Abandoned Fish Tank Care

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Help! I've got a fish tank!

This article is to help those who have inadvertently found themselves in the possession of a fully functioning fish tank without any care instructions whatsoever. Maybe an ex-partner or ex-housemate has moved out and left you with it, or one of your children has flown the nest but decided to leave behind their fish tank. Whatever the reason, this article aims to help you out!

Step 1

Do you actually want to keep the tank? First of all, whoever rightly owns it, do they want it back? Or are they happy for you to rehome/sell off the fish and tank?

If it all seems too much to care for it yourself I recommend you seek out a local fishkeeping club, trust me they're out there, and see if any members there can help you and take the fish, and even the tank, off your hands. Or you could always advertise it on a free listing, but don't expect to make any money!

Step 2

So you want to keep the tank and care for it then.

First, you need to ID exactly what fish and other animals you have in the tank and check out their exact care needs, it may be that the previous owner was doing it wrong! If you have large fish in small tanks, it may be easier for you to try and rehome the larger fish. Or you could invest in a tank of the correct size.

If the fish is in an unfiltered bowl environment then it goes without saying the fish needs an upgrade. No fish should be kept in an unfiltered environment, the water qualtiy unstable and can easily kill the fish. It's a lot more hard work to keep a fish in an unfiltered environment than filtered! To set up a new filtered tank see here and here!

Step 3

Is the tank in a right state? Can you actually see in? If the answer to that is yes and no, then it's time to get wet and mucky!

You first need a bottle of dechlorinator/water conditioner, available from any good pet/aquatic store, see this article on why you need this and how to use it in new water.

Once you've got your bucket of fresh dechlorinated water and its been left out a few hours to warm up to room temperature, you will need a gravel syphon to suck out some of that dirty water, see here how to use one of those. You should only need to do a 20-30% water change on this tank, NEVER do a 100% water change as it will cause more problems than its worth! You do NOT need to remove the fish during this process.

Once you've removed that dirty water into a second bucket, open up the filter casing and remove any sponges you find in there, plop them into the dirty water bucket and rinse off the debris. NEVER rinse this media under the tap! Then place them back into the filter.

You can now pour the new fresh and dechlorinated water slowly back into the tank and plug the tank back in. That should do for the time being.

If the glass is covered in algae you can use a magnet scraper to remove it - these are good as you don't have to get wet to use them! It can be hard work to remove some of this algae, but it shouldn't be doing the fish much harm so isn't an urgent need, purely cosmetic for now!

Step 4

Now what? You've got a cleaned out tank, now what are you going to do with it?

Well you should have by now researched what fish you have in the tank, make sure you're meeting there needs. Also make sure your tank is in a shady and secure spot in the home - keep it away from high traffic areas and away from radiators and direct sunlight.

Depending on the state of the tank, it will need another water change in a week (maybe sooner if it was really bad), and you can now think about changing the decor if its not to your taste! Many neglected tanks often have, for example, too much gravel in them, in a normal unplanted tank you only really need 1" of gravel!

It may also be necessary for you to test your water, there are plenty of excellent test kits out there and it's important to know your water chemistry! Liquid test kits are far more accurate than strips, they can also be a little pricey, but are worth the extra cash. Fish shops will also test your water for you but it's more accurate to do it yourself! If the fish are looking pale and lethargic then it's definitely necessary to test your water, the #1 cause of fish illness is bad water quality.

So now the world of fishkeeping has opened up a little more to you, it's time to get swotting and maybe have a fantastic looking tank like these at the end of it all!