How To Buy Tropical Fish

So, your aquarium is all set up and ready to go. Now that you are ready to add fish, here are some tips that will keep this hobby fun and exciting. Whether saltwater or freshwater, the brilliant colors and unusual shapes of tropical fish can be a fascinating addition to your aquarium.

  1. Decide which type or types of fish you want. Your local pet store may not always carry some of the more unusual or rare types of tropical fish. Or, you may want to start with adult-sized specimens.

  • Learn about the fish. Take some time to research the types of fish you want. Some fish are can't be kept in the same aquarium. You will want to discover this before you put them together, trust me. Try a search on Google or Yahoo, using the names of the fish that interest you.
  • Identify sources to purchase your fish. Depending where you live, you might be limited to a few common fish available only at the local superstore. However, some communities have several specialty fish stores. When checking out these places, look to see how healthy their fish are. Are there dead fish floating around? Another source to consider--especially for rare specimens and salt water fish--is an online vendor such as You will pay a lot for shipping, but the cost for your fish is likely to be lower than what you will pay locally.
  • Make sure your aquarium is ready. Before you shop for fish, make sure your aquarium is ready to go. Ensure that the temperature is right. It is best to start with a few inexpensive fish in a new tank in case there is a problem with your water quality. There are test kits available to help asses your water quality. Many pet stores will perform these tests for you free of charge.
  • Purchase fish locally or online. Again, if this is a new tank it is best to start with a few small and inexpensive fish. For online purchases, make sure you will be available on the day the package arrives.
  • Acclimate your fish. Before letting your newly purchased fish loose in the aquarium, float the bag in the tank for 5-10 minutes to equalize any differences in temperature. Open the bag and add a small amount of tank water to the bag. Wait five minutes and do the same. Repeat this one or two more times to equalize the ph.
  • Release the fish into the tank. If possible net the fish out of the bag and release in the tank disposing of the water in the bag. Otherwise, just tip the bag upside down and let the fish swim out.
  • Observe your new fish. Watch for signs of stress. If there are other fish already in the tank, watch for any aggressiveness.
  • Nothing will sour you on the aquarium hobby faster than a series of disappointments resulting in the death of your new fish. Just remember to go slow and do your research, and you will enjoy this hobby for years.


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