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Fishy Hints
By Joan Good

Now that you've decided that you want to set up an aquarium, and have done some research into what is necessary to do so, here is some basic information on a few different kinds of fish you can add to your aquarium.


So, you are interested in goldfish?  A good choice in my opinion! Goldfish are fun, animated, fish with a lot of personality. A few things you should know...
  • Goldfish, when kept healthy will grow! Make sure that they have a big tank, and do not overcrowd them. 1 or 2 in a 10 gallon tank may look sparse at first but soon that tank will be too small!
  • Goldfish should be kept separate from tropical fish. Warm water will stress them and they will get sick.
  • Buy a lid for your goldfish tank. Golds are very animated and like to jump and splash, especially at meal time.
  • Fluorescent lamps are preferable for goldfish; they highlight their vivid colors but do not add much heat to the water.
  • Goldfish are bigger than most tropicals and will produce more wastes. Because of this you will need to do more frequent water changes. Also, an under gravel filter may not be able to keep up with all the goldfish poop; invest in a good over the back type power filter. Invest in an ammonia test kit as well as a pH test kit to help you gauge how often to change the water.
  • Goldfish do well with a bit of salt in their water, 1 teaspoon per gallon is good to prevent illnesses. If they do get sick, often adding more salt can help them recover, up to 1 tablespoon per gallon.
  • Goldfish are one of the most bred and genetically altered fish around. They have been raised in captivity for hundreds of years. With all that time to try new combinations, there are many varieties of goldfish, from plain comets to pop eyes, to fan tails. The sleek comets need more swimming area than the bent looking ryukin types.
  • Goldfish do well on a diet of specialized goldfish food, or pond food. They also benefit from periodic additions of plants like anacharis, green water, and vegetables like peas, just 'pop' the cooked pea between your fingers and drop the inside part into the water. If your golds are still small, mash the pea so they can fit it in their mouths.


Bettas, or siamese fighting fish, are beautiful fish and a welcome addition to any tropical tank or displayed alone in a bowl or small tank. A few Betta hints...
  • Bettas can live in small bowls because they can breath air directly from the surface when needed. If you do choose to display one this way, you will need to change the water at least every day.
  • Bettas like live foods and may not thrive if fed only flakes. Brine shrimp, tubiflex worms and bloodworms are all good foods. If you can't find them fresh, frozen is second best, then dried.
  • Siamese fighting fish get their name because the males will fight to the death if kept in the same tank. You can however, keep one male betta in a community tank.
  • Males can be kept in community tanks with females but after breeding, they often fight. You are better off to keep them separately.
  • Want to see your male betta show his stuff? Place a mirror next to the glass, or turn on the hood light and turn off the room lights, when he sees his reflection on the glass he will start posturing to scare that other fish.


One of the biggest mistakes a new fish keeper makes is buying algae eaters and bottom feeders before the tank is able to support them. A good fish store should ask about your tank before they start scooping up fish like chinese algae eaters, plecos, and catfish. You will be throwing your money down the toilet if you buy these fish before your tank is ready. To save your mind and money, remember this:
  • Not all catfish type fish are created equal. Some eat only algae, some are bottom feeders, scavengers that eat left over soaked food, droppings from other fish, and dead fish and plant material.
  • If you have an algae problem, a chinese algae eater or a pleco can help but if the tank doesn't have a lot of algae, they can starve. If your tank is clean of greenery and your algae eaters are looking unhealthy, try supplementing their diet. There are algae pellets, pleco wafers and other diets available. Plecos especially, do well with the addition of some zucchini slices, lettuce leaves or clean driftwood. Many fish stores carry little clips with suction cups on them, made for submerging plant foods for these fish.
  • If your fish tend to leave a layer of waste on the bottom of the tank in between water changes, you may want to invest in a bottom feeder or catfish. A good fish store should be able to point you to the right type of fish, if there isn't a good store near you, invest in a good fish book. One with pictures can be especially helpful when trying to find the right fish in the store.
  • For algae, don't forget about fish like mollies, who love algae. Also, snails will eat it, but will also eat any live plants. There is also the elbow grease answer, use a razor blade or special algae scraper to clean the glass.


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