What are good starter fish for an 8 year old?
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What are good starter fish for an 8 year old?

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What are good starter fish for an 8 year old?
Old 07-06-2013, 08:19 AM   #1
 
What are good starter fish for an 8 year old?

Hi,

What are the easiest, most hardy fish to have as a starter fish for a young responsible girl?

We tried guppies and they just kept dying despite doing what we were told to do to take care of them (which was alot of work for the entire family, despite being told that they are easy to nurture). Clearly guppies were not for us.

Are there any fish that are hardy and require minimal maintenance and fuss, yet will still live a year or so?
We don't have issues with changing water, feeding, cleaning, making sure water is balanced properly etc, but when we do all of this and the water quality is deemed to be fine, we need fish that will actually survive instead of having all of them die within 2 weeks.

Any suggestions for easy to maintain, durable fish, would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Juggernaut
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:58 AM   #2
 
How big is the tank? Water parameters? Once we know we can start giving some suggestions, by the way with good care most tropical fish should live at least 5 years, some much more than that.

Last edited by smit3183; 07-06-2013 at 09:10 AM..
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Old 07-06-2013, 09:10 AM   #3
 
I'll guess I'll go ahead and assume this is a small tank. As for as durability I've had tremendous luck with cherry barbs. They can be kept in tanks as small as 10 gallon and handle a wide range of water parameters. They're a schoaling fish so you would need at least 6.
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Old 07-06-2013, 09:20 AM   #4
 
What was the advice you were given that you were following - I ask because I think it is likely less about the species and more about something in the process you were following that caused the death. A lot of the "advice" offered by pet store employees is a recipe for disaster and fish loss.
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:15 AM   #5
 
Hi guys,

Sorry for not giving more information.

It is only a 5 gallon tank with a filter, hood/light & heater.

First we were told to just add the water stabilizer and let the charcol filter run for 4 days before adding the fish. Was told to keep temperature 75-80 degrees. Was told to change 25% of water once a month.

Only after questioning why they were dying did we hear anything about ammonia levels, biological filters, "new tank syndrome", tail rot, etc....

Maybe this isn't the pet for my daughter.

I know someone who has a beta fish in 1/2 gallon tank - just changes the water periodically with the stabilizer and feeds it.
I think this is the level of fish care we need - but would like more than 1 fish, and would like fish that are a bit more active.

Again, I don't mind having to do more work, but I am not looking to have it be an up-hill battle where I am constantly fighting to keep the fish alive. I would like fish that can survive with basic maintenance.

Thanks!
Juggernaut
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:20 AM   #6
 
I know this sounds weird but the bigger the tank the easier the upkeep/maintenance. Not much you can keep in a 5 gallon other than a Betta. Your yuppies are likely dying of ammonia poisoning from a uncycled tank. I'd suggest learning about the nitrogen cycle.
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:27 AM   #7
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by smit3183 View Post
I know this sounds weird but the bigger the tank the easier the upkeep/maintenance. Not much you can keep in a 5 gallon other than a Betta. Your yuppies are likely dying of ammonia poisoning from a uncycled tank. I'd suggest learning about the nitrogen cycle.
Hi,

Yes, we have learned the hard way about the nitrogen cycle.

Our ammonia level is now in the safe range.

Initially we bought a 2.5 gallon tank and were told 3 guppies were fine for that - then they told us we needed the 5 gallon tank for 3 guppies, so we upgraded. Seems like getting one set of bad advice after another....
Will a 10 gallon tank really do the trick?

Regardless, if the nitrogen is under control, what else could be causing them harm?

Thanks,
Juggernaut
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:32 AM   #8
 
Honestly if this is a hobby you and your daughter are really interested in I'd go for the biggest tank you can afford and have space for. Water parameters are more controllable and you can have more fish which is always fun.

