Feeding and Maintenance
Just as humans do, freshwater tropical fish require a varied diet, and if they do not get one they will become bored and go off their food. Nowdays there is a good variety of fish food available from aquatic dealers, and it is worth purchasing a couple of different ones to help with variety. Tropical fish also enjoy live food, and it is worth treating your fish to some from time to time, and it is generally available at good aquatic stores. Be very careful about catching live food yourself, to give to your fish, as it is very easy to introduce disease into an aquarium by doing this.
The golden rule of feeding freshwater tropical fish is – do not overfeed them. Give them just enough food that they can eat it all in about 5 minutes. Fish will not eat more food than they need, so any food that is left will decay and rot in the aquarium, causing pollution, and meaning that the aquarium will need a complete overhaul.
It is perfectly acceptable to feed them once or twice a day, just ensure that all members of your family are aware whether or not they have been fed.
Every day, and feeding time is a good time to do this, do a quick count up of the tropical fish to ensure none are missing. Any missing fish will need to be located at the earliest opportunity, and assuming it has died, removed as soon as possible. A decaying fish will quickly pollute the aquarium or spread disease.
Have a quick check of the thermometer to ensure the heater is functioning correctly, and a quick glance to see that the filtration and aeration systems are working
Just check also that the plants have not shed leaves or been uprooted, and deal with these accordingly. All of this you will find happening automatically whilst watching your fish.
Each month or so, 20-25% of the aquarium water should be removed and replaced with fresh water, ensuring it is dechlorinated and at the correct temperature. While doing this get as much of the dirt out of the gravel as possible, clean the algae of the glass, and check the airstones are functioning properly. Check any filters are clean if necessary.
It is usually only necessary to completely empty the aquarium and give it a thorough clean once a year. When doing this, ensure everything is washed in just water, no chemicals are used, and keep the fish in a big enough container so they get enough oxygen. When doing this follow the guide for Setting Up The Aquarium.
Unlike other pets, tropical fish do not present the same problems when going away. Although it is usually impossible to pick up an aquarium and take it to a neighbour’s house, it is not difficult to leave instructions. Beware of asking people whom have not had fish to look after yours when you go away – most people cannot believe the quantity of food required, and will often overfeed them, sometimes with dire results.
If you do not know anyone suitable to care for your tropical fish while you are away, do not fret. Fish can live for a few days without feeding, although you may find your plants somewhat depleted by the time you get back. You can also buy slow-release pellets from your local aquatic dealer, and these will release food slowly in to the water, and are very good.