Caring for a Fish

Evaluate your match

1- I have an appropriate location in my home for my new fish to live
2- I will provide proper attention, nutrition and veterinary care for my fish
3- I am committed to caring for my fish for the duration of his/her life

If you answered YES to the above questions, you are now ready to continue considering a fish as a pet.


There are many different shapes and sizes of aquariums. Choose the size of the aquarium that will allow you to house the adult fish you want to keep. A short long tank has more surface area and will hold more fish than a tall slender tank with the same amount of water capacity. An aquarium stand is also a wise investment, as a 10 gallon tank weighs approximately 100 pounds with water, decorations and gravel.

Aquarium Hood

The hood provides a couple of different functions, it keeps the fish from jumping out of the aquarium, keeps unwanted pets out, retains the heat, prevents water from evaporating quickly and provides light to see the fish. There are two types of aquarium light fixtures, incandescent and fluorescent. Fluorescent lights are recommended for a number of reasons; the bulbs last up to 20 times longer, the bulbs do not produce a lot of heat and they show off your aquarium decorations and fish. Incandescent lights produce a tremendous amount of heat in a very short time, the bulbs have a short life span and they give off a yellow hue distorting the natural colours of the fish.


There are two types of heaters, submersible and clamp on. The submersible can be mounted vertically towards the bottom of the aquarium. This prevents the heater from breaking when you perform a water change. If an aquarium heater is left out of the water, even partially, the glass tube will explode when it comes into contact with the water. Clamp on heaters hang from the side of the aquarium, and they should be placed away from aquarium decorations and filters.


Thermometers come in two different styles, outside and inside. Many people prefer the outside thermometers that mount on the side of the aquarium. The inside thermometers tend to float around the aquarium making them difficult to read. Whichever thermometer you choose, place it in the opposite side of the aquarium from the heater to get an accurate temperature reading.


There are many different filters available, power, canister, undergravel and wet/dry. A power filter hangs on  the back of the aquarium and is effective in collecting large debris from the water. They usually contain a filter pad with carbon to polish the water as it is drawn though the filter. A canister filter works like a power filter, except you can use many different types of filtering media. The canister filter is primarily used for larger aquariums due to the velocity of water they can move. The undergravel filter is a biological filter that pulls the water down through the gravel and bacteria colonies create throughout the gravel bed. This filter is the most common filter used in aquariums. The bacteria colonies breaks down harmful waste products in the aquarium and make the water suitable for fish to live in. The wet/dry filter works like an undergravel and canister filter all in one. These filters are primarily used for saltwater aquariums, but freshwater hobbyists can benefit from them as well. Biweekly water changes should be performed in every aquarium regardless of the method of filtration.

Air Pump

The air pump is a vital part of the aquarium. The pump does not provide oxygen in the water, but it creates turbulence in the aquarium for the water to churn and come in contact with the air. It is at this point when oxygen enters the water. The pump must be strong enough to run ornaments, filters or airstones you would like to hood up to the pump. Place the pump higher than the aquarium if possible. If there is a power outage, the water will back flow into the pump. Besides ruining the pump the aquarium will drain and your fish will be lost as well as the damage it will create in your home. If you can not place your pump above your tank, a checkvalve should be installed in the airline tubing to prevent the water from back siphoning.

Gang Valve

This is a line splitter for the air pump. Air pumps have one or two outlets, and usually there are 2-4 items you would like to supply air to in the aquarium. This device has numerous outlets for the air operated devices in your aquarium.

Test Kit

The water in the aquarium should be tested at least once a week. Check the pH, ammonia and nitrite contents to monitor the water conditions.

Water Condition

Tap water contains many additives that make it fit for human consumption. These additives are harmful to the bacteria colonies that break down the waste products from fish and decaying food. All tap water should be treated for chlorine and chlorimine removal.


Decorating the tank is strictly a personal choice. The fish are not too particular about their tank decorations. Provide places for the fish to escape and hide from each other if necessary. Gravel comes in many different colours, and the fish do not mind what colour you select. Keep in mind that the colour of gravel you choose can wash out the colour of the fish. Dark colours and natural gravel tend to hold the fish's colour.

Nitrogen Cycle

Now that you have your aquarium set up it is time to purchase fish. The aquarium you have set up is basically a sterile environment and is not ready to support aquatic life. Start adding fish slowly, only purchase 2-4 species initially. This will give the bacteria time to colonize and break down the harmful ammonia released by the fish. This process is called the Nitrogen Cycle. The Nitrogen Cycle happens in every aquarium and is vital to support fish life. Bacteria (called Nitrosomonas) colonize and break down the ammonia in the aquarium converting it to nitrite. Once the Nitrosomonas have done their job, another bacteria (Nitrobacter) starts to colonize and convert the nitrite into nitrate. The process is complete and starts again. Check your water quality every couple of days to monitor the ammonia and nitrites. Stockpiling the aquarium with many fish only leads to many sick and dying fish.

Feeding Habits

Flakes, pellets, freeze dried, frozen and live foods are the different kinds of foods available. Flake foods are the choice of many hobbyists, but fish need a varied diet for longevity and breeding. Feed your fish a variety of foods to maintain a nutritional diet and health. Feed your fish at least twice a day, but feed sparingly. All uneaten food lies on the bottom of the aquarium and starts to decay. This will lead to foul smelling water, and sick fish.


Unfortunately not all fish are compatible  with each other. Always keep a list of the fish you maintain, so you can mix compatible fish with them. Otherwise you may end up with a predator and find the predator to be the only survivor in the morning. 

Shopping list

  • Aquarium
  • Aquarium hood with light fixture
  • Aquarium stand
  • Gravel - 1 pound of gravel for every gallon of water
  • Heater - 5 watts per gallon
  • Filter - undergravel, canister, power filter, wet/dry
  • Air line tubing
  • Gang valve
  • Air pump
  • Thermometer
  • Net
  • Aquarium background
  • Water conditioner
  • Gravel vacuum
  • Book on freshwater fish and aquariums
  • Decorations

Fish Guarantee (7 day Guarantee)

7 day health guarantee provided the fish receives appropriate care after leaving the store. Any additional limitations to the health guarantee will be outlined at the time of sale. Should a health problem arise, we ask that you contact our store immediately. If you have any problems, questions or concerns regarding the health and care of your new pet, please do not hesitate to contact our store. If your new fish perishes within the 7 day guarantee period, please return it to the store along with the register receipt. We will replace the fish, or provide an in-store credit for the purchase value. We also recommend you bring a sample of your aquarium water (in a separate container from the fish) so that we can analyze the water to better assist you. After the first replacement, if you experience further problems you must bring a water sample. Fish will only be replaced a maximum of one time. There is no guarantee on a fish's gender, breeding capability, or suitability for the aquarium. With the exception of health related issues, there are no refunds or exchanges. There is no guarantee on aquatic plants, feeder fish or marine fish, corals or invertebrates. This guarantee is for the specific fish purchased only and does not apply to other fish already in the home aquarium.

Please note that this information sheet will not provide you with everything you need to know how to care for freshwater fish. It is recommended that you source information from multiple sources on caring for your new pet.
* Please note, that this information on this care sheet does not replace any advice given by a veterinarian. *

If any questions or concerns should arise please contact the store, and one of our trained associates would be happy to try and answer your questions.