Your first fish

You now need to think about which fish you wish to stock your new aquarium with. There are so many species to choose from each with it's own particular charm, it's never an easy decision! Whichever fish you decide upon you should always be careful not to overstock. Overstocking can lead to stress for the fish and high pollution levels which makes them vulnerable to disease. For tropical freshwater species you need 12 square inches (75sq cm) of surface area per 1 inch (2.5 cm) of fish body length (excluding the tail). A standard 2 foot aquarium will hold a total of 24 inches (body length) of fish. Cold water fish require 8-12 square inches of tank surface for smaller (under five inches body length) fish, and 12-24 square inches for larger fish, depending on size.

Stocking guide for adding the first fish Stocking guide for adding the first fish Stocking guide for adding the first fish

Stock a new aquarium to only about 25% of itís capacity during the first week or two, then gradually build up to the tankís full capacity. This will give the tankís water a chance to mature, and reduce the stress level on fish. If you add a quarter of your fish every ten days you will have a fully stocked tank just as your filtration system has matured. When stocking the new tank, less territorial species should be introduced first, followed by more dominant fish. Make sure that only compatible fish are introduced; some fish that are relatively non-aggressive as juveniles will become more territorial as adults, so the lifetime compatibility of the fish should be taken into consideration.  


When you buy fish the shop will place them inside a poly bag containing a little water and a lot of air. This poly bag is then usually placed in a paper bag so that the fish is kept in the dark as this reduces stress levels. Take your new fish home straight away and once you arrive remove the poly bag from the paper bag, gently open it and float it inside the aquarium for a couple of minutes. Add some of your aquarium water to the bag and float it for another couple of minutes, before carefully releasing the fish into the aquarium. Turn off the aquarium lights during this floating period and add an extra dose of water conditioner as this will help to keep the fish calm. 

Your new arrivals will probably hide when first introduced, but should soon be out and about exploring their new surroundings. Don't be alarmed if your fish are not displaying their true colours immediately, as the fish become more confident this will improve. 

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