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How to Teach Your Child to Care For Tropical Fish

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We recently added a freshwater tank with tropical fish to our house for our daughter.  We have spent a lot of time learning and caring for the fish and wanted to share some expert tips from API on how to teach your child to care for tropical fish. 

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by on behalf of Mars Fish Care and the API brand. 

How to teach your child to care for tropical fish

A Birthday Present

Last year our son asked for a bearded dragon for his birthday.  My husband who is terrified of reptiles, said yes to this massive lizard which therein started our daughter on her quest for a pet of her very own.  It took her months to decide what she really wanted for her birthday, but she finally decided that she wanted fish. 

Girl with tropical freshwater tank

I was honestly, very glad that she chose fish as her starter pets.  She loves caring for animals and I felt like this would be a great pet for her to get started with.  She decided on GloFish as her fish of choice and right as her birthday hit, the world shutdown.  We were able to get her the tank for her fish, but she had to wait several weeks before we were able to get her fish. 

The Tank Issue

I had fish myself on and off since I was a kid.  I always had goldfish and well, I learned early on in our fish experience with the GloFish, that they were very different. We purchased 4 Tetra GloFish and a snail and within a week, our tank was a nasty filthy mess.  I had no idea what the heck was going on or how to fix what was happening. 

filthy fish tank

I would clean the tank weekly, following the pet stores directions to wipe the glass, only change a certain amount of water, change the filter and use stress coat to help the fish adapt to the change. Still our fish and tank would gunk right up and it was becoming a daunting task to control.  

Learning About Tropical Fish

I was lucky enough to attend an online seminar hosted by API which is a fish care brand and quickly learned that my freshwater tanks were very different from our new tropical tank and that the fish needed slightly different care. 

Girl looking at tropical fish

Tetras are tropical fish that come from warmer waters.  They prefer their water to be between 76º and 78ºF and they are really great pets.  It is important when you set up your tropical freshwater tank that it is on a flat level surface, and that you set up the tank and prep it for your fish using the right chemicals to help your tropical fish adapt well and to minimize waste. 

Basics of Tropical Tanks & Fish Care

After the seminar, I walked away with SO much knowledge and felt so prepared to get control of our tank again.  I wanted to share the basics of tropical tanks and fish care for those just getting started. 

Tank Equipment: When setting up your fish tank you want to make sure that it is on a flat and level surface, that you have a lid, light, heater, filter, food, fish chemicals and some decorations for your fish friends. 

Supplies for setting up fish tank

Tank Setup: Setting up your fish tank is simple!

  1. Place your tank on your flat surface
  2. Pour your fish gravel into the tank and level it using your hand.
  3. Add in your decorations
  4. Add water. When setting up a tropical tank you can use tap water, but it is not safe for fish immediately so you will need to add some fish safe chemicals from API to make sure that the water is instantly safe. 
    • Stress Coat: Makes tap water safe instantly and when cleaning also enhances the fish’s slime coat and helps  heal damaged tissue. 
    • Aquarium Salt: Provides electrolytes which are important for osmoregulation (how fish regulate their oxygen and carbon dioxide gases).
    • Quick Start: Reduces waste
  5. Allow tank to cycle through for a few days before adding fish. 
  6. Test the water using 5 in 1 dip strips to make sure water is ready for your fish
  7. Add Fish!

Testing freshwater tank

API Chemical line

Cleaning  & Maintaining Your Fish Tank: Regular maintenance and cleaning is essential to the health of your aquarium ecosystem. 

  • Clean your tank once every 2 weeks. 
  • Do a 25% water change for a breath of fresh air
  • Clean the gravel
  • Add stress coat and aquarium salt with water change. 
  • Add a bottom scavenger that will help with upkeep that is compatible and will get along with your fish community. 
  • If you find that you are having issues with algae or cloudy water check out API’s Accuclear or Algae Fix and carefully follow directions on the bottles. 

Adding fish tank chemicals

How to Teach Your Child to Care For Tropical Fish

Our daughter is a great little fish caretaker, so great in fact that I learned that she has been feeding these guys a lot and therefore our tank was becoming quite polluted which is why I was needing to clean the tank more often.  I inquired with the API team as to how to teach your child to care for tropical fish and they shared the following:

  • Have your child help set up the tank and maintain it with you.  Make sure they know that an adult should always be present when the tank is being cleaned and no chemicals should be added without the adult there. 
  • Make sure the adult is present during feeding especially if the child is very young. 
  • Never let the child pinch or pour the fish food into the tank, it is better if you as the adult place the correct amount of food in the cap and allow the child to pour the fish food from the cap into the tank. 
  • Fish always look hungry but only really need to be fed 2x a day and should consume all food within 3-5 minutes. 
  • Bonus!  You can use the time during cleaning and feeding to teach your kids about ecosystems and how everything works together as well as other STEM based focuses such as measuring with chemical addition.

Child feeding fish

For more information on fish care and how to teach your child to care for tropical fish, visit or connect with them socially. 

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G- Funk

Thursday 13th of August 2020

That was some great info!! I'm really glad Emmy is having so much fun with her new pets!! Her tank looks AMAZING ?


Friday 14th of August 2020

Thank you! She loves her little Pets! You got her the best little guys!

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