How To Keep Your Pet Fish Alive and Healthy

A Beginner’s Guide to Keeping a Pet Fish

Whether you live in a serviced apartment or landed property, having a pet fish is something that can really liven up your environment. 

However, you have to hold your horses (put away that credit card or debit card first) before you ask a courier to deliver your pet fish to your doorstep! There are things you need to know and prepare first. 

In this beginner’s guide to keeping a pet fish, we’ll discuss the questions to ask before you choose one, together with the ways to stay on top of your fish’s health. 

Top Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Pet Fish 

Here are some of the vital questions you have to answer to decide if your choice is the best decision for yourself and, of course, the fish. 

1. How big will the fish get?

Since most fish you see in stores aren’t fully grown yet, it’s only reasonable to ask the staff or, better yet, do your own research on how big the fish you’re planning to purchase can get as it matures. 

You see, some of them retain their sizes while others may double or triple in size in just a span of weeks. For this reason, it’s best to consider this factor to get the right fish tank that can accommodate your pet fish. 

2. What does the fish eat? 

It’s also essential to know what your pet fish eats to ensure that you can provide them with a balanced and diverse diet. Here are some of the most common pet fish and their usual diets. 

CLASSIFICATIONSEXAMPLES RECOMMENDED FOOD
HerbivoresSilver Dollars

Pacus

African Cichlids

Plecos

• Flake Food

• Algae Wafers

• Dried or Fresh Algae

• Lettuce

• Spinach

• Green Peas

• Zucchinis

OmnivoresGoldfish

Catfish

Mollies

Angelfish

Barbs

• Flake Food

• Meat and Plant-Based Food Formulas

• Pellets

• Blood Worms

CarnivoresBettas

Dempsey Cichlids

Tetras

• Live or Freeze-Dried Blood Worms

• Frozen Brine Shrimps

• Tropical Flake

• Squid

• Smaller Fishes

3. Does the fish require special water parameters or temperature?

Although most pet fish sold today are raised in captivity, you still have to determine if your pet requires special water chemistry parameters.

We suggest that you ask the staff if the pet fish you’re planning to choose requires a specific pH, alkalinity, and temperature to thrive well because some of them might be collected in the wild.  

Note that some fish may require a portable aircon or air cooler in the same room during the summer. 

That’s why it’s generally wiser to get fish that are tropical – they do better in Singapore, being used to the heat.

Check too if the fish requires more water filtration than others. Bear in mind that water filters for fish tanks are different from the water filters we use to get potable or cleaner water to drink, by the way.

How to Keep Your Pet Fish Healthy 

Now that you understand some of the important factors to keep in mind when buying your first pet fish, it’s time to delve into the ways on how you can properly take care of them. 

1. Choose the right fish tank. 

One of the first steps you have to accomplish when you decide to keep a pet fish is to set up a habitat that can comfortably and effectively accommodate them. 

For total beginners, a good choice you can consider is investing in a 10-gallon aquarium starter kit. This can offer you a low-tech freshwater tropical community that is best for tetras, guppies, bettas, or dwarf corydoras. 

Nonetheless, if you still need more references, you can check out our review of the best fish tanks in Singapore. The shops we visited and reviewed in that list are pretty good bets for resources.

2. Pick the right filter and accessories for your aquarium. 

The next thing you have to do after buying a fish tank is to pick an excellent aquarium filter that can aerate the water in the tank so your pet fish can breathe. 

Since your pet fish will go potty in the same place where they stay, having a reliable filtration system that can help you maintain a squeaky clean tank is vital. 

Note that if you opt for a canister filter, you have to check it regularly to see if the filter has to be cleaned or replaced. However, if your filter has a drop-in cartridge, you can just clean it once a week and replace it once a month. 

3. Make sure to gradually introduce your pet fish to their new home. 

Don’t immediately dump your pet fish into the tank! Acclimatization is necessary. 

It basically means that you have to gradually introduce them to the aquarium or to their new environment by putting them in a sealed bag and letting the bag float in the tank for about 10 to 30 minutes. 

After that, you can discard the water in the bag and let the fish swim in the tank with the lights off for a few hours. On top of that, you also have to check if they’re eating well and showing no signs of disease for the first week. 

Bear in mind that this step is important to ensure that the fish will not be too stressed because it can lead to a state of shock or, worse, death. 

4. Add a natural cover or hiding place in the tank. 

Most aquarium fishes prefer to have hiding places inside their tanks because they feel threatened and stressed out swimming in the open, especially if there are other fish in the tank. 

That is why it’s essential to add some plants, rocks, or other decorations in the aquarium that can serve as their natural cover. 

5. Always keep the fish tank clean. 

A dirty aquarium doesn’t only look gross. It can also expose your fish to waste by-products like nitrate and ammonia. 

If your pet fish is exposed to these chemicals for a long time, it can lead to loss of appetite, loss of coloration, and even death. 

For this reason, it’s best to follow a regular deep cleaning routine for your tanks or just hire a cleaning service or maid agency service to do the job for you.  

For example, if you have a sparsely populated tank, you can do the cleaning at least once a month. On the flip side, densely populated aquariums should be cleaned at least twice a month.