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Want some fish

Discussion in 'Fish Keeping Chat' started by NicoleW, Apr 25, 2011.


  1. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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    Hello everyone!

    I'd like to get some fish, trouble is - I don't know much about them!

    Which species would be good for a beginner? Then I can go research :)

    We don't have space for a humongous tank, and this would be the first kind of pet responsibility I'd like to introduce to my 5 year old. Though this is not the only reason I'm looking to get some fish.
     
  2. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    My first question would be: how much cash and space do you have to play around with? The usual advice is to buy the largest tank you can afford and have room for. Larger volumes of water are more stable chemically and are less prone to fluctuating water temperature. You can also stock a larger tank with more fish.

    Do you want tropical freshwater or coldwater fish? The former has a greater variety and more species are available which are more suitable for the average home aquarium. Many tropical fish can be hardier than goldfish.

    Before planning on what fish to buy, I'd first recommend getting to grips with basic knowledge on water chemistry (nothing too fancy, just the basics on pH and harmful waste substances such as ammonia and nitrite and their effects on fish health), the cycling process (I will give the details on this below), dietary requirements (most fish are omnivorous, but some require more meaty foods and others more vegetable matter in their diets), tank maintenance (e.g. water testing, water changes, filter maintenance) and basic fish health.

    If you've ever studied biology at any level, you will probably be familiar with the nitrogen cycle. The term 'cycling' in fishkeeping terminology is derived from the exactly the same process. Nutrients such as ammonia which are harmful to fish are excreted from the gills and produced as fish waste and decaying organic matter (e.g. dead plants and fish) break down. The aquarium filter contains huge populations of beneficial bacteria which break down the ammonia into another toxic substance called nitrite. Eventually this nitrite is broken down further by the bacteria into less harmful nitrate.

    To summarize:

    Ammonia (NH3 - the total content of ammonia in the aquarium is also present as Ammonium, NH4) ----> Broken down by bacteria ----> Nitrite (NO2) ----> Nitrate (NO3)

    Before you can start adding fish to an aquarium you will need to cycle the filter so it can build-up a population of these bacteria to handle the waste produced by the fish. This involves kick-starting the growth of bacteria. Many years ago people used fish, however because ammonia is harmful to fish this is now typically frowned upon. Nowadays 'fishless' cycling is used which involves utilizing an alternative source of ammonia such as fish food or bottled household ammonia.

    You will need a test kit to monitor the cycling process, which can take several weeks to complete. In a cycled or 'established' aquarium, both the ammonia and nitrite should read 0ppm (or mg/l.). Only once both substances are read as 0ppm (mg/l.) by the test kit should you start adding fish. It is also advisable to ensure that the nitrate level doesn't exceed 40ppm. Nitrate is normally removed by water changes and used up by aquatic plants.

    There is also an easier alternative to using ammonia. If you know somebody with a cycled filter you might be able to borrow some mature filter media (the sponges and ceramic rings/balls which the filter bacteria colonize) and cut short the cycling process down to a week or so. This technique is commonly known as 'seeding'. You still need to monitor the water conditions for the first few days.

    I will provide more information as soon as you can give us more information as to your preferences.
     
    #2 Chillinator, Apr 25, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2011
  3. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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    I think I'd prefer some freshwater I think.

    My dad has a pretty big tank, has lots of those neon fish in? catfish, one of those big black ones that he's had for years now, about 10 years! Not seen them for a while but he does have a nice variety of fish which always look pretty.

    We've got up to £800 to buy a tank, filter, fish, books, accessories and that kind of thing.

    I've only had fish, goldfish that I won from a fair when I was about 11. They did live for a good four years though, we had a tank that had a pretty good filter but I did end up having to clean all the stones at the bottom every week by hand. In the end we had about four goldfish in this tank and they grew really really big, one of them grew to 11 inches.
     
  4. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    You'd certainly have more variety if you choose tropical fish, and an £800 budget is fantastic. But how much space do you have?

    Neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are suitable for aquariums larger than 30 litres and in aquariums without any large, predatory species such as some cichlids (e.g. Angelfish).

