How to Take Care of a Pet Fish: A Simple Guide

A lot of people have probably told you that fish are easy pets. And that’s true if you know how to take care of a pet fish.

Does that mean you’re a failure if every goldfish you buy dies within 24 hours? Of course, it doesn’t!

It just means that you need some proper instruction on caring for a fish. And that’s precisely what you’ll learn from the guide below.

First, we’ll explain the different types of fish there are to choose from. Then, we’ll cover important details about your tank setup, feeding schedule, maintenance routine, and more. Read on to learn what you need to know about fish care.

1. Saltwater vs Freshwater

In case you didn’t know, there are freshwater and saltwater fish to choose from. You cannot combine both into one tank. Freshwater fish can’t survive in saltwater, nor saltwater fish in freshwater. 

Besides salt content, there are 3 main differences between saltwater and freshwater tanks. Namely, saltwater tanks:

  • Require more maintenance
  • Cost more to maintain
  • Offer the most impressive-looking fish (arguably)

The most exotic fish, like angelfish and pufferfish, come from the ocean and require saltwater. That’s why commercial buildings, like dentist offices, tend to choose saltwater tanks.

For the beginner pet-owner, though, choose a freshwater tank. It’s easier to deal with and still offers loads of attractive fish species.

2. Filter vs Water Changes

Fish water gets dirty rather quickly. It is, after all, your aquatic pet’s toilet.

As such, the water must be changed regularly. However, there are also beneficial bacteria in the tank that you don’t want to irradicate. 

The answer, then, is to replace about 15% of the dirty water with clean water every week. Scoop the water out with a cup so you don’t accidentally dump your fish.

The much easier alternative is to get a tank filter. These devices filter the water constantly so that you don’t have to change the water. But you do need to switch out the filter cartridge when it gets full.

3. Providing Adequate Space

When buying a fish, make sure you ask how much space it needs. Some fish, like goldfish and bettas, are fine in very small tanks. Others require room to grow. 

Furthermore, some species are more territorial than others. These need enough space to keep them from getting aggressive.

4. Conditioning the Water

While your tap water is safe for you to drink, it may harm your fish. The pH level, mineral content, and other factors can negatively impact their health. The easiest way to solve this is to use an aquarium water conditioner.

5. Floating the Fish

Sudden temperature change can harm your fish, too. When you bring your fish home, don’t dump them immediately into your tank.

Float the bag of fish in your aquarium for at least 15 minutes first. This adjusts the temperature around the fish slowly.

6. Feeding Schedule

A small pinch of fish flakes each day is fine for your whole aquarium. Overfeeding can kill your fish. If you go on vacation, put a time-release vacation feeder in your tank.

7. Tank Maintenance

Given the right setup, your tank will mostly take care of itself. For instance, algae-eating fish can clean the buildup on the aquarium walls and ornaments. And your filter cleans the water in your tank.

Aquatic plants can help with this, too. Here’s a guide to planted aquariums that explains more.

Still, you’ll need to scrub the walls and ornaments when they’re noticeably soiled. When you do this, change the filter cartridge and stir up the gravel. The filter will then suck up all the gunk floating around.

Share This Guide on How to Take Care of a Pet Fish

Now that you know how to take care of a pet fish, help us educate other first-time pet owners. Share these fish care tips with other aquatic pet enthusiasts you know.

Next, we have loads of other pet care tips/product guides to share with you. Search for the content you’re looking for using the search bar in the upper-right corner of this page.


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