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A Fish Keeper’s Guide to the Galaxy

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A Fish Keeper's Guide to the Galaxy explains the benefits of maintaining a fish tank in your home for people with chronic health conditions and provides a step by step guide on how to go about setting up your first tank so you too can enjoy the benefits. This affiliate post includes product recommendations from a long time fish keeper. Keywords: spoonie, chronic illness, EDS, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, CRPS, Spondylolisthesis, chronic back pain, lupus, RA, Arthritis, Anxiety, stress, mental health.

I can’t exactly say that this article will guide you through the galaxy: However, I can say that keeping a fish tank is a relaxing and rewarding experience. There is nothing more calming to me than a beautifully decorated aquarium stocked with healthy, vibrant fish.

It’s not just my opinion. According to this study by Plymouth University, patients who spent time around aquariums showed marked improvements in both physical health and mental well-being. According to the study, an aquarium can improve health in the following ways:

  • It can bring about a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • It can help reduce blood pressure, because of its soothing effects.
  • It can help reduce pain. Ever wonder why many doctor and dentist waiting rooms have fish tanks? To calm the patient’s nerves, helping to ease their pain.It helps improve your sleep, which will help repair damaged tissue, and regenerate new cells.

I can personally testify to the effects of keeping fish: I have been an aquarium hobbyist for most of my life. I have had daily chronic pain most of my life due to spondylolisthesis. I also have chronic anxiety. Whenever I maintain my own fish tanks at home, I find myself more relaxed, as well as in less pain overall. For me, aquariums have been a source of entertainment that means a reduction in these symptoms.

The Ins and Outs of Fish Keeping

There are many things to consider before you buy, such as how much time you’re able to devote to it. Fish must be fed, and the tank will need a partial water change and cleaning every week. Care for my 29 gallon tank fills about 2 hours of my time each week.

Budgeting concerns are also a priority in deciding if fish keeping is right for you. What you put into a tank initially could cut your expenses long-term. Smaller 1 to 2 gallon tanks and fish bowls can be had for under $50 but, these tanks are actually harder to care for because the water needs to be changed more often due to the lack of filtration or heat. For this reason, water in smaller tanks can be highly unstable and the health of your fish could suffer.

By starting with a 10 gallon starter kit, you can avoid many of these issues and I consider them perfect for beginners on a budget. A fully stocked aquarium with supplies can run anywhere from $100 to $150 dollars. However, once the tank is set up, maintenance costs run around $10-20 a month, including food and supplies.

What do you need to start an aquarium? Here is a bare bones list to help you get up and running:

A fish tank: There are a lot of kits out there to help stay on budget. For example, a 10 gallon kit may run from $30 to $70. I recommend this Aqueon kit or something similar. The kit comes with a hood, a light, a power filter, a heater and the chemicals to make tap water safe for your fish, along with a little bit of food to get you started. Buying a starter kit may not provide everything you need, but everything provided will get used and you also save some money in the process. Great job! What else do you need?

You need gravel or sand for a good environment for your fish. Figure on buying one pound per gallon. Most substrates come in 5 pound bags, like this Spectrastone.

You’ll also need decorations, preferably those which will provide the fish with cover when they are feeling shy. Keep in mind that fish need lots of room to swim. Do not overcrowd your tank with ornaments and plants. Generally, one to two ornaments and three to four plants will be enough to provide cover and make your tank a pleasure to behold.

Other things to consider are a siphon, which will make water changes a breeze, and a scrubber to keep the glass clean. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yeah, fish!

When buying fish, there are many things to consider, such as the size of the fish when fully grown. A fish that gets extremely large will quickly outgrow a small tank. You also want to consider if the fish are peaceful or aggressive and whether the fish need to live in groups or solo. Most pet stores have at least one associate who can answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are also a number of great resources online you can consult about the particular needs of the fish you’d like to stock your tank with. But hold-on–don’t go buying those fish just yet.

Once you’ve purchased your tank and supplies and you’ve gotten an idea of what kind of fish you want, it’s time to set up!

  • Clean everything with warm water. DO NOT USE SOAP! Soap can leave a residue and kill your fish.
  • Rinse your gravel and place it into the tank.
  • Add in your heater and decorations.
  • Ornaments look better in the front, plants look better in the back. Trust me on this.
  • Fill the tank with water. Use room temperature water, treated with water conditioner.
  • After that, set up your filter and your hood.
  • Plug everything in and turn it on.
  • Wait at least 24 hours for the water to stabilize.
  • Now you’re ready for fish! Be cautious about how many you add. Start with a few compatible fish and go from there. This will allow your new ecosystem to adjust and adapt gradually.

Last, but certainly not least, kick back and enjoy all the benefits of your new hobby and beautiful fish tank!


David Curtis

David Curtis lives in Florence, KY with his wife Michelle, 2 Russian Blue cats and his many fish. David manages the pet department of a prominent retail chain in addition to caring for his wife, pets and home. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, exploring history, watching football, sci-fi, fantasy or comic book shows and film, along with fighting for truth, justice, and the human condition. Much like Tyrion Lannister, he also drinks (coffee) and knows things.


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A Fish Keeper's Guide to the Galaxy explains the benefits of maintaining a fish tank in your home for people with chronic health conditions and provides a step by step guide on how to go about setting up your first tank so you too can enjoy the benefits. This affiliate post includes product recommendations from a long time fish keeper. Keywords: spoonie, chronic illness, EDS, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, CRPS, Spondylolisthesis, chronic back pain, lupus, RA, Arthritis, Anxiety, stress, mental health.
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How to Sign up for our Facebook Contest

We’re running a contest between now and 7/17/19 on Facebook to win this great bundle which includes Jeannie Di Bon’s amazing new fitness book for hypermobility. It’s not that complicated if you know Facebook, but I’ve gotten so many questions about how to sign up, I decided to create a fast and dirty tuturial–it may not look pretty, but it will get you where you need to go. The images are all computer examples, but I explain how to do it on a phone in the print portion.

Follow this link to get to the post: https://www.facebook.com/TheZebraPit/photos/a.1058807464216475/2452294371534437/?type=3&theater. When it opens, you’ll see the description to the right. Click on “See More” in blue so all the instructions come up.

On a computer, hover over Jeannie Di Bon’s Name (marked by a yellow arrow in the example below) and a little window will pop up. Choose the “Follow” button.

On your phone, you simply need to tap the name and the page will open, where you can choose follow there.

  Repeat the same operation for the Zebra Pit Page. The link may be missing in the instructions, however you can hover over or click the link at the top of the post to get to the same place.

To type your comment, go to the bottom right of the box where you’ll see a space next to your profile pic, “Write a comment.” Click on it and begin typing your comment about why you’re entering and “tag” two friends by typing their name until they show up in a list and you can select their name.  

On your phone, you should see the comment box at the bottom of your screen. Click it and begin typing. As you type your friends’ names, links you can choose should automatically pop up. Select the correct friend.

Be sure to choose enter or tap the blue arrow icon on your phone screen when you’re done typing your message so it is submitted.

Finally, if you want to share it for a bonus entry, simply choose Share:

and the usual pop-up dialogue will come up and you can type a message, tag me by typing “@thezebrapit and selecting the FB Zebra Pit Blog page when it comes up.