Where to start?!?!? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-12-2008, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Where to start?!?!?


I want to get some fish. lol! Obviously, right that's why I'm here. I used to have gold fish in a bowl when I was a kid, but I'd like to upgrade it a little. I saw a small inexpensive fish tank at wal-mart that I was thinking about buying. It would fit nicely on my shelf. I would like to do more than just a Beta or a gold fish. It's a large enough tank to hold several fish. and with a pump and filter, it figured it would be nice to have a few different coloured varieties. make it pretty whatever. But I don't really know where to start. Or what type of fish will live well together. Any ideas or help in what to get and how to set up and how to make it so my fish live, would be great
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-12-2008, 03:11 PM
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First things first, let get you set up correct.

The #1 must - have is a good biological filter. For a very small aquarium, say 10 gallons or smaller, i recommend a small sponge filter. They are inexpensive and require very little upkeep. You need to research the biological filter cycle, which you can google, and then you will understand the basics. It is pretty simple.

As to fish, in a small setup I would suggest only keeping 2 or 3 different species of fish. Go to a pet shop and write down the names of some you like. Post back and we can give you some direction.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-12-2008, 03:22 PM
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Some details on the tank would help. How many gallons, is it just a tank or is it a system with a filter and such included?

If you're looking to keep a number of small colorful fish there are quite a few to choose from, platys, guppies, tetras, and such. You could keep several in a small tank easily.

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post #4 of 10 Old 07-12-2008, 07:12 PM
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My advice is to find out as much information as you can on aquarium set-up and maintenance. You will need to understand the cycling process in order to have a successful aquarium. Don't believe every website, make sure you get at least a second explanation/verification on a question before you come to any conclusions. Oh and a rule of thumb I like to tell people who are thinking of starting an aquarium...you should not rely on advice from the people who work at the stores that sell you products and fish. There are so many cases where store employees do not know what they are talking about or just encourage you to buy things you do not need. It's funny you mentioned Walmart...that's where I have personally witnessed employees giving out bogus advice about fish.

This forum is a very good resource to use if you have a question, or need information.

How big is the tank you were looking at?
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-13-2008, 05:20 AM
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And certainly don't look at the packaging and say "Oh, there's a ton of fish in this picture so they all will fit in here". SO not true. My guess is that if it will fir on a shelf then it can't be more that 5 gallons and will not hold much at all unless you want a shrimp colony :)

This is the song that never ends...
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-13-2008, 01:05 PM
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I get a feeling that you're already a bit misinformed about fish care. Bettas require just as much care as any other tropical fish. Goldfish are a very poor "beginner fish" because they get very big and produce a ton of waste.

Even if you're only looking to keep some small schooling fish I recommend getting the biggest tank you can afford/have space for. You can buy a 10 gallon tank for abuot $10, a glass canopy for about another $10, a small flourescent shop light for under $10, and a filter for $15 or so. For tropical fish, you'll need to add a heater and thermometer. The total is actually comparable to those 5g hex starter kits at Wal-Mart which are incomplete setups anyway. For 20 or 29g tanks, there are some decently priced starter kits at both Wal-Mart and big pet chain stores. For anything bigger, I suggest looking at craigslist as there are often great deals on complete setups (for example I got a complete 29g setup for $30).

Having a bigger tank not only allows you more room to keep the fish you want, but bigger tanks are actually easier to care for than smaller ones. Tanks below ten gallons are more prone to temperature and pH swings that can be devastating to your fish. Also, small tanks require more frequent water changes which means more work for you.

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post #7 of 10 Old 07-14-2008, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice. I was talking to my sister over the weekend. She had purchased a starter kit from Wal-Mart last year for my niece, but when the fish died, they gave it up. Which I suppose is better for her and the fish. She's not a pet person at all, she just got one, because her 2 year old asked for it for her birthday. What a 2yrd old is going to do with a pet I'll never know, but, anyway I told her if she could keep the first one alive, she'd better leave the fish alone and thankfully she did. I personally am more of a dog person. But I did enjoy having fish when I was younger and do want to start again.

So she gave me the fist tank, with the stone and a fake plant. It has a "bottom filter?", which to me just looks like a floor with holes in it. it has a tube that you put an air stone down and bubbles of oxygen come up into the water. The hood has a light that also heats the water, but I find that it makes the hood quite hot, so considering that my grandmother likes to roast us alive, I'm only turning it on at night. I get decent sunlight into my bedroom during the day although it's not direct light. And the house is at lease 25 Degrees Celcuis. As a matter of fact, the top of the tank is steamy already without the light. The tank is 8G's. I got a Gold Molly, a Male guppy and two female guppies (although one died already? sad) although the woman at the store told me she was really young, so mabye she couldn't tolerate the change. The others are doing great. The tank also had stuff to treat the water and I bought fish food. O and there was a net.

