When it comes to stocking your aquarium, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of purchasing new fish and establishing a community tank. No matter how small the fish you buy are, however, your tank’s capacity to house them all is not unlimited. Even if it seems like your fish have plenty of space to swim around, there may be problems happening behind the scenes that you don’t see. Having too many fish in your aquarium is a very common but very serious problem.
Dangers of Overcrowding
It is a fact of life that all living creatures, including aquarium fish, eat food and produce waste. Because an aquarium is a contained environment, that waste will accumulate over time and affect the quality of your tank water. If you have too many fish in your tank, that waste will accumulate more quickly than the beneficial bacteria in your tank are able to handle and your water quality will rapidly decline. In addition to poor water quality, overcrowding can lead to stress for your fish in regard to lack of swimming space or privacy and issues of aggression and territoriality. The more stressed your fish are, the more likely they are to fall sick.
How to Fix the Situation
The best way to fix a problem with overcrowding is to avoid it in the first place. Before you buy fish for your tank, do a little research to determine how many fish your tank can hold and what type of fish you want to buy. The rule of thumb to follow in stocking an aquarium is “one inch of fish per gallon”. Though this rule is a good starting point for novice aquarium hobbyists, it doesn’t account for the fact that some fish have very thin bodies while others are thick and compact. For example, a 3-inch cichlid will likely have a thicker body than a 3-inch tetra and, thus, will take up more space and produce more waste.
When stocking your tank, use the “one inch of fish per gallon” rule as a starting point, but don’t forget to factor in the adult length of the fish – not the length it is when you purchase it. For the best results, start with just a few fish and wait to see how your tank adjusts. Over time you can add another fish or two until you reach your tank’s full capacity.
Keeping Your Tank Clean
To maximize the number of fish you can safely house in your tank, you need to ensure that the water quality in your tank is very high. The cleaner the tank water, the healthier and happier your fish will be. You also need to make sure to have a fully established colony of beneficial bacteria in your tank to help handle the biological load of the tank. The more fish you have, the more waste will be produced and the more bacteria you need facilitate the breakdown of that waste.
If you want to make sure that your tank is properly stocked with beneficial bacteria, consider adding an EcoBio-Stone to your tank. These stones come in several different sizes and are made from natural volcanic rock and cement that has been infused with live beneficial bacteria colonies as well as the nutrients they need to thrive. Once you introduce an EcoBio-Stone into your tank, the beneficial bacteria will multiply and work to establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle, making your tank a cleaner and healthier environment for your fish.
In order to cultivate and maintain a thriving aquarium at home, you need to do your research beforehand. Spending just a little bit of time researching your options will help you to determine the right type and number of fish for your tank so you can avoid problems with overcrowding.