New fish owners often wonder how to keep tropical fish healthy. They don’t want to spend a good chunk of money setting up a tank only to have the fish die. Keeping tropical fish healthy isn’t as hard as one might think, so here are some ideas to help you with that endeavor.

Be sure to purchase a quality filter system. An external filter system is a good idea for larger fish tanks, while an internal system can work for smaller tanks. You can also go without a filter but the water will have to be changed quite often to keep the fish healthy and happy.

Fill your tank and allow it to sit for a few days before you begin adding fish. This will accomplish two things. First, you’ll be able to ensure the tank doesn’t leak. Second, you’ll be able to test the water to ensure the pH balance is right and there is no chlorine in the water. Having the incorrect pH level or chlorine in the water could kill your fish.

If you plan on using live plants, you’ll want to place them in the tank prior to adding fish as well. Place the heater and then turn everything on. The water will need to be around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the water temperature most tropical fish are used to. Since your heater will have a thermostat, you can adjust the temperature to get it to the correct level.

Test the water regularly for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. You can purchase chemicals which will bring these levels to zero. When all of the chemical levels are at zero, it’s time to start adding the fish.

When you first begin adding fish to your tank, add only a few at a time over a couple of weeks. Why can’t you add them all at once? Your tank needs an opportunity to build up bacteria to break down fish waste. This will allow the ‘nitrogen cycle’ to begin working.

Before adding new fish to a properly set up tank, if possible put them in a quarantine tank first. Most new tank owners don’t do this but it is a good idea. At the very least, you’ll want to leave the new fish in the bag you bring them home in and float the bag in the tank. This will bring the water temperature of the water in the bag to the same as the tank, which will keep the new fish from being in shock from being placed in the tank.

One of the best ways to keep tropical fish healthy is to not overcrowd the tank. A 12-inch by 24-inch tank can generally hold about 24 fish which are around 2 inches long. Check with an aquarium book or reputable pet store to give you advice on how many fish you can keep in the tank and not overtax it.

When you have your tank stocked to its maximum level, continue to test the water. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the fish. If you notice any problems, you can check with the pet store you bought the fish from to see what their advice is or call a veterinarian who specializes in tropical fish.