04-11-2008, 11:22 PM
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I'm pretty new myself, having started my first [freshwater] tank about a month ago. But I have done a lot of my own research and been given a lot of advice that I might could accurately relay unto others. First piece of advice is to start small and build it as you go. Of course you need a tank and stand that will hold the weight. From what I've seen, setup costs, maintenance and stuff rise dramatically once you pass the 30 gallon range. So I might suggest getting a 30 gal or less to start and gain some expertise. You should be able to find a upgrade when ready. Uh, my next step would be to research a few types of fish you like. Make sure they get along with each other and will not outgrow or dominate the whole tank. Make sure all species have similar environmental needs. And if you wanna maximize the fishes use of the tank, chose fish that will swim in all parts of it. It's called "stratosphising" or something; making sure you have certain fish that swim up top of the tank, middle level and bottom swimmers. This makes for better display of the fish and less space conflict. Also make sure you get schooling fish in numbers of more than one or two. Now don't go buy the fish for a five sided blank tank, just research them and see what kind of community you wanna build. Then build their environment. Usually the tank and accessories are the expensive part; you can build the environment as you go if you start slowly. I've read it's best to introduce fish just a couple/few at a time. I made the mistake of buying all my fish at once. I lost one or two a day for a couple days before they all settled in. If your first ones are small fish or really calm, they require very little maintenance as they produce less waste and stuff. Some lightly populated setups with the right plant-life don't even require filters or aeration. The plants do most of the filtering and provide sufficent oxygen for small fish populations. I'd still recommend scheduled water changes and bottom cleanings though. From there, add a couple fish at a time, a filter here, and heater there, some decoration wherever. And before you know it, you're ready to expand or get a second tank or specialize in some area of aquariuminism. That's my newbie input for what it's worth.