Fish illness is often brought on by poor environment. Fish live in an aquarium far smaller than their natural habitat. Imagine yourself confined to a small enclosed space, with no fresh air, no toilet, but plenty of food to eat, which you always consume.
Pretty horrible condition? How long do you think it will be before you get sick in this room, no fresh air, your waste building up? My guess is you will be ready for the hospital within a week, unless your situation improves.
The same is no different for a fish in aquarium. Some fish, such as Discus (Symphysodon spp.) will not tolerate such poor conditions. In this case, nearly daily partial water changes of about 25% are in order. In most cases, 25-33% water changes weekly fine. Never do more than a 50% water change at one time! Likewise, if you have done two water changes in two days, skip at least a day before resuming water changes. Changing filter media is something that should be done every other
water change, assuming you do them on a weekly basis.
If you can not remember when the last time you did a water change, NOW is the time to do one!
How to do a water change properly: You will need a gravel vacuum of a size suitable for your aquarium. You local pet dealer should have several to choose from. You will also need a bucket that has NEVER been used for any other purpose. This is an absolute must. Any previously used bucket will likely contain enough contaminants to kill your fish, no matter how well you rinse it out. Your local home improvement center will probably have 5 gallon utility pails with their logo on them for under $5. Your aquarium only bucket is a wise investment. Use the gravel vacuum to remove water, waste and uneaten food that has collected in the gravel. Siphon the water into your new bucket. Fill it with fresh tap water. You can allow the water to sit
for 24 hours so that the chlorine used at the water treatment plant has time to evaporate, or it is more common to use a commercially prepared water dechlorinator. Below are some good ones in no particular order.
The next variable you need to control is temperature. We are warm blooded mammals, we can be in a comfortable 70-80 degrees, yet our bodies remain 98.6 degrees. Fish can not do this. They are cold blooded. Whatever the temperature is in their tank, is the temperature inside their bodies. Tropical fish generally require a temperature of 74-80. Some a little more, others a little less, but not by much. More importantly, the temperature needs to remain stable. What is stable? Let's
say we have the thermostat set to 78 degrees. In a 24 hour period, you want to see that temperature exactly 78 degrees for at least 50% of the time. If it goes up to 79 for 25% of the time and down to 77 for 25% of the time, that is stable enough for your aquarium. What you want to avoid is large swings. Say 74 at 8am, but up to 82 by 4pm, which is possible on a hot summer day. If you know the temperature is going to reach 80+ for extended periods of time, set your thermostat to 80.
It will go off when it is above 80. A heater can not chill aquarium water. In the summer, a heater is very important to maintain a stable temperature.
In the winter, my house is never more than 68. Often it is 62-64 when I am sleeping or at work. There is a formula that says 5 watts per gallon for a heater. For example, a 10 gallon tank will be fine with a 50 watt heater. Not in my house. It simply isn't enough. I use 75 watt heaters in my 10 gallon tanks to keep my temperature a stable 76 or 78, depending on the tank.
If you are in extreme heat or extreme cold, your body temperature can vary a few degrees or more. In some cases, this can be deadly. Even if not a life threatening situation, being in a moderately cold temperature will weaken your body's ability
to fight off illness. The same goes for your fish. Even if you keep your home a perfect 72 degrees, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, this is too cold for tropical fish and their ability to fight off illness is less. A constant and appropriate temperature is a must to maintain healthy fish.
Before any diagnosis or treatment, ask yourself if your aquarium is providing a suitable home for your fish. Correcting this may very well be all that is necessary.
· 8 years ago