I read in the leaflet that you should take out 20% of the water every 2 weeks and replace it, with water that is the same temp as the tank and has been treated. I'm not really sure what else I should do. The tank is the perfect size for the space. When I have more than just a room, I wouldn't mind upgrading a bit.

One question I do have is about keeping it clean. How often should I change the water and clean the tank? Is there a filter or something that I can add to it to reduce amount of times I have to clean it? I'm not really sure about pumps and everything. Also, the woman at the store told me that the fish I have wont grow much bigger than they are now, which is fine. but I wanted a little bit of a bigger fish too. Or should I just leave it alone with what I have because its a small tank? Or can you recommend a fish that's a bit bigger than what I have, but wont kill my other fish?

Am I even on the right track? I want to to this the right way, there's no point in doing this if I"m just going to waste money buy more fish because they keep dying.

What about cleaning? Do you take all the stones out when you clean it or do you just change the water?

Maybe I should stop on the questions for the time being.
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-14-2008, 04:35 PM
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Ask all the questions you need to! That's what this forum's for.

The filter you've got is an undergravel filter. While it can work as a decent biological filter, I suggest you supplement it with some sort of mechanical filter. Hang-on-back filters or internal power filters are a good option. You should get yourself a small gravel vacuum. These allow you to clean waste out of your gravel while also removing water from the aquarium. This way, you can clean out the fish poo and do your weekly water change all at once. I recommend you do a 20% water change weekly.

Since you have an odd sized aquarium, I'm guessing it has some form-fitting lid that might make adding a regular power filter difficult. This one, however, will fit right inside your tank:
Here's an example of a gravel vacuum:

Did you just treat the water and add the fish? If so, that means you haven't let your tank cycle yet. You should get yourself a good liquid test kit (like this one: http://www.aquariumguys.com/mastertestkit.html) to keep testing your water parameters. You'll probably have to do 20% water changes every day or two so that your fish don't die of ammonia and nitrite poisoning while your tank cycles.

I would try to position the tank so that it doesn't receive natural sunlight. Keeping your tank in sunlight can cause big temperature swings and will also lead to tons of algae growth. Is the light in the tank an incandescent bulb? You'll want to replace that with some sort of fluorescent light. The incandescent ones get really hot and can cause some crazy temperature swings.

Since you've got both male and female guppies, you're going to have baby guppies soon. If your molly is a female you're also probably going to have baby mollies. You need to come up with a plan for all of those baby fish (they will have a batch of 30-50 fry every month). You can get more tanks for them, try to sell them or give them away, or use them as feeders for something else.

Note: the items in those links I gave are available at most stores but you'll find that they're much more expensive in stores than online. For example, that test kit costs literally twice as much at Petco. Drs. Foster and Smith is also a good website for aquarium equipment.

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post #9 of 10 Old 07-14-2008, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I'll definately check out the filters.

When you change the water.........what exactly is the proccedure. I mean before, I just had one gold fish. I put him in a glass with aquarium water and then changed all the water and cleaned the bowl and stones. I only did it when the water looked cloudy. but if you're only taking out some water? I'm assuming I still take the fish out and put them in aquarium water. However, how long to wait to put them back? I always just put the gold fish right back in. But after reading about temperatures etc I'm assuming that may not be the best thing.

Also I'm not sure what you mean about cycling the tank?

I'm sad to report that the male died. :( I"m not sure why, he seemed to be doing well. The temperature has been consistant around 24C. The other two seem to be doing well. But I'm not sure how to tell.
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-15-2008, 05:32 AM
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When you do water changes like we do, there's no need to take out the fish. If and when you have a heater you should unplug it, but otherwise the fish will tolerate you sticking that gravel vaccum tube in and messing around with their gravel. You'll have to suck-start the siphon (gross, I know but you learn REAL quick to get it started and aimed into the collection container) and then just kinda move it around in the gravel (you'll probably see a good amount of stuff with having a molly) but you only want to do one side of the tank each week because the good biological bacteria builds up in the gravel. Take out your 20%, and then when you put water back in make sure that you have it the exact same temperates (thermometers are good for this) and always use a water conditioner and dechlorinator like Prime.

As for the heater, it doesn't hurt anything to get one and stick it in the tank. Once winter comes you'll probably need one anyways.

Unfortunately, I think the "New Tank Syndrome" took it's toll on the guppies. Have a read up on cycling, it will also explain the biological bacteria I was talking about earlier: http://www.fishforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=343

This is the song that never ends...
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