Your first fish

There are a wide variety of fish types available to keep in an aquarium; marine, tropical warm water and cold water fish are the most commonly available. Marine fish should only be kept by experienced fish keepers. In this article we will look at choosing your first tropical warm water or cold water fish.

You probably have an idea of the type of fish you’d like for your aquarium, however it is vital that you understand a few things before buying fish. 

  • If this is a new aquarium, only add a small number of fish at the start, also it is recommended to add a filter booster product to the water as the filter starts to mature (see – about my filter). This is also good practice when adding new fish to an existing aquarium.
  • Select the correct fish for the aquarium you have; consider how big the fish will grow and will they get along with any existing fish, if this is not a new set up.
  • Consider where in the aquarium your new fish will swim; there are fish that prefer to live at the top, middle or bottom of the aquarium. Vary the types of fish you keep for all round interest – (see – Choosing fish for a balanced look).
  • More than just fish can be kept in an aquarium; there are a variety of shrimps and snails that also add interest, color, movement and can be helpful in keeping the aquarium clean.

When buying your fish, selecting from a good aquatics store – always choose bright, healthy and active specimens.

Transport them straight home. The conditions in a bag are not ideal and can stress the fish. The sooner they are settled in their new home, the better.

Once home, turn off the aquarium lights, open the top of the bag, roll down the sides and float the bag on the water for about 20-30 minutes. After this time, add a little of the aquarium water to the bag. Continue to do this, on and off, for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the fish to get used to the new water conditions. Finally, release your new additions by tipping the bag on its side and pouring the contents into the tank. Check no one has got caught in the bag.

Leave the lights off for another hour to let them settle in. Keep an eye on your new buddies, ensure they have settled and are not bullied by their existing tank mates.

Take care with feeding. As with a new aquarium, adding fish means that the filter needs to increase the bacteria to process all the new waste. (see – Understanding the nitrogen cycle?). Feed carefully and ensure all the food is eaten, any spare food should be scooped out with a fish net.