How to Look After Your Tropical Fish
A tropical fish tank makes a great addition to any home. If you have often found yourself curious about the colourful fish in your local pet store, or mesmerised by a friend’s impressive aquarium, a tropical fish tank might be the one for you. Although gazing at the vibrantly coloured fish is relaxing, this is a reward that needs to be earned as these beautiful creatures are not considered to be the easiest fish to keep. Tropical fish require a specific ecosystem in order to thrive, meaning that even the smallest changes to their living environment can cause issues. Therefore, these delicate fish will require a fair amount of maintenance and care.
If you’ve been curious about keeping tropical fish, but are unsure about what’s involved, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to look after tropical fish to support you in your new endeavour. Keep reading to discover exactly what is involved in keeping tropical fish, from setting up the tank to picking the right decorations and ensuring proper maintenance - it’s time to begin your tropical fish journey.
Are tropical fish easy to take care of?
New fish keepers tend to shy away from the idea of a tropical aquarium as they believe it will be too much of a challenge. However, in reality, tropical fish are not difficult to look after and, in some cases, they can be easier to care for than goldfish. It’s important to note that despite this, tropical fish can often be more sensitive than other fish types, meaning that even the smallest environmental change such as lighting, heating or changes to filtration can cause distress to your fish. If you’re looking to take on the challenge yourself, all you need is the knowhow, correct supplies, and a dedicated attitude.
Is it hard to maintain a tropical fish tank?
Maintaining a tropical fish tank may seem like a daunting task, however, once you’re aware of the steps involved to ensure a healthy aquarium, maintenance will become an easy and familiar task you can do without much effort. If you’re deciding to start keeping tropical fish it’s important to be meticulous about how you care for them, ensuring they always have a carefully maintained aquarium to live a long, happy life in. The key steps you must take to maintain a healthy tropical fish environment are:
- Weekly water composition tests
- Weekly monitoring of fish behaviour - watch your fish to see if there are any major behavioural changes or any causes for concern
- Check the water temperature daily
- Check the water filter and pump every month to ensure they are working properly
- Clean your aquarium walls every week to prevent algae buildup and do a more thorough fish tank clean once per month.
It’s important that when doing a more thorough tank clean not to overdo it. We suggest sticking to a few simple cleaning tasks including:
- Syphoning gravel to help get rid of any detritus and fish waste that is not picked up by the aquarium filter
- Cleaning your filter media. Make sure this is done in syphoned-out tank water and not tap water as tap water will kill off any beneficial bacteria, so it is best to keep this in the same environment as your tank when cleaning
- Change 25% of the tank water every two weeks with freshly treated water. Only 25% of the water needs to be changed at one time as it is important to maintain good water quality with beneficial bacteria that ensure a healthy and happy environment for your fish.
What are the easiest tropical fish to keep?
If you’re a beginner to fishkeeping, there is a lot to learn about caring for tropical fish, therefore picking fish that are not only beautiful to look at but easy to care for is important. If you’re just starting, you will want to choose tropical fish that will give you the best chance of success with your home aquarium.
The most important tip to remember when it comes to choosing an assortment of tropical fish is that big fish eat little fish, so be aware of the sizes of fish you are mixing in the same tank. Below we have listed a couple of the easiest tropical fish to care for that can live together peacefully to get you started:
- Neon Tetra - Neons are arguably the most popular tropical fish due to their small size and vibrant colours. They are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of no less than six, but ideally larger so that they don’t get violent towards each other. However, they are extremely docile and easy to care for fish, perfect for beginners.
- Fancy Guppy - Guppies have small bodies with long, flowing fins and come in many vibrant colours that stand out in the tank. These fish are super active but very small and should ideally not be placed with larger fish. Guppies are also livebearers, meaning you may see small baby guppies at some point which is something to keep in mind.
- Black Skirt Tetra - These fish are super easy to care for and need to be in schools of at least six. They are slightly larger than other fish and would therefore need to be kept in a larger tank that is greater than 10 gallons.
- Zebra Danio - These fish are a very popular choice for beginners as they are very active and nice to look at. Ideally, you would buy a small group of these fish and you can choose from a variety of types at most live-fish stores.
- Otocinclus - This fish is also known as the Otto catfish and they are great for those who want a fish to take care of algae in their tank. Otocinclus will happily munch away on any algae growing on tank glass or decorations, and will only grow to two inches long. These fish like to school, so ideally you would have six or more in one tank.
