10 Tips to Keep Your Fish Happy & Healthy

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Keeping your fish happy and maintained properly is a very important part of owning a fish tank. If the fish are happy and properly cared for, then the tank will instantly look great and lively. If your fish are neglected and unhappy, then you will notice it quickly. They will not look lively, they will refuse to eat and their health might deteriorate quickly.

Maintenance is very important. You obviously have to put some of your time and effort into the aquarium, otherwise it will not be good for your fish. There are many aspects you have to consider that will keep your fish healthy and happy.

It begins before you even buy a tank. There are some important decisions you have to make prior to buying your tank, the equipment and the fish that are in it. You have to make several considerations that everything will fit together. Firstly, you need to buy the right tank size for the fish you intend to buy and for the environment the tank will be in.

Once you buy the tank and the fish and all the equipment, the work does not stop there. If anything, it has only begun. You have to maintain your tank and this requires long-term dedication. You need to clean the tank regularly, cycle the water weekly and buy the right foods for the fish you have.

This article is made with this in mind. Here, you will find the best tips to keep your fish happy and healthy.

1. Choose a Good Tank Size

As said above, it all starts before you buy everything for the tank. If you want your fish to be happy, peaceful and not turn aggressive, then you need to buy a tank with the right sizes.

Some fish may turn aggressive if they are territorially challenged, and that happens when they do not have enough space in the aquarium. One such fish is the betta fish. This can in turn harm other fish in the tank, endangering their well-being and health.

The tank size also depends on how many fish you intend to keep, and how large the fish will grow. You have to make the research about fish you are intending to buy, as they often grow larger as they are sold in pet shops. Also make sure you do not overstock the tank, especially if you buy a smaller tank – the fish might not have enough space to live in and this is certainly not good.

And lastly, you have to consider your own personal needs and capabilities. Do not buy a large aquarium if you do not have enough space or where to put it or if you do not have enough time to maintain it later.

2. Filter Your Tank Properly

Filter Your Tank Properly

Filter Your Tank Properly

This point is again to be considered before you buy the aquarium. You want to make sure that you buy the right filters for your aquarium. The filter has to be strong enough to clean the water effectively for your aquarium. Normally, you want to buy a better filter that is recommended for your tank, as you can consider this a long-term investment and it will save you a lot of hassle.

But then again, you don’t want to buy a filter that has too strong suction for a tank – do not buy too strong filters, as the smaller fish might get caught by the suction, resulting in a fatal accident for the fish.

Once you have set up the tank and the filter, you need to constantly take care of your filter, too. Regularly check if the filter is clogged up or dirty, as it may lose effectiveness overtime if it is. Clean it, clear the filter of any dirt or big chunks and then the filter will be working properly again.

A good filtration is an important step to keeping the fish healthy.

3. Perform Regular Tank Maintenance

Perform Regular Tank Maintenance

Perform Regular Tank Maintenance

As we said above, owning an aquarium requires a long term investment of your time and energy. You need to perform maintenance checks on a weekly basis or even on a daily basis. What does the maintenance entail?

Firstly, make a quick visual check if everything is working as it should be. Make sure that the filter is running at full strength. If not, clean the filter and put it back to work. A clean filter is important for ensuring water quality. Then, check the temperature and make sure that it is in the proper range. Some fish prefer warmer water, so turn the heater on to heat the water.

Check on the fish to see if they look healthy. Then, make sure that you clean the sides of the tank and the bottom of the tank. There may be algae or chunks of uneaten food, especially at the bottom of the tank. If so, use a siphon to clean the uneaten food from the bottom of the tank.

Perform these maintenance checks on a daily or weekly basis for best results.

4. Do Regular Water Changes

Do Regular Water Changes

Do Regular Water Changes

Even if your water looks clean, perform regular water cycling to make sure that the water is as clean as possible. There may be some bacteria or dirt building up that you do not see with your eyes – nitrates and phosphates might start accumulating, which in the long-term will harm your fish. The young fish will not grow and algae will start to spread.

Also, the mineral and vitamin levels might get depleted overtime. These are all reasons to cycle the water in the tank regularly. Smaller aquariums with plenty of fish in it will demand more regular water changes. But try to perform water cycling every time you perform a maintenance check.

How to do the water changes? You will change 10 to 15 percent of the water every time you do a water cycling regime. First, take out 10 to 15 percent of the water out of the tank and then replace it with fresh water. This new water should preferably be left standing for a day or two to dissipate dissolved gasses and neutralize the PH.

