10 Top Tips for New Fishkeepers

Pet healthcare is so important, and fish are no different. They can’t talk to us so as fishkeepers we have to be one step ahead to keep them happy and healthy at all times.

Here are my top 10 tips for new fishkeepers.

  1. Step one for new fishkeepers is to dechlorinate tap water before adding it to your pond or aquarium. Even if you are only topping up evaporated water this is a must, as tap water contains chlorine and chloramines, which are harmful to all fish. There are many brands of dechlorinators on the market – just look for a bottle that says it takes out both chlorine and chloramines.
  1. Fish need a filter to remove fish waste, organic matter and to keep your pond or tank clean. Remember that filters take 6 – 8 weeks to mature, so be patient and don’t overstock your pond with fish for the first few weeks.
  1. Cleaning of your filter: When washing out your filter please use pond or tank water and not water from the tap, as the chlorine kills all the good bacteria in the filter.
  1. If you have problems with green water there are a few treatments. The longterm treatment is to put a UV sterilizer on, as this kills green water and you only need to change the UV bulb every 9 – 12 months. There are pond UV lights and aquarium UV lights to choose from. Shortterm solutions are putting in algaecides, but they only last a week or so and then the green water returns.
  1. The amount of food your fish require is often confusing for fishkeepers. Time is often a good way to assess if you are feeding correctly: if after five minutes there is still food floating on the surface, you are overfeeding. Feeding koi small amounts three times a day leads to maximum growth.
  1. Rain can affect your outdoor pond’s pH level – you need to keep a check on the pH levels as they can fluctuate quite a lot. Most fish like a pH of between 7.2 and 8.5. If the pH drops below 7, bicarbonate of soda can be used to correct it.
  1. Air pumps are used to blow oxygen into the water. Fish love the added oxygen and it makes them healthier and more active. Air pumps blow vertical air from the bottom to the top via air stones. You can get air balls, air discs and even bottom drains that have built in air tops.
  1. Healthcare for fish can be daunting, and getting advice from your local pet or fish store is recommended. The first treatment is to get your water tested and to make sure the water chemistry is correct. After you have ruled out water quality issues you can move on to the correct medications.
  1. Test kits are a must for fish care. There are four tests that you need, and each test will tell you if your water quality is healthy or not. Ammonia measures fish wastes and organic wastes, nitrite and nitrate will show you if your filters are working well, and the pH test kit will tell you if your water is acidic or alkaline.
  1. Fish can jump out of ponds or fish tanks, but this normally only happens when you purchase new fish as they are new to your pond or aquarium and are not sure of the change in environment. Keeping a net on your pond or dropping the water level for a few days until they settle in can help. If you have an aquarium, keep an aquarium lid on so that the fish are safe.

Happy fishkeeping!

The Gardener