Our Fish


Bringing home your first fish

It happens all the time. You see a beautiful fish swimming happily in the aquarium shop.

You chose the fish yourself netting it with great care.

You bring it home. Put it into your tank. You admire it all through the night.

The next morning, the fish is dead.

The first thing that comes to mind: you got cheated. The aquarium shop sold you a sick fish.

You go back to the shop to complain. But the shopkeeper shows you the other fishes and they are all still happily swimming in the same tank that you selected the fish from the day before.

Some things must have gone wrong.

And very likely it is the transferring of the fish that brought about the disaster.

Fishes are sold in oxygen filled plastic bags. Like all animals, they are subject to stress. And stress can kill; it can weaken their immune system and lead them to infections and diseases. Some fishes may die after a few days or weeks after they succumb to infections or diseases resulting from the stress during the transfer.

When transporting, avoid strong light, agitation and temperature fluctuations. A fish tossing violently in a plastic bag in the car can be really stressed up.

The first thing to do is NOT to pour the fish straight into the aquarium water.

1. Float the plastic bag in the tank for about 20 minutes to equalize the temperature of the water in the plastic bag and the aquarium water.

2. Open the bag and slowing put in a bit of the aquarium water.

3. Do this every few minutes, so that the fish can adjust to the pH that is the acid and alkaline content of the water. If this is not adjusted properly, the fish can die – sometimes within minutes.

4. This is particularly so if the pH difference in your tank and the shop is great. You can test the pH value by using pH test kits available from the aquarium shops. If the pH difference is 1 or above; example: if the shop’s pH is 7. And your pH is 6, you have to adjust very slowly; some fishes cannot tolerate sudden pH changes. The easiest thing to do is to change some of the aquarium water with de-chlorinated tap water. Our tap water is usually around pH 7 – pH 8 depending on where you live. With the change of water, your aquarium tank water pH will rise. Get the pH as close as possible to the water from the aquarium shop before putting in the fish.

pH STRESS IS A SILENT KILLER. You may think that all these efforts are too troublesome. But remember, if you want to see your $1000 arowana still happily swimming in the morning, it is well worth the trouble to lose some sleep over it. And talking about arowana, make sure you have the tank securely covered. Most fish will jump in a new environment. And out of water, any fish is as good as dead in the morning.

© Petmart Pte Ltd

The Number One Selling Aquarium Fish

It is the Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi).

It is active, graceful, and they shoal like swimming jewels in your tank.

It is a mid swimming level community fish. They are easy to keep. And the most sought after
fish in a planted tank. Available in almost every aquarium shop.

They originated from the Amazon in South America. But today, they are farm bred in enormous

quantities in the East. Many farms in Singapore import the fries, raise them and then export them all over the world.

You can breed them in your tank. They like soft water (like the discus) around pH 5.5 – pH6. They demand good quality water and have a preference for a temperature around 23 – 24 degree C.

When it comes to buying neon tetras, you just don’t buy one. A shoal of 10 would be the minimum to do justice to these shoaling jewels for your tank. Most aquarium shops sell them in bags of 50 or 100 pieces.

They take flakes, live and frozen foods. They cost around 20 cents each


Keeping Small Pets


    > For Pet Care Info on Rabbits, click here.
    > For Pet Care Info on Hamsters, click here.
    > For Pet Care Info on Skinny Pigs, scroll down.
    > To view products we have for our Small Pets, click here.


Name: Mouse or mice (plural), a rodent.
Animal Type: a small nocturnal mammal.
Lifespan: 1.5 – 2 years
Reproductive age: from 6 weeks Gestation (pregnancy) period: 19-21 days
Average Litter: 8-12