If you’re worried about overcrowding your tropical fish tank with too many schooling fish, head over to our ‘How many fish should you put in a fish tank?’ blog to learn how to calculate this for yourself.
How do you keep tropical fish for beginners?
If this is your first time caring for tropical fish, there are many things you must consider before buying the fish you want. Even if you are an experienced fishkeeper of other species, caring for tropical species is a whole different kettle of fish. As discussed above, there are many factors to take into account and research to do on tropical fish before pursuing this new endeavour. Below, we have listed some of the main things you must know before buying your new tropical fish friends.
Ensure you have the right equipment to care for your fish
The key to successful fishkeeping is ensuring you have the correct fish tank for the species of fish you purchase. For tropical fish in particular, it’s always best to get the largest tank you can so that your fish have plenty of space to swim around in. Here at Aquacadabra, we have a wide range of tropical fish tanks, in varying sizes to suit your needs. In addition to your tank, you will also need a good quality heater and thermometer, a tank light, a water filter and fish gravel or sand. These core tank accessories will help to replicate the perfect natural environment of tropical fish, helping to give them the happiest and healthiest life possible.
From this point, you can begin adding any aquarium decorations you like to make the tank more aesthetically pleasing for both you and your fish. Whether you opt for plastic plants, live aquarium plants, decorative backgrounds or aquarium rooms, keep in mind that all fish tank accessories should be made specifically for a tropical fish tank to ensure that they do not contain any dangerous toxins or cause harm to your fish. Browse through our full collection of aquarium accessories for inspiration on how to decorate your new tropical aquarium.
Place your aquarium in the right location
The first thing you should consider is where in your home you are going to keep your tropical fish tank as the location plays a big role in protecting the health of your fish. We suggest keeping the tank away from televisions or anywhere with loud noises as the vibrations from loud sounds can cause your fish stress.
We would also recommend keeping your tank away from any sources of extreme hot or cold temperatures, such as next to a radiator or near a draughty door. Any fluctuations in water temperature can suppress your fish’s immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases, therefore placing your tank in an area with a consistent, controlled temperature is ideal. In addition to this, it’s also important to keep your tropical tank away from areas of direct sunlight as too much natural light can cause a buildup of algae.
Ensure the perfect water temperature
As mentioned above, the temperature of the water in your tropical tank is something that should be at the top of your list of concerns. For fish to survive and thrive in their environment, keeping the temperature exactly right is vital. The exact water temperature will vary depending on which type of tropical species you keep, however, generally speaking, the ideal temperature of tropical fish tanks should be around 25 degrees Celsius. Make sure when buying your tropical fish you research what temperature is ideal for that species.
The water temperature should be checked daily to see if there have been any changes. If you do notice a change, take a look at the tank heater to ensure it is still working properly - if your heater malfunctions your fish may be at risk of disease or death, so it’s a really important thing to keep an eye on.
Some tropical fish tank heaters emit a warning alarm if the temperature of the water goes beyond a predefined range. These specific tank heaters are worth investing in, especially as a beginner, as they can reassure you and alert you to any issues. Browse through our range of aquarium heaters and water thermometers to find the right one for your new tank.
Feed your fish the right diet
The diet you choose to feed your tropical fish will not only have an impact on their health but also on the quality of their tank environment. Therefore ensuring you feed your tropical fish the right diet at the right times is vital to successful fishkeeping. The species of tropical fish you have will determine what food they will like, for example, some tropical fish prefer to eat pellets, whereas others are better off with flakes.
Make sure to feed your fish at the same time every day so that they get used to the feeding routine - we recommend feeding 2-3 times per day. Overfeeding your fish can be one of the biggest sources of waste in your tank, which will decompose and lead to a phosphate imbalance in the water. The easiest way to make sure you’re feeding your fish the right amount is to regularly check your tank to see if there is any food left floating on the surface or at the bottom of the tank after feeding. Ideally, food should all be eaten quickly (within around two minutes) and nothing should be left over.
Keep your fish tank clean
Just like any other type of fish, ensuring you keep your tropical fish tank clean is important to keep your fish healthy. Ideally, you should fully clean your tank once per month and clean any algae buildup on the walls of the tank once per week. To keep your tank immaculate you will also need to clean the water filter, gravel and any ornaments inside of the tank. Our full guide on how to clean a fish tank will help make sure you’re taking the right steps and using the best equipment when tackling this task as a beginner.
