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The Fish Police – the downside to social media aquarium groups

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The Fish Police are widely known within social media aquarium groups, they can be irritating, frustrating and in some cases, dangerous to the health of your fish. Here are our thoughts on the ‘Fish Police’ and our top places to avoid them.

The Fish Police

‘The fish police’ is a term that is becoming widely recognised in the many aquarium related groups on social media. This article will be a short rant about them with some advice on how to avoid them and how to avoid gaining that label for yourself.

The term ‘Fish Police’ refers to those people who simply cannot refrain from offering advice, whether it is wanted, needed or even necessary.

This can be annoying, people often jump on pictures asking unsolicited questions about tank size, food, and anything else they have become immediately concerned about and feel the need to advise on. Any Photo of a Goldfish will immediately attract Fish Police attention!

In some cases though, advice is asked for but what is received is just awful ideas from people who clearly have no experience and just felt an overwhelming need to give some naff advice.

This advice is often not given from experience or knowledge, it is just random ideas spouted off as if they are an ‘expert opinion’.

It can be very difficult on social media to identify an expert from a novice, especially if you are the person asking for help and have just started out yourself.

In most cases the fish police cause irritation, but in some cases, if their advice is taken as an ‘expert opinion, it can be catastrophic for your fishy friends.


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Examples of Fish Police’ advice

‘The fish police’ are one of my motivations for creating this website. It became a regular occurrence to see unwarranted and awful advice given to beginners, who unbeknown to them were taking terrible guidance from people who clearly had no idea.

A couple of examples I have seen recently are:

  • Someone was having issues in their aquarium with some aggression, after I read their explanation of the issue it was fairly clear that the aquarium they had was not a suitable size for the fish in question, this was likely a large factor in the cause of this territorial behaviour. From memory, it was a 20gal (around 90 litres) tank. One bit of advice given was to purchase an Oscar as the Oscar would take over and prevent the existing fish from fighting. WHAT?!
  • Another recent example was someone having issues with green water. Green water is caused by algae which have become so numerous that it fills the water column, making the tank appear green. This is a simple fix, turning the lights off and increasing water changes over a few days is usually enough to rectify it. However, the ‘expert advice’ that was given on social media, and I quote, was: “Get a Placo”. Again, WHAT?! (I assume they meant Pleco)

Just yesterday I saw a post of an aquarium full of larger fish such as an Arowana, a huge true Parrot Cichlid, a Pike Cichlid and a Gar.

The video had only been up for a short time but there must have been 100+ comments telling the poster that the tank was way too small etc, some being fairly rude.

I couldn’t understand why, it was clear to me that the video only showed part of the aquarium as an entire Gar (which looked to be a good size) was able to leave the shot completely. It was also visible that the tank was L shaped and had another long section that was only half in shot.

I could see how in a certain perspective the tank could look smaller than it was but is that a reason for all these people to immediately advise this person on the size of their tank, with no further information on it other than this 30-second video of the fish waiting to be fed?

Anyway, it was explained further down in the comments that the tank was L shaped and was well over 10 feet in length, certainly big enough for what it was currently housing. So hopefully some of those ‘fish police’ learned not to jump on people with negative comments.


Dangerous advice from the Fish Police

Those people who I would qualify as ‘Fish Police’ love to give advice. Much of it though does not come from knowledge or experience and can be dangerous to your fish if you follow it.

One of the best examples of this is ‘White spot disease’ also known as ‘Ich’. White spot is pretty common in the aquarium but it is not the only disease that causes white spots on the fish.

There are around at least 3, all of which look very similar but are treated differently.

There are multiple posts a day on social media groups asking something along the lines of ‘what is wrong with my fish?’ showing an image of a fish with white spots.

There are always a load of comments that appear very quickly along the lines of, “it’s white spot/Ich, you need to …..(list of treatments that don’t even work against white spot)…..

