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New tropical fish tank setup help please.

(14 Posts)
tjacksonpfc Fri 10-Dec-10 08:09:11

Hi all im after some advice please. The dcs wanted a hamster for xmas we went to the pet shop and they fell in love with the tropical fish.

Me and dp have benn talking about starting up a fishtank again for a while. It resulted in us spending £230 for a 33 gallon tank stand and all the stuff to set the tank up.

The tank has now been set up for 7 days and is ready for the fish. I would really appreciate some advice on what fish to get. The dcs want a crab or lobster aswell is this a good idea.

TIA smile

EauRudolph Fri 10-Dec-10 08:38:16


33 gallons is a great size, lots of fish options. 7 days is not enough to prepare the tank for fish though, it normally takes around 4-6 weeks. Have a read of this because 99% of shops won't bother to tell you about fishless cycling. It's very important to do because introducing fish too early can kill them.

There are cycling products available in shops but I've yet to find one that actually works. You'll need a test kit to test for ammonia, nitrIte and nitrAte to monitor your cycle, liquid tests are better than the dipstick ones and ebay is the cheapest place to buy them.

Fish choice depends on your water, some fish need soft acidic water and others need harder more alkaline water. If you get a test kit and test your tank water then you'll be able to figure out which fish would suit your tank.

Unfortunately crabs and lobsters are a big no-no with the average fish- they will try to catch and eat anything small enough. There are lots of different shrimp available that can be kept with fish though, cherry shrimp are bright red and easy to look after and you could have a few in a 33 gallon tank.

jacquiel Fri 10-Dec-10 08:53:13

definitely worth doing it properly because you dont want the kids getting upset coz the fish keep dying!
another way to cycle is to get a few 'hardy' fish like danios or swordtails so at least the kids have fish in the tank - do you know anyone with a tropical tank? You can help speed things up by squeezing some of their 'dirty' filter gunk into your tank - this has the bacteria you need in the tank, and will help to speed up your cycling.
If i were you i would go on a fish keeping forum and post your question in the beginners section and i am sure you will get lots of help. eg

EauRudolph Fri 10-Dec-10 09:01:24

Noo, don't use fish to cycle a tank! They still suffer even if they are 'hardy'. Sorry jacquiel, I don't mean to have a go but there really is no need to use fish, it's not any quicker and a fishless cycle doesn't harm any fish at all.

jacquiel Fri 10-Dec-10 11:49:15

no problem - EauRudoph - just giving options!

love my fish!

by the way tjacksonpfc make sure to do a bit of online research about which type and how may fish to get because the fish shop owners usually tell you to get too many at once and often not the best options for your situation!

tjacksonpfc Fri 10-Dec-10 12:22:25

Thanks for all the advice everyone. The place we got the set up from is a specalist aquatic centre so I assumed they knew what they were talking about.

But I did think I would check woth MN first to make sure grin

We were advised to get 5 fish one week then 5 the next and build the tank up like that. Is there no breed of lobster or crab that we can put in or even crayfish as these are what the dcs want in there the most.

They actually wanted a marine setup but me and dp put our foot down on that for a while lol.

EauRudolph Fri 10-Dec-10 12:56:05

Hmm, that isn't really very good advice from the shop! I would do a fishless cycle first, test the water and then gradually build up your stock, that way the fish won't be exposed to dangerous levels of ammonia and nitrite. Don't forget that shoaling fish need to be in a group of around 6+ (taking care not to overstock).

No, I would really not recommend any crabs, lobsters or crayfish to keep with fish, unless the fish are massive and so unlikely to be bothered. I've seen way too many accidents

Don't blame you on putting your foot down about the marine tank, they are so expensive and time consuming!

jacquiel Fri 10-Dec-10 13:29:58

You could always have a JUST crayfish tank..
We had one once with rocks and sand etc - it was pretty easy actually, and quite entertaining - however it NEEDS at tight fitting lid as they are escape artists!!
If you do - again - read up on it!
The crayfish need to have an area to come out of the water - eg. rock above water level as well as being in the water, they would benefit from being able to dig out (or have provided) some sort of cave - eg flat slate on the sand which they can burrow under.
Lot of interesting behaviour. If you have more than one you must have lots of hiding places for them as when they moult then the soft body underneath makes them vulnerable to attack by the other crayfish but if they have good hiding options all should be fine.

pugsandseals Sun 12-Dec-10 15:43:57

We're starting a tank on xmas day & having similar disagreements regarding what to put in it. Im no expert, but wouldn't water snails be a better solution? We're hoping to get some!

thisisyesterday Sun 12-Dec-10 15:51:28

we had shrimp in our tank and they were quite cool.
we also have assassin snails who are very groovy and if you have a sandy bottom (!) they will bury themselves

ant3nna Sun 12-Dec-10 16:18:53

Don't forget that giving bad advice actually benefits your local fish shop as you'll be in there more often buying potions and more fish. Do buy a test kit and do fishless cycle before you add any animals. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are poisonous to fish (in varying degrees) and will cause the fish to suffer. Ammonia in particular will cause burning in the gills and haemorrhaging.

For beginners I would probably get some platys. They're brightly coloured, quick swimmers and ever so easy to keep. Amano shrimp are also simple to keep (as long as you keep copper away from the tank) and have bags of personality. Some harlequin rasboras and some bronze corys would also ok if you have smooth gravel or sand. AqAdvisor is a good aquarium calculator and if you put in your tank size, details of your filter and the fish you want it will give you an idea of whether or not your system us suitable.

I would steer clear of crabs, lobsters and crayfish. Crabs and crayfish need to be able to get out of the water (despite what your fish shop may say). As for crayfish - only one species of crayfish can legally be kept in the UK but some unscrupulous fish shops may stock illegal specimens.

Lancelottie Tue 14-Dec-10 10:31:19

I'm put off platies by the ease of breeding them -- don't you find this a problem, ant3nna? I know the young mostly get swallowed by larger fish, but I'm not sure DD is up for that level of natural selection in her fishtank yet.

EauRudolph Tue 14-Dec-10 11:14:32

Some people (including me!) are put off by the breeding rate. Some people say you can keep all males but it's not really fair on them, a ratio of 1 male to 2 or 3 females is best. There are plenty of options for beginner fish, as long as you test the water and choose the fish carefully then you don't necessarily have to have livebearers.

ant3nna Tue 14-Dec-10 11:56:24

It's an event to see babies in this house. They are really tiny when they're born and it takes a practiced eye to see them before they get eaten. I dont think I've ever seen one be eaten so I'd imagine that it happens quite close to birth, something I've also never seen.

We've had about 8 survive to adulthood over the last 2 years - mostly because they tend to get a little more food than necessary. We've found that we can cut down on the survival rate by reducing food. I really wouldn't worry about your daughter being upset at the fry being eaten - there is a good chance that she wouldn't spot them in the first place and wouldn't notice that they are gone as the ones that survive birth are very good at hiding.

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