Caitlin UltimoHolidays / Pet Parenting

Holiday Gifts for Your New Fish

Treat Your New Fish This Holiday Season

Is there something fishy about your holiday gift list? Maybe it’s because there’s nothing on there for your pet fish. The holidays are a great time to treat your fish to a few upgrades. Whether you’re an experienced fish lover or just starting out, you’ll want to ensure your holiday gifts help create and maintain a healthy environment for your finned friends. Here are some aquarium tips and gift ideas to help your holidays go swimmingly.

Add Some More Turf in Their Surf

When it comes to aquariums, bigger is better, according to Dr. Julius Tepper, DVM and certified aquatic veterinarian at the Long Island Fish Hospital in Manorville, NY. Larger aquariums with more surface area allow for more oxygen, and the additional water helps dilute pollutants that can be toxic to fish.

“Remember, new tanks need to be properly cycled for adequate biofilter function,” Tepper says. “Also, correct water flow rate is important as some species, like Fantail Goldfish and Bettas, cannot handle fast-moving water.” So be sure to purchase a filter system that is recommended for your larger tank size, he says. Special conditioners like API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner can also be added to new aquariums or after water changes to instantly remove chlorine from tap water and reduce fish stress.

Give More Fish a Home for the Holidays

Larger tanks can also house more fish, giving you the freedom to create a beautiful, diverse aquatic environment. Before adding new fish to your aquarium, do your research to understand which species are schooling fish and which are territorial. For example, Mollies, Platies and Rainbow Fish generally get along with other schooling fish, while Cichlids can be aggressive and are best kept with fish of similar size and temperament. Others like Bettas are fine as long as they are the only Betta in the tank.

Small Ways to Make a Big Splash

If a larger tank isn’t on your list, or if you’re new to fishkeeping, smaller aquariums like the API Aquariums Tropical 360 View Aquarium Starter Kit or the Tetra Hexagon Aquarium Kit with LED Bubbler provide a great way to get your feet wet. The Tropical 360 View Aquarium has everything you need to get your aquarium started, including water supplements, an internal power filter, 10 filter cartridges and food flakes. It also comes with multi-color LED lighting that illuminates your fish, adding a variety of color and brilliance to any office, dorm or small space. The Hexagon Aquarium combines LED lighting with a bubbler to create a colorful and fun effect. It comes with an internal filter and Bio-Bag for easy maintenance.

Deck the Halls—of Your Aquarium

While you’re making your home merry and bright, you can add a touch of the holiday season with fish tank decorations. Colorful gravel and stones are popular choices for freshwater tanks because they are easy to clean and help develop beneficial bacteria. Just rinse the substrate thoroughly before adding it to the tank to reduce dust and debris that can make the water cloudy.

Holiday-themed décor is another fun, easy way to Santa-tize your aquarium, but be careful not to overdo it. “As a practicing fish vet, I see many bacterial infections due to restrictions in water flow in tanks,” Tepper says. “Always try to keep the main central area of the tank open to full water flow to avoid stagnancy.” This means you should make sure the décor doesn’t overcrowd your tank and add only one or two pieces, mixing small and large to ensure proper water flow. Make sure you are only putting items in your fish’s tank that are specifically designed for aquariums; that means things that do not contain concrete, copper or plastics painted with toxic chemicals that can leach into your water. Avoid adding sticks or rocks found outside, as they can contain diseases or parasites. Instead use fish-safe ornaments and decorations.

Live and plastic plants are also a great way to add color to your aquarium. Plus, they give your fish a place to hide and de-stress. While live plants certainly have advantages like providing additional oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide, plastic plants may be the better option if you don’t want the added responsibility of caring for the plants.“Heavily planted aquariums are beautiful, but require additional maintenance and knowledge,” Tepper says. “The lighting and other parameters for healthy plant growth involve both a ‘wet’ and ‘green’ thumb for success. Dead and dying plants can add just as many harmful bacteria to the water as food decay and excess fish waste.”

Make a Resolution to Feed Healthier Now

While we generally wait until New Year’s to start our healthy eating resolutions, now is a great time to start feeding the right fish nutrition. While flakes are a popular choice, there are other types of fish food to choose from, including pellets, freeze-dried, frozen, live and sticks like Tetra Pond Sticks Goldfish & Koi Fish Food.

“As most fish diets contain high levels of protein from various sources, single-source protein, like shrimp, krill or insect larva foods can be greatly appreciated,” Tepper says. “Amounts to feed are less of a problem if one respects the need to make any food change gradually. This allows the micro-organisms and bacteria in both the fish and biofilter to adjust accordingly.”

Keep in mind that uneaten food can cause toxins to build up in the water, which can be deadly to fish. To  prevent this from happening, be conscious of serving sizes, and portion out mealtimes according to the instructions on the fish food label.

With these tips and gift ideas, you can make healthy holiday choices for your pet fish as well as the fellow fish lovers on your list.

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