Thinking of buying an AQUARIUM. Looking for newbie tips.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steve Owen, Jan 31, 2002.

  1. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Second Unit

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    I'm thinking I might like to get an aquarium so I can keep some fish. I'm endlessly facinated whenever I see an aquarium and eventually I'd like to have a shark in a salt-water tank. I know that's a VERY LONG way off which I why I want to start simple and basic and give it a go for a couple of years to see if pursuing it more seriously is for me.

    I've done a bit of reading already, but I'd like to hear from any of you aquarium owners on where you think I should start. Any tips? Types of fish to start with? Ones to avoid? Size of tank? Options (heaters, filters, etc.)?

    Thanks!

    -Steve
     
  2. Henry Ferris

    Henry Ferris Auditioning

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    Steve, Fishkeeping is a rewarding hobby It is suppose to prolong your life due to the relaxing meditative state that we all get into from long hours of watching our little worlds. But be assured that you need to take care of them and establish a regular maintenence schedule. People get into trouble because the tank looks fine but believe me you only end up with sick fish if you do not establish good cleaning practices.

    There are many rules but just try to get the largest tank possible, easier to take care of and fish options are much larger, and try to establish more filtration than you think you need. I am being vague as I do not know what size tank you will get. Saltwater needs about twice the filtration of fresh. I made most of my filters mainly because I have been in the hobby for 45 years and this is a natural evolution. I do like UV in my systems. Henry
     
  3. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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  4. Dheiner

    Dheiner Gazoo

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    All of the following is my opinion. For what it's worth, I've had an aquarium for about 10 years, but I'm lazy.
    Off the top of my head, I suggest you get about a 30 gallon tank to start. You need a good solid base for this size. DON'T SKIMP. I use both an undergravel and a power filter. (Less frequent cleanings needed.) My power filter uses a foam pad, and different packets, depanding on your needs. I use both charcoal and an ammonia absorber. I've also had little to no success with live plants, so I use a slightly bigger capacity airpump than is suggested for my tank. I started with small, non-aggressive fish (neons, barbs, tetras,silwer dollars.....) and only fed them flake foods. Heaters are nearly mandatory, unless you keep your house very warm throughout the day. (75+) I also like the stick on thermometers, they are much less hassle than the floaters.
    Good Luck,
    JD
    PS. I do not feed my fish as often as the packages say to. I think if I did I'd spend a lot more time cleaning my tank.
     
  5. DennisHP

    DennisHP Second Unit

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    Since you will be creating a total environment, care should be taken to obtain fish that are adapted to each level of the tank; bottom feeders, top feeders and middle layer fish. Start with a couple goldfish. It sounds weird but they are "dirty" fish and will prepare your tank for the other fish by generating the correct biological environment. During this time you can adjust your Ph and water temperature. When everything has settled down in the tank then shop for other fish but make sure they will co-exist. You don't want to buy a $20.00 fish and have it eaten by something else. Also, certain fish like certain water temps. Don't buy a fish that likes 82 degree water if the rest of your intended species live in 72 degrees. Take care to avoid fish that will become larger than your tank is capable of holding. I once bought an 4" Arrowauna (a top water feeder from the Amazon river) for my 30 gallon show tank and it quickly grew so large it could not turn around in the tank and I had to buy a larger tank. It must have been the earthworms I was feeding it!

    Get a book or two on the subject and enjoy.
     
  6. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I like the African Cichlids, great fish and very interesting to watch their behaviours. They are very territorial. I also like the pleco's to combine with he cichlids although get ones that are much bigger than the cichlids or else they will be killed. I am planning to get a 90-100 gallon tank once I move and get about 25 cichlids for the tank.
     
