You are hoping to rear a pet in the near future and your choice is fish, because it is easy to look after them. If this is the actual reason, get it out of your head – right now! While fish may not need regular bathing and vaccinations, there is tank cleaning, regulating, feeding and monitoring to consider.

Before you go to the aquarium and buy the most eye-catching species available, there is lot to do, by way of preparation. The first thing you need to decide is the type of fish. You should not start from salt water fish, as the process of looking after them is much more complex. Start from either fresh water fish or tropical fish. Goldfish is the most common type of fresh water fish, while angelfish and guppies are well known species of tropical fish.

For a beginner the best way is to start with inexpensive fish. They are more comfortable in captivity and adapt better to new environments. Also, they are tough and not likely to die off during transfer. After deciding the type of fish, the next step is to decide on the number of fish to buy. It is a good idea to buy a pair of fish. However they need not be of the same species. Some fish actually prefer different species of fish as companions while others prefer their own species. Inquire from pet shops before you make your purchase. After all, you don’t need your new pets becoming each others’ dinner!

After deciding the type of fish, you should get your utilities ready before bringing the fish home. Choosing a tank is the most important step. Contrary to popular belief, you
should never put your goldfish in a bowl.

On one hand, oxygen and carbon dioxide circulation – vital for the survival of the
fish – depend on surface area, which is not adequate in a fish bowl. On the other hand, very few species of fish swim in circles in their natural habitats.

It is important to buy a tank that suit the type of fish you have decided on buying. For goldfish, buy a tank with 20 gallons for the first goldfish, and 10 gallons for each additional goldfish. General rule is two gallons of water for every inch of fish for smaller species and five gallons per inch for larger species. In any case, the bigger the tank, the better. Even if you choose a tiny fish species, a bigger tank would help them flourish.

Once you buy the tank, fill it up with water. Buy all the other equipment you need. These include filters, water conditioner, test kit to measure ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, lighting and substrate. Filters come in three types. These can be mechanical filters which sweep the floating particles and store them in a sponge like medium. This type of filters has to be cleaned regularly. Then there are the essential biological filters with a large surface area to allow the growth of beneficial bacteria and prevent the buildup of toxic substances such as ammonia or nitrite. The other type acts as a chemical filter and only necessary if the water composition is different from that required by the fish.

Add some gravel to the bottom of your tank. This would make your tank look attractive and acts as a natural substrate for the fish. It also has a large surface area for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Also it is a good idea to add a few aquatic plants. Vallisneria is a common aquatic plant and Spirogyra is a good aquatic alga for fish tanks. Plants serve as a natural source of food and shelter for fish. They make the tank more natural for fish and reduce their stress. Once you gather the equipment, fix them and check whether they are working. Now, the tank is all set, however, it is important to cycle the tank before adding fish.