Part II

Now your fish tank is all set and all you need is to cycle your tank before adding the fish. Before cycling the tank, buy food for the fish. Make sure that you buy the right type of food for the selected fish. Fish food for tropical fish is rich in protein while that of coldwater fish is rich in carbohydrates. Feeding tropical fish food to coldwater fish would result in excess ammonia production, while feeding coldwater fish food to tropical fish would stunt the growth.

Cycling tank
Ideally, this would take around three weeks. If fish are added to the tank without cycling, it would kill them. After setting up the tank with all the equipment, let them run, as if fish are present. Add a bit of fish food, selected for the type of fish you wish to rear. This would trigger the bacterial activity that breaks it down to nitrate. During the first week, water in the tank would appear cloudy due to multiplication of bacteria. Water would become clear after three weeks. This is the ideal time for an ammonia test, using the test kit.

Adding fish
Take your time adding fish to the tank. Start with a pair a week and then go on. Addition lot of fish at once can overload the filtration system. It is important for the fish to adjust to the temperature in the tank. Float the bag of fish in the water for about 10 minutes. Then mix some water from the tank into the bag and float it in the tank again for 10 minutes.  Repeat if necessary. Now, using a net, gently remove fish from the bag and place them in the tank. This would prevent transfer of diseases and waste from the pet shop.

It is important to feed the right amount of food at regular intervals. Overfeeding fish would result in obesity and excess waste in the water. Feed your fish twice a day. Throw the flakes into the tank, wait for five minutes and remove any excess food floating around.

Water changes
Ensure that you carry out only a partial water change, once a fortnight. This would maintain the natural biological balance of the tank during and after cleaning is carried out. Never take out all your fish and scrub the whole of your tank. A good method is to siphon out some muck from the bottom of the tank, using a gravel siphon and remove about 25 per cent of the water along with it. Then, clean the sponge medium using the water you just siphoned out. Before filling up the aquarium with new water from the tap, declorinate it by leaving the water in a bucket for 24 hours.

Alternatively, water could be treated with conditioner and then added it to the tank. Remove algae from just one side of the tank and let it grow on all other sides, as well as on rocks and plants. It acts as both a food source for the fish and a nitrate remover. Remove any stray algae floating on the water. Don’t change the filter cartridge, as this has many beneficial bacteria growing on it. Replace it when it falls apart.

Testing tank water regularly is important for the survival of fish. Ensure that water has zero ammonia, zero nitrite and under 40 nitrate levels. Monitor your fish for any colour changes, any fins falling off or damaged tails. Also, try not to stress out fish by putting your hand inside the tank, making too much noise near the tank, or jumping or running near the tank.Happy fish keeping folks!