Are Tropical Fish Hard to Keep? Setting Your Expectations

Few hobbies can give you so much joy as fishkeeping can. Perhaps you are aware of it, and you want to make your debut in this great hobby. However, your mind plays against you when you start overthinking about how difficult it could be. Overthink no more! 

Keeping tropical fish is not hard, but it can be demanding. Tropical fish need as much attention as any other pet, so there is some commitment and work needed to keep them healthy. Yet, they do not need round-the-clock care to thrive in an aquarium. 

Beginnings are always challenging, but that doesn’t mean they have to be complicated. The same logic applies to fishkeeping. As long as you have all the information to care for your species, you are good to go! In this article, you will find everything you need!

Is keeping tropical fish hard?

Keeping tropical fish is not hard, and any beginner aquarist could succeed at it. However, keeping any kind of fish (some are kept in fresh water and some are kept in salt water, this page will dive into this deeper) has its requirements and care specifications. It can be demanding, but it is not different from having any other pet at home. Care is needed to ensure the fish stay healthy and thrive.

Tropical fish tanks can be astonishingly beautiful and can become an amazing piece of décor. Yet, you shouldn’t forget that you are keeping living creatures there. If your principal motivation is to have fish decorating your house, you might be deceived by the work you will need to do.

The decorative qualities of aquariums are a side benefit of loving fish keeping. To have healthy fish, you need to want to dive into this hobby. It is not hard, and it does not require extensive care, but there are things to do to ensure a good and healthy tank. 

Nothing done with passion can be considered hard work. If you love having fish and caring for your tank, the requirements of having fish will seem super light for you. 

It is not like you have to move mountains to keep fish, but you need to have enough time to care for them. Some people might find this hobby expensive and too demanding, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

In most cases, saving a couple of hours a month to clean the tank and some minutes per week to change part of the water is more than enough. Being organized and designing schedules can help you simplify the care.

Another misconception is that keeping fish demands you to have lots of equipment that, in turn, becomes lots of money. This is not necessarily true. For most tanks, all you need is a filter, a heater, and a light.

That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? You don’t need any professional to come to your house and set everything up. No, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to have an aquarium. These devices can be easily set up by you, leaving you only with the task of keeping the tank clean. 

Remember that different species might have different requirements. Having a marine or a freshwater tank can also make a difference in the care you need to give to your tank and your species. Get to know your fish to provide the best care possible.

Don’t fall for rumors! Keeping fish is a rewarding hobby with many benefits to offer. Did you know that having fish can help you feel more relaxed and even better your health conditions? 

If you are passionate about fish keeping, and you want to enjoy all the benefits of having a colorful and vivid tropical tank, this hobby will be a piece of cake for you.

Why is fishkeeping demanding?

Fishkeeping requires care such as cleaning, filtering, testing, and feeding. These steps can consume time and make it difficult for some owners to have fish. Consistency is key for having a healthy tank. Fish need attention and care just as any other pet does. 

People who are not involved in this hobby tend to think that fish keeping is only about leaving the fish there and feeding them from time to time. This could not be farther from the truth. 

I won’t tell you that fish keeping is not demanding or does not require time. You need to know what you are up against when you decide to have fish. 

Let’s look at some of these requirements in detail.

Cleaning

One of the most essential parts of having a healthy tank is cleaning. The tank needs to be clean for the fish to be happy and thrive. Filthy tanks can lead to sick and stressed fish that could eventually die.

Although the filter is of great help for keeping the tank clean, there’s also manual work to be done. Some species are known to be quite messy because they create lots of waste and ammonia. In these cases, the tank needs to be cleaned manually.

You should clean your tank at least once a month to ensure the quality of the conditions for your fish. It is common for plants to also create algae that need to be cleaned regularly.

Filtration

Every tank needs biological filtration to help reduce the number of toxins and debris around. Using a filter can provide the optimal conditions to your tank and reduce the need for cleaning. 

Without using a filter, you would need to clean the tank more often to eliminate all the contaminants. Filters can do this automatically and help preserve the quality of the water for a longer time.

However automatic filters might be, they also need monitoring and regular cleaning. You cannot expect your filter to be handling all those contaminants without suffering from them.

If the filter gets dirty, it might lose some of its faculties and do a poor job. Be sure to clean your filter often to ensure the quality of the filtration.

Testing

Water parameters are crucial for the health of your fish. Any tank where you leave water parameters run wild will result in sick fish. These parameters need to be under control, and the best way to achieve that is by regularly testing your water.

There are many testing kits available on the market for you to test the water yourself. If you didn’t feel comfortable doing this process yourself, you could hire someone at your local pet shop to do it for you.

However, testing your water does not need to be difficult, and with the new technologies, it is easier by the day. 

The levels of ammonia, nitrites, and pH can change rapidly. In some cases, you might not even notice it until your fish start hurting from it. 

In this sense, regularly testing your water is a paramount requirement for fish keeping.

Feeding

The feeding requirements of your fish will be determined by the species and the routine you accustom them to. It is safe to say that fish love eating, so they will wolf down as much food as you give them, even if they are not actually “hungry.”

Fish can eat many times a day or once every other day, depending on the food supply they have available. You should not spend many days without feeding your fish, but you can see where this is going. If there’s food, your fish will eat.

Be careful with falling for your fish’s traps to make you feed them. Fish can quickly recognize who provides food for their habitat and can make you feed them more often than necessary.

If you fall for this, you could cause a myriad of problems. Overfeeding is one of the worst things you can do to your fish. They will become stressed and could even die from it.

If you are not sure about the requirements, underfeeding will always be better than overfeeding. Yet, this should be just a provisory method while you sort out the necessities of your fish.

Apart from these requirements, there are other things you could look at in-depth, depending on your species. Yet, these general requirements will give you a better idea of what you will encounter when you start this wonderful hobby.

You need to get to know your species to be able to determine the care they need. There are many varieties of fish with many different necessities, preferences, and requirements.

The more information, the better, so be sure to do the necessary research to have a healthy and thriving aquarium. You will have beauty and peace in return.

Final thoughts

Consistency is crucial for success in the fish-keeping hobby. If you are passionate about having fish, you will enjoy the journey and feel accomplished every time you see your healthy species swimming around with their striking colors.

Being organized can give you a hand here. It is easier to care for your aquarium if you have a routine. You will need to dedicate some time and money to this hobby, but I don’t think you will regret it!

I can tell you for sure that I regret nothing!

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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