How to Care for Bluegill

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Bluegills can make good aquarium fish.
Bluegills can make good aquarium fish. (Image: Seiya Kawamoto/Lifesize/Getty Images)

If you don't know how to take care of bluegills, you'll become their executioner rather than caretaker. Fortunately, taking care of the fish is easy. Knowing and practicing basic aquarium care is all that is required. Beyond that, setting up the tank so that it more closely mimics the bluegill's natural environment will move you from simply a caretaker to a good provider for the fish.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium
  • Pea gravel or rock substrate
  • River mud
  • Sand
  • Native plants
  • Large river rocks
  • Ph tester
  • Water
  • Water filter
  • Aquarium lid
  • Bluegills

Setup

Buy an aquarium that's large enough for the amount of bluegills you will have, keeping in mind they can grow to 10 inches long each. Using the common one-inch-per-gallon rule, house two bluegills in a 25-gallon tank. The extra five gallons is added for the displacement caused by the pea gravel and other objects, plants and materials included in the tank.

The right size aquarium makes all the difference in quality of life for the bluegill.
The right size aquarium makes all the difference in quality of life for the bluegill. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Pour pea gravel or rock substrate onto the bottom of one part of the aquarium. Pack river mud onto the bottom of another part of the aquarium. Pour sand onto the bottom of the aquarium in another place in the aquarium and over the river mud. All substrates should roughly measure one inch up from the bottom.

Arrange the tank so that it resembles the bluegill's natural environment.
Arrange the tank so that it resembles the bluegill's natural environment. (Image: Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Acquire both below-surface and floating plant life that's native to the bluegill's environment, and which they won't eat. Arrange the bottom plants into the river mud. Smooth the sand back over the place where the plants are buried in the river mud so that the river mud doesn't become a nuisance in the tank.

Both floating and below-surface native plants make good aquatic plant life in a bluegill aquarium setup.
Both floating and below-surface native plants make good aquatic plant life in a bluegill aquarium setup. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Build the river rocks on top of each other so that the bluegills have small coves and resting and hiding places. Arrange other river rocks so that the aquarium doesn't have a clear line of sight from one end to the other end.

River rocks make great hiding places for bluegills.
River rocks make great hiding places for bluegills. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Slowly fill the aquarium with water. Test the water from which the bluegill fish are coming from and compare it to the water in which you're putting them. Add ph balancer, as necessary, closely matching the ph balance in the aquarium to the water where the bluegill was before the aquarium.

Test the waters, both where the fish came from and where they are going.
Test the waters, both where the fish came from and where they are going. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Add the appropriate size water filter to the aquarium. Cover the aquarium with a lid.

Cover the aquarium; bluegills will jump out of it.
Cover the aquarium; bluegills will jump out of it. (Image: Jochen Sands/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Care

Feed bluegills what they like to eat, such as native plant life, smaller native fish, insects and store-bought freshwater fish food. Don't overfeed them, especially if you don't have crawfish or other omnivorous bottom-dwellers in the tank.

Smaller freshwater fish make great fish food for bluegills.
Smaller freshwater fish make great fish food for bluegills. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Use an algae scraper or pad to clean the sides of the tank if the tank becomes too overrun with algae. Change the water by removing only 25 percent of the water at a time, as necessary. Always leave 75 percent of the water in the tank. Do not remove the live plants when changing the water.

Algae isn't necessarily a bad thing in an aquarium.
Algae isn't necessarily a bad thing in an aquarium. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Use a gravel vacuum to clean the debris from the rocks substrate, carefully avoiding the sand. Add bottom dwellers, such as catfish or crawfish, to clean the bottom of the tank.

Bottom-dwelling fish and crustaceans keep the bottom of the tank clean.
Bottom-dwelling fish and crustaceans keep the bottom of the tank clean. (Image: Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

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