When it comes to aquarium fish keeping, nobody is exempt from making mistakes. Both newbie and experienced fish tank hobbyists have the potential to do something wrong (although admittedly, beginners are more prone to doing so). When it comes to the nature of this hobby, it’s important to remember that while mistakes are often rectifiable, they can also be fatal. Therefore it’s better to make as few mistakes as possible.
That’s why in this post, we want to explore 7 common aquarium keeping mistakes and how to avoid them to prevent beginners from making them but also to prevent the more competent from falling into bad habits.
1. NOT CYCLING YOUR TANK
This is the first point because its an essential aspect of starting a fish tank, whether it’s your first ever fish tank or you have one already and you’re starting a new one. Cycling your tank is one of the most essential aspects of getting started out.
The purpose of this is to avoid ‘new tank syndrome’ which can cause fish death. Cycling your tank, therefore, can also be applied to when you decide to change the tank you keep your fish inside. Cycling your fish tank means that you are establishing the biological environment in your filter to help with keeping the water in balance from waste and toxins. Some people may even like to think of it as inducing the nitrogen cycle.
For better understanding, we recommend this guide on how to cycle a fish tank.
2. NOT REGULARLY MONITORING YOUR pH
Keeping track of the pH in your aquarium should be part of your weekly routine. This is because it allows you to be able to detect problems with the water early or before they even begin. It goes without saying that if the pH levels are off in your tank, that it will undoubtedly affect your fish health and behaviour. The type of fish you keep will determine what your aquarium pH levels should be but in general, freshwater fish should stay within a pH of 5.5 to 7.5 and saltwater fish stay at a pH of 8.0 or above.
Even experienced fishkeepers may get a little lazy when it comes to checking their aquarium pH, just because the water is clear and the fish look happy. You should not rely on the appearance of your aquarium to determine whether the pH is in balance. This is because changes in pH are often sudden and can be triggered by almost anything unexpectedly, the change can be as sudden as overnight but may not yet show through appearance. The benefit of checking the pH regularly is that you can keep track of what is going well in the aquarium and of course, if there are any problems, you can get on top of them before things get difficult.
3. LACK OF UP KEEP
It goes without saying that keeping an aquarium is not for the lazy, without exception. After all, when you decided to keep fish, you’re responsible for their health and well-being and essentially, the amount of effort you put into keeping them could determine whether they are thriving or whether their lives are potentially at risk.
4. OVER CLEANING THE TANK
In relation to the point above, laziness also has another consequence. When you don’t do enough to maintain your aquarium tank, you will get to the point when you feel like you need to do a deep and thorough clean of the whole system. If you clean everything from the walls, plants, gravel and whatever else you have in there, your efforts end up being counterproductive as you remove beneficial bacteria from the aquarium and in turn make the biological filter less effective. The key is to be consistent in cleaning just enough to keep the ideal balance of the aquarium. The aim should be to achieve a similar environment of where your fish live in their natural habitat.
5. THINKING SMALL TANKS ARE EASIER TO MANAGE
Most people think small tanks are easier to manage but the truth is, larger tanks are easier to maintain. With smaller fish tanks, there is less stability due to the amount of water that can be affected. When dirt builds up, or sudden changes of pH occur, it takes little to no time for the whole tank to be affected. Think of it this way, an algae bloom is more likely to affect the whole of a small tank compared to parts of a larger tank. If you’re set on having a small tank, all of this shouldn’t be a problem if you make sure you take extra precautions to avoid the other common mistakes mentioned in this post.
6. NOT CONSIDERING FISH COMPATABILITY
Fish compatibility is essential to consider when starting an aquarium tank. This is something that can really affect the livelihood of your fish as well as the effort required to maintain it. If you have a fish wish list, consider whether it’s worth having two separate tanks if you find that the range of fish you want aren’t all compatible. Otherwise, we advise you do some thorough research on which fish are and aren’t compatible to live in a tank together.
Here’s something to get you started:
7. OVER OBSESSING WITH BOTH THE FISH AND AQUARIUM TANK
While being lazy is being out of the question, being over-obsessed with your aquarium certainly won’t do you any favours. Comparing how fish are different to other domesticated pets and require less fuss and attention. All that matters is that they’re well fed and that their environment is kept in the best condition for them to thrive, living a healthy and happy life. Again, this goes back to over cleaning but in this case, not because there has been a build-up of dirt but rather, because the owner is over-enthusiastic about keeping the aquarium clean and tending to the fish. Consider how this may affect fish behaviour, as in their natural environment they aren’t used to have their environment dramatically cleaned or being fed, let alone excessively fed.
We hope that after reading these common mistakes, you now feel more confident about owning a fish tank and doing it the right way. Don’t be hard on yourself if you have made any of the above mistakes, if you can’t rectify them – they’re something you can learn from to make better choices in the future. Just remember that water quality is the most important thing when it comes to starting a home aquarium and our aquarium range has everything you need to get you on the right track.
If you still want to find out what more you can do to have a thriving aquarium, here’s what you should know about using tap water in your aquarium and how to make tap water safe for fish.