One unfortunate aspect of fish keeping is the possibility that your fishes will become ill at some point in time. If you are a responsible fish keeper then you probably worry about this possibility and check them for signs of disease on a regular basis. While this practice is both responsible and wise, you should be far more focused on the prevention of disease than the treatment of disease. With this in mind, we have created a few important tips to follow to prevent disease in aquarium fish.
Healthy Fish Tip #1 - Water changes, water changes, water changes: This is probably the most important of the healthy fish tips. Regular water changes remove contaminants and waste byproducts from the aquarium and replace them with fresh clean water. Typically you should perform water changes on a regular schedule so that all of your water changes add up to about 100% in a month. Some common examples are 25% water change once a week or 15% water changes twice a week.
Healthy Fish Tip #2 - Consistent Temperature: This is another important healthy fish tip. Unlike humans fish cannot regulate body temperature so variations in water temperature are very stressful to a fish. Research the recommended temperature range for your fish and make sure that all of the fish in your tank can live in the same temperature range. After finding out what temperature is acceptable to all of your fish species set your temperature there and try to keep it from changing much. Be especially careful when performing water changes that the water is not too hot or cold when you change it. Use a heater or a chiller as recommended.
Healthy Fish Tip #3 - Don’t use too many chemicals or products: Using pH adjusters or chemicals to clear the water is usually not a very good method to keep healthy fish. Also keep in mind that most medicines are very harmful to the fish because they either stress them directly or kill the biological bacteria in your tank that is keeping it healthy. The only chemicals that should go into tanks are tap water, water conditioner to remove chlorine, charcoal in the filters and rock salt (if needed). If you need to adjust the pH of the water, you should use rocks or substrate to raise the pH or wood or plants to lower it. This will stabilize the pH and prevent wild swings in pH. Also, make regular moderate water changes.
Healthy Fish Tip #4 – Use a quarantine tank: If you have an established tank with no real problems and follow all of the healthy fish tips above then the chances of the fish in your tank spontaneously contracting a disease is very little. The quickest way to raise this risk is to introduce new fish to your tank that have come fresh from the fish store. It does not matter how good the fish store has been in the past, the fact of the matter remains that fish stores have a lot of fish coming in and going out so the chances are greatly increase for the risk of disease infection. Always quarantine new fish in a separate quarantine tank or a tub or bucket with a filter for atleast a week prior to introduction into an established tank.
Healthy Fish Tip #5 – Keep aggression under control: If you have an aggressive tank such as an African cichlid tank then there will be aggression and territorial conflict. This is normal and probably healthy for the fish because it is natural. However if you notice a fish that is too aggressive or one that seems to be getting picked on by all of the fish in the tank, then you need to find a way to resolve the problem. Sometimes merely rearranging the tank can change the tank dynamic and perhaps give a “picked on” fish some new hiding spaces. If rearranging the tank does not work, then consider removing the problem fish from the tank and placing it in a different tank or perhaps trading it with another hobbyist or shop. Stressed fish are prone to disease and once a stressed fish becomes diseased it is more likely other healthy fish in the tank will contract the disease from the stressed fish.
The goal of following these healthy fish tips is to avoid having to treat the fish after they become sick.
Happy fish keeping!