Recognizing healthy fish

How to recognize a healthy fish

In many cases, a major factor in achieving success with an aquarium is the state of health of the fish at the time you buy them. Stress and starvation resulting from poor care may result in delayed mortality.

That is, the fish may look okay in the store, but develop problems later, after you get them home. Beginners often fail to realize how crucial to their success is the state of health of the fish at the time they are acquired.

Therefore, care in purchasing may be the most important aspect of managing your aquarium. Here are some suggestions for making wise decisions in this regard.

First, become familiar with the indications of poor fish health, and be alert for them when shopping.

Watch out for rapid movement of the gill covers (panting or gasping). This could indicate that the fish is infested with parasites, that the water quality is poor, or merely that the fish were being chased around the tank with a net five minutes before you walked in.

Beware of ragged fins, lesions, open wounds, or abnormalities. For example, some fish become humpbacked with old age. Avoid them. Fish can, like any other creature, suffer minor injuries without serious long-term consequences. Nevertheless, any damage should appear to be healing. Without a doubt, no bloodiness or cottony growth should be apparent.

Look out for any fish with white stringy feces hanging from its anus. This is a sign of poor diet, internal disease, or both. Pass ’em up.

Look for signs of poor nourishment. Such symptoms as a hollow belly or a shallow indentation behind the head indicate the fish is starving. Choose another individual.

Steer clear from fish that hide for no obvious reason. Unless this behavior is characteristic for that species, it indicates some kind of distress.

Above all, use common sense. Healthy fish look healthy.

● Their colors are bright.

● They search actively for food.

● Their fins are held erect.

● Fish should be convex in outline when viewed head on.

● Any fish should definitely be eating in the dealer’s tank before you purchase it.

Look Beyond the Bucks

Many factors will affect the retail price of tropical aquarium fish. These include the species, source, size of the store, geographic location of the store, nature of the store’s competition, prevailing labor costs and rent, etc. My only advice is this: Do not shop for price alone. A cheap fish is no bargain if it only lives a week or two after you take it home.


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