Caring for Someone Else’s Fish Tank

As a non-fishkeeper, finding yourself in charge of an aquarium for the first time can be intimidating.

It’s something that often happens when a family member with a fish tank falls ill or passes away. Yet, as daunting as it may seem, there’s no need to panic.

Immediate attention

For the most part, a healthy aquarium shouldn’t need too much immediate attention. What’s most important is that all of the necessary equipment is running. That generally means filters, heaters for tropical tanks, and lighting. Leave these running alongside any additional equipment like air pumps.

Most modern aquarium lights will run on some form of timer. If not, ensure they’re only on for around eight hours daily. In most cases, where it’s impossible to ensure this, it’s best to leave them turned off entirely for the time being.

There’s more good news, too. That’s because healthy fish are generally fine without food for up to a week. It’s almost always better to feed too little than to overfeed. Too much food can cause serious problems to arise extremely quickly.

So, if you’re only likely to be caring for a fish tank for around seven days, there’s relatively little to worry about.

Tropical fish tanks (and fish) come in all shapes and sizes, but the basics of short-term care are often much the same.

Goldfish like this fancy black moor don’t need aquarium heaters but they still require a particular level of care.

Longer-term care

In the longer term, there are various options. If a fish tank’s owner is, for example, in the hospital, accessing what’s commonly referred to as aquarium holiday care is an ideal solution.

As the name suggests, such services are intended to care for fish tanks while owners are away on holiday. However, they also cater perfectly to other eventualities, including where an aquarium owner is hospitalised or similar. Of course, this assumes that a tank’s owner will be able to pick back up with the necessary care in the coming weeks.

Where much longer-term care is likely to be required, other options are worth exploring. For example, a combination of aquarium maintenance and help with a tank’s essentials, like food and other supplies, can be a massive help.

Following an owner’s death

In the sad event that a fish tank’s owner has passed away, there are several things that you can do.

Again – where a tank and its fish are healthy, there’s unlikely to be any need to panic for the first week or so. Beyond that, deciding whether you wish to keep the fish tank or not is vital. Of course, not everyone wants an aquarium. With that, it’s important not to feel obligated to continue caring for a loved one’s fish after their death unless you genuinely want to.

If you do want to, learning the ropes of fishkeeping can be the start of a peaceful and rewarding hobby in the weeks and months after a loved one’s passing. Where some guidance is needed, help from a local fish tank maintenance company can be hugely beneficial.

Alternatively, you may wish to make other arrangements for the tank – and that’s fine. In such cases, there’s never any need to feel guilty. Your best bet is to call in the professionals. At Your Aquarium, we can help you rehome any fish, drain and clean the tank, dismantle the equipment, and so on. The tank can then be stored, sold, given away, or disposed of as appropriate.

Looking after an aquarium can be a wonderful hobby…

…but it’s not for everyone, and that’s fine.

What not to do

It’s not uncommon for people to find themselves suddenly in charge of fish tanks that have fallen into a state of disrepair. All of the above assumes that an aquarium has been cared for lovingly. Where that’s not the case, a different approach is called for. What’s most important, though, first and foremost, is that you don’t take any drastic action.

It can be tempting to try cleaning a dirty aquarium, changing the water and replacing the filter media. Even with the best of intentions, this can have catastrophic consequences, killing any beneficial bacteria in the tank, shocking the fish, causing the nitrogen cycle to crash, and potentially resulting in the fish themselves perishing.

Instead, it’s important to put a plan in place to get things back in tip-top shape. A series of small water changes are an excellent place to start, remembering to treat any tap water that you add. At the same time, any filter media should be rinsed in old tank water. Siphoning the substrate, cleaning any ornaments, and removing algae build-up from the glass will then help to improve appearances.

This process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. If you’re unsure how best to approach the task, calling in the professionals is often a good place to start. A professional fish tank service and routine maintenance can make things look great in no time. From there on, it’s simply about keeping on top of things, with or without a little outside help.

Call in reinforcements

Not sure what’s the best course of action to take, having found yourself in charge of someone else’s fish tank? No problem! At Your Aquarium, we’re here to help.

Contact us today for a no-obligation chat about how to move forward. From short-term care to ongoing maintenance, same-day water testing, and more, we’re on hand to support you. That’s true across Rossendale, much of Lancashire, parts of Manchester, and westernmost Yorkshire – just let us know what you need, when, and where, and we’ll take care of the rest.