too many fish by rich brooks

Why it is a bad idea to add more than one fish to your tank at a time

Why it is a bad idea to add more than one fish to your tank at a time

Adding too many fish to your aquarium too quickly can end up in disaster.

I was six years old when I set up my first aquarium. It was actually a tank for a red-ear slider turtle, but my grandmother and parents used to let me feed the turtle with live feeder fish.

Back in those days, I had no hesitation about dumping a dozen feeder fish into the 10 gallon aquarium (that housed a large and messy turtle). My water parameters must have been OFF THE CHARTS, but I wouldn’t have known, because I never tested them.

Hopefully you’re not adding a dozen fish to your aquarium at one time, that would be a bit extreme…but one of the things I find hardest to do in this hobby is resist the urge to splurge. It’s TOO EASY to walk down the aisle of your local fish store and get caught up in the awesome livestock. But you have to be careful.

Adding too many fish to your aquarium too quickly can end up in disaster.

too many fish by rich brooks

By Rich Brooks

Here is why it is a bad idea to add more than one fish to your tank at a time

All the fish and invertebrates in your tank add waste to the tank. The food you feed them adds waste to the tank. That waste turns into ammonia, which is a toxic chemical that will burn or even kill the fish and invertebrates in your tank. I’m not joking, lying or exaggerating. It’s bad news.

The good news is that there are bacteria that usually gobble-up the ammonia and turn it into relatively harmless other chemicals called nitrite and nitrate. If you gradually increase the amount of ammonia, you will gradually increase the number of bacteria in your aquarium…and never know the difference.

If, on the other hand, you add too many fish to your aquarium, all at once, you could get a major spike of ammonia–a spike that is large enough to affect the pH of your tank and burn or kill the inhabitants of your tank. If something dies in your tank, it starts to decay and creates more ammonia–and you could ultimately have a chain-reaction in your tank that can cause a spiral of destruction.

Slow and Steady

Slow and steady definitely wins the race in the aquarium world.

I don’t want to over-dramatize it here–but be careful out there. Don’t get too carried away. If you have a large or stable tank, adding 2 fish at once may not be the beginning of the end for your tank, but as a general rule:

Slow and steady definitely wins the race in the aquarium world.

why it is not a good idea to add more than one fish

by Jonathan Kriz

Have patience, use good quarantine procedures, research your purchase and buy and add slowly.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Try to stick with one fish at a time. There will always be other fish in the sea (I love cliches). I’ve lost fish because I’ve added more than one fish at a time. What do you think? Am I being too conservative?

About the Author

Albert B Ulrich III

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Author of The New Saltwater Aquarium Guide, How to Frag Corals and 107 Tips for the Marine Reef Aquarium

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