Field of Science

How to Kill Tropical Fish

A short while ago I was contacted by Ava of The Reef Tank, a site for keepers of tropical marine aquaria, asking if I would contribute something for their in-house blog. I did once keep a tropical (freshwater) aquarium, but sadly the main thing I learnt from the experience was that putting too much fish in the tank early on leads to their rapid demise due to the buildup of toxic nitrogen compounds (eventually, I discovered the attractive yet indestructable White Cloud mountain minnow). So I presented Ava with a piece on the bacteria responsible for maintaining the nitrogen cycle in fish tanks, and you can read it here.


  1. You can also kill tropical fish by letting your two-year-old son pour his orange juice into the tank!

  2. But at least that way the fish come pre-marinaded.

  3. It's even harder to maintain a salt water aqurium. I started one a while ago but you have to know a lot about those fish. I recently bought a book about saltwater fish and invertebrates and that really got me started.

  4. The recent heatwave in Melbourne literally "cooked" my King Blue Tetra in my tank. Anyway, this fish has apparently been misidentified:

  5. The recent heatwave in Melbourne literally "cooked" my King Blue Tetra in my tank.

    Ouch. I bet the fish was even less happy with that than you were.

  6. Proteinase K does the job pretty well, too.

  7. So those bottles of "Stress Zyme" bacterial inoculations don't really have the stuff needed? And the stuff that is needed hasn't been cultured successfully?

    Somebody tell Consumer Reports.

  8. That I wouldn't know about.

    Of course, even if the inoculations don't contain the normal bacteria, maybe the inoculated bacteria could do the trick until the normal bacteria build up a big enough population? Once again, I don't know, and you'd have to look it up further.


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