With that in mind, think before you bring one home. Worse if you buy a pair. A Pet is for life. Are you prepared to commit your time and your family’s continued affection and interest for 2 years? Mice can produce a litter of 8-12 each time. If you are prepared, this is what you must have: Housing: Mice are great escape artiste and they can run very fast and hide in small openings. So the housing has got to be escape proof. Wire cages are not suitable; they can squeeze through the bars and hurt themselves. A glass aquarium with a secure wire/plastic cover is ideal. You can keep 8 in a 45 litre tank (usual 2 ft tank). Food: They eat almost anything – from compound food to nuts to fruits and vegetables. They are always chewing to shorten their teeth that grow throughout their lives. If they get too long, they cannot eat and will starve to death. Give them softwood or cuttlefish bones to chew. A water bottle is necessary and it must be hung or secured in such a way that it does not act as a ladder for them to climb out. Good odour absorbing bedding like Carefresh and Good Mews are excellent choices. Make it about 2.5 – 5 cm deep. Care: Pet mice whether it is white or black or spotted are social animals. The danger of putting all in one tank is that they will breed. You can tell the male from female by looking at them belly up. Males have 2 “openings” near their rear end, further apart compared with females. Some people buy them to feed pet snakes but this is not always true. Mice make excellent pets. They have a huge following. There is even a National Mouse Club, NMC (UK), formed over 100 years ago that encourages the breeding/exhibiting of fancy mice with rules and standards by which mice are judged. Refer to: www.nationalmouseclub.co.uk/standards.html More information available at our website: www.petmart.com.sg under Info Desk © Petmart Pte Ltd.



The SKINNY PIG is a guinea pig. The big difference is that it has almost no hair, except for some on its nose area and legs.

It looks like an almost perfectly clean shaven guinea pig. While some people may be put off by its baldness, the SKINNY PIG, often referred to as the hairless guinea pig is adored by an increasing number of pet lovers all over the world. It has become popular in Europe and the United States.

The modern day SKINNY PIG is a cross between the haired variety and a hairless laboratory strain. Guinea pigs have always been used in experiments in the laboratory for research work.

It was introduced recently in Singapore and is now available at Petmart Pte Ltd and some other pet stores. Like the haired variety, the SKINNY PIGS can be bred at home.

Just like the regular haired guinea pigs, they make good pets with almost the same requirements in food and housing. But because the SKINNY PIG’s body is without hair, it is more vulnerable to temperature extremes. You should therefore not expose it to direct sunlight.

They eat the same food as the haired variety. Staple diet is Timothy hay, for adults, and Alfalfa grass, which is higher in calcium, for youngsters. They also eat fruits and vegetables like the haired variety. They need vitamin C too.

Special commercial diet for SKINNY PIGS is available at Petmart Pte Ltd. Tel: 94500947

4 Day Old Skinny Pigs

4 Day Old Skinny Pigs

More information on the SKINNY PIG is available from our shop or you can get them from the internet.

© Petmart Pte Ltd. www.petmart.com.sg

Keeping The Rabbit As A Pet


Many children associate the rabbit with magicians. They will always remember him pulling the bunny out of his hat by the two long ears.

That, is not the right way of handling a rabbit. Pulling it by the ears is both painful and harmful. The correct way is to use your palm to support its hind legs.

Children also associate rabbits with Bugs Bunny, the cartoon character. And the prominent feature of this popular carton figure is its long front teeth.

Unlike our teeth, theirs constantly grow. And their way of keeping them short is to gnaw and gnaw. They will chew almost everything in their path: household electrical wires, furniture legs, and anything in between. So you have to bunny proof your house if you want your rabbit to run around.


  • Rabbits can live up to 10 years. So it is along term commitment.
  • They can mate as early as 3 months of age and they usually produce litters of between 4 and 6. Their gestation period is 31 days. And that, is a lot of rabbit in a short while. So think before you allow them to breed.
  • Rabbits need solid floors in their cages. Wire gratings are bad because they can injury the rabbits. If you have a wire base, make sure you put a piece of cardboard or a wad of newspapers on it. Their feet are not padded unlike dogs or cats.
  • Rabbits are rather fragile animals. Their backbone is especially weak. It can break if you drop it. So proper handling is vital. If you pull them up by its ears, it can kick and bite.
  • You should only buy a rabbit that is weaned, able to eat food by itself and one that is active and without bumps on its body (bumps are clear signs of skin diseases).
  • The incisor teeth of a healthy rabbits must be worn down from use. It they are outgrown, it can be a sign that they have been feed the wrong diet.
  • Rabbits are not rodents. They are closely related to Hares. One difference is that baby rabbits are born blind and hairless. They are weaned after 8 weeks. Hare babies are born covered with fur and with eyes opened.

