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Aquarium Accessories - What Fish Need

By: Dr. Greg Lewbart

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Your pet fish require more than just clean water, good food and an adequately functioning filter and heater. Nearly all pet fish have a better life if some items and ornaments are added to their aquariums.

With thousands of different types of pet fish, it would be impossible to list every specific tank need. However, certain generalizations are possible when it comes to "accessorizing" your aquarium. Here are some important do's and don'ts of selecting aquarium accessories.

Safety First

All items placed in an aquarium must be safe for your fish and, if possible, make their life in captivity less stressful. You should avoid any items, such as rocks or driftwood, that could carry diseases from a natural body of water (ocean, lake, pond or stream); items that may give off a toxin, like garden or field stones exposed to fertilizers or pesticides; and objects that are sharp or that could trap your pet fish.

Hideouts Are Important

Items that provide a sense of security, breeding habitat and a resting place for your pet include plastic plants, PVC tubes, decontaminated coral, aquarium-safe driftwood and specially designed ceramic ornaments.

For the Pet Owner

Aesthetics are important to many people who keep pet fish. They want their aquariums to look nice. At the very least, aquarium items should "do no harm" to your fish. Once you've met this requirement, then decorating your aquarium can be fun, rewarding and beneficial to your pet fish. A knowledgeable pet store clerk can help you in selecting accessories that are appropriate for your particular pets.

Examples of What Some Fish Need

  • Black Ghost Knife fish. These South American freshwater fish only thrive if provided with a plastic or PVC tube within which to hide.

  • Spiny Eels. These Asian fish feel secure when they can burrow in fine gravel or sand.

  • African Cichlids. Fish belonging to this popular group tend to be rather territorial and do best when plants, flat rocks and other "structures" are provided so they can seek refuge from more dominant fish in the aquarium. Certain species in this group require cryptic areas where they can lay eggs and/or rear their young.

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