Pick the right species of fish
Although it may be tempting to fill your tank with the prettiest fish you see, it’s important to research which species of tropical fish work well together, as certain species cannot be kept in the same tank. Some types of fish just don’t gel well, and you don’t want to run the risk of your fish attacking or eating each other. Remember to do your research to find out which types of fish will get along the best before buying and ask an expert if you’re unsure.
What do I need to set up a tropical fish tank?
When it comes to setting up your tropical fish tank, there are many components you need to purchase in order to have a successful tropical aquarium. Obviously, the most important is the fish tank itself. Since tropical fish are beautiful and interesting creatures to watch, you will want to purchase a tank that will help highlight your fish as the main centrepiece of your room. As mentioned earlier, most tropical fish live best in schools of at least six, therefore, if you’re purchasing multiple species of tropical fish, you’re going to need to purchase a tank big enough to let your fish live comfortably.
The Juwel Primo 70 Aquarium is a brilliant starter aquarium for beginners to fishkeeping. Available on its own or with a matching stand, the Juwel Primo 70 comes fitted with an efficient Bioflow One filter and modern Novolux LED lighting, helping you enter into the fishkeeping world at the highest technical level. Featuring a safety base frame to help you set up your aquarium easily with no need for extra support, this fish tank is made from the highest quality materials and perfectly coordinated technology to ensure maximum safety. This tank can hold up to 70 litres of water and is great to get you started on your tropical fishkeeping journey.
The Juwel Lido 200 LED Tropical Aquarium is designed for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing fish tank that can easily integrate into your home. Built into a sleek cabinet, this tank is great for those with minimal space. Featuring a built-in Bioflow 3.0 water filtration system, a Multilux LED 70 lighting unit and a 200 Watt adjustable heater that work together to create the ideal environment for tropical fish. Designed to hold up to 200 litres of water, this tropical fish tank is perfect for experienced fishkeepers or those wanting a large feature aquarium.
Once you have your chosen tank, the next step is to pick a water filter. Some aquariums come with integrated filters, however, if you want to upgrade or supplement your filter system there are many options for filters suitable for tropical tanks. The Oase BioPlus filter is an easy-to-use filtration system that features a clip-slotted filter media that helps to make cleaning easier, preventing the aquarium from being disturbed. This quiet and energy-efficient pump consumes less power and features a high volume of filter foams to ensure effective mechanical and biological filtration, helping to remove any cloudiness and ensure crystal-clear water.
In addition to a good quality water filtration system, your tropical aquarium will also need a high-quality water conditioner to make the water safe for fish. Pure tap water is unsafe for fish as it contains high levels of chlorine and other undesirable chemicals. Water conditioners such as the Fluval Aqua Plus works by neutralising chlorine, chloramine and metals in water to make it suitable for your tropical aquarium. Formulated with pure herbal extracts, this conditioner also helps to visibly reduce stress in fish that may be caused by transportation, handling and acclimatisation.
The final step to setting up your tropical fish tank is to add good quality lighting and heaters. Lighting your tropical fish tank well will help to improve the overall well-being of your fish by providing them with energy and creating more oxygen through photosynthesising plants, as well as helping any plants and corals to grow. Having the correct lighting in your tropical fish tank can also be beneficial for providing your fish with a natural day and night cycle that without, may cause your fish stress.
The Fluval Plant 3.0 is a new and smart way to promote a healthy environment for your tropical fish. With fully programmable sunrise-to-night settings, this LED tank light can be controlled through the FluvalSmart App for a customizable 24-hour light cycle that allows you to program gradual settings to mimic the natural cycle of the sun and moon, to create a realistic environment for your fish. Unlike other LEDs on the market, the Fluval can be safely mounted directly above the surface of the water to offer greater light penetration and efficiency. This tropical aquarium light also has a higher operating temperature to help the lights remain cool, in turn, helping to protect against water intrusion and humidity.
As previously mentioned, keeping the temperature of the water in your tropical aquarium at the right level is extremely important. With the Fluval T-Series Aquarium Heater, you can ensure your beautiful fish are kept happy and healthy. This heater is fully submersible and combines electronic accuracy, reliable monitoring and multiple safety features to help maintain your desired water temperature easily. Available in a variety of options to suit your specific tank size, this high-quality heater will ensure that you keep your tropical fish at the perfect temperature.
Build your own tropical aquarium with Aquacadabra
Although caring for tropical fish can be an overwhelming task, by following our tips and advice, you’re one step closer to becoming an experienced fishkeeper. To get started, browse through our full collection of tropical fish aquariums, water filters and more or get in touch with one of our fish experts here at Aquacadabra for further advice.