Helping Your Fish to Have a Nice Day - Affects of Stress on Fish

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Stress gives us headaches, makes us feel lousy, tears down our systems and causes heart attacks that can lead to death. We get our stress from missed deadlines, traffic, arguments, tragic events — you name it! We often ignore the warning signals and will live many years under stress.


The affects of stress is even more apparent in fish than in humans. Netting the fish, transporting the fish, feeding the fish, handling the fish — this all causes stress. It’s stressful for them to eat and to spawn. If the pH is off, if ammonia, nitrites or high concentrations of nitrates are present in their water the fish will stress. We’ve even seen a case where chasing a very excitable fish with the net caused him to die - we think from a heart attack!


Stress leads to all the other afflictions that can occur. It’s like there is a big sign on the side of the fish that says “I’m stressed and ripe for the picking”. Parasites and Aeromonas must know how to read because it is when the fish is at its most vulnerable condition that these bad elements tend to attack. Parasites and bad bacterias are present in ponds. The trick is to offer the most stress-free environment for your fish so that they can live healthfully. Here’s a few tips on how you can help your fish have a nice, stress-free day:


  • Maintain Excellent Water Quality — Your fish suffer when the water parameters are not stable. Any reading of Ammonia or Nitrites, even mild readings, and swings in the pH will cause stress.
  • Net Your Fish Only When Necessary
  • Make Sure the Pond Water is Aerated Properly — Don’t turn off the pump at night or during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t Over-Treat Your Pond — Sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone.
  • Use Care When Handling the Fish — Transporting fish is one of the most stressful things you can do. Rough or prolonged handling just adds to the event.
  • Don’t Allow Children to Terrorize the Fish — Stones should never be thrown into the water and hands should be put in the water only when hand-feeding the fish.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pond — Overcrowding is a major contributor to stress.


The fish at the store that are for sale have been recently air-ported, netted, treated, transferred to different tanks and folks are always looking at them — they are stressed babies! Though we try to keep the stress levels at a minimum these things are very necessary in order for us to sell them to you. We must remember when picking out a fish that every time we put the net into the water it stresses them more. That’s why it’s best to bowl only those that you really are interested in, not all that you’d just like to see. If we seem a bit rude with this or asking that children not throw rocks into the ponds, it’s simply that we try to keep the levels of stress down for the sake of the fishes health.

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