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A popular question asked by fish hobbyists is whether fish enjoy being in their aquarium. It is a difficult question to answer, as we cannot directly communicate with them. A pretty good way to measure their happiness is by observing their behaviour in the aquarium. If an animal is stressed or unhappy, it is likely to exhibit unnatural behaviours. A normally active fish resting in the corner of an aquarium with rapid gill moments is likely to be stressed. Stress can be caused by many factors. Poor water quality, aggression from other tank inhabitants and their environment can all be sources of stress. Creating an environment that the fish finds comfortable is likely to help promote good health and happiness.

The debate on fish intelligence is still ongoing. The humble goldfish has become a mockery in the animal world for having a ‘two second memory’. The true memory of a goldfish is hard to quantify, but those who keep them as pets are witness to goldfish being able to remember when feeding time is. This is just an example of classical conditioning, but it certainly puts in doubt the ‘two second memory’ label! 

Some fishkeepers who keep oscars ‘Astronotus ocellatus’ claim their fish can recognise their face. A study from 2016 demonstrated archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) were able to distinguish between human faces with a high degree of accuracy. The cognition to be able to tell apart human faces is surely a sign of intelligence? Arguably the most intelligent aquarium inhabitant isn’t even a fish. Octopus have shown high degrees of intelligence in public aquarium displays around the world. To stimulate them, aquarists give them jars to open, children’s toys to play with, and even ask them to predict sports results!

So how can you make your aquarium more stimulating for your fish? Re-creating their natural environments is probably the best solution. Lake Malawi cichlids, for example, will appreciate a rock stack to form their territories and fight off competitors. Angelfish and discus would prefer a densely planted aquarium with lots of shade and cover. 

Artificial ornaments and plastic plants also provide a good alternative to natural environments. A fish is unlikely to care if the decor is natural or a bright pink castle. The important thing is that the fish recognises the object that offers it a form of protection.

Fish that build and defend territories will probably be stimulated by aquarium objects more than those that do not. Many species of cichlid will up-root and move around the aquarium decor to suit their needs. Ensure if this is the case that rocks and ornaments cannot collapse and cause damage from digging.

For betta keepers, a common stimulation tool is an exercise mirror. These are used to reduce boredom and exercise their long fins and operculums as the male fighting fish fights his reflection. Arguably, this also causes stress, so most manufacturers of these mirrors recommend only leaving in the tank for 5 minutes once or twice a day.

Feeding time can also be stimulating for fish! Live foods such as bloodworm and brine shrimp gives something for fish to chase and eat, recreating natural feeding techniques. Live foods are usually not a daily food source (unless the species requires it) but can be used as a treat once or twice per week. Frozen foods can also provide this stimulation, but just to a lesser degree as they do not give much of a chase.

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Recent Testimonial

Koi Water Barn and NT Labs have a long history of working together, we feel that the products in the Koi Care range offer our customers a quality product at a realistic price. This is backed up by extensive research and development that is carried out at the NT Labs HQ located in Kent. They are not far away from our shop at Coolings (Knockholt, near Sevenoaks), this is an added bonus for our customers as they are buying from a local UK based company.
Keith Holmes - Koi Waterbarn

Recent Testimonial

It’s been great to watch this highly successful and innovative company develop its product range to meet the challenging needs of Koi Keepers. It’s great to have a definitive go to brand.
Nigel Caddock - Nishikigoi Yearbook Magazine

Recent Testimonial

It will be manufactures like NT Labs who give support to retail shops that be rewarded in the long term for their support to the trade
Kernow Aquatics & Reptiles

Recent Testimonial

We have been working closely with NT labs for many years now. We stock their Pond range and test kits, we strongly believe they are the best liquid test kits on the market, we use them in-store and have sold many over the years. Last year we have began stocking more of their fantastic ranges including their Pro-f food range and Aquarium range of water treatments.
Nicholas Cox - The Aquatic Store Bristol

Recent Testimonial

Excellent technical department that knows it's chemicals as well as it's fish!
Matt Sands

Recent Testimonial

At FishCove Aquatics we are huge fans of NT labs range of products we have seen fantastic results using the food and even bigger results with the liquid fertiliser. Tried and tested by us recommend by many.
FishCove Aquatics - Dorset

Recent Testimonial

“I Just wanted to say thank you for the help with bacterial issues I had in my pond. I can happily say that the mouth rot of one fish and the fin rot of two others has cleared up to near perfection now. I have been really impressed with the service from your technical team. I have already recommended online that people ask NT Labs about their products and recommended usage.”
Richard Pashley

Recent Testimonial

Your Probiotic food is absolutely brilliant! I bought twenty one 1 year old Japanese Koi via a fish farm in Ogata, Japan about 3 years ago. I’ve been feeding them on Probiotic and Probiotic Growth in the summer months. Some of are now 2ft in length and of superior quality. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for.
Paul Munday - Consumer review

Recent Testimonial

I have used many products for the eradication of aiptasia over the last 15 years. Often with poor results. After purchasing the Anti-Aiptasia, I was astonished with the results! Absolutely fantastic and not like the competitors which normally contains some form of hydroxide. I would highly recommend NT Labs Anti-Aiptasia. This is arguably the best in the market!
Viv Samuels-Lee - Consumer Review

Recent Testimonial

We use Blanketweed Balance, and find it highly successful in the battle against Blanketweed. We recommend it to all of our customers and feedback is very positive. It is now our best selling Blanketweed treatment. Another top quality product from NT Labs
Roydon Hamlet Water Garden

Recent Testimonial

I work at a pet store in Durban (South Africa) and have had the best results with my salt water aquariums that I have EVER seen. I have been in the industry for about 10 years now and seriously recommend the products supplied by NT Labs. All our customers that have used anti-aiptasia swear by this product and have said that it over rules every other product out there. Highly recommended.
Brandon Baker - South Africa

Recent Testimonial

"I called your offices for support and was put in touch with one of your Aquatic Biologists. He has been incredibly helpful... Without your help, my fish would be suffering and I might have had to stop keeping Koi. I cannot recommend your products, or staff, enough."
John - Customer Service Review

Recent Testimonial

I’ve used and sold NT Labs products for many years. Now I have my own shop I always recommend their products as I know the quality is there and trust that my customers will see this too. They are a great company to deal with and always find Nigel, my sales representative is so helpful.
Daryl - Harborough Aquatics