I think I have seen only one of these photos in the last 6 months that I have actually thought was white spot. The rest have been Epistylis or fungal infections which require very different treatments to white spot.


It’s great to help people if you can give the correct advice, but if you’re not sure about something, leave it to those who are.


Aquarium myths – Fish Police facts

There are many myths that are spread as fact via social media. Many aquarists consider them facts simply because they have been passed around for so long.

This is because people are told these myths via social media, take them as fact and then repeat them to the next person asking for help, this continues and the truth becomes unbelievable.

Some of my favourites are:

  1. “Turn up the temperature and add salt to cure White spot/Ich”. Some even go as far as “You must turn off your filter” – This is a really popular one but science has proven that heat does not kill Ich and salt barely has an impact. What these first two ‘treatments’ do is make life much harder for a fish that is already sick, regularly leading to death from an illness that itself isn’t very deadly. Turning off the filter absolutely ensures death. If you want to treat White spot correctly, see HERE.
  2. “Many rocks are poisonous so you cannot add them to your aquarium” – This is ridiculous. Poisonous rocks? How are the fish in our rivers still swimming if the rocks are poisonous? For more on rocks, see HERE.
  3. “Fancy Goldfish should only live in ponds” – Fancy Goldfish or Goldfish, in general, are not coldwater fish and are perfectly suited to aquarium life. They DO NOT only belong in ponds. For more on Goldfish, see HERE.


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Aquarium adventures – thoughts on the fish police

Here is a quick video rant from one of my favourite YouTubers, Graeme at Aquarium adventures, which is pretty funny, it sums up the fish police very well.



Aquarium Adventures

Graeme runs a very popular Youtube channel called aquarium adventures which you can find HERE.

The channel is filled with light-hearted aquarium advice from Graeme, who also produces his own range of fish foods, check those out on his site (link above).


Knowing what advice to follow

If you ask for some advice on social media and receive some, back it up with some research.

If you have access to social media then you have access to google where reputable sites are far easier to identify.

Search your issue and see if the same advice pops up. If it does then it may well be the correct thing to do. If it doesn’t, then you may have just received some duff advice from a fully qualified member of the fish police.

Alternatively, if you’re already here, see if it’s on this site. I like to think I’ve filled this site with good, easy to follow advice (please tell me if not) and if it isn’t here yet then feel free to use the Facebook messenger link to ask or request an article.


Which Aquarium groups can I trust?

There are many groups to choose from on Facebook, some are well run, others are a chimps tea party.

One of my favourites is Fish Keppers UK. This group is very well maintained, it’s friendly and the advice offered is often spot on. (Especially if it’s me answering 😂).

This group runs regular, friendly competitions and is always very engaging as a community.

To find Fish keepers UK on Facebook, use this link – Fish Keepers UK


Alternatively, there is our Facebook group which you can find HERE.

Failing that, or if you’re just not a Facebook kind of person, that’s why this site exists, so sign up, create your own fish keepers profile and fill our forum with fishkeeping chat!


Social media fishkeeping groups

Social media is a great tool that has connected the world of fish keeping. This is great but do watch out for those fish police, particularly if you’re a beginner.

This site exists to give correct, easy to follow advice, so if you’re not sure, try here or another reputable site to find the right information.

If you are on groups on social media, don’t become the ‘fish police’. There is no need to quiz people on the size of their tank every time you see a picture of a Goldfish. It isn’t wise to give out advice if you’re not sure either.

Most importantly, have fun. Facebook groups should be a light-hearted setting where you can show off your fish and share some tips. So keep it fun, don’t take it too seriously and enjoy it.


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About the author

James @Seriously Fishy

I am a fish keeping enthusiast with over 20 years experience. I currently keep American Cichlids (CA) which are my favourite fish to keep so far. I started Seriously Fishy as I noticed a large volume of people on various web pages looking for help with Aquarium basics. I created the first Seriously Fishy book to solve the issue in 28 pages, that led to the Seriously Fishy UK fish forum and blog.

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