Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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vijay 01-04-2010 08:01 PM

A very BIG new tank for a complete NOVICE
 
I work for a small company in Cambodia who have decided to set up an office aquarium and I have been charged with the care of it.

I have absolutely no idea of how to care for tropical freshwater fish. I have read through a number of tropical fish care websites but still have a number of questions with which I hope you can help with.

The websites that I have seen look at general hobbyists with home fish tanks of 20 to 50 gallons and none the size of the tank we have.

My boss has ordered an aquarium with the following dimensions 1700mm x 800mm x 750mm. Simple arithmetic works this out to be some 1,020 litres capacity or 270 gallons. That is a lot of water and very heavy to boot - in the region of 1 metric tonne.

I should be grateful if you could help with the following. For a tank of this size:
What sort of equipment will I need in terms of pumps, filters, lighting and heating and what sort of power will be required? I am particularly concerned about getting equipment capable of doing the job for a tank that size. I do not want equipment that is underpowered for the requirements.
How many fish should we get?
What sort of sizes? How big should the biggest fish be and how small the smallest? How many big fish? Obviously, a tank full of 5 centimetre fish will look silly.
What types of fish should we get that will co-exist without wanting to fight or eat each other?.
Real or fake plants? If real, will I need some form of organic material (soil, compost) in the tank substrate to provide something for the plants to take root in?

As I mentioned, we are in Cambodia and the tropical fish scene here is, well, basically non-existent and there are no local tropical fish suppliers. If there were, I would probably contract someone to set up and care for the tank until we understood how to do it ourselves. Without local help, I simply want to be able to make the tank look nice and not have any fish die on me or eat any its neighbours.

Any help you can provide with these questions and any other advice will be very gratefully received.

I've received some correspondence already basically saying, "it depends on what you want". The point here is that I don't know what I want or need. The way to look at this plea for help is, if you were given a tank of 1,020 litres (270 gallons), what type of equipment would you set up, what species of fish would you start with, how many of each and what types of plants would you put in. I have read quite a lot about how to start the mechanics of starting up a new tank, the gravel, the water, water testing, cycling the water, rocks and log hiding places, procedures for introducing new fish and am quite comfortable with that aspect.

I understand that all experienced hobbyists will have their own opinions and preferences in how they would stock an aquarium but I'm hoping that there is some common ground on starting an aquarium and getting a nice balance in fish varieties and numbers of big, medium and small sized fish, particularly for a complete novice.

What I want to end up with is a spectacular aquarium with a nice variety of fish which is not over or understocked and species that will cohabit with each other without fin nipping, fighting and looking on each other as tonight's fish supper.

As mentioned, our office is in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and the tropical fish supply market is, basically non existent. Search as I might, I have yet to root out a tropical fish stockist or supplier and so cannot seek help locally. I have found a supplier in Bangkok who is willing to supply everything we need, even fish but again he makes the same point as the other comments I have already received, "it depends on what you want". Please tell me what I do want.

I am a complete novice at this but I am sure that I will learn by trial and error (hopefully not too much error) but if I am going to be responsible for the company aquarium, then I want to be able to care for these fish properly.

Please help.

rsn48 01-04-2010 08:56 PM

I won't answer all your questions, but nibble at a few and come back and answer more if others have missed something. The reality - forgetting maintenance for a moment - is that a larger aquarium is easier to maintain from a biological standpoint than a smaller one, so 270 gallons will provide a much more stable water chemistry than a ten gallon tank. So interestingly, your 270 is easier in some ways than the basic ten gallon sold everywhere.

Starting goggling and reading articles on setting up a new aquarium, just search "how to set up a new aquarium" and most importantly, learn about "new tank syndrome." There are many articles on the net which will provide you with the tools and vocabulary to tackle the problem.

Fish - to my eye a tank that is all fins isn't as attractive as a tank that has been thoughtfully planned out and not stocked to the "gills" so to speak. You are better off to again read the net about fish, find some that interest you and are available to you, then ask her about them.

Issues to pay attention to is remember that when planning tank capacity, even though the fish might be small, you need to know how large it will grow - the final adult fish is what is used in tank capacity planning (lots on the net about this).

Take your information in bits as you need it. So first plan on where it is to go, then find out how much the tank plus everything weighs to see if the floor can handle the stress. Then plan on equipment (isn't that hard), then decide on style of tank (lots on the net) about this, but again to my eye a planted tank can't be beat.

Then decide on substrate, etc. Just go step by step.

Also hit your local library, it might be a good source of books and magazines for your aquarium.

aunt kymmie 01-04-2010 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vijay (Post 299858)

As mentioned, our office is in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and the tropical fish supply market is, basically non existent. Search as I might, I have yet to root out a tropical fish stockist or supplier and so cannot seek help locally. I have found a supplier in Bangkok who is willing to supply everything we need, even fish but again he makes the same point as the other comments I have already received, "it depends on what you want". Please tell me what I do want.

Does your Bangkok supplier have a fish stock list? When he says he has "everything you need" does this also mean he has "any fish you want"?

mrdemin 01-04-2010 09:15 PM

Is it safe to assume you want the more hardy, easier to care for fish that will be of minimal problems?

stephanieleah 01-04-2010 09:25 PM

Congratulations! What a fun undertaking.

