Buying Fish Without the Impulse

Buying fish can be one of the most fun parts of having an aquarium.

At the same time, buying fish which have unknown issues can spoil that fun very quickly. Many of the fish-related calls we get involve a recently purchased fish which really shouldn’t have been purchased. Here are some steps that can help make sure that buying fish is a happy experience all around.


Ask them to hold the fish for you.

When one is in a fish store, it is easy to get sucked into the trap of “I’ve gotta have it” and buying fish. This can be avoided in many cases by asking the store to hold the fish for two weeks before you take it to your aquarium. It also has other benefits.

Two weeks is a specific amount of time. Many diseases will appear within that time frame and can be treated. While it doesn’t replace the wisdom of your own quarantine, this helps keep the risk at the store instead of your aquarium.


Buying fish which are healthy

Buying fish which are healthy can usually be be ensured by visually inspecting the fish at the store. Things to look for include:

  • Eyes should be clear with no cloudiness (if you see something that looks like a blob on their eye, it can be a sign of a parasite which you do not want in your tank, so avoid buying from that store for a while)
  • Fins which are clear, not torn up or “beaten up” by other fish
  • “Shiny” appearance – avoid what looks like a velvet-type covering
  • Clear skin
  • Activity – if they are just laying around, there may be a reason for it… not always, but let that get sorted out at the store, not in your aquarium


Watch them eat

Buying fish at a store allows someone to request the staff to feed the fish so that they can be observed.

Fish are opportunistic feeders and will eat at almost any chance they get. Healthy fish will eat aggressively. If a fish is being lazy about feeding, this is probably a sign of a fish that one does not want in their aquarium.

Ask the staff member what is being fed so that it can be bought and fed to the fish in the aquarium. They will often learn to eat what all the other fish eat in a short time. But offering the food they are used to can ease the transition into one’s aquarium.


Buying fish and using the cell phone

Buying fish becomes easier by using Google. Plenty of information is available about a fish which is being considered within moments.

  • Aggressive vs. docile personality
  • What the fish looks like when it grows up
  • What it eats, and how much
  • Do they eat any of the fish or smaller animals currently in the aquarium?
  • Compatibility with the other fish in an aquarium – has a pretty comprehensive compatibility chart. Use it as a guide, but also look look further to get fuller information
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