We’re starting to think Fall, and all the things associated with it. Many find this time of year a great one to get into a new hobby, or back into an old one. For many this means fish season. I’m not talking about going to the pond or local river to set up a pole, I’m talking about keeping fish in an aquarium.

For the extreme hobbyist every season is fish season, they’re always looking for the coolest: fish, aquarium plants, corals, etc. To the average person (who has one or two aquariums) this means cleaning it up and restocking. For the person who has just stumbled onto this hobby or is looking to get back into it, this can be a most confusing and influential time. For the new hobbyist it may seem scary. With so many things to learn, it can be overwhelming even before purchasing their first aquarium, with the good, the bad, and the myths.
Hopefully we can debunk some of the myths, and go over some up-to-date information. Just in the past 20 years, there have been innovations for fish hobbyists.

Here are some common Fish Tails/misconceptions that are out there:

Myth – I’m not sure I can successfully keep fish, so it is better if I try a fish bowl or something 5 gallons or less. Small is easier to keep up with and doesn’t cost as much, so If I can’t keep the fish alive, I didn’t lose much money.
Actually, it’s much harder to keep a smaller aquarium then it is a large one. Here’s a way to look at it: If you want to make sugar water, and you place a teaspoon of sugar into an 8oz cup of water, or a teaspoon into a gallon jug of water, which container is going to taste sweeter? Exactly. So with a larger aquarium, fish waste won’t affect it as easily, thus allowing you to keep water chemistry healthier, giving you a better chance of success. Don’t go out and buy a 100 gallon aquarium, 10 or 20 gallons is a great starter size. The added investment will increase your success rate by over 50%.

Myth – Fish only grow as large as the aquarium.
I hear this multiple times a day. This happens to be a myth with little truth to it. If you maintain proper water conditions, and the fish are eating a good diet, the fish will continue to grow. Some species will grow pretty fast in optimal conditions. Remember, the smaller the aquarium, the harder it is to keep. If you are able to keep the smaller aquarium healthy, larger species of fish will outgrow the aquarium.

Myth – Keeping an aquarium requires so much work. I will have to drain out all of the water and scrub everything down.
This is something that used to be done frequently a few decades ago. It was grueling and most people would spend many hours working on the aquarium, when they’d much rather be going to the beach, or watching the latest show on TV. This is much more work then you really need to do, and it isn’t good for the fish to go from one extreme to the other. The best way to work with your aquarium is to do smaller water changes more frequently and be consistent. So, instead of tearing it all down; every 2 to 4 weeks (depending on the type of fish or how many fish you have in your aquarium), only take out 20 – 25% of the water, putting fresh treated water back in. Use a gravel vacuum to get the water flow going into a bucket, and insert the cylinder into the gravel to remove waste and water at the same time. (For larger tanks there are systems you can hook to the sink.) When placing water back in, treat the water with a conditioner for aquariums first, and adjust PH if needed. Only taking out 20-25% often, keeps the water chemistry more stable. Once you have done it a couple of times, it might take you 15 minutes, saving time, dread and aggravation.

Myth- I bought some fish at store X and now all my fish have ich (Ick). I will never shop there again.
This is something I hear a lot, especially during spring and fall. Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is usually caused by temperature fluctuations. A major temperature fluctuation can rear its ugly head within hours. Season changes bring the biggest changes in temperature. There are other things that can cause water to change temperature: Not having an aquarium heater; Not having the heater set high enough; When doing water changes, new water into the aquarium is much cooler/warmer than the water already in the aquarium; along with many others. That’s not to say an accident can’t happen, and a store accidently sells a fish with ich. It can happen we are all human, but in my 19+ years most of the time it isn’t the store’s fault, nor the customer’s, it just happens.

To reduce the chances of temperature fluctuation when buying a new fish:
1. Ask that your fish’s plastic container be placed in a paper bag for added insulation.
2. Place your fish’s container into a cooler to help insulate from temperature changes.
3. Acclimate your fish to the water slowly, over the course of an hour. This will help reduce stress that can also cause Ich

Myth – Keeping a saltwater aquarium is a lot of work and is difficult.
Keeping a saltwater aquarium can be almost as easy as keeping a freshwater aquarium, or you can make it much more complex. This depends on the fish, creatures, plants or corals you want to keep, as well as the equipment and size of the aquarium.
If you have any further questions, concerns, or want to know more about keeping an aquarium, go to your local Mom & Pop store, they can be the best source of information.

DJ Nelson has worked in the pet industry for almost two decades and is the owner of AquaRealm Aquarium & Pets in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He works with Reptiles, Birds, Small Animals, Fresh/Saltwater fish, and Dog & Cat Nutrition. Since proper care is constantly changing, educating customers about their pets is the most important. WWW.aquarealmaquarium.com and Facebook