Q: Is tap water a reliable source of water to use in an aquarium?  If not, what other fresh water alternatives are readily available?

A: The most common sources of fresh water are tap water and rain water.  However, both may contain unwanted chemicals.  Ask your local water company about chlorination and water composition.  Demineralised water can be purchased, as can home equipment to demineralise tap water.


Q: What are some signs to watch for that would indicate a fish is sick?  We know that swimming sideways, floating and not eating are signs of trouble.

A: Other signs of trouble include a distended belly, gills that are purple or skin lesions or white spots.  Becoming overly active or very lethargic, scratching against objects holding the fins close to the body and sinking are also cause for concern.


Q: Parasites can stress and sicken fish in an aquarium.  What are some general indications of parasite problems in a tank?

A: Watch for whitish threads or spots on the fish.  When parasites attack a fish’s gills, it causes the fish to breathe rapidly.  Some fish attempt to rid themselves of parasites by rubbing against objects in the tank.  Quarantine all infected fish for treatment.


Q: Oxygen-deficient fish breathe heavily and swim just below the surface to the water in the tank.  Does turning up the aeration help in this type of situation?

A: It’s worth a try, but don’t turn up aeration excessively.  This will stir up the decomposed debris that burn up the oxygen.  Clean the tank and filter, then correct overpopulation, if necessary.  To prevent a recurrence, don’t overfeed your fish.


Q: Watching angelfish swim is fun and we’d like to get some for our aquarium. How long do angelfish live and can they be kept in an aquarium with other types of fish?

A: Angelfish have been known to live more than 8 years.  Angelfish are carnivores, requiring high-protein diets.  They will eat live food, including other fish. Research their care carefully before you stock your aquarium.


Q: It’s important that all the fish stocked in a tank are compatible.  What are some of the signs that fish are not compatible and should be separated?

A: Lists of compatible fish species are usually available from breeders.  Some fish are bullies and will attach other fish by biting their bodies, nipping their fins or chasing them relentlessly.  There are also fish that are predators and will eat other fish.


Q: Can I add all my fish to the tank at once?

A: Do not fully stock the tank all at one time. No more than 25% of the total volume of fish should be introduced at one time.  Fish wastes, which are toxic, are eliminated by colonies of beneficial bacteria.  Those bacterial colonies need time to adjust to changes in the bio-load.  By introducing fish a few at a time, the bacterial colonies have sufficient time to grow and take care of the toxins produced by the fish waste.