So you have your tank set up and are ready to buy your new fish. How do you know which fish to buy? What do you look for when you go to the fish store?
First, shop around to find the best store. This might sound silly, but not all fish stores are created equal. If the fish in the store are healthy, the fish you buy from them will be healthy as well. If you can, stay away from the large, chain stores. Try to go to a local store, as they will take better care of their fish. Also, look for a store that has a guarantee on their fish. If they are willing to guarantee their fish, chances are they are taking care of them.
Here are some pointers that indicate a fish is sick. Avoid fish that have these symptoms. Do not buy fish that have white spots on them. This will look like they have been sprinkled with salt. This disease is called ick and is highly contagious. Do not buy a fish that is extremely lethargic. Avoid any fish with red, raw areas. Make sure the fish is swimming laterally, not vertically. Avoid a fish with damaged fins. If you notice the fish hovering near the surface and gulping air, this does not mean it is hungry. It probably means the fish is sick, or there is not enough air in the water. Avoid this fish. Also, stay away from fish who clamp their fins to their bodies.
Before going to the store, do some research as to the type of fish you want to buy. Think about the size of your tank, and the species you want to include. Make sure all of them are compatible. Some species cannot be put together, such as betas and angelfish. Buy about an inch of fish per gallon of water. Consider what the full-grown size of the fish will be in order to make this determination. Often the fish you purchase at the pet store are not full-grown and if you are unsure, ask the shop owners or read up on the fish you are interested in to help make an estimate.
When purchasing your fish, look for a fish who is active and alert. Do not buy fish from tanks that have dead or sick fish in them, as your fish might have contracted a disease from the other fish. Look for a fish with vibrant colors. Pale colors can be indication that the fish is not healthy. Try to keep all the varieties of fish that you purchase around the same full-grown size. This will keep you from ending up having some of your fish end up as dinner for other fish when they get larger. Do not buy the smallest fish in the tank. The fish are usually around the same age, and being extremely small is often an indication of sickness.
Buy doing some research and purchasing healthy fish, you will help make your experience as an aquarium owner much more fulfilling. It is easy to buy healthy fish if you keep your eyes open. Ask lots of questions before making your purchase. Give your fish time to acclimate to their new environment, then sit back and have fun!