Fishkeeping: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Aquarist

Fishkeeping is the ultimate guide for those who want to become an aquarist. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to start and maintain a successful aquarium, from choosing the right tank and equipment to selecting the best fish and plants for your setup.

As a new aquarist, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available. This guide is designed to provide clear and concise instructions for every aspect of fishkeeping. Whether you are setting up your first tank or have been keeping fish for years, you will find valuable tips and advice in every section. Topics covered include selecting the right tank size, choosing the right filtration system, managing water quality, and maintaining a healthy and thriving aquatic ecosystem. You will also learn about the various types of fish and plants that can be kept in an aquarium, as well as how to care for them properly. By following the advice in this guide, you can create a beautiful and healthy aquarium that will provide hours of enjoyment and relaxation for years to come.


What Is Fishkeeping?

Fishkeeping, also known as aquarism, is the practice of keeping and caring for fish, either as pets or for aesthetic purposes. This hobby involves setting up an aquarium with aquatic creatures, and maintaining suitable living conditions for their health and well-being.

Fishkeeping can be a rewarding hobby as it offers fish enthusiasts the opportunity to learn about different species, observe their behavior and create a peaceful underwater environment.

Why Do People Get Into Fishkeeping?

There are many reasons why people choose fishkeeping as a hobby.

  • Relaxation: keeping an aquarium at home can have a relaxing effect on the mind and body. Studies have shown that watching fish swim can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
  • Aesthetic appeal: an aquarium with colourful fish, plants and decorations can be a beautiful addition to a home, creating a calming and attractive focal point.
  • Learning experience: fishkeeping can be an educational experience for kids and adults. Keeping fish can be a great way to learn about aquatic life, natural ecosystems, and the interdependence of plants and animals.
  • Family bonding: fishkeeping can be a family activity where everyone can participate in the setup and maintenance of the aquarium. This can foster teamwork and bonding among family members.
  • Low maintenance: compared to other pets, fish require less maintenance. They don’t need to be walked or taken outside, and if the aquarium is set up properly, cleaning and regular maintenance can be minimal.

Fishkeeping can be a fun and rewarding hobby that offers many benefits to enthusiasts. Whether for the beauty of an aquarium or the educational and relaxing aspects, it is an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

Preparing For Fishkeeping

Choosing The Right Aquarium Size

One of the most important decisions you will make as an aquarist is choosing the size of your aquarium.

  • Available space: measure the area where you plan to place your aquarium to determine the size and shape that would work best.
  • Type of fish: the size of your fish and their growth potential should dictate the aquarium size. A good rule of thumb is one inch of fish for every gallon of water.
  • Maintenance: larger aquariums are easier to maintain than smaller ones. They have a larger water volume, which helps keep the water parameters stable for your fish.

Types Of Fish Tanks And Their Benefits

There are three types of fish tanks for an aquarist to choose from: glass, acrylic, and plastic.

  • Glass tanks are more affordable and scratch-resistant, but they are fragile and more substantial.
  • Acrylic tanks are lightweight, durable, and less prone to breakage. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes but can discolor quickly if not cared for properly.
  • Plastic tanks are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to maintain. They are available in different sizes and shapes, but they are prone to scratches and warping.

Buying The Right Equipment

When buying equipment for fishkeeping, quality and reliability should be top priorities.

  • Aquarium filter: an essential component for removing toxins and debris from the water.
  • Heater: most fish require a particular water temperature range. An aquarium heater should maintain the desired temperature automatically.
  • Lighting: adequate lighting helps maintain plant life and the overall health of your fish.
  • Fish food: the type of fish food you purchase will depend on the species of fish you have.

Setting Up The Aquarium

Setting up your aquarium correctly is crucial for the health and wellbeing of your aquatic pets.

  • Wash the aquarium and all equipment with warm water and soap.
  • Place a layer of substrate at the bottom of the tank.
  • Add any decorations or plants at this time.
  • Fill the aquarium with water, treating it with a water conditioner to remove chemicals such as chlorine.
  • Install filter, heater, and lighting.
  • Wait at least 24 hours before adding fish to allow nitrate, nitrite, and ph levels to stabilize.

Cycling The Tank

Cycling the tank is the process of establishing good bacteria to break down harmful toxins in the water.

  • Monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite using a test kit.
  • Keep the water temperature in the range required for your fish species.
  • Change a small amount of water weekly.
  • Do not overfeed your fish, which can cause an excessive amount of waste and disrupt cycling.
  • Allow enough time for the tank to cycle before adding fish.
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By following these tips, you can create a healthy and thriving environment for your fish, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of your aquarium for years to come.

Choosing The Right Fish

Understanding Fish Compatibility

Before choosing your fish, it’s important to know which species can live together harmoniously.

