Thinking of Starting an Aquarium

A guide to choosing, and taking care of, freshwater fish.

Having healthy, beautiful fish is the key to having a beautiful aquarium.

After all, who wants to look at sick, dying, grimy fish? In order to assure you are getting the best of the best when it comes to picking fish, there are just a few things to do for you to ensure that you are getting the best, and healthiest fish, possible.

Start by researching the different varieties of fresh water fish that are available to you. Decide which ones you think will work out best for you, or your family and which ones will be suitable for the tank in your possession, and then find out where you're going to be getting your fish from.

Before you go any further, you must decide how many fish you want, and the size of the tank you're going to be keeping them in. Typically you will need 2 gallons of water per 1 inch of fish. For example: A Mollie is around 1 inch in length, therefore you can have 5 mollies in a 10 gallon aquarium. You want to be sure that your fish will not be too crowded in their tank, and that they will have plenty of space to swim around and have fun.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of freshwater fish, that is why is it important for you to do your homework. Most of them can be classified into 4 groups:

Goldfish types: Goldfish are definitely the most popular and most commonly known type of freshwater fish. They are very simple to care and require very little maintenance. The most common types of Goldfish are called Comets and they can grow up to 6 inches depending on the size of the aquarium they preside in. Other types of Goldfish are Fantails, Black Moors and even Koi fish. Koi are the type you see in ponds that can grow up to 12 inches or more.

Small types: Small freshwater fish are typically what you see in aquariums across the world. They are practical because they can live 2 to 5 years in captivity (if properly taken care of) and are fairly low maintenance. Their tanks require a moderate cleaning, about once a month if you have the proper filter for their tank.

These types of fish are great for children as they are very active making them exciting to own and watch. Some types of small freshwater fish include, Bettas, Tetras, Mollies, Gouramis and more. They come in a wide variety of colors and sizes and can be mixed and match with each other and still be happy.

Large types: Large freshwater fish are entirely different from small freshwater fish. If you choose to purchase the larger types you will have to sacrifice the number of fish in your aquarium. Often times one to two large fish will be practical because they will drastically grow depending on the size of their habitat. Larger fish usually come with more personality though, so often times it is worth the sacrifice.

They often interact with people outside their tanks. A lot of the larger freshwater fish are mildly aggressive, so you would not want to tank them with the smaller fish as they will get eaten. Remember that larger fish produce more waste, so theses guys are not for those looking for low tank maintenance. Some of the larger varieties include, Cichlids (which are aggressive), Bala Sharks, Tin Foil Barbs, Parrotfish and many others.

Bottom feeding types: The bottom feeders or Algae Eater as most know them are practical in any tank as they feed off of the waste from other fish and help to keep the tank clean. The official name for a bottom feeder is a Plecostomus, or Pleco for short. There are a few varieties of algae eater, but they all serve the same purpose as a bottom feeder.

A well taken care of Pleco can live for many, many years and can grow quite large, although they tend to grow to match their surroundings. You must always be careful when handling a Pleco as they have exoskeletons which are sharp and can cut you, or the net you are trying to handle them in (or the bag you try to take them home in, be sure to double bag).

It is important to know where you're going to get your fish, and the condition your fish will be in once in your possession. The most important thing to remember when purchasing fish is they habitat in which they are being kept in must be clean. If it's clean, your fish are going to be healthy. Keep an eye out for excessive amounts of algae, debris or dead fish. If there are large amounts of any, choose a different place to get your fish.

Pet supply stores typically have healthy fish. Their employees are trained in fish care and they can be helpful in your selection process. A few great pet supply stores include, Petsmart, Petco and Feeders Supply. I would not recommend visiting your local Wal-Mart or other retail store to pick out fish, while they will be cheaper...that is the problem. Cheaper sacrifices health.

I hope you take your new found knowledge of fish and put it to good use when the time comes to select your new family pets. Have fun picking them out, look for the most lively and active ones, and enjoy the relaxation and entertainment they will provide for years to come!