General Advice Needed
Hey, I'm new here, sorry if this is in the wrong section!
I work in a petshop which sells a variety of coldwater and tropical fish (and I think a few marines), but know absolutely nothing about fish (much more in to my little furies I'm afraid).
Anyway, after several months, I'm still so rubbish at advising customers on caring for various species, and was wondering if anyone had any links to sites that would give an idiots guide to fish keeping, or if they could write a little bit for me themselves? I've tried looking myself, but can't seem to find a way of doing this wthout having to go through every species and subspecies ever existing... ever... and trying to remember what we actually sell!
So if anyone could help, it would be great. I need to know about the popular (pet-shop) fish, what need to be alone/in shoals (size?), what other fish they get along with, any special requirements, etc.
Any help at all would be greatly appreciated! x
Well, my friend, you've come to the right place. We are the place to be for information for the noob. Welcome to the forum and take advantage of the information and people here. They are friendly and willing to help.
You're not likely to find that sort of data all in one place without reading about lots of different species.
One thing you should know: Fish do not grow to the size of the tank and stop. If the tank is too small they grow to the size of the tank and die.
With that said, do not sell people iridescent sharks, red bellied pacu, or red tailed catfish unless they have a several thousand gallon indoor pond. These get way too big for the home aquarium. Columbian/silvertip shark catfish, sold as freshwater, are actually brackish water as juveniles, and full marine as adults (and a foot long to boot), so that's something people should know.
Common plecos get nearly 2 feet long. Sailfin Plecos get 18". Since the tank to house a fish should be at least as long as the fish in all dimensions, you're looking at a 120 for a common or a 75 for a sailfin pleco. They are also major poop machines.
Tetras: should be in a minimum school of 6, and the bigger the school the better. Serpae tetras can be nippy. Buenos Aires tetras and Silver Dollars will eat live plants. (And silver dollars get 8" long, so for a minimum school of 6, a 55 gallon tank is the abslute minimum). Same goes for Tinfoil Barbs as goes for silver dollars, only they get even bigger so a minimum school takes a 75 to 90 gallon tank. Same goes for bala sharks, except they are more active and need a tank at least 6' long.
Cories: Should be kept in groups of 5 or more. (3 is minimum), Need smooth gravel or sand. Never put salt in a cory tank.
Skunk Loaches are notorius fin nippers and can seriously damage fish much larger than themselves.
Clown Loaches get a foot long or more, can live for over 20 years, and should be kept in a school of at least 5. 90 gallon tank minimum, 100 is better.
Livebearers should be kept with no more than 1 male per 2 females. Male swordtails are aggressive with each other, so for any tank shorter than 4', maximum of 1 male swordtail. Most livebearers do best in hard water. Most mollies appreciate some salt in the water, but don't need it if the water is hard (limestone or seashells in the tank are as good as salt for mollies).
Weather Loaches, Goldfish, White Clouds, hong-kong plecos (hillstream loaches), and garra pingi are not tropical fish. They are temparate. They can survive art the low end of tropical temperatures (74 F), but they do best at 68-72.
Male Bettas should be kept in a tank by themselves. This should be at least a 5.5 gallon tank. (Just because they can survive in those cups for a few days doesn't make it healthy for them). They thrive best at about 78-80F, in clean, still water. Low powered, in tank filters are helpful, and heaters pretty much mandatory in temperate climes in winter months.
Some will accept tankmates such as Mystery snails, dwarf frogs, otos (dwarf suckermouth catfish), cories, and small tetras or rasboras, but some won't. Under no circumstances should a male and a female betta be housed together unless both the male and female are in breeding condition, and the intent is for them to breed.
Female bettas should be kept either alone or in groups of 6 or more. A 10 gallon is a good size for 6 female bettas.
Three Spot, Opaline, Gold, Platinum, Lavender, and Blue gouramis are all the same species. They can be aggressive with each other.
Chinese algae eaters are aggressive, don't eat much algae, get up to 11" long, and are pure hell to get out of the tank once established (They're extremely fast and wily). Once they grow, they will kill other fish.
