Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beginner Mistakes to Avoid | Dos and Don'ts

Do plenty of research before buying any fish!  This will help you avoid many beginner mistakes and allow you to provide a much better living situation for your new pets.  For instance, most people don't realize the tank has to go through a roughly 1 month-long fishless nitrogen cycling process, in which you add pure ammonia, for it to be safe for your fish.  Doing thorough research prior to getting your fish will help you learn this important information before it's too late.  There are lots of good books and websites out there to help you learn about this and other basics.  Here's a link to get you started:  Goldfish Basics

Don't overstock your tank!  It's very common for newbies to ask about the maximum number of fish their tank can possibly support, and then to go ahead and stock that many in their tank.  I've been guilty of this in the past myself too, so I speak from experience... this is a very bad idea!  When I started out, the most popular stocking recommendation for goldfish was 20 gallons for the first fish and 10 gallons for each additional fish.  So at one point, I thought it perfectly fine to keep up to 6 fully grown adult fancy goldfish in my 75 gallon tank.  I think on some level I realized it would have been better for them to have more space, but my judgement was clouded because I wanted as many beautiful fish as possible.  Looking back on old photos, I now think the tank looked awfully crowded.  Truth is, I had a much harder time keeping my fish healthy long-term back then than I do now.  Now I prefer to give each fish at least 20 gallons of space.  If it's a very large fish, 30-40 gallons if possible.  Here's why you should allow the most space possible for each fish:

-With a lower stocking density, diseases take much longer to be transmitted from fish-to-fish, keeping your stock healthier.
-Your fish could easily end up growing much faster and much larger than you ever expected, leaving them cramped in a too-small tank.
-Goldfish are generally peaceful community fish; however, in cramped quarters some fish can become aggressive.
-A lower stocking density means that if an emergency comes up which pushes back your water change by a day or two, it's not going to be nearly as detrimental for your fish.
-Maybe this is just me, but I think the fish are happier and less apt to be stressed if they can swim around freely without bumping into all their tank-mates constantly. 
My 75 gallon tank looking cramped with 6 fully grown fancy goldfish.

The same tank looking much better with only 2 fully grown fancy goldfish.