    Catfish on the other hand are different, many species can grow large, with several species of Plec being capable of exceeding 1m/39" in length and need public aquarium-sized tanks to sustain them. I'd advise sticking to smaller species such as Corydoras, smaller L no. Plecs (e.g. certain Panaque, Peckoltia and Hypancistrus species), Brochis (very closely related to Corydoras) for the average 'community' aquarium. Avoid any Common or Sailfin Plecs unless you have room for a 6ft tank; and also be very cautious when buying Plecs as they are commonly mis-labelled by aquatic stores. Take a look at PlanetCatfish • the online home of aquarium catfishes

    If you need information, be wary of books as many contain information that is now very much out-of-date. Stick to reputable fishkeeping forums. Books are however useful for identifying species.
     
  5. MalaysiaPets

    MalaysiaPets PetForums Newbie

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    Gouramis are good, especially dwarf gouramis. They are quite hardy and live peacefully with others. Angelfish too, are staples. A selection of gouramis, angelfish, corydoras, a small pleco, and swordfish or mollies should serve a beginner very well.

    You want all the levels of the aquarium to be taken up by peace-loving fishes. Surface feeders, midwater feeders, and bottom feeders. The mouth of the fish is normally the clue to know what level they inhabit.
     
  6. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    I've got to disagree regarding the Dwarf Gouramis, I'm not sure what the situation is in the Far East (assuming that's you're based) however Dwarf Gouramis aren't as hardy as they used to be. Due to excessive breeding they have become increasingly prone to bacterial infections and a species-specific virus known as DGIV or Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus.

    A hardier alternative would be Honey gouramis (Trichogaster chuna).
     
  7. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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    I love the look of angelfish, to be honest I don't really know many species of tropical fish. I might go and google some, and can I post the ones I like on here so you can give your opinions wether or not they require a lot of maintenance?

    Also where do I get the fish from? I'm not buying them from a pet store.
     
  8. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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    Okay, I like the look of:
    The Bristlenose Catfish
    BarbusTetrazona
    Thorichthys Meeki
    And last but not least ..
    Cyrtocara moorii

    I'm thinking maybe the catfish would suit me better as a beginner?
     
  9. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    I'd scrub Cyrtocara moorii off the list, these are Lakw Malawi cichlids and as such aren't really ideal for community aquariums due to their somewhat temperamental behaviour and specifiic water quality requirements (hard, alkaline water with a high pH) which the other fish won't appreciate. C. moorii can also grow to 20cm/8" in length, and would need a 5 x 2 x 2ft tank.

    You also need to be careful with Firemouth cichlids (Thorichthys meeki). While easily adaptable to a wide range of water conditions and not particularly aggressive, they are really only suitable for tanks containing larger fish such as bigger barbs, rasboras, characins, catfish and other medium-sized American cichlids.

    If you want a cichlid species, I'd consider something along the lines of the Keyhole cichlid (Cleithacara maronii), Dwarf flag cichlids (Laetacara curviceps) and any species from the Pelvicachromis genus. All are usually very peaceful, suitable for a range of water conditions and none grow bigger than around 10cm/4".

    Tiger barbs (Puntius tetrazona, formerly Barbus tetrazona) are known fin-nippers, but are usually OK in most community aquariums with fast-moving species such as tetras, rasboras and danios. They should be kept in large groups to disperse their constant 'bickering' and they certainly should not be kept with any species that has long finnage. If you want something similar but without the fin-nipping tendencies, look up Pentazona barbs (Puntius pentazona).

    The Bristlenose catfish (Ancistrus sp.) are a good choice for community aquariums larger than 90 litres. They grow to around 13cm/5", are usually peaceful but can show territorial behaviour to other Bristlenoses and sometimes to other bottom dwellers.

    What size of tank do you have in mind?
     
  10. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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  11. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    Be careful with coffee-table aquariums, they can be difficult to clean and they aren't easy to retrofit with equipment from different manufacturers.

    Both tanks would be big enough for Bristlenoses, Tiger barbs and most peaceful community fish that don't exceed 15cm/6" in length.
     
  12. NicoleW

    NicoleW PetForums VIP

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    Think I might go for the first. Thanks for all your help :)
     
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