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How to look after your first pet fish and an aquarium

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Mars Fishcare and the API brand.

Adding water to C’s new aquarium

It’s Persian tradition to buy a pet fish at Nowruz (Persian New Year). However, this year we were in lockdown in the UK and we floundered at the first hurdle in finding Nemo!

In the past we have bought goldfish for new year, we had them on the top table at our wedding (no kidding) and we had promised our son, little C that we would buy him some this year.

Needless to say, children never forget! So, once we were out of lockdown we took a trip to our local garden centre to buy some very colourful tropical fish. H and I had never kept tropical, freshwater fish before and we came away empty-handed because it felt like there was a million and one things to remember to do.

C loved this bridge and thinks the fish actually cross it !

From making tap water safe to reducing fish stress and testing the acquarium’s PH level, there was a lot to consider. Thankfully, we discovered a virtual live event with API Fishcare where one of their fish scientists (Gary, a self-confessed fish nerd) guided us through the process.

Little C has just started school at four years old, so we had so many questions about buying a freshwater fish aquarium. Our questions included how many fish you can keep together, what the water temperature should be and what products to use to make the aquarium safe. There’s also the task of changing the water and how to do so safely. Not the easiest or most pleasant task from what I can remember.

The event was going to be a learning curve for our whole family. My ulterior motive however was that I’d rather buy fish for the house than bring the resident school stick insects home during the holidays (shudder the thought!).

C ensures he has all the right products to keep his barbs calm

Live virtual fishkeeping event

It was an insightful event and H and I learned a lot of things we didn’t know. We hadn’t thought about it before, but watching fish swimming in an aquarium is actually really good for your mental health. A pet fish is also a good way of teaching young ones about maths and science too because you need to know how much product to use per gallon of water. This fact reeled daddy in as being an engineer he really wants C to follow in his STEM footsteps.

We had used API products on and off over the years when we have had goldfish, so we’re loyal to the brand. In our opinion, it remains one of the best for fishkeeping. It has been a pioneer in the aquatics industry for around 60 years, developing and manufacturing hundreds of quality products to help people create and enjoy their underwater worlds. They manufacture and distribute top of the line water conditioners, testing kits, medications, and food for ornamental aquarium and pond fish.

How to properly set up and take care of your fish tank

You need to ensure to set up your aquarium at home correctly and make sure it’s a safe environment for your little guppies BEFORE you go and buy them. Little C loved helping his daddy with the aquarium set-up and adding water and the products, one by one to the tank. He loved the methodical process and even told his teacher all about it and how his flying fox fish eat algae.

Spot the flying fox fish!

Give your fish a ‘slime coat’

We added API® STRESS COAT water conditioner which makes your tap water safe for fish. It removes chlorine, heavy metals and chloramines from the water. It also contains aloe vera to help reduce fish stress and heal damaged wounds. It really helps your fish when you’re handling them or carrying out monthly water changes. Little C liked the idea that the product gave the fish a ‘slime coat’ – slime goes down well in our household.

C tested the water with API fishcare 5 in 1 PH test strips

Starting the natural aquarium cycle

Children don’t like waiting. It’s a fact. So we used API Quick Start – API® QUICK START nitrifying bacteria which allows for the instant addition of fish, as it starts the natural aquarium cycle with beneficial bacteria, which converts toxic ammonia into nitrite, then into harmless nitrate so fish don’t die. We also added API Stress Zyme – API® STRESS ZYME bacterial cleaner. Little C loved to learn that it contains more than 300 million live bacteria per teaspoonful to keep his aquarium clean. If only cleaning the house was as simple!

Buying the barbs

Buying the fish was suddenly made easier following the virtual Zoom event. We’d been told which fish would get along in our community aquarium, and more importantly, which ones wouldn’t! We bought two cherry barbs, four green tiger barbs and two flying fox fish. The flying foxes were actually for mummy. It was a good job that we’d added our anti-stress products to the aquarium too because it took the salesman a little bit of time to catch up with one of the cherry barbs. Of course, this made little C squeal with delight and now it’s referred to as the ‘naughty fish’.

Once the community aquarium was up and running, little C added some tropical flake food which is high in vitamins C & E to support a
healthy immune system. It helps promote growth and colour from beetroot for colourful fish. C loved this fact and now tells everyone his fish love to eat beetroot just like him!


Saffron and Cyrus is a Newcastle-based family lifestyle blog, covering diversity, self-care, days out, travel, reviews, recipes and more from our family life.
The blog is written by new mum over 40, Aranda, with input from hubby H and four-year-old Cyrus.

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