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How to Take Care of a Fish

Taking care of a fish requires knowledge of their specific needs and environment to ensure they thrive. Providing a suitable tank with proper filtration, temperature control, and regular water changes is essential for maintaining their health and well-being. Today, our Des Moines vets will provide you with tips on how you can properly take care of your fish.

Proper Fish Care

Proper fish care is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of fish. This includes ensuring water quality is optimal, providing appropriate nutrition, and monitoring for signs of illness or stress. Neglecting these aspects can lead to a variety of issues, such as disease, poor growth, and even premature death.

Additionally, proper fish care practices contribute to the overall success and enjoyment of owning an aquarium. By following recommended guidelines for feeding, cleaning, and maintaining water parameters, you can create a thriving aquatic environment that showcases the beauty and diversity of your fish.

Tank Size

The optimal size and type of tank for fish depend on the species being kept. For example, a betta fish may thrive in a smaller tank of around 5 gallons, while larger fish, such as a goldfish, require at least 20 gallons to accommodate their size. It is important to research the specific needs of the fish you plan to keep in order to provide them with a suitable environment for growth and health.

Filtration, Heating, & Lighting

Filtration is crucial in maintaining a healthy environment for fish by removing waste and toxins from the water, ensuring optimal water quality. Without proper filtration, harmful substances can accumulate and lead to poor health and even death among the fish. 

Heating is essential for regulating the temperature of the water, as different species of fish have specific temperature requirements for their well-being. Maintaining a consistent temperature within the tank helps to prevent stress and disease among the fish.

Lighting plays a key role in simulating natural day-night cycles for fish, which is important for their overall health and behavior. Proper lighting also supports the growth of live plants in the tank, which can provide additional benefits, such as oxygenation and natural filtration. 

Overall, filtration, heating, and lighting work together to create a stable and healthy aquatic environment that promotes the well-being of fish.


Feeding frequency and portion sizes for fish will vary depending on the species and size of the fish. As a general rule, we recommend feeding adult fish once or twice a day, while younger fish may require more frequent feedings. It is important to avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to water quality issues and health problems for the fish.

Providing a varied diet is crucial for ensuring nutritional balance in fish. Different species of fish have different dietary needs, so offering a variety of foods such as pellets, flakes, frozen or live foods can help meet these requirements. A balanced diet should include proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support overall health and growth.

By following guidelines for feeding frequency and portion sizes, as well as offering a varied diet, fish owners can help ensure that their aquatic pets remain healthy and vibrant. Consulting with a veterinarian can help tailor a feeding plan specific to the individual needs of each fish species.

Water Quality Maintenance

Maintaining proper water quality parameters in a fish tank is crucial for the health and well-being of your aquatic pets. Regularly testing and adjusting the pH levels to ensure they are within the optimal range for your specific fish species is essential. Additionally, monitoring and controlling ammonia levels through regular water changes and proper filtration systems will help prevent ammonia toxicity, which can be harmful or even fatal to your fish.

To change the water in your fish tank, start by turning off all electrical equipment and removing any decorations or plants. Use a siphon to remove about 25–50% of the water, depending on the size of your tank. Make sure to clean the gravel by gently vacuuming up any debris. Refill the tank with dechlorinated water that is around the same temperature as the existing water. 

To clean the tank, use a sponge or algae scraper to remove any algae buildup on the glass. Wipe down the outside of the tank with a damp cloth and replace any decorations or plants that were removed.

Common Health Issues in Fish

Some of the most common diseases in aquarium fish include ich, fin rot, swim bladder disease, dropsy, and anchor worm, just to name a few. These diseases can be caused by poor water quality, improper diet, stress, or the introduction of sick fish into the aquarium. It is important for fish owners to regularly monitor their fish for signs of illness and take proactive measures to prevent and treat common health issues.

Changes in appetite, abnormal swimming behavior, and visible physical symptoms such as lesions or discoloration are some of the most common signs of fish sickness. While different illnesses produce different symptoms, these are the most common and a good indication that your fish is ill. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to call your veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding fish. For an accurate diagnosis of your fish's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your fish showing signs of sickness? Contact our Des Moines vets today to book a check-up for your fish. We can also offer some tips on how to keep your aquarium clean so that your fish can thrive.

Welcoming Your Pets to Our Animal Hospital 

Des Moines Veterinary Hospital welcomes cats, dogs, fish, small mammals, and their owners to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Des Moines companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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