To celebrate Earth Day, we’ve come up with a list of tips for environmentally-friendly fish-keeping. As a bonus, many of these suggestions will also reduce the cost involved with having aquariums.
- Leaking aquariums can be resealed or reused as reptile habitats, terrariums, garden seedling shelters, etc.
- Sell, donate or swap equipment that you no longer can use.
- Lose the heater: Some fish don’t require high tropical temperatures and are fine (or even happier) at room temp.
- Save containers for equipment storage, maintenance, etc. For example, we reuse large ice cream buckets for everything from acclimating fish to transporting them.
- Offer your extra large jars to Betta breeders.
- Once you’re in a recycling frame of mind, you’ll be surprised at how many ideas you can come up with for reusing household items. We’ve made our own feeding rings, fry-savers, caves, and lots of other items using recycled or upcycled materials in our aquariums.
- Reuse fish bags for local transport.
- Wash gravel and ornaments that are no longer in use with cold water and dry in the sunshine for natural sanitation.
- Recycling aquarium water: Fish tank water is packed with nutrients for plants & lawns (as long as there are no chemicals or excessive salt content).
- When you’re waiting for running water to get hot, put a pitcher under it and top off an aquarium.
- Try a natural aquarium! No filters, lots of plants, etc. There are a few books on the topic, including Ecology of the Planted Aquarium by Diana L. Walstad.
- Nurture beneficial bacteria: Reusable sponges or other media allows for the growth of more beneficial bacteria and reduces filter waste. If your environment is optimized for waste processing, water changes can be reduced in volume.
- Try live plants: They’re also helpful in filtering waste.
- Only have the lights on when you’re home to enjoy the fish. If you need to have them on for extended periods for plant growth, experiment until you know the minimum time required for acceptable results.
- Use energy efficient aquarium lighting with a timer.
- Never release fish, invertebrates or plants into the wild. Sell them or give them away, or humanely euthanize them if they can’t be rehomed responsibly. Consider the needs and adult size of fish before you buy them to ensure you can take care of them for their entire lifetime. Prevent spawning if you don’t have enough tank space to care for fry (babies).
- Don’t collect endangered species from the wild. Ask suppliers about the origins of new fish and whether they’ve been captive bred.
- Don’t purchase wild corals. Try ‘fragging’ to propagate corals and trade them with other hobbyists.
- Consider a tank for captive-bred endangered species, such as Mexican Goodeids.
- Feed natural foods such as locally-grown, organic vegetables (when suitable for the species) and/or keep live food cultures for your fish. High-heat processing of manufactured foods uses a lot of electricity with far less benefits for your fish. Opt for low processed, natural fish food instead.
- Avoid antibiotics: These develop super-bugs which are introduced into our waterways through drainage, etc.
- Don’t flush dead fish down the toilet as it can introduce disease to wild stocks.
- Put fish in your outdoor pond or water feature to eat mosquito larvae & algae, avoiding chemical additives & naturally controlling insects.
- Join a local fish club to obtain locally-bred aquatic pets.
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