How to Calm Down Stressed Fish

Stress is a major issue in our society, and it especially affects our fish. Stress makes fish more likely to become sick and stressed fish are much more likely to die. The unfortunate thing is that many fish owners don’t even know that their fish are stressed. 

We’ve put together a list of what can cause stress in your fish, and a number of different ways to reduce or remove stress. Once you have lowered or removed stress from your fish you should see much happier fish, and they should be much healthier too.

Lower Ammonia and Nitrate Levels

High ammonia and nitrate levels are a major reason that your fish will have stress. Higher levels of these compounds mean there is a lot of waste inside your aquarium. Ammonia and nitrate levels should be reduced by doing regular water changes. Changing some of the water once every week or other week will help lower the toxins in your aquarium water. 

There are water conditioners available in the market that can also be used to improve the quality of water. 

Keep Stable Water Temperatures

Sudden temperature fluctuations impact your fish’s immune systems and can cause diseases or infections. Fluctuating water temperatures ultimately causes a lot of stress in fish. To keep your fish calm it is important to keep your water temperature stable. 

Different fish species have different optimal temperatures. You’ll want to find the sweet spot with a temperature they can all be happy with and keep it there. If you can’t find an article here with the temperature range for a fish you want, check with your fish shop or your vet to find out what is the recommended temperature range for your fish.

A fish that is stressed by water temperature will usually become lethargic or swim aggressively. Yes these are on two different ends of the spectrum, but different fish have different reactions to stress. If your fish is stressed because of the water temperature, slowly bring the temperature back in range. You may want to check your aquarium’s water heater to make sure it is working correctly if the water temperature is not where it should be. By bringing the temperature back to the correct level your fish should be less stressed.

Correct the pH Level

Incorrect pH levels can cause stress in your fish. If the pH is higher or lower than what your fish needs, it will cause them stress. The pH should be tested regularly with an aquarium testing kit. 

If the pH levels are off, a water change should be performed to bring it back to the recommended range. Baking soda can be used to increase the pH level of your aquarium water, but if too much is used it can cause an unsafe jump. Baking soda is not a substitute for doing regular water changes.

Have the Correct Size Aquarium

Fish need a lot of space to move around and the larger the aquarium the better it is for them. Putting too many fish in a small tank can make it stressful for them because of overcrowding. An overcrowded tank also generates a lot of bio-waste, making it difficult to keep clean. High levels of bio-waste are a major cause of stress in fish. 

If your aquarium is overcrowded and getting a larger one is an option, you should consider it. If that is not possible then moving some fish to another aquarium is also a good choice. This should help reduce the stress in your fish by reducing the overcrowdedness. 

The general rule is to have one gallon of water for every inch of fish you have. If you have 5 fish that are 2 inches long each, you would want a tank of at least 10 gallons.

Decorate Your Aquarium

If there are not enough hiding spots inside your aquarium it will become stressful especially for your smaller fish. Rocks, gravel, living plants or other decorations should be used inside your tank.The decorations will help create hiding spots that will keep your fish relaxed. The more places your fish have to hide the calmer they will feel. The decorations also help make your aquarium seem bigger than it is by adding visual distractions for your fish.

Remove Overly Aggressive Fish

Sometimes keeping incompatible fish together will cause them to become stressed. Betta Fish are aggressive and will often nip at smaller fish species. There are several fish that just will not get along. Keeping incompatible fish together can cause fights and cause stress for the smaller or weaker fish.

The aggressive fish should be removed from your community tank to keep your other fish from getting stressed. If you don’t have another tank, you can use a tank separator for your aquarium. With the separator you can partition off sections and keep problematic fish away from the rest of them.

When buying new fish, always try to find out which fish species are compatible. Knowing which fish coexist well will keep you from having a community tank of incompatible fish.

Set a Feeding Schedule

Not enough food or irregular feedings can be another reason for your fish to stress out. They will start getting stressed if they aren’t getting the amount of food they need. Making sure your fish are getting enough food doesn’t take too long. You can watch how much they eat and adjust the amount for each feeding until they eat it without it falling to the bottom of your aquarium.

To make sure your fish don’t feel stressed about food, set a feeding schedule. Your fish should be fed once or twice a day.

Treat Infections Immediately

Diseases like Dropsy, Ich or worms will cause a lot of stress in your fish. These are infectious and if not caught in time can spread rapidly to other fish in your aquarium. These diseases should be treated immediately to avoid spreading it to your other fish.. There are different treatments recommended for each of these diseases. Sometimes infected fish may need to be quarantined. Consult your vet to find out the best treatment method.