the past various veterinary authorities have made strong recommendations to
the public about where they should or should not buy pets from. These
recommendations followed scandalous reports in the '70's about the
neglect and abuse of puppies in so-called "puppy farms". As a result
many countries (including the UK) have now introduced legislation to control
establishments involved in the breeding and
selling of animals.
If you are thinking
about buying fish the first thing to do is to realise the commitment
you are going to have to make to look after it properly...to ensure that you
provide all the necessary :
- Environmental conditions - water
conditions, temperature, aeration
are several possible places you can get fish :
- A neighbour, relative or friend - good idea
as you probably know a lot about the background conditions and care of the
fish. BUT see Guidelines below
- A specialist serious breeder - generally a good
idea - if anyone knows how to breed and rear fish properly a breeder should. Still, see Guidelines below
- A casual breeder - careful -
do they really know what they are doing ? Are they just in it for the
money. See Guidelines below.
- A pet shop (small private concern) - not a
bad idea if the fish have genuinely come from a good source and the pet
shop is clean, well run and practices good basic hygiene - see Guidelines
- A pet store (large chain) - not a bad idea
if the Pet Store is well run, clean, practices good hygiene and they
can give assurances about the origin of the fish. See Guidelines below.
Here are some Guidelines to follow before you buy
you follow these Guidelines you should reduce the chances of disappointment
with your new fish.
a) Consider your situation first
- Do not buy fish unless you are sure that you can afford to look after
them properly, and
that you have the time to commit to them. See "What
type of fish should I get ?"
- NEVER buy on impulse - for example, when you see a stunning aquarium
collection of fish in a
shop window don't rush in and buy it.
- Can you afford to look after the fish properly ?
- Have you got the time to look after fish properly ?
b) The premises
It is important to be satisfied about the health standards of the
establishment that you are buying the fish from :
- The most important single Guideline is this : Whenever possible buy from
a source that has been recommended to you by an independent person - a
friend, neighbour, a well known breeder or member of the family. Someone whose judgment you can
- Satisfy yourself that the premises are clean and tidy. Are the
fish tanks clean? Are there any dead fish in some of the tanks ? Ask to inspect "behind the
- Do the fish look clean, healthy and active ?
- Is the tank water clean and well aerated ?
- Are fish from different sources kept separately (advisable) or are
they mixed together (not desirable as this increases the likelihood of
exposure to disease) ?
- If you have not been given a personal recommendation about the
establishment - ask them to give you the names of three reference sites
where you will get a positive endorsement.
- Where appropriate satisfy yourself that the establishment is a registered facility and
that it satisfies all local registration requirements. Ask to see their
Certificates of Registration.
- Poisonous fish may be subject to local legislation controlling their
ownership eg in the UK the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 - check with
your local authorities
c) The fish
Buying a sick fish is the worst possible start for you and for your new
pet. There are plenty of healthy fish looking for a new home. Think
THREE times about the possible consequences before you commit to buying a fish
that is obviously ill. Signs to look for are :
- Not eating food
- Abnormal appearance - abnormal colour, sores on the skin, white fungi on
the skin, spots on the skin, damaged fins
- Large number of surface parasites
- Swimming on the side or upside down
- Swimming at the top of the water
- Swimming at the bottom of the water
This is particularly true if you are going to introduce the fish into a household with young children. They will be heartbroken if you
have to take the fish back because of illness or if it dies.
- Never buy a fish that looks ill
- If you are buying an expensive fish insist that the vendor has it checked and gets a clean bill of
health from a veterinarian who specialises in fish before you buy it
WHEN IN DOUBT - DO NOT BUY !