Rabbits are quite docile by nature and they can even get along well with dogs and cats with proper supervision. They can be litter trained like a puppy.

Most pet shops carry a wide range of cages, toys, food, and drinking bottles. While they live in burrows in the wild, domesticated rabbits can fare well also in apartments in a suitable size cage.
A baby rabbit always looks cute. But it may be a different story when it grows up.
They are various types of rabbits. Some are bred for their meat, others for show. And their ears can be long and standing tall or drooping like the lop ear variety.

Price ranges from $15 up. They come in a variety of colours from pure white to pure black and all colours in between.

Rabbits like hamsters, mice, guinea pigs make lousy surprise birthday presents. Do not buy a rabbit on impulse. It may not bark like a dog but it sure can set the household in turmoil if you are not prepared or know how to look after it.

Setting them “free” in our parks is an offence. You will be sending them to certain death. If they don’t die of chill, they will surely be killed by dogs.

More information is available from the Internet or pet books available at Petmart Pte Ltd (Tel: 62896471).

©Petmart Pte Ltd

Keeping The Hamster As A Pet


The most common small animal that you will find in a pet shop is the cuddly hamster.

And with very good reasons: they look like miniature bears when they strike their usual pose of standing on their hind legs; they have a mouth that can store enough food to double its face; they can be trained to perform tricks and you can even pocket it around in your shirt.

Being small, they do not require a big space unlike dogs or cats. You can keep him in
your apartment, or even bring him to your work place.

They are inexpensive. They eat little. They are full of energy and antics and can exercise all night in an exercise wheel. They provide a lot of fun.

Having said that, the hamster also demands attention. You need to change its bedding and clean its cage very regularly. The hamster is not smelly but its excrements are.

And some hamsters can give you a nasty bite if mishandled. And they are good escape artists and can run very fast.

The are two types of hamsters commonly available in pet shops in Singapore:

The Syrain or sometimes called the Golden Hamster.
The Russian or Dwarf Hamster; there are two types commonly seen and they are called the Campbell and Winter White all with different colour variations. They are about one third to half the size of the Syrian.

The Dwarf Hamster is social. You can keep either two of the same sex or as a pair in a cage. A pair can produce a litter of babies every 18 days. So you better watch out for what is coming. And unless you are prepared you are going to have more babies than you can handle.

Forget about turning it into a hobby business. There is no guarantee that pet shops will buy them and even if they do, the price is not worth the effort.

The Syrian or Golden Hamster is solitary by nature. The ideal is to keep one in a cage by itself.


After 18 years selling small animals, we can testify that:

Wire cages, especially the two-storey types are NOT good for hamsters. The wires can break legs and toes of this very active animal. The compromise cage is one with a plastic base and wire top with all wires smoothen to prevent cuts. This plastic base and wire combination is better because it is easier to clean and there is sufficient ventilation.
DO NOT get a plastic cage with built in tunnels as it is very difficult to clean; the plastic connections can break and cut the animal and because hamsters like to hide their food, you will end up with leftovers all over the cage. Their urine will also seep into the plastic connections and unless you take the connections apart and wash, the cage will smell. Ventilation is also very poor in an all-plastic cage. Hamsters like to gnaw and they love to chew plastic.
The BEST all round habitat for a hamster (easy to maintain, safe and escape proof) is an all glass aquarium tank with seamless front. It is very easy to clean and if you put a plastic or wire cover, you are not likely to run into any runaway hamster problems. We recommended an 18 inch x 12 inch x 12 inch glass tank available at Petmart Pte Ltd for $20. This is an imported glass tank with seamless front designed by Five Plan of Japan. This tank is also very suitable for hermit crabs and mice.

