Keeping Fish: A Beginner’s Guide

Fish can make wonderful pets for children of all ages. Watching them swim can be very calming and caring for fish will also instil a sense of responsibility and interest in the natural world in young children. Fish need specific conditions in order to flourish and live healthy lives, so it’s best to start with hardy freshwater fish if this is your first attempt at keeping them. Don’t attempt to cut corners when it comes to buying the correct aquarium and filtering equipment, as this could result in unwell or unhappy fish. Tanks don’t have to be expensive, but they should be good quality and of the right size for the number of fish you’re interested in keeping.

Setting Up Your Tank

Think about where you tank should be positioned, and move it before it is filled with water. Your aquarium should be situated near a mains power supply and away from draughts and direct sunlight so that algae doesn’t start growing. It’s also important to keep the tank out of reach of pets and small children. Place the tank away from electrical equipment and keep it on a completely level surface. Start by washing the tank and the gravel in clean, cool water without the use of soap or detergents. Cover the bottom of the tank in gravel, placing more gravel at the back so that waste will gather at the front of the tank where it can be more easily removed. Fit the tank with lighting, aeration, heating and filtration equipment but don’t switch it on yet. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Preparing Your Tank for Fish

Half fill the tank with cold water and wash the plants and decorations carefully before adding them to the tank. Fill the tank to within two or three centimetres of the top and add the water conditioner. You should now switch on the air pump and filter, and wait half an hour before switching on the heater. It’s essential to wait three days for good bacteria to build up in the tank before adding any fish.

Introducing Fish to Your Tank

This should be done gradually over a number of weeks so that the filter gets used to the increased amount of ammonia in the water. Add a few fish at a time, and don’t add more than the size of tank will appropriately allow. It’s best to start with coldwater fish if you’re not an experienced fish keeper. Coldwater fish need a litre of water per 0.5cm of fish, and remember to take into account the amount that your fish will grow over their lifetime.


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