Freshwater Fish Husbandry & Management

By: Lindsey Ann Kochanski

• Fish are definitely not as interactive as cats or dogs, but they can be quite entertaining. • Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to care for fish. There is a lot involved and it can get expensive. • Please keep in mind that all parameters and values mentioned vary according to the species of fish.

• Decoration • Pet • Entertainment • Hobby • Showing

Types of Freshwater Fish
• Aggressive
– Cichlids

• Community
– – – – – – – – – – Mollies Swordtails Platties Guppies Danios Algae Eaters Tetras Catfish Amphibians Goldfish

• Semi-Aggressive
– – – – – – – – – – Angels Barbs Bettas Catfish Eels Gouramis Knives Loaches Sharks Tetras

General Fish Needs
• Correct temperature • Clean water
– This is the filter’s job

• Food
– There are many different kinds for many different fish

• Light
– Should be turned on and off at times similar to sunrise and sunset

• Correctly sized aquarium
– Goldfish= 2 gallons per inch of fish – All other fish= 1 gallon per inch of fish

• Medications (as necessary) • Oxygenation

Types of Food
• Live (the best option; most nutritious) – Brine shrimp – Baby brine shrimp – Minnows – Guppies – Goldfish – Daphnia (also known as the “water flea”) – Bloodworms (mosquito larvae) Frozen (second best) – Brine shrimp – Baby brine shrimp – Daphnia – Bloodworms – Beefheart – Krill – Plankton – Tubifex worms Freeze-dried – Brine shrimp – Baby brine shrimp – Krill – Plankton – Tubifex worms – Bloodworms

Parts of an Aquarium
• • • • • • • Filter Heater Lighting The aquarium itself Air pump(s) Wood Plants
– Artificial – Natural

• Choosing the correct filter is a very important task when setting up an aquarium. A poor functioning filter will cause illness, diseases and increase how often you need to perform tank maintenance. • A filter will take out waste products from the water such as ammonia (extremely toxic to fish) and solid waste. • Developing and maintaining a “bacterial bed” is also of utmost importance. Bacterial processes oxidize ammonia into nitrites (less toxic) and then into nitrates (hardly toxic at all). – When setting up a new aquarium, these bacterial colonies can take several weeks to form. If the aquarium is stocked with too many fish before the colonies have formed, ammonia will build up because there aren’t enough bacteria to fight it off. – Ammonia build-up is the number one cause of fish death in new aquariums.


• When discussing having a heater in an aquarium, it is important to know that “heat” is not necessarily what they are used for. They are really used to keep the temperature at specific degree because fluctuations in temperature will weaken fish and eventually cause them to die. • There are heaters that you can adjust to a certain degree yourself, but they are not completely accurate. It is important to use a water thermometer to tell how many degrees the water actually is and adjust the heater from there. • There are also heaters that stay between 76°F-78°F. • Again, every fish has different requirements. Some fish (for example, goldfish) can thrive without a heater and the water being between 50°-60°F. • During certain stages of a fish’s life, the water may need to be higher than normal. For example, if you have fry (fish babies), they grow at an optimum temperature of 80°F. The same concept applies if you have a pregnant livebearer. The higher temperature will encourage her to give birth to her fry. • Another example is if you want to encourage corydoras to breed and lay eggs, they prefer a colder temperature (around 50°F) as this is the temperature they breed in when they are in the wild. • The more natural the aquarium environment is to the specific fish you have, the more they will thrive.

• Lighting is very important in keeping your fish healthy and vibrant. • There are literally hundreds of different kinds of lights you can have; It is important to select the right kind for your specific fish.
– For example, saltwater fish require a different type of lighting than freshwater fish.

• The most important thing to remember is that the lights need to be turned on and off in accordance with the actual times that the sun sets and rises. This keeps the environment as natural as possible.

• Decorations can be anything from the kind of bottom you pick for your aquarium to the type of plants you choose. • Plants can be artificial and natural.
– Natural plants provide oxygen and feed on ammonia waste (cutting down the amount of tank maintenance needed) – Artificial plants come in many colors (including natural, such as green). They do not provide any oxygen, but can be arranged to your liking. Different colors across the tank usually looks attractive. If you’re looking to breed them, the natural colors and natural plants may be a better option.

• The substrate (bottom) of your aquarium generally can be sand or gravel.

• Other decorations exist and come in a wide variety of options to help you personalize your tank.
– – – – Decorative air pumps Statues TV show decorations ETC.

– Sand comes in different colors and is preferred by most fish as it is more natural. However, it has the disadvantage of needed more maintenance than gravel. – Gravel also comes in many, MANY colors and comes in different sizes (in terms of rock). Certain fish need bigger rocks, while others (such as those who are bottom feeders) need smaller rocks.

Air Pumps
• Air pumps are generally added to an aquarium to provide a source of oxygen. They aren’t completely necessary, but it would greatly benefit your fish. • The pumps themselves come in different sizes and different levels to suit the size of the aquarium. • Attached to the pumps are air stones, which come in many different sizes and shapes.
– It is possible to make a “bubble wall” with an air pump.

Aquarium Maintenance
• Keep in mind: The following are general guidelines. Depending on the number of fish and size of aquarium you have, the frequency of aquarium maintenance may need to be done more or less often. • Water changes
– This involves using a siphon to run across the substrate of the aquarium and remove 25% of the water and then replace that 25% with fresh, clean water. – When replacing the water and starting your aquarium, don’t forget to use a water conditioner to remove lead and other toxins.

• Filter pad changes
– This just means you need to change the carbon pad, ideally, every 30-60 days (depending on amount of waste being distributed through the filter)

Important Things to Remember
• When you want to clean the glass (or acrylic) inside the tank, it is best to use a toothbrush or a scrub brush made for aquariums. • NEVER use any kind of cleaner that is not aquarium specific. Most, if not all, of them are toxic to fish. • Before starting your aquarium and when thinking about what kind of fish you would like to have, do plenty of research so you can be well prepared to set up an environment for that type of fish.


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