Cheat Sheet

Freshwater Aquariums For Dummies

From Freshwater Aquariums For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Maddy Hargrove, Mic Hargrove

To start and keep a freshwater aquarium, you need not only a tank, but the other equipment necessary to keep the water habitable for the fishy inhabitants. As you purchase those fish, make sure that you go to a good dealer and that you buy healthy fish. And when those healthy fish get sick, as some may, tap into the often simple remedies to restore them to the pink (or neon) of health.

Good Freshwater Fish for Beginners

You’re starting a freshwater aquarium and need to know what kind of fish to stock it with. The fish in the following list are good species of freshwater fish for beginners:

Goldfish White clouds
Guppy Dwarf gourami
Zebra danio Convict cichlid
Cherry barb Molly
Swordtail Cory
Male betta Chinese algae eater
Platy *

What to Look for When Buying Freshwater Fish

Buying fish for your freshwater aquarium is opportunity for a fun trip to the pet store. As you choose fish to take home, look at the physical characteristics in the following list to determine whether a fish is in good health:

  • Body color is rich, not faded or dull. The color should be complete and not missing in any areas.

  • There are no open sores, visible ulcers, boils, or obvious skin problems such as peeling scales or blemishes.

  • Fins are long and flowing or short and erect. The fish should not have any ragged, torn, or missing fins.

  • Scales are flat and smooth, not protruding away from the body.

  • The stomach is well rounded, not sunken or concave.

  • Girth of the entire body is of normal size, not bloated or emaciated.

  • Visible excreta (fish waste) should be dark in color, not pale.

  • All the fins on the fish’s body should not be collapsed or completely clamped shut.

  • The eyes are clear, not cloudy, and they are not popping out of their sockets.

  • There are no visible parasites, such as ich or velvet.

What You Need to Set Up a Freshwater Aquarium System

When you decide to set up a freshwater aquarium, you commit to getting a number of items aside from the fish. You need equipment and supplies to help keep the aquarium environment healthy for your fish. Use the following list as a shopping list when you head out to get your tank:

Tank and stand Air-line tubing
Hood Plants
Lighting Decorations
Gravel Food
Heater and thermometer Net
Filter systems Water test kit
Air pump Declorinator

Common Freshwater Fish Medications

Sometimes, your freshwater fish get sick. If you notice signs of illness, try the following remedies — most of them applications you use in the whole tank — to treat your sick fish:

  • Salt: Common table salt is generally used to treat ich and other parasitic diseases.

  • Methylene blue: Used to treat diseases such as ich, fungus, and velvet.

  • Malachite green: Use this wonderful medicine to treat velvet, fungus, and ich.

  • Formalin: A bath-type treatment only, it should not be used in the main tank. A great remedy for parasites, it doesn’t work well on internal infections and can be very toxic.

  • Penicillin: Treats bacterial infections and is non-toxic.

  • Tetracycline: This antibiotic is great for bacterial infections and is non-toxic.

  • Acriflavine: Treats ich and fungus, but may turn water green.

Characteristics of Good Fish Dealers

As you shop for the tenants of your freshwater — or saltwater — aquarium, look for a fish dealer who sells healthy fish and can offer information and assistance when you need it. A good fish dealer has the characteristics in the following list:

  • Clean tanks and shop.

  • Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff who answer your questions, go out of their way to help, and are familiar with equipment, putting together systems, and needs of each fish.

  • Large selection of aquarium equipment, food, medicine, and fish in stock.

  • Free services, such as water testing.

  • A guarantee on the fish and equipment they sell.

  • Willingness to inform you where you can get something they don’t sell.

  • Autopsies of dead fish to help determine cause of death, and medication adivce to prevent the need for autopsies.

  • Genuine interest in you and your aquarium(s).

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