Articles: Myths, Acclimatization, Water Conditioner
THE #1 MYTH IN FISH KEEPING
MY FISH WILL ONLY GROW TO THE SIZE OF ITS TANK.
This has got to be the oldest and biggest myth still in the fish keeping hobby. The size of your tank will not determine the size of your fish. It is true that the growth of a fish can be stunted, but it's not the size of the tank that causes this to happen. The water quality is the real cause, more specific, a high nitrate level.
Nitrates in high concentrations will stunt the growth of your fish over a period of time, but please don't use this to do such a thing. If we consider the effects of this, stunting the growth of the fish is not the only harm the nitrate level causes. Anything powerful enough to stunt growth and development must also be causing other damage, right?
The stunting of growth is only the part we can see, visibly, at first. This is the long road to death if allowed to continue uncorrected. There is also the burning of the gills, skin/scale problems eventually develop, behavior changes, changes in eating habits, and other things that happen slowly. As a fish experiences these problems to whatever degree, their immune system is also being weakened. A weak immune system contributes to disease, and an inability to fight it.
When a fish outgrows its environment, the ammonia output increases. The bacteria break down the ammonia, the end result of which is a higher nitrate level. If water exchanges are done properly, maintenance is increased, it is possible to have a 6 inch fish in a 10 inch tank, and still growing at a normal and healthy rate. As long as that fish can move about properly to push water through the gills to obtain oxygen, this can continue, but the safest thing to do, and to alleviate the added maintenance and risk of "over cleaning" the tank, is to move the fish into the proper sized aquarium. I wouldn't want to live in cramped quarters, even if it was clean... so I don't expect my fish to live that way either. Mother Nature has her way of keeping things stable. When we mess with Mother Nature, we have to be prepared to compensate for the conditions we take away from these wonderful creatures.
Acclimating the new fish
Taking the New Fish Home
Transportation and Acclimation Procedures to keep you and your fish safe.
Many times I have found the need to remind my customers of the importance of proper transportation and acclimation procedures for their new fish and aquarium pets.
Once the fish is put in the bag and it's sealed, unless pure oxygen is properly put into the bag with it, the fish will usually have about 20-30 minutes worth of oxygen in there with them. Temperature is also important, and will drop quickly in winter months in cold climates. The reverse of this is also true. In warm weather, temperatures in the bag will climb rapidly. I always advise taking your new pet home immediately after leaving the store.
When we arrive home, it's important to know how to introduce our new fish to the aquarium properly. If we ignore proper procedures, illness, undue stress, shock, and even death can be the end result.
The bag will need to float in the aquarium for approximately 15 minutes. This may vary if special or extreme changes are present. The bag must be opened as soon as possible and left to float open in the aquarium. Every 2-3 minutes a small amount of aquarium water needs to be mixed into the bag with the fish. This is a step that many miss. The conditions in the tank the fish came from will be different than the conditions in your tank. Fish and aquarium pets have the ability to adjust in most cases, but this needs to be done gradually to avoid putting their bodies into shock. After 15 minutes and 3-4 "dips" of the new water, then it is safe to release the fish into it's new home.
Remember that your new fish is frightened and stressed. Many fish will not calm and adjust to their new home for at least 24-48 hrs. After this time they will tend to get more color and settle into a normal activity pattern in your tank. The best thing we can do for them is to allow them time to adjust with the least amount of stress. Turning off the lights on the tank for the remainder of that day/night can help a fish settle in much faster.
Ensuring your fish a safe trip home is the first step in success!
What it is, what it does, why it is important...
Most of us use water from our tap to fill our tanks and when we perform our water exchanges. Unknowingly, much of the time, water from our tap is not safe for our fish and other aquatic creatures. To make our water safe, most places in the USA will treat our drinking water in a treatment plant before it is then sent to our homes through our water lines.
Fluoride and chlorine are among the things being added to our water supplies to keep them safe for human consumption. Safe to drink doesn't usually mean safe to put our fish in.
Chlorine forms a bond with ammonia and becomes the harmful chloramine that we hear so much about. With this in mind, chlorine, ammonia, and chloramine are all toxic to most fish, to injured and stressed fish, and can be deadly, especially in a new tank environment where there is lack of established biological filtration in the tank. With the deadly chlorine in the water, adding fish, who's waste content is primarily in the form of ammonia, the chloramine bond is formed quickly during cycling or in overstocked, overfed, and in underfiltered tanks, where excess ammonia is present.
Heavy metals are also often present in our water supplies, regardless of where the water is coming from. Some metals are also toxic to some fish species, and can quickly cause harm if present in our aquarium water. This is more often found in the marine (salt & brackish water) environments.
Our ocean waters differ extensively from our fresh water lakes and streams, as do the fish and their immune systems. Many marine animals are still collected from the wild and sent to our stores, where we purchase them for our home aquaria. These animals are "wild animals" and need much more specific care, leaving much more specific conditions for us to create for their health. The presence of some metals can prove fatal quickly to our marine friends.
Now that we have defined the various problems of using tap water for our aquariums, what should we do about it?
Water conditioner is becoming a much demanded product in fish care, but there are so many to choose from. How do we know which one is "the right one"? Most are still being produced to work alongside of another product, meaning that to properly condition your tank, 2 products must work together. This means expense, this means more storage space, another bottle to sort through when doing regular maintenance. Most of these products take a bit of time to activate and become effective in removing the chlorine, breaking the chloramine bond, and neutralizing any heavy metals that may be present.
The purpose of the 2nd product that most water conditioners are paired with is to add a slime coating to the body of the fish during times of stress and/or injury. Fish produce a slime coating naturally to fend off disease and other illnesses, to aid in healing, and to keep them well protected from their water conditions which may fluctuate. During periods of stress and during handling, this slime coating is often shed and/or damaged, leaving the fish extremely vulnerable while trying to acclimate to a new environment. When dealing with semi aggressive fish or fish known to be "nippy" in nature, damage to fins and body can be regular if they outgrow their tanks, are crowded, or lack enough cover/territory in their tank.
One popular example of such a pair of products is Stress Zyme and Stress Coat. These are # 2 on my list of water conditioning products that I recommend to my customers.
I am not big on promoting specific products on my private website, but here I make an exception. Due to my position at the pet store, I was able to sit in on a clinical trial of the top products on our shelves. I was able to watch as the top 5 products (water conditioners) went up against a newer product on the market, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. Tetra has successfully designed one product that does the job of 2 in any other product line of the same type. AQUASAFE is the #1 on my list of water conditioners today! I use it at home, and it has become the only water conditioner we use at the store. Not only was this product more economic to our customers, but we were able to witness how much quicker it was in activation. While most of the products tested took 5 - 15 minutes to activate, AQUASAFE was immediate.
MY COMPLIMENTS TO TETRA FOR GIVING THIS PRODUCT TO US!
Important note: When using water conditioner, it is important to keep in mind that too much of a good thing can also be no good. Please remember to only treat for the amount of water you are changing and don't use this or any water conditioner product to attempt to eliminate waste, as it is not designed for this purpose. Over using water conditioning products can produce dangerous effects in your water quality over a prolonged period of time.
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