Keeping fish in a tank can be one of the most rewarding experiences known to man. Not only does seeing your little pets swim around happen to give you intense relaxation and relief, but when your fish are healthy, there is a wonderful feeling you get as a result of knowing that you have fulfilled your responsibility towards these tiny creatures.
However, to get to that feeling, you need to know, what are the signs of a healthy fish? Here are some of the ways that you can gauge the level of health that you’re fish are at.
The signs of good fish health
Protecting your aquarium from illnesses can be a daunting task, after all, how can you care for every single organism living in there? The trick to maintaining health for all the aquarium fish is constant vigilance. Keep an eye out for some key things, and you’ll be good.
Where the fish are swimming
Healthy fish tend to enjoy swimming throughout the tank. If you notice a change in this behavior, especially when your fish used to swim throughout the tank but now either stay in one place or lay low, you should notice that something may be the problem.
The response to feeding
Just like with any other pets, fish will rush up to you when you start feeding them. If you notice any irregularities in this behavior, such as a delayed response (or none at all) to feeding, this may be an indicator of some underlying health issues.
In another situation, you may not be able to see your fish eating regularly. In such a situation, you may be right to suspect that the fish may be feeling unwell. While you are evaluating this, do consider the species of the fish. Because of some of the fish’s temperaments, they tend to be ‘shy’ and do not engage as often as the other ones.
Changes to their bodies
Perhaps the biggest and most obvious sign that your fish are unwell is the appearance of splotchy bruises, and unexplained sores on their bodies. In some cases, the eyes of the fish may become ‘bulged’ out, which can easily be identified. In other cases, you may notice that the fish’s fins have become ripped or worn. These are all indicators that there may be an illness or a wound on the fish’s body. Keep an eye out for
- White spots anywhere on the fish’s body
- Any holes in the body
- Ulcers or protrusions on the fish body
- on the stomach or elsewhere on the body.
- Darkened color on transparent skinned fish
Unhealthy gills and breathing
Like with other animals, one sure sign that something is up is problems breathing. This might mean that the gills are opening and closing incompletely, too fast, or too slow as compared to the normal rate at which the fish breathes.
Watch out for abnormal behavior
The best way to be sure about your fish’s health is to just keep an eye on them – fish tend to follow a set of behaviors. If they’re unwell, they won’t be able to stick to them, and you’ll be able to pick up on the anomalies.
Shiny scales and body
One great way to check the health of your fish, especially ones like goldfish? A happy, healthy fish will have beautiful scales and a shiny body. On the other hand, a depressed or sick one may seem less colorful and faded.
Why should you know these signs?
The question that might be coming to your mind might be, why should I care about these signs? Well, the fact of the matter is that by being vigilant, not only can you protect each individual fish from harm, but you can also prevent your tank from widespread attacks that can completely devastate all the organisms living there.
Although fish are usually hardy and most freshwater fish, if given the right conditions, stay healthy for a long time, illnesses come and go, as with any other animal. So, the only way you’ll be able to pick up on these illnesses and treat them before you lose more fish will be to stay vigilant and alert about your tank’s health.
How can you improve fish health?
Before you can start doing weekly observations for your fish, here are some precautionary measures that you can take to improve the overall health of the fish in your aquarium.
Take them seriously
A common idea of fish is that they are ‘low maintenance’ – although this might be somewhat true, this doesn’t mean you take their care less seriously than other, more complex animals. An aquarium full of fish isn’t just a decorative showpiece, and each one of these fish is your pets and therefore your responsibility.
Introduce them slowly
One big mistake that first-time fish owners usually make is just emptying out the contents of the bag your fish came in straight to the tank. This catastrophic behavior can not only make your fish sick, it may even kill them. There is a procedure in place that requires slowly allowing your fish to acclimate to the water in the tank.
- At first, try and keep the fish in a quarantined area.
- Place the bag the fish came in into the tank.
- Now, after every 15 minutes add some of the tank water to the bag.
- After an hour, use a net to pick the fish.
- Do not drop the fish into the tank, allow it to swim out of the net.
- Observe the fish for some time for any changes in behavior.
Research your fish
Before you add any fish to a tank, make sure you are meeting their environmental needs, and that you are aware of any possible conflicts. Some fish are also more susceptible to diseases than others, a fact that you should research very carefully.
A good way to maintain health? Keep a regular check on the tank’s fish. You’ll have to care for the temperature, the pH, and everything else your fish needs. You should also make sure that the water circulates well and is often replaced to make sure it doesn’t become ‘stale’.
Avoid conflicts between fish
Before you bring in any fish, you should make sure that they don’t have any aggressive behaviors against each other. This may result in damaged fins, tails, or wounds on the body, and in the worst case scenario, may even cause death.
Take away stressors
Fish don’t usually do well around stressors. And yes, little children may enjoy poking at the glass of an aquarium and scaring away the fish, but that action can actually give that poor fish unneeded stress. Sometimes just taking some of those away can make the difference between an unhappy and a stress-free fish. Another way to take away stress is to keep the fish’s environment safe and clean.
What do I do with sick fish?
If you notice any of the above-explained behaviors in your fish, take them to the vet as soon as possible. It is a good idea to quarantine your fish from the other fish in the tank as well. Depending on the situation, the vet may give medications like antibiotics, or advise you to separate out fish, if there is some degree of aggression.