Other things you need include bedding material, water bottles, toys, water and food. All these are available at Petmart Pte Ltd. Tel: 62896471. Email: [email protected]

Hamster life span: 2 –3 years
Breeding age: Male (6 weeks); Female (4 weeks)
Weaning: 21 days
Daily water intake: up to 30 ml
Daily food intake: about 15 g

Remember: Never buy a Hamster or other pets on IMPULSE. Keeping a pet is for life with total commitment. And some pets have longer life than humans. Unless you are prepared to spend time to look after the pets, DON’T buy them. Hamsters and others pets are bad gifts as SURPRISE birthday presents.

You can get more information on the selection, care of Hamsters from the Internet.

©Petmart Pte Ltd

Keeping the hermit crab as a pet


The lovable hermit crab is now gaining popularity as a pet all over the world.

And with very good reasons: they are cute; they are great acrobats; you can take them out of their tank and play with them; you can hand feed them and watch as they change shells.
Maintenance is easy once you know the basics and it is inexpensive. Some hermit crabs can chirp too.

Coenobita rugosus (above)

There are about 500 species of hermit crabs known in the world. They are mainly marine species that live in the sea. But about 15 of them are able to live on land. They are the terrestrial or LAND hermit crabs, with names starting with Coenobita.

One species: Coenobita rugusos is currently not listed as a threatened or an endangered species in the Convention On International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Coenobita rugosus can be found naturally in the Indo-Pacific region. The AVA has evaluated this species for keeping as a pet and Singapore pet shops with the correctset-up tank and a good knowledge of the species are now allowed to sell it.

Do you know that there are hundreds of websites, forums, clubs, associations, chat rooms, adoption groups and conventions all catering to the love of this unique creature that is called the Hermit Crab? Here is a video before I explain more on hermit crabs:

Contrary to its name, the Hermit Crab is neither a hermit nor a crab. A hermit lives in isolation but hermit crabs live in colonies of over 100 in the wild. It is actually a very social animal and to successfully keep hermit crabs as a pet, two is company; three or more is better company. Pet shops love to hear this. It is not related to the crab family and the only likeness to the crab is that it has claws that can nip when mishandled.

But don’t let that worry you. Hamsters and rabbits bite too if mishandled. A properly cared hermit crab can be trained to run on the palm of your hand, climb up your shirt, run over your shoulders; scurry all over your room; fight over shells, change shells, like you test shirts to get the best fit. The shell is NOT part of the hermit crab. It is just a temporary house, found, borrowed or stolen. They outgrow the shells and have to seek new ones. Just like you have to change to bigger shirts as you grow.

If you see painted shells, it is just the work of someone trying to be creative. Not what nature intended it to be. The hermit crabs seek shelter in empty sea shells designed and pigmented by nature. There is an ongoing argument whether painting of shells is necessary; some claim that the paint may be toxic to the hermit crabs.

With such antics, it is no wonder that more people around the world are keeping them as pets. Hermit crabs are found in most parts of the world in the sea or on land.
They have 2 pairs of antennae and 4 pairs of legs. The first pair forms the pincers, shaped to cover the shell entrance when the hermit is inside.

Keeping the hermit crab as a pet may be the alternative to keeping dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, or mice for some people who have neither the time nor the space for these bigger animals.

LAND Hermit crabs like Coenobita rugosus are clean and easy to keep. They are active animals and come in several colours. From grey/brown to grey/green, reddish orange, pink yellow, and even white.

According to one report, they have quite unique claws with 7 stitch marks (////) on the upper part of the big claw. They have light coloured spots on their bodies. Eyes are elongated in shape. Eyestalks are white or sandy in colour and the left claw is larger than the right claw. And you can tell whether it is a male or female by checking on the gonophores found on females. See www.crabzilla.net/faq.php.

Frankly we think it is better to leave the positive identification to the experts and concentrate on keeping our hermits happy by following simple commons sense practices.