What do you mean when you say ammonia is at a safe level? It needs to ALWAYS be at 0

Last edited by smit3183; 07-06-2013 at 10:37 AM..
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Old 07-06-2013, 12:12 PM   #9
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by smit3183 View Post
Honestly if this is a hobby you and your daughter are really interested in I'd go for the biggest tank you can afford and have space for. Water parameters are more controllable and you can have more fish which is always fun.

What do you mean when you say ammonia is at a safe level? It needs to ALWAYS be at 0
Hi,

We will definitely consider a larger tank.

I just brought a water sample to the store and they said both the ammonia and the nitrogen were where they were supposed to be.

So, my question is: Can you have overcrowding if the ammonia levels and the nitrogen levels are zero (or an otherwise safe range)?
Is there another parameter used to determine that there are too many fish in the tank? They still insist I can put 3 guppies in a 5 gallon tank...

Thanks!
Juggernaut
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Old 07-06-2013, 02:44 PM   #10
 
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Pet store employees have only the basic knowledge of keeping fish. For the majority, it is not their hobby, nor their passion. It is just a job, and their job is to sell you fish, tanks, and supplies. They're going to tell you what you want to hear.

Your best bet is to disregard what they say and do your own research, or at least take what they say with a grain of salt. I've had more than one experience with horrible pet shop advice.

Fish keeping can be quite tricky in the beginning, same with when you first keep any new pet. There's always a balancing act, learning new things, and making mistakes. (Such as leaving your brand new pair of shoes out after you get a puppy. One who likes to chew.)

It's best if we start from the top and work out what you need, what you don't, and what's happening.

For any tank, no matter how small or large, there is a 'cycle', that goes on. This is the process of fish waste (ammonia, which is highly toxic to fish), being converted into nitrite (which is also highly toxic), and then finally into nitrate (which is non-toxic in low concentrations) by 'beneficial bacteria'. Unfortunately, many pet shop employees consider low numbers of ammonia/nitrite to be non-toxic, but this is in fact the opposite of the truth. Exposure to ammonia and nitrite of any level has disastrous to fish, and will eventually kill them. There is no 'safe' level of ammonia/nitrite besides zero.

Your best bet is to buy your own test kit, where you can test the water yourself, at any time, and have the numbers right in front of you. The 'API Liquid Master Test Kit' is invaluable for this, and costs about $20 on Amazon. It will last you for years, and is just as important as the water itself in my opinion.

Unfortunately you are in what we call a 'fish in cycle'. The only way to keep your fish alive at this point is to be changing the water every single day, half the amount, and using a good water conditioner, such as Prime by Seachem. This will detoxify ammonia and nitrite for up to 48 hours, keeping it from building in the tank until you do the next days water change.

You may also look into returning the fish, and doing more research and deciding if this is what you really want to do. Fish do require care, and it can be tricky getting it down at first. But after awhile it becomes second nature. I have three tanks, a 38 gallon (my first), and 20 gallon, and a ten gallon. Maintenance on them takes less than an hour a week, for all 3.

Another great thing to add would be live plants which basically 'eat' ammonia/nitrite, but we would need to know the light on the tank before we delve into that.

What the store is not thinking about is how active guppies are. They really like their swimming space, and can be quite aggressive. When they are confined to a small space, this will stress them, as they can't really 'get away' from each other, nor do they have enough room to exercise. This stress with compromise their immune systems and leave them even more susceptible to the ammonia and nitrite building up in your tank.

After you get through this rough patch, it's good practice to change half the water in your tank once a week, to keep organics and nitrate from building up. Not the 25% monthly they told you.

Just to comment on the thing about the betta- that fish is not thriving. He is merely surviving in those conditions. A betta kept in a properly heated, filtered, adequately sized tank will be active, robust, and personable.

EDIT: All fish require basic care to survive. Basic care is an adequately sized, filtered, heated, cycled tank with weekly water changes done. With this provided, there are many types of fish that can be kept. But first, before suggesting fish, we need to get through this cycle and deciding if you will get a larger tank or not.

Last edited by jentralala; 07-06-2013 at 02:48 PM..
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