The Secret Of Fish Keeping (Or How Not To Swear Effectively) This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   I would like to say that many people call me for advice. "Tim," they say, "frankly, we're baffled by the mysteries of fish keeping. Please tell us or we'll kill ourselves." Actually their calls usually concern homework, or the act of my lending them money. But never mind. You are reading this article, looking for fish tips, not stories of my life. Probably you have a fish tank. Probably your fish are long dead. But do not despair. In this article I will guide you through the (re)setting up of an aquarium.

Listen to your dealer! Don't fool yourself into thinking you know more than he does. Also don't buy fish at a chain, or mall store. These fish are typically of very low quality. Buy from a store that sells only fish, or sells fish and one or two other things. These stores may be more out of the way, but it's worth your while. I purchase most of my supplies at one small store, and the owners know me well. I find it much friendlier than a chain store I frequented for four years, where the salespeople still don't know my name.

KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid. Words to live by. That cobalt discus may look magnificent in your tank, but it'll be a miracle if you can keep it alive for more than two days. Start off with the biggest tank you can afford. That way when you make a mistake, its affects are diluted, and it's harder to overstock. Spend as much money as you can on equipment. Start off with the hardiest fish. You may not save in the beginning, but in the final analysis, you have a better chance of survival.

I slapped together two tank setups, one a good first tank to buy, the other the cheapest you can risk.

The cheapest:

Ten gallon tank, Whisper 300 air pump, Tetra bilii sponge filter, box filter, filter floss, ten pounds gravel, a lamp you can position above the tank, air tubing, a gang valve, anti-chlorine formula, Supreme 50 watt heater. Approximate cost: $60.

A good first tank: twenty gallon long tank, Whisper 300 air pump, Aquaclear 200 power filter, Pen-Plax undergravel filter, twenty-five pounds gravel, fluorescent hood, air tubing, gang valve, air stone(s), anti-chlorine formula, Visi-therm 100 watt heater. Approximate cost: $185.

Note: These prices do not include fish or decorations. Good fish to start with are: guppies, swordtails, tetras, barbs, small angelfish, platies, and corydoras catfish.

Knowledge is power. One of the most essential pieces of equipment is a good fish book. Your dealer can recommend one. Subscribe to a fish magazine, or just buy one every now and then. There's a lot of information in them. If you're really serious about fish, or want to learn more, join the Boston Aquarium Society.

General tips:

fNever, ever overstock your tank. A good rule of thumb is one inch of fish (measure from nose to beginning of tail) per gallon of water. Use common sense, i.e., don't put a one inch fish with a capacity to grow to two feet in a ten gallon tank.

fWhen putting fish in your tank, to minimize shock float the bag(s) of fish for fifteen minutes in the tank, then cut the bag open, and, allowing no water to flow in or out of the bag, scotch tape it to the side of the tank. Then add a quarter cup of tank water to the bag, wait another fifteen minutes then net the fish out of the bag, and into the tank, and then dump the bag water down the sink. A good temperature to keep your tank at is 78E Fahrenheit.

fIf you skimp on time, money, or effort in the beginning, you will not get much out of your aquarium. While it isn't an electronic thermodynamics project, it isn't a piece of furniture! Work hard and your aquarium will flourish.

NOTE: I run a small aquarium consulting/set-up/breeding business. For information, or more info on the Boston Aquarium Society call (617) 965-1338, and ask for Tim

Barsky. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 4:17 pm
i love this so much!
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