Coenobita rugosus is a small hermit crab. It is a great climber; it can chirp; it is a nocturnal animal (they are most active at night); they molt (shed their outer skeleton); it likes to burrow in sand especially during molting; it can eat whatever you eat, meat and all; you cannot keep just one hermit crab, it needs similar companions; It needs plenty of fresh and saltwater to regulate their system; it needs high humidity and temperature around 28 degree Centigrade. Singapore being in the tropics has all these requirements all year round. We do not need to use under tank heaters or worry too much about providing the necessary humidity.

The scientific name of this hermit crab is Coenobita rugosus
but it has other fancy names too like winkled land hermit crab, crying land hermit crab or Rugs for short. It is native in the Pacific islands including India, Eastern part of Africa, Philippines, Malaysia, China , Japan, Taiwan and Polynesia.

They are collected by man in the wild – usually in forests near the shoreline -and sold to exporters to service the pet market. They are roughly graded according to their shell opening: small (2 cm shell opening), medium (3-3.5cm opening), and large (4-5 cm opening) for export.

Hermit crabs cannot bread in captivity. They started life in the sea and after a series of molting, developed hardened gills that allow them to breath in air. But they must return to the sea to lay their eggs and start a new generation. They need water to keep their modified gills and soft bodies wet at all times.

What You Must Do:

Remember that you can only buy the species called Coenobita rugosus. Don’t worry about this. To sell hermit crabs, pet shops in Singapore need to be licensed and they have to ensure they sell the right species. Species identification of hermit crabs can sometimes be academic and the hobbyists can never be 100 per cent sure. If you want to pursue the matter, go to the Internet and you can find the specific difference between the species. You can even send them pictures for identification.

The hermit crab is best kept in a glass aquarium tank. It is better than plastic because glass does not scratch and easier to clean. An 18 x 12 x 12 inch or 24x 12 x 12 inch glass tank will be the best.

All you need to do is to put a substrate like aquarium sand to a depth of about 5 cm or about twice the size of your biggest hermit for them to burrow and molt. Do not use gravel. They have very soft stomachs and gravel can damage them when they burrow. Their soft stomach is the reason why Hermit Crabs have to seek shelter in shells to protect themselves.

They need plenty of water to maintain their body system. You must provide fresh and salt water to maintain its system. So you will need three shallow non-metal dishes (metal is considered toxic to hermit crabs) in the glass tank that is called the CRABITAT. The first is for de-chlorinated tap water; the second for salt water (same like what marine hobbyist use); and the third for food. You can get all these items from most pet stores. The hermits will drink and bath in the bowls of water.

The important thing to remember is that LAND hermit crabs can DROWN. So when they go into the water dishes to drink or take a bath, they must be able to climb out just like you must be able to get out of a swimming pool if you do not know how to swim. Putting a sponge into the water bowls can help to lower water levels and increase humidity. The bowls should have some form of ridge linings so that they can climb out easier or you can place some pebbles inside the bowl to act as stepping-stones.

You can buy special compound food from pet shops and their favourite food for your hermit crab is also the favourite for most aquarium fishes – flakes, freeze dried krill, algae wafers etc. They also eat apples, grapes, meat, fish fillets, and whatever you wish to give him.

They are omnivorous scavengers in the wild. They eat meat as well as vegetable matter. They are not fussy eaters but like humans some may not like a particular food. But remember, the more exotic your menu is, the more likely you will pollute his CRABITAT. Your must remember that Hermit crabs like to dig and carry their food into burrows or crevices and that will pollute the environment. One way of getting around this is to gather whatever hermits you can find (leave the molting ones alone), put them into a temporary container and give them an occasional feast and then return them to the tank. In this way, leftover special dinners like meat will not enter and contaminate the crabitat. You also need to clean their crabitat daily and change the substrate (sand) once a month or sooner. Never use wood shavings as substrate.

Don’t panic if you find that you have lost one or two hermit crabs at the last count. Look for tell tale signs; they are most probably hidden in the sand and started the process of molting. Never dig them out. It may take weeks before they come out of the sand. Nature has provided them with the instinct to hide when they become vulnerable. If your favourite hermit crab has lost some limbs, do not be too worried. After successful molting it usually grows new ones.

