Caring for Fish: A Beginner’s Guide

A fish is an excellent choice for a pet for several reasons. Fish only require a small space, they are low maintenance, and they are cheaper to look after compared to other pets. But like other animals, they are known as stress relievers for their owners. The act of watching fish swim around can help calm one’s mind and body.

Still, you need to equip yourself with the right knowledge about providing care as well as the equipment to ensure that your fish stay healthy all year round.

If you are ready to bring aquatic life into your abode, setting up an aquarium is the best way to prepare. Moreover, you need to understand the ongoing work involved in caring for fish as well as buy fish supplies from reputable pet shops.

Here is a guide to help you get started.

Decide what fish you want to care for.

Some of the popular types of fish include:

  • Angelfish
  • Common goldfish
  • Betta fish
  • Achilles Tang
  • Fantail goldfish

Bettas and goldfish are common because they are healthy eaters. They can also survive in water temperatures that won’t require heaters as well as withstand variations in water chemistry.

Choose the right aquarium.

With fish tanks available in different sizes, you must consider the kind and quantity of fish you want to bring home. Give them enough space because overcrowding can result in excessive waste and low oxygen levels, leading to fatalities.

Generally, bigger tanks are better as they provide enough room for the fish to explore, grow, and swim. Most importantly, keeping the pH and temperature balanced is easier with larger tanks.

So before visiting a pet shop, make sure to measure the space in your home where you intend to position the tank. The key is to buy the biggest tank you can afford.

Buy other necessary equipment.

The essential supplies you must buy for your fish include food, water, heater, and filtration. The exact specifications depend on different factors, including the type of fish you choose and how big it can grow. Do your research to figure out the specific equipment your fish needs.

As for fish food, choose one that meets the nutritional needs of the type of fish you want. Fish food comes in pellet, freeze-dried, or flake forms. You can also invest in special treats like brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Aside from these basic elements, buying tank decorations can also benefit your fish. Treasure chests, for instance, can provide oxygen-rich bubbles. Adding either plastic or live plants is also beneficial. The key is to purchase items that mimic the natural habitat of fish.

Feed your fish properly.

Overfeeding is one of the most common mistakes committed by new fish parents. Take note that fish do not have stomachs, so they don’t know when to stop eating. When it comes to feeding fish, you need to give them as much as they’ll eat in one or two minutes, once or twice daily.

The best thing about fish ownership is that you can invest in a food block or an automatic feeder for your aquarium. This ensures that your fish are well-fed even if you are at work or on a short vacation.

Set up the right environment.

Underwater creatures require a proper environment to survive. Here are crucial factors to consider:

  • Condition of the water – Tap water has different properties that must be balanced in an aquarium to make it a conducive living space for your fish. To ensure the proper conditioning of the water, you may use a dechlorinating agent and an aquarium supplement.
  • The pH level – The acidity or alkalinity of the water can affect the health of your fish. Most fishes thrive when the pH level is 6.8 and 7.5 because this range offers a natural environment. You can buy a pH test kit to check regularly for any fluctuations. This way, you can make all the necessary changes to maintain the proper pH level, preventing your fish from becoming stressed or susceptible to disease.
  • Temperature – Fluctuations in water temperature can also harm your fish, so you must not place the aquarium in a sunny place or next to air vents or heaters to prevent the temperature of the water from changing quickly. To maintain the right temperature, you may need to get an aquatic heater.

Learn how to maintain the fish tank.

A good start in performing proper fish tank maintenance is to monitor the condition of the water regularly. However, cleaning the tank on a regular basis is also crucial.

Not only is a dirty tank undesirable to behold, but it is also harmful for your fish. Your cleaning routine depends on the type of fish tank you have and the things you place inside it. Automatic cleaners or snails can maintain your aquarium, but you still need to replace the water and filters regularly.

Moreover, check for algae buildup because it can decrease the oxygen levels in the water. It may appear as a cloud on the glass tank, or the water may look murky. Use an aquarium algae magnet or a tank scrub brush to get rid of algae.

Apart from cleaning the aquarium, you also need to clean the decorations and substrate of the tank.

Taking care of fish might seem challenging at first. But with sufficient research and expert guidance, you can easily create a wonderful home for your pet fish.


Sam Saleki is the owner of Paws & Claws, a trusted family-run online pet store in Mirdif, Dubai. A lifelong animal lover, Sam founded the business in 2006 to fill the need for a pet shop offering good-quality dog food, pet accessories and pet grooming products in the area. Sam is an animal welfare advocate and is currently working on an online animal homing platform that helps facilitate the fast rescue and adoption of animals in need.