Freshwater Tropical fish Dying

The Habits of Successful Tropical Fish Hobbyists [Part 2]

Author: Mike Hellweg HELL 2 0507 Photographer: Jay LutoThe second part of the veteran aquarist’s series on helpful fishkeeping habits examines nitrate control, water parameters, aquatic plants, hobbyist networking, and more.

Last month I outlined some basic habits that are valuable for any aquarium hobbyist to develop, whether he or she is just starting out or has been keeping fish for many years. Now it’s time to look at some of the habits hobbyists should develop as they advance in the hobby. The following includes reminders aimed at more advanced hobbyists, but beginners would also do well to add these habits to their growing fishkeeping skill set.

Be Wary of Nitrate Buildup

A very useful habit is to keep an eye on the buildup of nitrates. A slow, otherwise unnoticed buildup of nitrates and dissolved organic compounds (DOCs) can be deadly to your fish. Currently there aren’t any test kits available to the general public to measure various DOCs and other pollutants in the aquarium, but we can easily measure nitrate buildup. Use it as a key. If your nitrates are okay, most of your other DOCs are likely to be okay as well.

While nitrogen is one of the basic building blocks of life, excessive nitrates are not good for fish, and high levels of nitrates are absolutely poisonous to them. Many fish can tolerate elevated nitrate levels, but they are very stressed by them and become vulnerable to diseases due to this stress. Marine fish and invertebrates are even more sensitive than freshwater fish, and some freshwater fish are more sensitive than others. You may have a beautiful tank with crystal clear water and healthy-looking fish, but it might be a ticking time bomb.

Sustainable Reef Fish Collecting


When: Friday, May 21, 2010 @ 7:00 p.m. Where: IHOP, 1001 E 17th St, Santa Ana CA 92701-2546 To learn more about SCMAS: Guest Speaker: Ret Talbot Ret Talbot is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who frequently reports on the marine aquarium industry. Most often addressing topics at the intersection of the hobby, science and conservation, Talbot is a strong advocate for a robust and sustainable marine aquarium trade where aquarists serve a critical role on the front line of reef conservation. As a marketing consultant and editor, he has worked with many leading marine aquarium companies to promote that vision

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