Man's best friend may be looking less like a pup and more like a fish. A recent survey from the American Pet Products Association revealed that more than 170 million freshwater fish are currently kept as pets in U.S. households. To put that into perspective, it's a number that far surpasses other types of pets featured in the survey, including cats (93.6 million), dogs (77.5 million), birds (15 million), and reptiles (13.6 million).
Perhaps the possible health benefits are part of the draw, as some studies have suggested the presence of an aquarium can be soothing to the point of actually lowering your blood pressure. Even if you don't buy that, fish are certainly easier to maintain than some other pets since they don't need to be walked or bathed.
Of course, fish are by no means maintenance-free. You do need to keep their aquatic surroundings clean, but not completely sterile, which can be even more harmful to your fish. This is because you run the risk of removing beneficial microorganisms such as nitrifying bacteria which help break down ammonia present in fish waste. This ammonia can become lethal if left intact, so a little "dirt" is a good thing.
What's the best way to make sure your tank is safe and sound for your fish? Let's take a look at the key steps for keeping your aquarium in check without going overboard.