In the tropical fish keeping hobby, having only a fish net and fish food is not sufficient for taking care of your fish. Pet shops offer a wide array of essential aquarium supplies but many of them also carry items that are not critical, though they may be nice to have. How do you know what is a necessity and what is not?
Here is a list of basic items that you should have on hand in order to be prepared for quick action when you discover your fish are sick or for routine checking of water quality in your aquarium:
- PH test kit for acidity in water
- DH test kit for water hardness
- Nitrate and Nitrite test kit
- Ammonia test kit
- PH Up and PH Down in case the PH levels of water have to be changed
- Aquarium salt, sea salt, rock salt, and or pickling salts which inhibit bacterial growth
- Malachite Green which treats a wide range of basic aquarium diseases
- Methylene Blue which treats a wide range of fungal diseases.
- Bleach for disinfecting tanks that have been emptied and (rinse well before adding new stock)
- Antibiotics capsules – tetracycline is readily available
- Antibiotic fish food sometimes needed for internal diseases
- Copper tablets to fight parasites. Place the diseased fish in a hospital tank and use with caution
- Mercurochrome or iodine for open sores or wounds on fish, only if you can quickly apply it on the fish
- Q-tips to apply some medications to your fish
Experienced hobbyists observe their fish and learn what each fish is like in temperament, eating and swimming habits. When one of their fish starts behaving out of character, they know there could be something wrong. This should trigger a series of tests.
Use all the test kits for checking the water quality. If the PH balance is not within the acceptable range, use PH Up or PH Down to adjust it. Do a 25% water change to reduce ammonia, nitrate and nitrite. If the water is too hard, there is a hardness reduction chemical. You can also collect rainwater to use in your tank.
Check the temperature of the water. The ideal temperature should be 82F. You can add 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water in order to keep tanks healthy. If your fish have a bacterial disease, you can increase the water temperature to 85F and use 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water.
Some of the more common causes of diseases are temperature changes, overcrowding, lack of hiding spaces and bullying. You may have to add another tank in order to alleviate the crowding or isolate more aggressive fish. Be sure to provide hiding places with rocks, plants or decorations.
If you check everything out and can’t identify the problem, do some research on the Internet or look in reference books or ask experienced staff at a pet shop. You can also try joining a fish forum and ask for advice from other members.