  7. Brian Mansure

    Brian Mansure Second Unit

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    Steve,
    Do you know wither you would like to start a saltwater or freshwater tank?
    I ask because it makes a pretty sizeble difference in cost and commitment.
    Keeping freshwater aquariums is less expensive and generally easier then starting a saltwater tank, however both have there challenges and rewards.
    I personally started off with a 30 gallon community freshwater tank and am glad I did.
    We kept 2 anglefish, 5 neon tetras, 2 plecos (alge eaters) and 2 upside-down catfish in a 30 gallon long tank. The setup was very simple with one oversized hang-on filter, which used both chemical and biological filtration, an air stone, about 2 inches of gravel and some plastic plants and drift wood for a natural looking habitat.
    You can keep freshwater plants in the tank also but special lighting is needed which can drive up the cost a bit.
    I eventually was lured into keeping saltwater aquariums with all the beautiful colors and interesting creatures kept in marine tanks. So I sold my brother the complete freshwater setup I mentioned above and purchased a used 65 gallon tank with stand and canopy. I had to buy the other equipment new but as Buzz mentioned earlier in the thread, if you can, buy used equipment in good condition.
    It is more expensive to start off a saltwater tank but I believe that after the equiupment and lifestock is purchased the price for maintaining both freshwater and saltwater tanks is pretty close. It's the extra time and frequency of maintenance involved with having a saltwater tank which scares some people off.
    On a whole, saltwater aquarium inhabitants are more expensive and have special living requirements ranging from feeding, water temperature, tank size and compatability with other tank mates. Not to mention if you are considering keeping a saltwater reef tank with corals which is even more difficult, expensive and time consuming but very rewarding IMO.
    Well, I probably could go on and on about this since I really enjoy my fish tank but the best thing for you to do is read up.
    A few websites to help:
    http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/beginnerinfo/
    http://saltaquarium.about.com/mbody.htm
    http://www.actwin.com/fish/index.php
    Good Luck,
    Brian
     
  8. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Try looking here, while you're at it, for a Fish tank...fascinating...
    here's the link
    download the Free Demo
     
  9. Mark Frank

    Mark Frank Stunt Coordinator

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    Make sure you thoroughly research equipment, setup, and fish before spending a dime or you'll probably waste a lot of money.
    If you're thinking saltwater, I'd highly recommend
    http://www.reefcentral.com
    Good luck!
     
  10. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Second Unit

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  11. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Hey Steve, welcome to the world of fishkeeping. Can't really think of anything that isn't already said, until you give us a direction as to what you want to do, saltwater or freshwater, but lets emphasize that the larger the tank, the more stable the water is going to be and more enjoyable will be your fishkeeping. Also, nobody wants to overcrowd the little 10 gallon anyway. It'll be more maintainance time, not in frequency but just length. Of course it will take longer to do a water change with a larger tank, but you'll have to do less water changes over the lifetime of the tank. Depending on what kind of tank you want to get, there are a lot of variety, the bowed corner tank, the standard rectangular tank, there's also tanks that are LONG verses those that are TALL, i.e. you could get a 20 LONG or a 20 TALL, both which are 20gallons but the TALL one is taller and narrower than the LONG ones. Which one you get depends on what type of fish you'd like to get, your floorspace, etc. But if you like the bottom dwellers, catfish, plecos, loaches, etc, the LONGer tanks are generally better. Even so, the LONG tanks give many fish more room to wander in. I have a 20gal tall and I think if I had to replace the tank, I think I'd get a LONG one next time. But that is up to you.
    Oceanic makes awesome tanks but since they're a bit pricey, I'd hold off until you know you like the hobby. Plus, you can always use your first tank as a hospital or quarenteen tank anyway.
    Research, research, research.. My only other suggestion is to plan out your tank, research the fish, find out what fish are good BEFORE you go into the LFS (local fish store), know what you're looking for, approx. and also find a good fish store... A good fish store is in many ways more important than a good Audio store. I.e. if your LFS sucks then the fish you buy from them may not only die, it may spread disease to your other fish. A bad amplifier is just that and can be replaced, hence a good LFS is really important, try to find the family run ones when the owner/employee is willing to take the time to explain things to you, not just make a sale. Things to look out for:
    Does he/she ask what kind of fish do you have before you buy it? -Nobody wants somebody to buy that adult angelfish if they have juvenile neon tetras running around...
    Are the tanks clean, no dead fish, etc..?
    Are all the tanks running on one big filter? -One filter many tanks is a great way to spread disease and stuff.
    Go to a LFS when they're not busy and they should be more than willing to point you in the right direction. Don't expect them to know everything that's being talked about on the Internet though...
    Finally, a great fish message board:
    http://boards.tomgriffin.com/
    Also, when you do research starting a new tank, there's an alternative to the traditional 2-3 fish cycling method that's better, cheaper, and doesn't harm any fish, it's called Fishless Cycling:
    http://www.aaquaria.com/aquamag/cycle2.html
    Once you learn about how to Cycle your water
    Ammonia->Nitrite->Nitrate
    You can use ammonia sources rather than fish to cycle the tank. I have done it and it worked great, not only did it cycle the water faster as you can dump Ammonia in and not worry about killing fish, it really speeds up the Ammonia spike in the cycle process.. The Nitrite spike basically happens in it's normal time but the Ammonia spike occurs much faster than with fish...
    Good luck and enjoy..
    Jay
     
