eating and suddenly stopped. I would first test for the amount of ammonia in the water and if this is the factor, a water change will return appetites and the fish will generally be healthier and active again after it. Then keep an eye on the ammonia and nitrates levels in your aquarium, until things stabilize.
4. What do my fish eat?
That pretty much depends upon the type of fish you have. However, most aquarium fish will eat flake foods bought at any pet shop. Choose one that is at least 45% protein and you may wish to also give them thawed frozen adult brine shrimp, bloodworms, and newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii for a balance variety. Some of the diets of the various fish are in their descriptions, listed on the right border. See foods for more information.
5. How often should I change the water and the filter?
A weekly 10% water change is highly recommended, depending upon the size of your tank and how many fish are in it. Also depending upon the size of your aquarium, the number of fish in it and the type of filter system you have, you want to change this out about once a month. To be sure, test your aquarium water often.
6. What other kinds of fish can I keep with my fish?
This really depends upon the type of fish that you have. In the links in the right border, click on your fish and see if it is peaceful, community or aggressive. Then look at the other species of fish listed in the right border and see what may be compatible with your fish.
7. I want to learn more and maybe breed my fish, how do I do this?
Buy a book or two about general aquarium keeping, the type(s) of fish you would like to keep & breed, and read all of the literature that you can. Join your local aquarium society. Books you can buy about keeping and breeding tropical fish are at our bookstore or on your fish's description page, if listed on the right border. A membership in this site will also prove helpful & valuable and you'll find this far less expensive (financially and otherwise) than losing a lot of fish in the beginning. Then you will have the information, reliable resources and sources for a good genetic stock to begin.
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