7 Horrible Mistakes Beginners Make With A Fish Tank

In Aquariumsby PaulK


You may be killing your pet fish and not even know it.

Thing is, how do you know what you’re doing wrong?

Well, that’s what you’re going to learn in this guide.

7 mistakes you may be making right now and how to correct them.

Let’s start with number 1:

Overfeeding Your Fish

It’s important to feed your fish, but overfeeding them causes problems like too much ammonia. You’ll only want to feed your fish what they can eat in 2-5 minutes each time once a day.

What happens to all of the uneaten food if you overdo it? It goes to the bottom and into the substrate. Eventually, if you don’t vacuum the substrate regularly, that food will break down and cause all kinds of problems with water parameters. Your fish will gladly eat as much as they can, but will eventually become fat and sick if you overdo it.

Overcrowding Your Fish Tank

This causes similar problems as overfeeding your fish. Too many fish in your tank means a lot more waste is being produced and therefore a lot more ammonia and nitrites. Too much ammonia and nitrites mean fish will eventually die. This problem is especially acute in smaller tanks below 50 gallons. A few options are to get a bigger fish tank to house all of your fish comfortably, or get another similar fish tank to reduce the amount in your current tank. I wrote a complete guide to fish tank filtration here.

The general rule is 1 inch of fish per gallon, but this is open for much-heated debate. Filtration is the key here. The more you can cycle your water per hour the better for the fish. If you turn your tank over 4 times per hour, that should be sufficient but you can certainly do more if you wish. Use a bigger filter than is required for the tank. It won’t hurt and it will keep the water cleaner. Also, if you have live plants in your tank that will help with absorbing nitrates in the water. Here are my top five aquarium plants for beginners.

Not Changing Your Fish Tank Water

Exposure to ammonia—as well as nitrates and nitrites—can have severe effects on your fish. General signs for aquatic life with unbalanced water conditions include a decline or loss of appetite, loss of coloration, reduced energy and/or a weakened immune system. If left too long without being corrected, this chemical exposure can lead to death.

Even though you have the right amount of fish and not overfeeding them, you should change your water regularly to ensure you are getting rid of waste build up. Along with changing the water, you should be vacuuming the substrate, because fish waste and excess food will gather in the substrate and cause problems. This python I found on Amazon makes it super easy. Now if you aren’t overfeeding or overcrowding your fish tank and have proper filtration, you won’t have to clean your tank as much. 20% once a week should be sufficient.

Watch this video on how to use a Python

Putting Your Fish Tank by a Window

Windows seem innocent enough, but an aquarium placed near one can cause several problems. When normal, direct sunlight hits the tank the water temperature can reach lethal levels in a period of just a few hours if the windows have no or thin drapes or blinds. Having thick blinds and/or curtains will help block the sun’s rays.

Aquariums need a stable water temperature. Extreme changes in temperatures will lower your fishes’ immune system and lower the oxygen level in the water. Not only that, but the increase in light and heat from the sun will cause severe algae problems. Algae can be tough to get rid of once it grows out of control.

Ultimate Guide to Aquarium Lights.

Not Testing or Treating The Water

This is one of those tasks that eventually drops. You test the water, it’s fine, you test again, it’s fine, you keep testing and it’s fine. Eventually, you stop testing because you are lulled into thinking the water will always be fine. Well over time as things change in your tank, so do your water parameters. This is why you need to keep up on the testing regularly. You should always test after a water change or if you add/subtract new fish. The most complete water test kit I’ve found is the API Master Water Test Kit

Not Monitoring Temperature of The Water

All of a sudden your aquarium heater stops working and you don’t notice and the water temperature drops 10 degrees. Not good. This is why you should have a digital thermometer in your fish tank so that you can easily monitor the temperature in your tank. The temperature of the room is also a factor in the total temperature. If it’s winter and you have the heat of the room up, it will also raise the temperature of your aquarium water. The opposite is also true if the heat goes out and the temperature of the fish tank drops below acceptable levels. Sun can also heat up the tank quite a bit and kill all the fish. As the temperature rises, oxygen diminishes in the water and the fish have a hard time breathing. You may not notice it until your fish are gulping for air at the top of the tank.

An in-depth guide to fish tank heaters.

Using Tap Water Without a Water Conditioner

Do not use tap water for your tank without using a water conditioner. Why you might ask? Because chlorine is caustic and it will harm your fish and your tap water is going to
have chlorine unless of course, you’re on a well, in which case, you still want to use a water conditioner because a lot of them will help neutralize heavy metals and other contaminants in the water that you’re still going to have in well water.

How to test your water.

When it comes to fishkeeping, what is your single biggest challenge or frustration? Leave a comment below.

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