  12. ikiru

    ikiru Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been keeping fish for a long time. I live in an apartment now and I have told myself that a salt tank would have to wait till I got a house. I heard it takes 6 months to properly cycle a salt tank and considering how expensive salt fish are, I dont want to take any chances.

    Anyway, I have been through all kinds of fish. My first was a beta (good fish, but lean toward the boring side and if you try to motivate the fish, it ends up dying...go figure). Then I moved on through various other fish (oscars, barbs, neons, etc...). I consider myself pretty lazy when taking care of my fish and the results of my laziness have always been attrition, until recently...

    For about 3 years now I have kept Koi. They started out in my little 10 Aquarium and have slowly moved outside to a 35 gallon pond. I have 2 koi and 3 goldfish now in my patio pond and they have lived for quite some time with little or no care. I feed them once a day (sometimes I forget in the colder months), never change out water (just add distilled water when the tank gets low), and clean out the filters about once a month. The current fish have lived for over 2 years now (one has lived almost 4) and they seem happy. They know when I am about to feed them and they go nuts (its very comical and a sure crowd pleaser).

    I think the key to this is over-filtering. I have two 100gph hang-on-tank filters on this 35 gallon pond. The water is always clear and I have had only 1 fish die in the time Ive had the pond (he died because I think 3 koi in a 35 gallon pond is a bit much).

    I cant wait till I get a house and am able to build a bigger pond for the little guys. Plus Ill be able to dabble with the salt tank (100 gallons) my wife bought me 2 years ago.

    Needless to say, fish are very rewarding and I wish you good luck. The best advice, patience. You may lose a couple here and there before you actually get it right. Oh, and also, dont overfeed them. The most common mistake newbies make is overfeeding. I know you want to love on them, but too much food can kill them.

    -ikiru
     
  13. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    Well,for what I consider to be a very fun and easy starter fish,get yourself an oscar.They are not as mean as alot of people claim they are,granted,anything(including fish) that fits in their mouth...goes in their mouth.I have had 2 oscars for just about 2 years and..sniff...my babies are growing up.

    For a good starter tank,go to walmart and pick up one of their 55 gallon combo tanks,you can get the (last time I checked anyway) tank,stand,lids,lights,heater and some other junk for around $250.Not a bad deal and I have had the set for over a year and it holds up just fine,in fact,I think I might buy another one today for my jaguar then make my current jaguar tank a brackish tank...half salt half fresh.

    I never really messed too much with the smaller tropical fish,all of my fish are over 6" except my current baby convicts.My oscars and jaguar are around 10",my gold fish is about the same and my pleco is around 8"

    A good gravel base is important,but you can skimp..price wise anyway.I wanted the natural look,not the hot pink and purple lfs(local fish store) gravel so I went to lowes and got a bag of river rock.The rule of thumb is 1 pound of gravel per gallon of water.I also got some larger rocks out of a creek...just be sure to scrub and scrub,bake boil etc. the rocks to kill any nasties.Also be sure to get a gravel cleaner to get all the uneaten food(pleco should get most of it) and poo

    Another time and backsaving tip..when you do your weekly water changes,dont mess with a bucket.you have a few choices here.You can spend $50 on a python or just make one using a waterbed fill/drain kit and whatever legenth of marine hose is needed.It simply hooks to your faucet(remove the arrator and an adaptor might be needed) and sucks the water out then with the flip of a switch..fills it back up.

