Word Count: 1449
Reading Time: 05:47
Pets are essential. Those who are lucky can have them, those who can’t have to make alternative arrangements. I did. I bought a home aquarium and since then have been in love with my fishes. The home aquarium existed (the second time around) way back around 2010.
Over the years of caring for fishes, I have discovered a few things which I am penning now. It will prove to be helpful for you if you cannot keep any furry animals like cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. at home.
My first tryst with aquarium fishes:
I was first introduced to goldfishes and other aquarium varieties like carps, guramis, angelfishes, guppies, Singapore sharks, catfishes and many more during my school days.
My Uncle (mom’s brother) was particularly interested in breeding and keeping them. Then he got married and could not help but divorce the fishes – leaving them to my care. But I was a kid! Mom did not enjoy seeing me basking in this responsibility and decided to give it away.
Fast forward in the second decade of the 21st century, I can safely say, mom enjoys seeing me bask in the responsibility of caring for fishes.
I am an animal lover since childhood. Back during the days, mom was working for WWF-India products division. I had my share of animal exposures from that time onwards throughout the country.
Before the fishes, I had a cat. I love cats more than fishes because they are smart and cleanliness freaks! But can no longer keep them due to the fact, Phoebe is allergic to pets – basically anything furry! Mom developed the allergy later. Gone were the days to keep any furry animals and besides there are other problems to keep furry pets which I will discuss later.
All that glitters is not gold, but the glitter of the goldfish makes it attractive! They are cute! They are bulky and resilient as compared to other fishes. I have kept fishes like molee, angelfishes, guppies and telescopes. None have managed to survive the longest as a goldfish.
They are much easier to maintain and do not succumb to diseases that easily. Although they originate from freshwaters, a little sea salt is necessary to keep them disease-free. Goldfishes are shy. I try to click their snaps with my smartphone but it gets too conscious!
It is believed that they can live up to 20 years! Now that is really long! I love to see my darling goldfishes live that long.
These type of fishes are the commonest of all. They are cheap and easy to care for.
The aquarium set up is also reasonably priced and cheaper than keeping a dog or cat. You don’t have to take them to the vet if they fall sick.
Two of the most common diseases fishes tend to suffer from is fin rot and bladder problems. Fin rot occurs due to lack of salt in the tank. Bladder problem is when the fish is not able to swim properly – I have no idea how does one contract that disease. It may swim upside down or sideways – this disease ultimately results in their death.
My goldfishes have not faced either of these diseases but on occasions, they have unexpectedly died!
Going forward, I will be keeping single-tail and double-tail goldfishes. I will be updating my tank shortly by adding three new goldfishes.
Bigger the tank more the work for clean up. A smaller tank is not always advisable. That’s because it depends on the fishes. Some fishes require more space, while others need less. In other words, your fishes will decide the size of your tank.
Getting the fishes:
Choices are aplenty from common ones to the exotic variety. The exotic varieties cost a bomb and require more maintenance. It is fine to take an experience from one particular variety. However, I would strongly recommend that you do ample research for the appropriate variety and the investment and maintenance required. More exotic the variety – more exotic the food as well.
The other stuff: Gravel, plants, some items for decorations, filter and a backdrop! Let’s break it down:
Gravel: usually available by the kilo and varies from smooth marble stones to tiny grain-type gravel. Make your choice carefully here. You do not want your fishes to scoop through light and tiny gravel when they are hungry. If these teeny-weeny stones enter their digestive track they won’t be able to eat any food and will starve to death. Make sure that the stones aren’t too large and not too small either. Avoid coloured stones – they serve no purpose whatsoever and that’s because these colours eventually fade exposing their true colour!
Plants: Underwater plants come in two varieties artificial and natural.
Artificial could be made of either plastic or silicon – it does not matter. Choices are aplenty and are generally cheaper.
Natural plants may cost more and are subjective. I leave this choice to you whether or not you wish to buy. Depending on the type of fish you have, they may or may not nibble on the leaves when hungry thus killing them.
Decorations: Here you can have the porous air stones, items like broken barrels, sunken shipwrecks, mermaids and even motorised windmills and what not. You are literally spoilt for choices here. Do not flood your tank with decorations. Use them to complement your already existing environment. Perhaps, you could some decorations alternatively when cleaning the tank next time. Throw some monochrome light to further accentuate the decorations.
Filter & Air Pumps:
Choices here include from the simple sponge variety to an internalised motorised sponge filter to an external filter.
Internal sponge filter has a motor attached above the filter medium, in this case, is usually a sponge. The filter works by generating sufficient water current to rotate within the tank. This rotation sifts through this sponge catching any dirt or other impurities in it.
This does not clean the tank the way you would expect but sooner or later you will need to clean the sponge from time to time and ultimately one day the tank. Don’t clean the tank then your fishes die and you will have to eventually clean the tank. Better to clean them when they are alive.
If I have only goldfishes, I clean the tank twice a month and change the water once a week.
Air pumps: The lifeblood of your fishes! A constant supply of air to keep them alive and kicking. It’s self-explanatory I won’t jump into detail.
Backdrop: I don’t have a backdrop yet. This usually has corals and other seascapes. Put it at the back of your tank and it adds more show to your aquarium.
One important aspect that I did not talk about is Food. Fishes love varieties and the most common food you can get – pellets, flakes and blood worms (live or freeze-dried). It is advisable to soak the pellets for around 30 minutes to soften them. That will make it easier for your fishes to eat them. Flakes are similar to snacks. For additional variety, you can mix these with pellets. However, restrict the use of flakes because they tend to dirty the water.
You will also need a de-chlorinator. It is a simple and cheap solution you put in your tank after every water change and then you can add some aquarium salts or sea salts.
The drawback of petting fishes compared to other animals:
You cannot touch them, feel them, cuddle them or take them out for a walk or even a swim! You can feast your eyes on them only through the transparent glass of your aquarium. You can talk to them if you like, I do sometimes and sometimes I shower my love on them.
Yes, just like dogs and cats, you can love them without touching or even feeling them. Trust me, your fishes will know and it is this love that will keep them alive most of the time.
Their life is delicate than cats and dogs and is likely to die easily especially when you least expect it. The fact of the matter is, fish species tend to live longer than most common pets. But their soft-bodied lifestyle kind of makes you extra cautious to care for them.
For example, you must wash your hands properly before putting your hand in the tank. Your fingernails must be properly trimmed to avoid touching the fishes. You will not know which touch may be fatal to them. Take care of them but don’t get paranoid.
These teeny weeny things are super important for keeping your fishes alive. Enjoy!
Leave a Reply