By Rajiv Sharma

Aquarium keeping is a popular hobby nowadays. Most people want to keep pets but it is not always possible to care for animals such as dogs and cats due to the pressures of hectic urban life. Such people can easily maintain fish as pets. Gazing at their vibrant colours and locomotive activities are known to help in reducing stress and tiredness. Fishes need less care in comparison to other pets. They don’t occupy too much space in homes either. Their relative ease of maintenance has encouraged many people to keep them as pets. They need less care but it does not mean that we forget about the aquarium. Let’s understand how we can care for fishes in the best possible manner.

The journey of fishes begins from fish farms and culminates in the local fish shop. This passage is very uncomfortable. Proper packing of fishes is the guarantee of survival during transit. But sellers sometimes group too many fishes together in small packets to reduce the transportation cost. Due to low oxygen and stress, many fishes die. Wholesaler is always responsible for providing the ideal conditions so that fishes can reach safely to their destination.

It is very easy to save the precious life of fishes. This can be done by following these simple steps:

  1. Most of the sellers pack expensive fishes properly but the low-priced ones such as molly are packed in inhuman conditions. Sellers and buyers, both ignore the death of these poor fishes due to their low price. But life should always be respected. Fishes should be packed properly without considering their cost. Fishes can survive for more than 48 hours with proper packing.
  2. Fishes should not be provided with any food prior to packing. They should remain hungry for at least 24 hours before packing. This is because fish waste releases ammonia into the water, which is highly toxic for them. Packing hungry fish aids in keeping the level of ammonia low during transportation. Fish consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. So, the packet should be filled with enough medical grade oxygen to last throughout the journey. Lack of oxygen may bring about the death of all the fishes in the packet.
  3. Loaded fish bags should be accommodated in sturdy containers. Most of the sellers use cardboard containers for packing the fish bags. Strong carriage vessels reduce the chances for any physical damage to the fishes. A fine carrier also helps in maintaining temperature during transportation. It is a good practice to insert thermocol sheets between the packets and container walls.
  4. Containers should not swing or vibrate during transit. Too much vibration and swinging may result in stress in fishes. Later, this may emerge as mass death of fishes.
  5. After completion of the movement, the container must never be unloaded in direct sunlight, excessively cold or hot environment. A sudden change in the temperature creates risks for the life of fishes.
  6. Some fish shopkeepers open the packet and directly release the fishes into the tanks. This is a very bad practice. First of all, fish packets should be inserted into the tank and allowed to remain there till the temperature of the packet and the aquarium reaches the same level. Some water from the aquarium should then be poured into the fish bag. This process must be repeated several times. This activity will help fishes to settle in their new environment.
  7. After releasing fishes into the aquarium, observe them carefully. You may notice the following symptoms:
  8. Some fishes may be physically injured. If the wounds are big or serious, keep them isolated otherwise other fishes will attack and kill the injured ones.
  9. Check for white spot disease. In case any of the fishes are found infected, treat with high temperature and/or salt therapy without losing time.
  10. Some fishes may remain in a corner of the aquarium, breathing rapidly or gasping near the water surface. This may be due to bad health or stress. Keeping these fishes in a dark room helps improve these signs.
  11. Inspect for cloudy or bulging eyes. Such fishes may be infested with eye diseases. Provide them with appropriate medications.
  12. Healthy fishes should be shifted to other aquariums after proper quarantine process is completed. They should be kept in dark for several hours as it helps them normalise and recover from the stress. Also provide them with nourishing food and extra care.
  13. Treat the sick fishes promptly. Improve the water quality and provide them with suitable medicines. Quarantine time can be extended up to 15 days.
  14. Quarantined fishes may be transferred to display tanks.
  15. Never offer the dead fishes as food to the remaining fishes. After consuming dead fishes, the healthy ones may get infected with their diseases.

Healthy fishes look more vibrant and beautiful. The buyer will happily buy robust fishes.

The buyer also has to take several precautions to house the fishes in his/her aquarium. These are listed below:

  1. First of all, study the fishes you intend to purchase attentively. Every living organism requires some specific conditions to flourish. Particular fishes may have some special requirements. If the needs meet your existing set-up, go ahead and grab the fishes.
  2. Check the compatibility with your existing fishes. Invest in the fishes you desire only if they are accordant with the ones you already have.
  3. Study the activities of the fish. Never buy dull, damaged or sick fishes. A sick fish can lead to the death of all the others or may spread infection in the aquarium. Make sure you buy healthy specimens.
  4. Always try to keep the fishes in a fully cycled aquarium. A cycled aquarium provides favourable conditions for growth and development of fishes.
  5. Once you get the desired fishes home, float the polythene bag in the aquarium till the temperature of the aquarium and polythene bag reaches the same level.
  6. Check the water parameters of your aquarium. If everything is under control, release some water in the fish bag several times. Let out the fishes in your aquarium only after you have done this.
  7. If the fishes get infected or injured, heal them in a spare or medical aquarium. Never mix an injured or sick fish with healthy ones.
  8. If it seems that the newly introduced fishes are in stress, switch off the lights. They will feel secure and gradually adjust themselves in their new environment.

Choosing suitable fishes for your aquarium is very essential to be a successful aquarist. Educate yourself as much as possible. Wait for second part of this article, where I share more essential tips.


* Rajiv Sharma is the Founder of online aquarium forum He is also an aquarium hobbyist and planted aquarium designer. He can be reached at and 9958075234.