Basic fish care

March 2, 2019
Basic Care Tips for Discus

As with any pet, your new pet fish will require some care and attention. Also, since your fish needs an environment significantly different from our own, there is some equipment which will also require care.

Though the maintenance and care required for an adequate sized fish tank is not as high as for a dog or a parrot, it is still a commitment you are making, and will be necessary to provide safe and healthy accommodations for this new member of your family or household.

The information below (and throughout most of the First Tank Guide is for maintaining a fish tank of ten gallons or more with an appropriate filter. Small fish tanks (any tank smaller than ten gallons), fish bowls, or any fish tank without a filter will require significantly more care and maintenance. If you have a small tank or bowl, please review the information on care of small fish tanks and fish bowls for details and recommendations.


Your new fish will require a home. Beyond just the fish tank, you should give consideration for the environmental requirements of your new pet. Does it need to be warm or cool? If it needs to be warm, you'll probably need to get a heater to keep the tank warm. The fish will definitely need a filter to keep the water from becoming toxic between weekly water changes.

What other equipment will your fish need? You want to do some research on the fish you are interested in keeping before you get them so that you can be sure to provide a suitable environment for them.


Some fish need to be fed more often, others need to be fed less often. However, if you are using processed foods, you will probably be feeding once a day or more often.


As with any live animal, there is some cleanup necessary with your aquarium. The biggest issue, and probably the most important, is keeping up with the regular weekly 10-15% (or more) water changes. Insufficient water changes contribute to a number of different problems for fish and for your fish tank, which can make the aquarium much less enjoyable, make the tank more work to care for, and make the environment much less healthy for your fish.

Equipment Maintenance

The aquarium equipment you have to house your fish will need some maintenance. If you keep up with this, your equipment should last a long time and continue to be effective.

  • Check that the temperature is correct in the tank at least once a day.
  • Check all electrical connections and cords at least once a week.
  • Replace any carbon in your filter regularly. In an under gravel filter system, replace the carbon at least once a week, or remove it for better filtration. In other filter systems, the carbon should be changed once every 3-5 weeks.
  • Clean other filter media regularly, or replace as necessary. For power filters and corner filters the media and water flow should be checked every couple of weeks. For other external filters, check the water flow weekly, but you can probably check the media monthly. Of course, if the filter manufacturer recommends checking more often, follow their instructions.
  • Clean the impeller assembly on any water pump at least once a year, and make sure to oil external water pumps as necessary based on the manufacturer's instructions.

With a little routine maintenance and care, your fish tank should be a nice addition to your home or office for a long time.

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RavensLoft, Louisiana

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"I'm also thankful to you for providing all this information for all fish keepers."

Ali Shamsi, Pakistan

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