Yes, learn about cycling your new tank, read as much as you can about starting a new aquarium (e.g. cycling, adding fish slowly, how to add fish, checking water parameters).

Being new to the fishkeeping hobby, if it were me I'd set up the tank with plants while the tank is cycling so you get used to caring for the tank without the risk of killing fish while you adapt to your new routine. The plants will make the tank look beautiful, natural, and flowing, the fish will appreciate them, and plants keep your tank healthy. Lots of online retailers sell plants. Look at threads from this forum to learn about how people introduce plants into their tank (to protect your tank from outside pollutants and diseases).

After all is said is done (tank cycled, fish settled, etc etc.) I would probably expect to spend 3-4 hours per week on tank maintenance (would anyone agree or disagree about this?). This is assuming everything is normally functioning.

I'd look into purchasing online if you can. I don't know how live transport is nor what impact/stress it puts on fish, but might not hurt to try.

Fish suggestions: find a few that you like aesthetically (you can browse our "tropical fish profiles" page for a brief description on a small list of fish breeds), then come back to the forum and ask for suggestions on tank mates to create a peaceful fish community. You will want fish that hang out toward the top, middle, and bottom of the tank. At least one breed of algae eaters. Algae eating fish tend to be my absolute favorite, from an aesthetic standpoint. You will find what you like, too. A lot of the really attractive fish like discus and cardinals (two of my favorites) are too sensitive for a new hobbyist like me to take on, so I got with fish that are a little hardier.

As far as equipment, I'll leave that for the people experienced in larger tanks. I have small, low-tech tanks.

I'm so happy for you...what a big, fun, exciting new adventure...and I bet you end up setting up an aquarium at your house when all is said and done. ;-)

PRichs87 01-05-2010 12:00 AM

what shape is the tank? bow front? rectangle?

1077 01-05-2010 07:17 AM

First I would like to say I am quite envious ! I would love to have such a tank the possibilities are mind numbing for me. Perhaps I can offer something to consider with respect to fishes and filtration. I would first want to have the water that will be used for weekly or bi-weekly water changes tested to determine what the pH, GH,and KH is. This will determine in large part what particular fish will do well in this water with the least amount of fiddling. Always best to keep fish that do well in water that is readily available as opposed to adjusting water to suit fishes. All fish chosen should enjoy the same water requirements with respect to acidity or hardness, as well as temperatures. I suspect rather warm temps where you are ,so fish that do best in cooler temps should be avoided.
Compatibility with other fishes should also be a factor. Obviously as you have stated,you don't want fish that are being eaten or killed by other fish in the tank so the gentleman who said.."depends on what you want" is looking out for your interests hopefully.
For filtration, I would want a canister filter or two capable of filtering ,or turning over, four to eight times the volume of water the tank holds each hour.(eg.) 270 gal x 4 = 1,080 gal per hour this would be in my view,minimum. If large messy fish such as some of the cichlids and or catfishes,plecos,etc were to be housed,i would lean towards more filtration but for most community fish, the minimum mentioned would suffice. better to have plenty of filtration rather than not enough.
If it were a planted tank that was my aim, I would begin with low light plants and as many as I could cram in the tank to start with . they can be thinned out at later date and the more plants,the better in my view. Though I have kept planted tanks, there are others here who are much more well versed in that area and I am in hopes that they can offer you some things to ponder. I fear I am quickly in over my head with respect to planted tanks.
Personally, for me,, I would filter as mentioned,and the substrate would be fine gravel with large smooth river stones,Driftwood,plants,and the fish would be Discus and clown loaches assuming the water was not too hard for their comfort.
With ANY fish, weekly water changes on the order of 35 to 40 percent will go a long way in ensuring that the fish remain healthy along with not overstocking or overfeeding. Hope some of this helps.

aunt kymmie 01-05-2010 10:23 AM

{quote=1077;300005]
Personally, for me,, I would filter as mentioned,and the substrate would be fine gravel with large smooth river stones,Driftwood,plants,and the fish would be Discus and clown loaches assuming the water was not too hard for their comfort.
quote}

My thoughts exactly!

Grimmjow 01-05-2010 11:12 AM

I dont have nearly enough experience or know-how to be giving pointers, but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents.

First off, Id say real plants cause I think they are just tons better than fake. Personally what I would say is to look at TFH Magazine :: ADA 2009 Winners, just to get ideas on stuff like rocks and driftwood, not saying do a show tank like this cause its a ton of work and you really have to know what your doing. I feel like setting up a tank is more like a work of art than a task, and if nothing else Im hoping itll get you as excited as it got me ;).

But anyway you came to the right place cause people here know what theyre talking about. Good luck.

Freddy 01-06-2010 09:53 PM

I don't have a big enough tank for them, but my library has some clown loaches in its tanks. They look great! Get about 5 or 6 of them (I'm no expert - just repeating what I've read) and it will look great in any big aquarium. But I don't really see them as the main attraction. I wish I could have a tank that big! I would probably put a fire eel or something in it, but I don't know how good that is for beginners, like if they have any special feeding habits or something. Good luck on the new aquarium!


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