    I have 4 tanks running right now,by the time you read this it very well could be 5 and its alot of fun.

    Feeding the fish...$5 a month

    Chemicals to get rid of the nasties in the water...$5 every few months

    Petting your oscars..priceless
     
  14. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Go buy a copy of 'Aquariums for Dummies.' Read it cover to cover. Then, you'll have all the basic info you need, and you'll know what questions you want to ask, and where to go next.

    It's an excellent book.

    Oh, and I'll second everybody's suggestion of buy the biggest damn tank you can; more margin for error.

    And if you want some beautiful Betta fish, let me know. I've got some yellow females about ready to leave the grow out tank, or as I call it, 'Father Shayne's Home For Wayward Bettas.' :)
     
  15. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    I agree with what people have been saying about getting the biggest tank you can get and/or afford. A good filter is the Aquaclear. I tried that and it did wonders for my cichlid and catfish tank. Unfortunately I lost this tank a week after the attacks in September. It blew a leak and soaked my whole bedroom. I lost my fish too. They were a 12 inch red devil and jaguar cichlid, 8 inch jack dempsey, 12 inch pleco, and 6 inch synodontises and striped raphael. I miss those fish. Variety is the key for feeding the fish. Even if they are carnivorous, you should give them some vegetable matter because they get that from the prey they eat that are herbivorous. Remember that there are pretty much no fish that eat waste produced by other aquatic animals, except the Scat, a brackish water and marine fish who's scientific name Scatophagus Argus means "crap eater", and have been seen around sewer drains and have been seen eating sewage. Of course it's not advised not to feed them waste. Cichlids are a great family of fish to start with. You got the aggressive like the jaguar cichlid, the peaceful like the angelfish, the small like the checkerboard cichlid, and large like the peakcock bass cichlid. Cichlids range from Texas down to Central and South America, Africa, and to India, so their water requirements range from acidic, to alkalinic, and brackish water, and temperature from 65 to 82 degrees. The convict cichlid is a great fish to start out with, very easy to care for and breed at the drop of a hat. They are like rabbits. The convict's size is between 4 and 6 inches, so they can be kept in a 2o gallon or more. feed them anything too. It is best to read on all families of fish though, to see what interests you the most. Read up on every aspect of fishkeeping. If you want to keep saltwater, it's best to get your hands wet with freshwater first. Gives you more experience. Just think of more questions and ask.
     
  16. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    That Serene Fish screensaver is incredible. Thanks for the link.
     
  17. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I used to have a 10 gallon tank before I moved, after I moved I never set it up.
    based on my (limited) experience the only real advice I'd give is stay away from live plants. I prefer them, but they're WAY too much work, and they took over my tank [​IMG]
    those wal*mart kits seem like a bargain, maybe I'll pick one up hehe [​IMG]
     
  18. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    If you are looking for a larger tank then the specialty stores seem to have better bargains than the pet clone stores like what you find in malls or the Walmarts etc. You can usually get a large tank with a half decent stand and the hood etc for a good price. Beware where you buy the fish. I would also stay away from the clone stores. Buy from a place that deals with just fish/aquariums. Look at how healthy the fish in the tank are, how clean the water is. Overfilter. By this I mean get a filter that is rated well above your tanks size.
     
  19. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    walmart has the 55 gal kits for like 150 BTW on sale. Pretty sure it's a glass tank too, I know the 29 is because I bought one today [​IMG]
    question, how many of you run undergravel filters? I've been told they aren't really used much anymore since they just suck everything to the bottom and don't really clean, so I set my tank up with a big powered filter, was this a mistake? or is this the best way to go?
     
  20. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    Power filters are the way to go..and you can never really have too much filtration UNLESS the current is so strong the fish have to work to swim.

    10x the tank size is usually whats reccomended for filtration,so if you get a 55 gallon,get a filter than can do 550g.p.h(gallons per hour) but...I over do it.On my 55 gallon oscar tank(oscars are messy and need more filtration) I have an aqua clear 500(500gph) and an a.c 200 and an a.c 300...800 gph total..the water is always crystal clear!
     

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