Molting is a very vulnerable stage is the life of a Hermit Crab. At this time, they shed their shells (exoskeleton) as part of their growing process. Hermit crabs are crustaceans like shrimps and true crabs. During molting, they are weak, practically defenseless and soft all over. Imagine eating a soft shell crab at your favourite restaurant and you will get the picture. The smaller hermit crabs like the Coenobita rugosus molts once every few months. There are telltale signs of an impending molting including cloudy eyes and unusual behaviors. Refer to suggested websites below for more details.

Hermit crabs like to climb. So that means a cover for your tank may be necessary. And you must provide them with climbing toys like driftwood, terracotta objects or logs for them to cling on. If you do not have a cover, you must make sure the climbing toys do not lean against the top edges of the tank because they will climb out. You also need to give them hiding places like rocks for quiet relaxation. And more importantly they need spare shells of various sizes. This is necessary because they will outgrow themselves and have to find a new home every now and then.

Ask for a Hermit Crab care instructional leaflet from the pet shop. Go to the Internet; there are hundreds of websites on care tips for hermit crabs. You can even join the clubs, associations and forums, ask questions, and talk to fellow crabbers around the world.

Maybe someone should start a Singapore Hermit Crab club or forum; it is through such forums that ideas and care tips are exchanged and a very useful way of jump-starting this fascinating hobby. In Singapore, we have the Discus club, the Betta club, the dog and cat clubs. You cannot expect the pet shops to provide infallible total care for this hermit crab; they can only provide the basics.

What You Must NOT Do:
1. Force the hermit crab out of its shell.
2. Dig the hermit crab out of the sand during molting.
3. Bring home a hermit crab during your holiday overseas.
4. Release unwanted hermit crabs into the wild. Return them to the shop or give them to a friend or get them adopted. In captivity, they can live over 10 years although there are claims that they have lived to 25 years.
5. You must not buy the hermit crabs from non-licensed pet shops.
6. Hermit crabs cannot breed in captivity unlike mice or hamsters; so there is no fear of being stuck with a load of baby hermits; so don’t think of breeding them.
7. Do not choose a hermit crab because the painted shell attracts you. You may end up with a dying hermit crab in a beautifully decorated shell. You should buy a hermit crab based on its shiny eyes, activeness, and general vibrant natural colours. It is no different from buying a hamster or rabbit or an aquarium fish. You look for tell tale signs of lethargy and the quality of the environmental conditions where they are kept for sale.

Suggested websites to read:
- www.hermit-crabs.com (you can actually hear hermit crabs making sounds online)
- www.hermit-crabs.com/rugosus
- www.wikihow.com
- www.paradisepetsupply.com
- www.crabbytalk.com
- www.answers.com/topic/hermit-crab
- www.hermitcrabparadise.com
- www.crabzilla.net
- www.exotic-pets.co.uk
- www.hermitcrabassociation.com
- www.crabstreetjournal.com
- www.ava.gov.sg

Or just simply type in hermit crabs in Yahoo search.

The information in this article is based on our experience, the experiences of hobbyists, information culled from websites forums, associations, hermit crab conventions and it does not in anyway confirm that the do’s and don’ts are scientifically accepted.

Professional advice, medication and advanced nutrition for the Hermit Crab is at present perfunctory unlike well researched studies on the anatomy, physiology and treatment for dogs and cats.

If your Hermit Crab appears sick, your first resort is to check with friends, post the problem on the web and get feedback from forums. Or check the website FAQs. If you find your favourite hermit dangling lifeless out of its shell, there is no need to rush it to the vet or start a funeral. It may be molting. But if it smells of rotting flesh, going to the vet is not going to help. The bonus in this case is that you now have another empty shell for your other hermits.

This article is written, printed, and supplied by Petmart Pte Ltd. You can also read it at our website: www.petmart.com.sg under Info Desk. From time to time, we will update new information concerning this new member of the pets’ family and others. Email: [email protected]. Two other animals: the Green tree frog (Litoria caerulea) and the Malayan box turtle (Cuora amboinensis), CITES appendix II, can now also be sold in licensed pet shops. Look out for them.