Ornamental Fish: Tips on Buying and Transporting

Millions of ornamental fish change hands every year. They can be bought directly from the breeder, via pet shops, or as “second-hand goods” from private individuals. But things can go wrong here. You can read here which factors you should definitely consider when buying fish.

Before you buy: do some research

Before you go to an ornamental fish seller, you should know all the important information about your aquarium in advance. So you should know the dimensions of the volume of the aquarium and be able to provide information about the facility, the installation location, and water values. It is also helpful to note down all the products that you have used to treat the aquarium water.

The choice of the seller

If you are lucky enough to find several suppliers in your place of residence or in the immediate vicinity, you should first ask around in your circle of friends to see whether they have already gained experience with one or the other dealer for ornamental fish. However, you shouldn’t be put off by any negative reports. Make the effort and take your time to take a look at a few shops before you set yourself the goal of driving home with new fish. If your experiences coincide with the statements of your acquaintances or friends, then you have clearer meaningfulness about the “quality” of the dealer. There are always different views, the seller may have had a bad day, and dead fish will – unfortunately – be found here and there in the sales basin. However, this fact should not be overestimated in individual cases.

In general, you should have a good feeling and be welcomed by a clean and well-stocked shop with an adequate number of employees. There are larger pet store chains that focus on a large and extensive selection of accessories and always want to offer the cheapest price, while other franchise systems have specialized in high-quality products and good advice in addition to special animal quality. Especially when buying animals, you should forget about any comparison of prices and only let the condition of the animals act as a decision-making feature. You shouldn’t “care” about the price of the animal, the main thing is that it is housed in a healthy and species-appropriate manner.

The price question: What do healthy ornamental fish cost?

Healthy animals have their price – you should always keep this in mind when buying ornamental fish. If prices seem expensive to you, 95% of the time it’s not because the seller is trying to get rich with them. You don’t make an enormous “profit” from trading animals in a serious way anyway. But what justifies the higher prices? Why is the fish maybe 30% more expensive than the dealer around the corner?

When buying ornamental fish from wholesalers or from a breeder, many good pet dealers still use a quarantine. This costs a lot of money, as aquariums may be set up in separate rooms, which are equipped with expensive technology and thus consume significantly more electricity. But not only electricity but also water, feed, water care products and medication cause costs that of course have to be earned again. In addition, employees represent the greatest cost factor. A whole working day quickly goes by for one-time thorough cleaning of the system. Daily feeding, water changes, or checking the health of the animals result in an additional workload of at least 2-3 hours a day. So if a trader offers conspicuously cheap prices, it is likely that one or more of the positions that caused the costs are not met and are missing. As a rule, this is at the expense of the animals.

Planning for your own ornamental fish tank

When choosing the ornamental fish, not only pay attention to the colors of the fish but also inquire about the keeping conditions. A professional seller should be able to answer the questions. If not, the web should help you with any open questions. Avoid smaller forums, however, as information from them is often not very reliable. There are also animal dictionaries that you can download. It makes sense if you already know roughly in advance which “topic” your aquarium should represent: a plant aquarium, but rather a discus aquarium or a community aquarium? This information is important in advance so that the right fish stock can be found.

Identify healthy fish before you buy it

Once the right fish species have been found, it is important that 95% of the animals of the species in the same aquarium look healthy and well-fed. Take a closer look and watch out for fins, emaciated bellies, abnormal swimming movements, or strange (mucous) skin conditions in the animals. Particular caution is also required if the fish are unusually lazy in the water. Note, however, that there are species that are naturally less active. A shoal of neon fish can sometimes stand almost rigidly in the current, while lively guppies seem permanently hyperactive. However, it also happens that a fish is weakened or a little sick. Not only do people get sick, but fish also can sometimes not tolerate the stress when the fishing net is pulled through the tank several times a day and there is constantly hectic. As compensation, the fish should be given sufficient hiding places in the holding tanks.

Let yourself be extensively advised

Choose a day when there tends to be little customer traffic in the store. A Friday afternoon is rather unsuitable, because when many customers want to be served almost at the same time, there is often a hectic pace, and not just for the salespeople. If you drive to the dealer on a quiet morning, the individual consultation time is significantly more extensive and informative.

Your ornamental fish dealer: Loyalty pays off

Once you have found a sufficiently competent salesperson, stay loyal to him. Ideally just him. Over time, he knows about the conditions in your aquarium and often has a rough overview of your stocking. So you don’t have to tell a new seller everything from the beginning every time. If you are sick or have problems with fish, he can help you better, because too many cooks can spoil the broth.

Safe transportation after purchase

Careful and safe transport of the fish from the pet store home is often neglected. Especially on very warm or cold days, a visit to the pet shop should not be combined with a bulk purchase in the supermarket. Styrofoam boxes and standard cool bags can not only be used to cool drinks in the outdoor pool because they have the property of generally preventing temperature fluctuations. The ornamental fish transport bag can be safely stowed in these boxes so that the bag does not roll around uncontrollably in the car. On very cold winter days, mild-temperature hot-water bottles or slightly warmed cherry stone pillows can prevent the transport water from cooling down on longer journeys or when using public transport. A small thermometer is included to help monitor the ambient temperature. A change in the water temperature of more than 4 ° C within two hours must be prevented as a matter of urgency, otherwise, the risk of an outbreak of the spot disease increases rapidly. The darkness in these transport boxes helps the animals to calm down and reduce oxygen consumption.

Arrival in the new aquarium

Finally, a careful introduction of the stressed fish is one of the most important factors that play a role when it comes to inserting a healthy animal that has been purchased into the aquarium at home. The transport box should only be opened slowly on arrival because opening too quickly frightens the animals and causes brief panic. Now the adjustment of the water temperature follows. To do this, you can hang the opened transport bag securely in the water with a clamp on the edge of the pool and wait about 15 minutes. After that, the bag should be filled with a glass of approx. 200 ml of aquarium water every five minutes. The pH value adjusts itself gently and the mucous membrane of the fish can operate the very important regulation of the mineral balance (osmoregulation). If this happens too quickly, cells of the skin can burst and the animal gets into a life-threatening state of shock. If the transport bag is almost full after about another 15 minutes, the ornamental fish can be put into the new home with a small net; we recommend throwing away the transport water.

The aquarium lighting should be switched off for the rest of the day so that the new ornamental fish can quickly find a safe hiding place in the cover of darkness and come to rest. The lighting can only be switched on again the next day. Sufficient vitaminization of the food and the aquarium water to prevent disease should always be carried out for about a week when it is replenished. In the beginning, also carefully observe whether all new residents have settled in well and get on well with other animals.

The basis for a successful hobby

If you pay attention to these points, you have created the basis for an “animal” beautiful hobby and you will certainly enjoy a beautiful underwater world with beautiful and healthy fish.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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