How many fish can I put in my tank?

This is a tough question and cannot be answered by a simple formula, though many are given in books. The answer is determined by:

Is it safe to put driftwood (or whatever) in my tank?

It is safe to place items in your tank as long as they are inert. Most plastics are inert (safe), as are glass and ceramic.

Wood may leach substances into the water, changing the pH in a (possibly) inappropriate manner. Driftwood often leaches tannins and other humic acids into the water (much like peat moss), possibly softening it and lowering its pH. The water may also obtain a yellowish tea-colored tint. The tint is not harmful and can be removed by filtering the water through activated charcoal.

If you use wood that you've found yourself (e.g., woods or lake), boil it first to kill any pathogens. Boiling it (long enough) will also make it sink.

How much (and how often) should I feed my fish?

Out in the wild, food is not plentiful year round. In comparison, your tank is a feeding trough. Chances are, fish will get much more food in your tank than in the wild. Thus, the problem to avoid is overfeeding, rather than underfeeding. Fish are also smart (in the sense of Pavlov's Dog) that they learn quickly how to train their masters into giving them food. Just because they act starved when you walk by the tank an hour after their last feeding, doesn't mean they actually are. Look at the abdomens on your fish. If they are fat and bulging, your fish isn't starving. If they are thin, or hollowed out (concave upward), you may want to consider increasing the feeding.

Fish can be safely fed twice a day, once a day (or less). If your goal is to maximize growth, feed them more frequently, but smaller portions.

There is an old rule that says fish should be fed no more than they eat in 5 minutes. Like most general rules, this one is only partly correct. What you really want to avoid is having food to rot in your tank uneaten, which negatively impacts water quality. However, some fish eat food slowly and will take 30 minutes to eat even a small portion.

How long can fish go without food? Healthy fish can easily go a week without food. When you go out of town for the weekend, don't bother getting someone to feed your fish. (Indeed, someone not familiar with fish tanks is likely to overfeed your fish while you are good, leaving you a mess to deal with when you return.) In addition, stay away from those "vacation feeders" that slowly dissolve. They can upset the pH of your tank and lead to excessive food in your tank.

What should I feed my fish?

There are endless varieties of fish foods available from local stores. The best fish diet is a varied diet. Rather than feeding them only one type of food, give them several types, at alternate feedings.


Things I need to still add

  1. Section on books.
  2. Acclimating new fish into your tank
  3. aquarium magazines, mail order, fish clubs