Setting up a system to house your garra rufa fish is pretty easy if you know the basics of aquarium management. Most people are concerned about how to care of the garra rufa fish, but even before that, caring for the water quality that your garra rufa fish live in is the first step. This is of the utmost importance if you want to have a successful fish spa, whether a small personal home fish spa or a full-blown commercial one.
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Hot spring temperatures
The garra rufa fish thrive in clean warm waters at about 30 degrees Celsius (76F) and a PH of 7.3. This water parameter is extremely conducive for the fish to work its wonders. The warm water will also soften the skin of the person for the fish to nibble. This temperature will create a warm and relaxing feeling on top of the tingling massage from the garra rufa fish. To warm the water, just buy a thermostat controlled water heater from any aquarium pet shop and set the temperature. There are also bigger commercial water heaters for larger pools, but if your commercial fish spa is set up with many smaller tanks, a few heaters from the pet store should suffice.
Bacteria: guardians of toxics
The biggest problem in aquaria is the existence of the highly toxic ammonia and its compounds. Ammonia is produced from excretion from the garra rufa fish and the decomposition of leftover food and droppings. The “friendly” bacteria Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas are the main guardians against these toxics and will neutralize them. These bacteria love culturing beds such as gravels, sand or even filtration materials. If you have lots of gravel, these bacteria will naturally colonize it and make it their home. The more number of fish stock is in a tank, the more bacteria should be maintained to prevent ammonia and nitrate to build up. You can even set up a separate biological filtration system to house loads of friendly bacteria. You can read more about ammonia, nitrite and nitrate under the tab Water management
Test your tab water
Most tab water in many countries goes through proper conditioning and should be almost neutral pH (7.5). The garra rufa fish is a very “hardy” fish and can endure high acidity and alkalinity difference. If the water pH is too high or too low just pay a visit to your local pet store and buy the necessary pH adjusters. Sodium bicarbonate is used to increase the pH and Hydrochloric acid to decrease it. You have to buy a pH tester to test the water’s pH.
The most dangerous component from tab water that can kill the garra rufa fish is chlorine. A chlorine test kit and anti-chlorine solution is imperative to treat the water before you set the tanks. Do not directly fill the tab water into the tank but treat it first for chlorine. If you fill the tanks with chlorinated tab water, all the “friendly” bacteria that exist in the filter will be wiped out. This will totally disrupt the Nitrogen circle of your tank system and you will have to start all over again.
Condition of the fish
Pay close attention to the condition of the garra rufa fish. If you see that the garra rufa fish are inactive and lethargic, it is oftentimes caused by the toxic ammonia in the tank. This means that the garra rufa fish are sickened by the poison. They will not be nibbling on anything or will not even eat. You will have to check for ammonia immediately, using a test kit. If ammonia is present, just changing the water will do the job within half an hour. The garra rufa fish will be back to their old selves. If there is no ammonia present in the water and the fish are still sickly, they might have some disease and should be treated accordingly.
If you manage your Garra Rufa Fish Spa properly, get rid of chloride, ammonia and left over foods, the fish will always be healthy and actively nibbling on dead skins. If you run a commercial fish spa your customers will be amazed at how active and voracious the garra rufa fish are doing their job. If the water management in the tank is bad, the garra rufa fish will not even want to nibble and this is, of course, a turnoff for the customers.