You are a Responsible Fish Keeper?
If you are a responsible fish keeper and spend any amount of time browsing the fish forums you will soon come to the realization that there are many pet fish keepers that are totally unprepared and not very responsible keeper when it comes to keeping aquariums. Its unfortunate that fish are not afforded the same level of care as other pets such as dogs or cats.
Many people think less of fish for some reason. Maybe because fish is a part of our diet? I don’t understand why they don’t care more deeply for the animals they are keeping. So, what does it mean to be a responsible fish keeper?
To me, being a responsible aquarist means:
- Taking the time to research all the fish and invertebrates you’re interested in keeping before buying them.
- Not keeping fish in bowls or other small containers with no methods of filtration or temperature control.
- Not buying a small tank for a child and assuming that they will be the primary care giver of the fish and aquarium.Although I think keeping fish can be a wonderful learning experience for children and I think it can help instill responsibility in them, realize that you (the parent) will be the primary care person for this tank. Children lose interest quickly and while they may be very interested at first, they will often forget about the tank after awhile.
- Understanding that this is a long-term hobby. Many species can live for a very long time. For instance, Goldfish can live for many years (10 or more years) if kept in optimal conditions.
- Keeping fish in adequately sized tanks. How many posts have you read about hobbyists keeping a common pleco in a 10 gallon tank?
- Not overcrowding! I understand the temptation to get just one more fish and I have to fight it myself. But understand that it is better for your aquariums inhabitants and better for you in the form of less maintenance. Less fish in your tank equates to less bio-load, which means less dissolved organics which means less water changes. Speaking of water changes.
- Performing regular partial water changes. Probably the best thing we can do to keep our systems stable is to perform small and frequent partial water changes. You want to use decholorinated water (either tap or reverse osmosis water) that has been adjusted temperature wise to your tank water. This is especially important in overstocked tanks or aquariums with no mechanisms for nitrate reduction.
- Don’t believe the rule that fish will regulate their growth depending on the size of the tank they’re kept in. They may grow more slowly, but it is not directly caused by the fish tank size. It is cause by the amount of dissolved organics and other pollutants that quickly accumulate from the bio-load in the tank. Fish that are kept in optimal conditions will continue to grow to their adult size in favorable aquarium conditions.
- Knowing about the aquarium nitrogen cycle. Although it may take a tiny bit of effort understanding this cycle, this is really basic stuff here. This would also mean not subjecting fish to the rigors of cycling a tank. Some species such as zebra danios are hardy, but they still suffer when subjected to ammonia and nitrites in the first stages of a cycle. There are many products available containing the bacteria needed to speed this cycle up and their is no reason anymore to subject fish to this.
- Using a quarantine tank for several weeks to monitor your new fish before introducing them to your main aquarium. This gives them time to adjust and you can improve their health by feeding them high quality foods before introducing them to the competitive environment in the display tank. Fish disease may show up in the first days or weeks and having them in quarantine prevents the spread of this disease to the other fish and you can easily treat them in the qt tank. It is also more economical to treat them in a smaller volume of water.
- Knowing what you’re buying. This holds especially true for saltwater reef tank keepers. Many corals can be easily fagged and aquacultured. Some species of fish, such as the neon goby and clown fish can be aqua cultured as well. We need to encourage this activity and support those dealers that sell aqua cultured species.
Its really not difficult to be a better, more responsible fish keeper. It just takes a little work on your part to take the time to read and research your animals and understand some basic aquarium concepts. It also good for your karma.