  • Fish temperament: some fish are more aggressive than others, and certain species may not be compatible.
  • Size: choose fish of similar sizes to prevent one from preying on the other.
  • Water requirements: different fish require different water conditions, so make sure to research your desired species’ needs before bringing them home.

Popular Beginner-Friendly Fish Species

If you’re new to fishkeeping, it’s best to start with low-maintenance, hardy fish.

  • Guppies
  • Neon tetras
  • Platies
  • Betta fish

How To Choose Healthy Fish

Healthy fish are crucial to the success of your aquarium.

  • Observe their behavior: healthy fish are active and swim smoothly.
  • Look at their appearance: bright colors and clear eyes are indicators of a healthy fish.
  • Check the tank conditions: a tank with clean water and appropriate decorations is a sign of a responsible and knowledgeable seller.

Feeding And Caring For Fish

Maintaining a healthy aquarium requires proper feeding and care.

  • Feed your fish a varied diet: different species require different types of food, so be sure to research their needs.
  • Keep the tank clean: regular water changes and cleaning the tank helps maintain a healthy environment for your fish.
  • Consult a veterinarian: if you’re unsure about the health of your fish, seek the advice of a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals.

Choosing the right fish for your aquarium requires research and careful consideration. Understating fish compatibility, choosing popular beginner-friendly species, selecting healthy fish, and proper feeding and care are all factors that contribute to a thriving aquarium. Happy fishkeeping!

Maintaining Your Aquarium

Fishkeeping is not just about owning a tank and fish but is also about the maintenance and upkeep of the aquarium. Maintaining a fish tank is crucial as it provides a suitable living environment for fish. Neglecting your aquarium can lead to diseased fish, algae overgrowth, and even death.

Here is the ultimate guide to maintaining your aquarium.

Monitoring And Testing Water Quality

Monitoring and testing the water quality is essential to maintain a healthy aquarium environment.

  • Test the water regularly, at least once a week, to monitor changes in ph levels, nitrite, nitrate levels, and ammonia.
  • Adjust water parameters according to the fish species you are keeping.
  • Keep a record of test results to compare with the previous results.
  • Check the water temperature regularly using a thermometer.
  • Conduct partial water changes every two weeks to maintain the water quality.

Cleaning The Tank And Equipment

Cleaning an aquarium is necessary not only to make it look good but also to maintain fish health.

  • Clean the tank thoroughly using a sponge or scraper to remove algae buildup, followed by washing with a diluted bleach solution.
  • Rinse all the equipment, including filters, with aquarium water and replace them regularly.
  • Do not use soap to clean the tank and equipment, as it can harm the fish.
  • Use a gravel vacuum to remove debris from the bottom of the tank.

Addressing Common Fish Illnesses

Fish in an aquarium are prone to diseases, and prompt action is required to prevent it from spreading.

  • Keep a close eye on your fish and look for any signs of illness.
  • Isolate diseased fish to prevent the spread of the disease
  • Use aquarium salt, medications, or antibiotics as recommended by the vet to treat sick fish.
  • Water changes and cleanliness can also help prevent the excessive growth of fungi and bacteria.

Dealing With Algae

Algae growth can be unsightly and indicate poor aquarium maintenance. Keeping a check on the nutrient levels of the water can help prevent excessive growth.

  • Install algae-eating fish in your aquarium such as plecostomus, otocinclus catfish, and siamese algae eaters.
  • Use algae scrapers to remove algae from the glass.
  • Use algae remover products after reading and understanding their effects on the environment and fish.

Overall, maintaining an aquarium can be challenging but rewarding. By following these tips, you can ensure your fish are healthy, and your aquarium looks beautiful.

Advanced Fishkeeping Techniques

Fishkeeping is an enjoyable pastime that offers numerous benefits beyond the aesthetic appeal of an aquarium. By creating an aquatic environment for fish to thrive in, you discover a sense of relaxation and calmness. However, if you are an advanced aquarist, there are several techniques you can use to bring the best out of your aquarium.

Some of the advanced fishkeeping techniques are discussed below.

Breeding Fish

Breeding fish can appear to be a complex and challenging process, but it can be quite rewarding if you’re successful. Before you begin, ensure that you have an appropriate tank size, the correct water temperatures, and healthy adult fish.

  • Identify the ideal breeding pair and acclimate them to the breeding tank
  • Provide a healthy diet and ideal conditions for the breeding pair
  • Stimulate the breeding pair by using specific water changes or nutrient adjustments
  • Separate the fry after hatching, and keep them in an appropriate environment for growth


Aquascaping is an excellent and artistic method of arranging aquatic plants, rocks, and other objects in an aquarium. Through aquatic landscaping, you can mimic natural environments and create a visually pleasing underwater habitat.

