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Fish are a great first pet, whether your choose a freshwater or saltwater aquarium. However, just like every other type of pet, your fish need care and it’s important that you keep them happy in their new home. Even though they may be small, fish are still animals that can feel happy or sad depending on their environment.

If your pet fish are happy, they’ll be healthier and live longer. No one wants to buy a pet fish and have it die on them two weeks later, so be prepared to do a little bit or routine maintenance to ensure your fish have a happy and healthy aquarium to swim in.

#1. Maintain the Water Quality

Every type of aquarium needs to have a balance and high water quality. If your fish are living in toxic water with poor filtration or circulation, they’ll get sick. Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect water quality that works for every type of fish which means you’ll need to do some research on the species of fish that you have.

You can easily find water quality testing strips online or in stores. They aren’t very expensive and can make maintaining a high water quality easier.

#2. Choose the Right Tank Size

Whether you want a small tank for your desk or a massive tank for part of your wall, you need to be sure to select the right size for the number of fish you have. You can’t put twenty fish in a 20 gallon tank as there won’t be enough room for them to swim around.

As a general rule, your tank should have one gallon for every inch of mature fish. If your fish will grow to be two or three inches long, then you need to have two or three gallons for them, even when they’re still young and small. For every plant or rock that you add, take away available space as this will limit your fish’s swimming space.

#3. Change the Water

Even if you have a water filter, you’ll still need to change the water in your aquarium to prevent ammonia build up and to give your fish fresh water.

If you have a saltwater aquarium, make sure that the water you use to make your saltwater solution is purified and not regular tap water. Very rarely will tap water be adequate enough for a saltwater tank and if you don’t take the time to purify it, your fish will suffer.

Performing regular water changes will lower the risk of algae growing and providing your fish with a fresh home. Think of it like your own home. When you open up the windows and allow fresh air in, you feel refreshed and energized. For your fish, a water change is the same. They’ll feel happier swimming in clean, new water.

#4. Clean Your Tank

Ways to Keep Your Pet Fish Happy

When you change the water, it’s also a good time to clean your tank. Make sure to wash your hands before you reach into the water as the oils on your hands can harm your fish, but don’t shy away from scrubbing the tank walls. Even with good filters, waste and algae will start growing if left unattended.

To protect your fish from the oils on your hands, you can use magnetic wall cleaners. These are also a great solution for anyone that doesn’t want to put their hands in a tank for whatever reason.

Cleaning your tank will give your fish a clean home to swim in. Just like you wouldn’t like living in a home where the windows are covered in waste or dirt, your fish don’t like swimming in a tank where the walls are covered in algae and waste.

#5. Recreate Their Natural Environment

You may think a minimalist tank is fitting for your home, but your fish is going to get depressed if it’s simply left swimming in an empty tank. Think of those images of a goldfish in an empty bowl. Very rarely are those fish happy, even if they have a companion with them.

Recreating your fish’s natural environment provides them with a much more interesting place to live and swim. Give them plants or rocks to swim and hide in. If you want to add a bit of whimsy to the tank, invest in little trinkets to decorate their home with such as caves or even little castles they can swim through.

#6. Make Sure You Have Compatible Species

If you have more than one species of fish, it’s important that you make sure they’re compatible. Some species of fish simply won’t be compatible, meaning they have different requirements such as water quality and temperature. If you have a saltwater aquarium, there are many species that you need to be careful not to mix, such as tang fish and seahorses.

For saltwater aquariums, here’s an easy compatibility chart where you can select up to three species of fish and see if they’re compatible together.

By ensuring your fish will be compatible, you’ll reduce a lot of stress for your fish. In return, your fish will generally be happier.

#7. Check the Filter

Simply having an electric filter isn’t enough to guarantee perfect water filtration. Over time, the filter will fill up with debris and need to be changed. If you don’t change it, the filter won’t be able to work as well and your water quality will drop quickly.

Keep an eye on your filter to ensure that it is functioning properly and continuing to filter the water. If you notice it’s starting to get blocked or have difficulty filtering the water, change the filter as soon as you can. This will reduce the stress on your fish by keeping the water quality at a balanced level instead of drastically changing.

Your Fish Deserve to Be Happy

Your Fish Deserve to Be Happy

Fish are fun pets, but it’s important to remember they are living animals and deserve just as much attention as any other pets. Just like you want to keep a dog or cat happy and entertained, you should make sure your fish are happy and have a fun aquarium to swim around in.