Regular health checks are advisable for your fish in order to identify and treat conditions early.
Your vet will need to examine both your fish AND the water in the aquarium/pond.
It is important that your fish is brought in a suitable container with an adequate volume of water – as a general rule, approximately 1 Litre of water per cm length of fish. Aeration, provided by a powerhead/airstone and temperature control (depending on species) also needs to be addressed.
It is a good idea to bring in extra tank water as a clean source for transport back home.
Please bring in one of more representatives of your diseased population. If any of your fish have died recently (within 24hrs) please keep them refrigerated in water (do not freeze) and bring them in also – your vet will be able to get a lot of information by performing a post mortem which may well yield information that could save the remaining individuals
Please bring a separate sample of tank water (500ml if possible). If you are able to measure tank water temperature and oxygen saturation at home this will help tremendously.
We will use this sample to analyse water quality by testing; ammonia, nitrite and pH levels. We have facilities to measure oxygen saturation and temperature but these values change very rapidly and may not be representative of conditions at home.
Your vet will ask you a series of questions related to your fish, including:
We will examine the fish looking for colour changes, behaviour changes, and other signs of sickness.
Further testing may be required including taking tissue samples or using x-ray or ultrasound imaging.
In some cases sedation is required to facilitate these diagnostic tests and your fish may need to stay in the hospital for the day.
Fish vary widely in nutritional requirements and can be herbivorous (plant eating), carnivorous (meat eating), insectivorous (insect eating) or omnivorous (will eat plants, meat and insect matter). Therefore it is important to know what species you have.
Most freshwater aquarium fish do well on a good brand of flakes or pellets. Take note of whether your fish species is surface or bottom feeding (flakes float!). Dry diets DO expire. Try and use within 3 months of purchase otherwise nutritional quality tends to deteriorate rapidly.
Dry foods can be supplemented with other food items such as live or frozen products (brine shrimp, microworms, water fleas, krill)
Live fish can be used to feed carnivorous fish but can transmit diseases. Frozen items are safer but are often nutrient deficient due to the freezing process. Some diseases can also survive the freezing process.
Avoid overfeeding as wasted food material can quickly and severely affect water quality. Frequency of feeding depends on the type of fish you have. Herbivorous fish need more frequent feedings as do those that are growing. At each feed, offer as much as can be consumed in a 15-20 minute period. Remove any uneaten food material with a fine net. As a rough guide 1-2 times per day with 1 day per week of no feeding is a good rule of thumb.
Husbandry, is basically the aquarium set-up and includes:
The tank/aquarium. Usually glass. The largest tank you can accommodate and afford is best. Larger tanks are easier to keep clean due to the larger volume of water they hold.
Substrate – what you have on the bottom of the tank (gravel, sand, coral) Some materials can leach substances into the water affecting water quality parameters such as pH
Filters – these can be small hanging types, under gravel or external canister filters. Filters circulate the water for oxygenation and remove nitrogenous waste products via the bacteria that live in the filter. The filter needs to be rated for the tank size you have.
Aerators – such as an air-stone. These increase water circulation and thus oxygen levels.
Live plants – these can produce oxygen and remove nutrients. They also provide hiding places for your fish.
Decorations – these can again provide hiding places for your fish or just make the aquarium nicer to look at. They should be approved as aquarium safe.
Heaters – these are usually submerged and run on a thermostat helping you to provide the optimum water temperatures.
This is often the best time to have your vet examine your new fish.
If you have existing fish, it is a good idea to keep your new purchases in an already established quarantine tank in order to monitor them for signs of sickness and disease. This will minimise the chances of spreading any disease to your existing population.
A quarantine tank is a similar set up to your main tank – large tank, appropriately sized filter, appropriate heating. We usually recommend using no substrate as this makes the tank easier to monitor and keep clean. Sand and gravel are perfect for harbouring disease causing pathogens so are best avoided.
We usually recommend a 2 week quarantine period, after which the new fish can be carefully introduced to the existing population.
Please contact your vet to discuss specific quarantine procedures.