  • Use the appropriate substrate for your plants
  • Choose your design elements carefully and keep balance
  • Use lighting to your advantage while considering the plant’s photosynthetic needs
  • Maintain proper plant maintenance with fertilization and trimming
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Advanced Filtration Methods

Filtration is essential for any aquarium, but with advanced filtration methods, you can create a healthier, cleaner, and stable aquatic environment. There are several approaches to improve filtration, such as canisters, wet-dry systems, and sumps.

  • Choose the appropriate filtration system for the size and number of fish in the aquarium
  • Create a healthy bio-filter through adding bio-media to your filter
  • Use chemical filtration like activated charcoal or phosphate removers for additional water purification
  • Monitor and balance the level of filtration for optimum aquarium health

Creating A Planted Aquarium

A planted aquarium is much more than just a beautiful landscape. It helps establish the oxygen supply, removes waste products, and serves as a natural shelter for fish. However, creating and maintaining a planted aquarium isn’t something that you can easily achieve.

  • Choose the appropriate plants for your aquarium
  • Use co2 to help plants grow by enabling photosynthesis
  • Use suitable lighting for your plants’ specific requirements
  • Maintain the appropriate levels of nutrients like carbon, nitrate, and phosphate

Remember: advanced fishkeeping takes time, patience, and dedication, but the reward is a healthy and thriving aquarium.


Fishkeeping can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, whether you are an experienced aquarist or just starting out. In this comprehensive guide, we have covered everything from selecting the right aquarium to choosing the appropriate fish and maintaining a healthy environment.

Now, let’s recap the key points of this fishkeeping guide.

Recap Of Fishkeeping Guide

  • Choosing the right aquarium size is crucial to the health of your fish, so ensure that you have enough space for them to swim.
  • Filtration systems are essential for keeping your aquarium water clean, and you should choose the best one for your tank size and the fish species you want to keep.
  • Proper lighting is essential, not only for aesthetic reasons but also to support the health and growth of the plants in your aquarium.
  • When selecting fish species, consider factors such as compatibility, temperament, and environmental conditions, such as water temperature and ph levels.
  • Feeding your fish the right amount and type of food is essential to their growth and health. Be sure not to overfeed them and remove any uneaten food.
  • Regular maintenance, such as water changes and gravel cleaning, is necessary to keep your aquarium healthy and thriving.

Encouragement For Readers To Start Their Own Aquarium

If you haven’t started your own aquarium yet, now is the time to do so! Owning an aquarium can be a fun, fascinating, and relaxing hobby. With the right knowledge and tools, anyone can become an excellent aquarist.

  • An aquarium can liven up your home or office space.
  • It has potential therapeutic and stress-relieving benefits.
  • It gives you the chance to learn more about the fascinating world of aquatic life.
  • You will enjoy the satisfaction that comes with nurturing and maintaining a thriving ecosystem.
  • It can be a great hobby to share with family and friends.

Being an aquarist may seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Remember to follow the key points discussed in this guide, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from experienced aquarists or pet store professionals.

Start your own aquarium today and watch your aquatic life thrive!

Frequently Asked Questions For Fishkeeping: The Ultimate Guide To Being An Aquarist

How Often Should I Clean My Aquarium?

Clean your aquarium at least once a week to remove algae and other visible debris.

What Is The Ideal Water Temperature For Fishkeeping?

The ideal water temperature for fishkeeping depends on the species of fish you have, but generally, it should be between 72-78°f.

How Do I Know If My Fish Is Sick?

Look for signs such as loss of appetite, lethargy, abnormal swimming behavior or appearance to determine if your fish is sick.

Can Different Fish Species Live Together In The Same Aquarium?

Some fish species can coexist peacefully, while others cannot, so research on compatible fish species before adding them to the same aquarium.

What Are Some Tips for Keeping Dragon Fish as Pets?

When it comes to keeping dragon fish as pets, it’s important to refer to a dragon fish species list. This list can guide you in choosing the right species for your home aquarium and provide insights into their specific care requirements. Researching about their diet, tank size, and water conditions will ensure a happy and healthy dragon fish companion.


It’s evident that being an aquarist and keeping fish is more fulfilling than just a hobby. It is therapeutic and has numerous benefits like reducing stress levels, improving mental health, and enhancing emotional intelligence. Therefore, taking care of fish requires a deep understanding of their needs, behavior and most importantly their environment.

Remember to always research the fish you plan to keep, choose the right aquarium and equipment, feed your fish well, provide the necessary tank maintenance, and monitor their behavior closely. With the help of this ultimate guide, you can confidently start your journey to becoming an expert aquarist.

Moreover, your fish will thrive and be happy while you reap the benefits of being a fish keeper. Remember, the joy of fishkeeping comes from the success you achieve in keeping your aquatic pets healthy, happy, and thriving!

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