Cleaning your fish tank

by | General Pet Care |

When we first got our fish, the little guy was just about three years old and the movie Finding Nemo had just come out. My husband had gone out and shown up one day with a fish tank and two little fish (one named Nemo, conveniently). He did not grasp the concept how pets make poor impulse buys!

Having never owned fish before, the task seemed a bit daunting. If you have ever been to a large fish or reptile store, you will know the unbelievable amount of types of fish food, water purifiers and softeners and fish “accessories” that are available. There are aerators, filters and every kind of tank decorations you can imagine. Trying to discern which products OUR fish required would have been impossible! Thankfully, after a quick trip to the store to discuss with the staff the needs of garden variety goldfish, they outfitted us with the right items.

Armed with new knowledge, we set up the fish tank and all was well. Then one day, I noticed the tank was starting to get a funny green film inside the tank. After a little Googling, it made sense. Algae! It took some time, and another trip to the pet store, to determine the frequency of water and filter changes for our new fish family.

Then, one sad day, we noticed Nemo wasn’t swimming properly.

Frankly, he wasn’t swimming as much as floating there.

Nemo had passed away, up to the great goldfish bowl in the sky, and my hubby mentioned that when the other one passed away, the “Nemo phase” would be over and we could get rid of the fish tank. I am fairly sure we had gone about three days before I couldn’t stand the other little fish swimming around on his own. He must be lonely, I figured, and back to the pet store I went to find a new friend, Nemo 2.

That was approximately four years ago, and our fish tank has seen some fish come and go. In between busy scheduling of work, school and life, along came Jersey. The demands of a new puppy seemed more than enough in the pet department, so when we had another fish “departure” I wearily trudged back to the pet store, for just *one* more fish.

That particular fish became our beloved “Fish with No Name” who is our veteran goldfish and could probably survive war, famine and pestilence with ease. I have the sneaking suspicion that he is sneaking into the fridge when we are out of town to stock up on groceries (or hogging the vacation fish feed at the very least) because he is over three years old and no matter how many times I have declared he’s on his last fins, he proves me wrong. He can be seen bossing around the newest additions to the fish tank on a regular basis.

The tips I would give to new fish owners include:

-As with any pet, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Pets are a lifetime commitment, so do not buy a fish unless you are prepared to care for it and the environment it lives in

-Floating fish usually mean dead fish… but don’t dispose of the body until you know without a shadow of a double (no movement over a few hours is a good indicator)

-Fish cannot live on tap water alone. The chlorine or fluoride that it is treated with by many municipalities can be deadly for fish. It must be treated first to make it safe for fish to live in

-Follow the instructions on the fish food container! Giving them breakfast, lunch and dinner will only clog up your water filter and make their tank dirty much faster

Having owned cats, dogs, horses and other furry critters did not prepare me for owning a fish. Make an educated decision before purchasing a new fish (or any pet!) and make sure you now how to care for it properly before bringing it home. That being said, I find them mesmerizing while they happily swim around in their tanks, are quite an enjoyable pet.


Thank you so much for all you do

Thank you so much for all you do every day to rescue animals in need. I can’t imagine the terrible situations that you see every day.  It is great that you have the heart to help. Keep up the good work.