5. Feed Quality and a Variety of Foods

The type of foods that you will put into your aquarium will depend on the fish in it. Some fish are carnivore, some more herbivore, but plenty of them are omnivores. For this reason, you need to keep the food varied and don’t feed the fish only one type of food. Food variety is an important factor that will keep the fish healthy.

Also, be ready to spend a bit more money on higher quality foods. If you buy low-quality foods all the time, it will harm the fish in time. Higher quality foods will ensure that the fish will remain healthy and increase longevity.

Food is an important factor for keeping the fish healthy and happy, so make sure you get it right.

6. Choose Tank Mates Wisely

Choose Tank Mates Wisely

Choose Tank Mates Wisely

This point should be considered before you buy any fish or any of the equipment and the material. The fish will only be happy if they live in a nice community where all the fish are compatible with each other.

You have to consider the temperament of each fish before you buy them. This is why it is very important to do research beforehand to make sure that the fish will fit into the community in your tank. If you want to have a peaceful tank where all the fish and creatures get along well, then you need to make the research and see which fish species are suitable for that.

Putting an aggressive fish next to smaller fish is generally a bad idea, as well as putting two very territorial fish together. Make sure you don’t do that.

In my other article you can learn more about 10 fish spices I recommend for beginners. Some of them can even be kept together.

7. Imitate Natural Habitat of the Fish

This also comes from planning for your tank before you buy it. Fish will adapt much easier and quicker if the habitat resembles its natural habitat closely.

For instance, if you buy fish that live in more densely vegetated areas, make sure that you put plenty of greenery and obstacles into your tank to make it easier for them to adapt.

Another factor is water temperature – it has to suit the fish, or else they will not be healthy. Some fish also prefer to live in lighter conditions, some in darker. If you have fish that prefer to live in lighter circumstances, buy lights that will make it appear as though they are in their natural habitat.

Imitating the natural habitat of the fish will make it easier for the fish to adapt to new surroundings and thus they will live happier.

8. Add Live Plants to Your Tank

Add Live Plants to Your Tank

Add Live Plants to Your Tank

This fact is supported by research. Fish prefer live aquarium plants to plastic aquarium plants because it resembles a more natural habitat that they are used to. This point is connected to the previous point. Live plants will make the tank seem a more natural place and it will also make the fish happier.

Apart from that factor, the live plants can actually be beneficial for the health of the fish too. The live plants that you put in the tank will make sure that there will be plenty of oxygen in the tank while also removing more harmful ingredients such as ammonia, nitrite, phosphate and nitrate.

The plants will also provide hiding spots and places to swim around, which a lot of fish species prefer and like.

Consider putting live plants instead of plastic ones into your tank to make your fish happier.

9. Keep Water Temperature Stable

Another factor that can determine the health of the fish is the temperature. Some fish prefer water temperature to be higher, so buy heaters for those fish.

When you perform your regular maintenance checks, also check the temperature of the water. If you notice any drastic decreases or increases, that is a sign for concern. You want your water temperature to be stable and constant, without any drastic changes.

If those changes occur, some of your fish might not take it well. It may harm some fish. Make sure to perform those temperature checks as often as you can, especially if your fish are not looking great or if they may start to act weird.

10. Avoid Chemicals in Your Tank (as much as you can)

The last point it to avoid putting too many chemicals in your tank if you don’t have to. There may be some instances when you will need to use some chemicals.

For example, if there is too much algae you might have to use some chemicals to get rid of it. You will also have to use dechlorinators prior to putting the water in the tank.  In some cases, you will have to use chemicals. Make sure you do not use too much at the same time, as it may harm the more sensitive fish.

Do it gradually and try to seek more natural option instead of using chemicals. If you have too much algae, for example, you may want to put some snails or fish into the tank that will consume the algae naturally. Just make sure that the snails do not spread, as that may create further problems and require further use of chemicals.

It can become a vicious cycle. However, try to avoid that at all costs and try not to put too many at the same time.


Keeping the fish happy and healthy at all times is essential to having a lively aquarium. Not only will the fish be happy, but you will also feel great satisfaction and you will see results.

Consider these tips to keep the fish healthy and happy at the same time. Do regular checks and maintenance, keep the water fresh and clean, set up the aquarium properly in the first place and do not put too many chemicals into the water and the fish should be happy and healthy.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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