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Complete newb, need some advice

Discussion in 'New Aquarium Advice' started by Argent, Nov 12, 2012.


  1. Argent

    Argent PetForums VIP

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    Hi y'all! I've just been given the go-ahead by my landlord; I can have fish!!!

    So I'm hoping to start a bit of a project. I've never had anything beyond goldfish in a bowl before (poor things :( ) but I know better now. I've been reading and reading and a lot of aquarium-talk is slightly confusing to me as I'm not familiar with all the abbreviations and shortened names for things, but I'm trying.

    Anyway, I'm on the lookout for a cheap/free 5-10 gallon tank that's longer than it is tall. My aim is to have a male betta in a community tank with a group of corydora Pandas, maybe some minnows and a few ghost shrimp.

    Ideally, I'd love to have live plants/moss balls in there too, any advice at all is most appreciated.

    From what I understand, both bettas and corys like fine uniform texture sand as substrate, and I'll probably need a heater and filter as well.
    I plan on hatching brine shrimp for them to eat alongside a more commercial diet, maybe try new things the more I get the hang of it.

    So yeah...feel free to tell me I'm completely mad! Or to help me out in one way or another. I understand it's not going to happen instantly, I'll be most likely adding little bits at a time and letting things settle over the course of a few months or even just as an ongoing thing.

    Any help, in as plain english as possible is very much appreciated!
    And if anyone has an appropriately sized spare tank gathering dust in the Merseyside area, please let me know!
     
  2. Fishyfins

    Fishyfins PetForums Member

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    Hey there :)

    I was pointed in this direction to give you some assistance ^^

    Long post warning!

    first off, just to get it out the the way, there is a big hole in your plan. this is that Betta do not make good community fish at all! Betta are a very nervous fish to put in with other fish. If they are put in with ANY other species of fish (even placid tankmates that will never touch them such as danios or platies), they will feel threatened, and 99% of the time, they will pine away in the corner, too nervous to come out, and usually die of starvation pretty quickly. either this, or they are put in with nippy fish, and their fins get torn to shreds. when kept with any of fish, they usually end up dead pretty quickly. Betta really need to be kept either on their own, or in a tank with a herem of females. community tanks are bad for them! plus, the natural lifespan is only a year, and you usually get them as adults 6 months +, so they probably wouldnt live that long after you get them anyway.

    Whichever way you go (a tank for just the betta, or a community), the tank is set up in the same way. other than the tank itself, you will need a filter, heater, and decor. ill go over decor in a second, but make sure the filter and heater are powerful enough for your size tank. the box should say what literage it is good for. once you have the tank and decor set up, and filter/heater in place, then its time to cycle! As you have quite correctly discovered, setting up an aquarium takes time. The best way to get the tank ready is to perform what we call a fishless cycle.

    Basically, the "cycle" in a new aquarium is where you allow bacteria to build up and grow within the filter. this bacteria literally eats all the rubbish the fish excrete. fish eat, and produce ammonia, which is sadly very toxic. in an unfiltered tank, this ammonia can reach deadly levels quickly. but lucky for us, there is a common type of bacteria that lives in the filter that eats the ammonia! this bacteria breaks down the ammonia into nitrite.... which is still pretty toxic to fish! so another group of different bacteria within the filter devour this nitrite. they break it down into nitrate, which is harmless to fish. however, it is food for algae, so thats what we are removing whn we do water changes. This bacteria takes time to grow, and if we add fish before its ready, then there is no bacteria to eat the fish waste. this usually ends in "new tank syndrome", and fish death. not good.
    to cycle the aquarium, you need to add a source of bacteria to the aquarium (best source is to squeeze a friends filter out into your tank, but there are many commercial bacteria cultures available, some better than others). this bacteria then needs to be fed, so you need to add a source of ammonia yourself. you can either get neat ammonia from independant homeware/DIY shops, or add fish food/prawns that will rot down and produce the desired ammonia. so then you have your bacteria in there, and your feeding it. then its just a case of testing the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. keep feeding every day, and eventually, you will see you have no ammonia and nitrite, just nitrite. this means the bacteria is fully developed and the tank is ready for the first fish!

    after this, its easy. add fish slowly, no more than a few fish or small shoal a week (minows, danios and platies make great first additions, tetras and guppies no not. if unsure, check with us here). and thats basically it. do 25% water changes every week/2 weeks, and have fun with it! the Corydoras and minnows you mention wanting make great community fish, and are all fairly hardy. just remember that corydoras like to be in groups :)

    And yes, corydoras do like smooth sediments like sands. anything sharp, and they cut their barbels on it. so sand does indeed make a great substrate for them! Id also stay away from mossballs. they need a huge amount of light to survive, and unless your willing to spend hundreds on hallogen bulbs and the like, its unlikely they would survive any length of time. there are many great plants out there that can be kept in "normal" aquarium lighting conditions though :)

    so yeah, i hope ive not confused you too much with this, or been too heavy with it. if you need any clarification, or i havent explained enough, then feel free to PM me or post here and ill try to help as much as i can :)
     
  3. Argent

    Argent PetForums VIP

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    Awesome reply, thanks so much! Its cleared a lot up for me, but has also opened up a loooot more questions! XD

    I had read online that the Corys and minnows and such get on fine with Bettas, I wouldn't know any different lol

    In that case, a Betta was the one I really had my heart set on, I just feel really bad about keeping one on its own. If I had a little harem of girlies, there would inevitably be fry before long and I know they can spawn like 200+ at a time!

    Are they really ok to keep alone? I adore the males but I have also seen a breeder with some very vibrant and showy females that I wouldn't mind having a group of...so yeah, heart set on Betta really :)
     
  4. Fishyfins

    Fishyfins PetForums Member

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    Yeah, Bettas are a showy fish, and a lot of people want them, so shops generally advertise them as a community fish, even though they arnt. i think its a denial thing with some people. i wouldnt believe everything you read online though. i once read on a forum that i could hibernate my tortoise by putting him in the freezer....

    But yes, they are perfectly happy living on their own. the the wild they are a solitary fish, killing other males, so being on their own in a tank is pretty standard for them. and yes, if you had a group of females, then they probably would try to breed. they are a bubblenester/egglayer though, so you could just remove the bubblenest when they produce it, or allow the babies to get eaten?

    but if you wanna keep a group of just females, then thats perfect!
     
  5. Argent

    Argent PetForums VIP

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    Righto! So I'm gunna have to make my mind up between a single male or a group of ladies.........hmmm...

    I don't want to go to a pet shop either, but I'd like to see and choose my fish in person, any tips for finding someone with decent fish? I feel like I'm starting all over again! I know all this with rats and dogs but no idea on fish!
     
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