What is “preventative medicine?” Essentially, all it means is going to the doctor before you are sick in order to catch disease early. The earlier a disease can be caught, the easier it is to manage. This is why you get your yearly physical, routine bloodwork and colonoscopy. The same is true for your pets. No matter what kind of pet you own, they should go to their vet at least once a year for a general health screening. This allows your veterinarian to catch disease early.
And fish are no exception. A yearly checkup from your aquatic veterinarian will go a long way in making sure your fish has a long, healthy life. (If you think your fish doesn’t deserve veterinary care because he only cost a few bucks, we recommend you read this and come back.) Our preventative health packages are offered throughout the year and allow our veterinarian to pick up on subtle clues that your fish might be sicker than you realize. (Since she does nothing but stare at fish all day, she is REALLY good at picking out sick fish.)
But there are some things you can do that will be of great benefit for your fish. It essentially comes down to two main things:
- Good water quality
- Good diet
These two points are the best preventative medicine for your fish.
Yes, we’re back to water quality… again. It is the #1 important aspect of fish health. Test your water regularly with a liquid-based test kit, not those useless test strips and chart your results. By recording your results on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, daily), you will notice trends earlier and be able to fix them before they start to make your fish sick.
For all you could possibly want to learn on water quality, visit this page or watch our webinar below.
There are numerous fish diets on the market and making the critical decision of good vs. bad is not very straightforward. With too much information, your brain goes on overload and you will simply buy the cheapest or most expensive food.
When deciding on a food for your fish, take a little extra time to consider a few key points:
- Total protein %
- Unless you’re growing show fish, your protein for goldfish will be around 30%, bettas around 35% and tropicals will vary depending on if they are carnivorous, omnivorous, or herbivorous. Check out this website if you need more guidance on what your fish should be eating.
- How many protein sources can you count on the label?
- More proteins listed = less complete sources = cheap. There is nothing wrong with cheap fish food, but you don’t always get what you pay for.
- Pellets are better nutrition than flakes, unless you have very small fish.
- This comes down to simple physics and chemistry – spheres have a lower surface-to-mass ratio than a flat flake, allowing them to hold onto water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, longer.
- Price has relatively little bearing on quality
- Just because a food is supposedly “better” does not mean it is more expensive. Larger companies with more resources for research and marketing may cost $0.62 to $1.18 per ounce. Unless your fish is super picky or has a restrictive diet, you really can’t go wrong with most of the major brands.
- Pick a size container that your fish will eat up in 6 months
- When properly stored, most water soluble vitamins will stay in fish food for about 6 months. If your food is older than that, you’re not doing your fish any favors – chuck it. We’ve NEVER seen a betta finish a whole container of betta food.
- Frozen diets may seem “better,” but they can leave out key vitamins and minerals.
- All diets, be they for yourself, your dog, or your fish, are best with an assortment of sources. Frozen diets are fine, but don’t feed your fish the same blood worm block for days on end. Mix it up with pellets, a variety of frozen menus and even some fresh veggies if you like.
- Just because you are vegetarian/vegan, does not mean your fish should be as well.
- We have no problem with whatever diet you choose to feed yourself, but most fish species need animal protein, most herbivores included. The vegetarian/vegan fish foods on the market do not have any longevity studies. By removing certain proteins from their diet, you are setting your fish up for a decreased life span, immune response and proper development.
By taking these few steps and setting your fish up for a healthy future, your annual visits will be quick, simple and cheaper! Preventative medicine is great for all pets and their human owners. Take these simple steps now to save yourself the stress in the future!