Angelfish need a 18" tall tank minimum. They will eat fish that are neon tetra sized or smaller.
Almost every cichlid can be aggressive, but they all have individual personalities.
Oscars get up to 16" long and require 80 gallons per fish, both for space and to dilute the huge amount of waste they produce. That said, if someone has a 75 gallon tank and wants an oscar, I am given to understand that they are the most puppy like of all fish.
That ought to get you started. ;)
Adding on to above.
-Barbs need to be in a shoal of 8 or more, or it usually brings out fin-nipping. This has happened even with more peaceful Cherry Barbs.
-Lepornius's can grow to 12" long and will eat and harass other fish (Thank you Tophat for the info).
-Common plecos can reach 24", Bristlenosed can reach 8", Clown Plecos are usually very shy. All are poop machienes.
-Jack Dempsey's are very similar to Oscar's-They need a tank of 55 Gallons minimum.
-Danios need to be kept in a school of 5 or more, because having a few will lead to one being dominant over the rest (Person experience...)
-Snails will breed if you have 2 or more, and can produce 20-60 babies.
-Livebearers on average have 10-60 babies (Guppies can have 100) in a single "batch".
-Common/Fancy Goldfish need a tank of 20 Gallons minimum. They are poop machienes as well, and are a coldwater fish (Temperature can be from 60-72)
-Sharks (Such as Rainbow and Red-Tailed) should be alone or have a group of 5+ in a large tank.
-Never place two males bettas in one tank, or a male betta with a single female (have at least 4).
-Have 1 or 4+ female bettas in one tank.
-Gouramis can be considered Semi-Aggresive, not Tropical Community.
-The general rule of fish is 1" of fish be gallon.
Some rules of thumb for generalizations (while keeping in mind that each group/rule has its exceptions)
Barbs tend to be aggressive, exceptions are cherry barbs, gold barbs, odessa barbs
Tetras are schooling fish
labarynth fishes breathe air from the surface
Livebearers are not suggested for small tanks unless they are aware of breeding habits and prepared for it
Most soft water fish also require much higher temps (82 - 86)
Central and South American cichlids are known most for their sizes... tend to be tank busters, and are not compatible with African cichlids
The list goes on forever...
Maybe it would help more if you asked specific questions? Also, are you familiar with the nitrogen cycle? This is one of the most important things to teach people about aquarium keeping. Knowing and understanding the nitrogen cycle is important and can help when trying to figure out what is ok to put in what size of a tank... and if something goes wrong. Many fish have very specific needs for water params, generally in the hardness/pH areas.
And the best general advice I can give: If Dawn says so, you better listen. She hasn't been wrong yet that I've seen (including all corrections to my last post.)
/ The next best General advice: Let your colonels do most of the work, and limit yourself to just making the important decisions.
I almost forgot to "fix" something... the silver dollars...
they average about 10 inches in diameter (the size of a dinner plate) when full grown, so the tank size has to be huge... to keep even 1 to full grown you're looking about 150 - 200 gallons minimum!
I have been thinking about this thread all night, and if you really want to learn all you can as fast as you can, why don't you contact me on Yahoo messenger??? If you pm me here I can give you my yahoo ID and we can talk, you can take notes if you want/need to... etc...
I used to do most of the training at the store before I left... all new fish room staff were sent to me. I have about 4 yrs of training experience in that field, and would love to help you just because you care enough to learn. My hope is that you go back and teach the others so they can also help the customers properly and save the innocent fish!
Think I'm gonna have to come back to this another night (gotta get to bed soon, start work at 7am!) and maybe make myself a little note book... with illustrations too as some of those names were just going straight over my head!
Thanks again for it all, I'm sure I'll have more questions - actually I have one now that the customers always ask and I feel stupid for not knowing.. what's the best number of goldfish to keep?
bettababy - I don't have yahoo messenger, just msn. Don't know if you have that either, or maybe I could just pm you if I have further qs? thanks x x x :D
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