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Saturday, August 30, 2008; 12:00 AM

Proper Care of Fish

Dear Readers: Bringing a FISH into your home is no less of a responsibility than having a cat or dog. Whether it is a $2 guppy or a $10 angelfish, it deserves the same quality of care, regardless of the price tag. It would be wise to invest in an aquarium book to learn about the proper care of the fish you are going to buy. It is important to learn how big your fish will get before purchasing an aquarium. Quite often, pet owners have fish that become aggressive because they have grown too large for their aquarium. If you have multiple species, be sure to find out if they are passive or aggressive, and do not mix the two. Only introduce fish that are compatible with each other.

A fast-growing fish will need a larger aquarium than a fish that remains small. A larger aquarium is better because the quantity of water dilutes problems, such as waste material and too much food. It also eliminates overcrowding when introducing new fish and plants.

It is important that the water is balanced before putting any fish into the aquarium. Tropical fish are hardier and adapt more easily.

Fish should not be overfed. The leftover food will cause the water to become dirty and cloudy.

When the water looks murky, you don't have to change the whole tank of water. One-fourth of the tank usually is enough to change about every two weeks. Be sure to use cleaners that are safe for fish. Some cleaners may leave a residue (even after rinsing) that could hurt or kill the fish.

One reader wrote to say she lined the outside glass on the back of her aquarium with a pretty beach scene from an old calendar and that the scenes can be changed monthly.

If you take the time to learn what a fish needs, you will have a far better experience, as well as a pet that could be with you for a long time. -- Heloise

PET PAL

Dear Readers: Harry and Nita Storer of Pittston, Maine, sent a photo of their 13-year-old miniature schnauzer, Buddy, in his tent in the living room.

If your newspaper doesn't print the pet photo, visit www.Heloise.com to see Buddy in his tent. -- Heloise

RUBBER SNAKES

Dear Heloise: I have found that rubber snakes are very practical around my house.

I had a stray cat who liked to lie on the top of the car, and he was scratching the roof. I placed a large rubber snake on the car roof to encourage the stray to look for better lodgings, and it worked!

I also had to wash my car weekly because of the bird droppings from birds that would roost on the car while parked in the carport. After placing a large rubber snake in the carport, the birds decided to relocate.

These snakes can be bought at stores that sell stuff for a dollar! -- Francis T., Cibolo, Texas

(c)2008 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

Photo caption: Harry and Nita Storer of Pittston, Maine, sent this photo of their 13-year-old miniature schnauzer, Buddy, in his tent in the living room.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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