CREATING AN AQUASCAPE AND CHOOSING FISH
Deciding on Livestock for your Tank
Search for your fish with an idea of what kind of fish you want instead of blindly buying just anything. This is especially important if you are planning to keep several species. Plan for your fish to grow. If you buy a juvenile of a species and don't know how large it can get, it could outgrow your tank and then you'll have problems. When it comes to purchasing fish or other livestock for a saltwater aquarium, the first thing you need to understand about the animals is their compatibility. In other words, why they act as they do towards one another. Whether choosing a fish-only tank or a reef system, without knowing about a particular animal's ability to reside peacefully or not with other tank inhabitants can quickly lead to disaster.
- " Don't buy fish that the store just got in. These fish are still going through the acclimation process. Moving them before they've settled in may be one trauma too many for them. Try to buy a fish that have been in the store for at least two weeks.
- " Take your time looking at the fish to determine if they are swimming normally. If the fish seem to have difficulty swimming, it may be a sign of bigger problems.
- " Look closely at the skin, eyes and fins. The eyes of a healthy fish should be clear, not cloudy. The skin should be free of lesions or discolored areas on the body (unless they are part of the coloration) and shouldn't have a "fuzzy" appearance.
- " The fins should not appear frayed or torn. Although tears and frayed areas may be a result of a fight, they can also signify a looming bacterial infection.
- " Look for any signs of disease. Never purchase a fish that has white spots on its skin or fins.
- " Ask the store personnel what the fish that you are interested in eat and how often they are fed. Healthy fish that have been feeding well will have normal rounded or "full" bellies.
- " Also ask about the water quality the fish has been living in. What temperature does the dealer have his aquarium set to? What is the salinity and pH.
Saltwater aquariums cannot hold as many fish as freshwater systems of the same size. A general rule of thumb to determine how many fish should inhabit an aquarium is calculated by the number of inches of fish per gallon of water. The general recommendation is about two to three inches of fish for every 10 gallons of water. A 50-gallon tank for instance can accommodate 15 inches of fish while a 20-gallon tank can safely hold only about six inches of fish. However, remember that the bigger the volume of the tank and the more stable the water quality is, the larger the holding capacity will be. So a 50-gallon tank can actually handle about 18 to 20 inches of fish, plus a few invertebrates. In this is new to you, start with fewer fish than you think the tank can hold and then add them as the system stabilizes.
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