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Your top tips for a first-timer fish owner, please!

(6 Posts)
FourEyesGood Tue 02-Apr-13 20:55:28

We've promised our DS that we'll get a fish (or some fish). We've got enough space for a smallish tank - about 55cm wide - and no clue about how to go about starting.

What would be a good tank to get? What sort of fish are the best and easiest to manage? We'd like two or three, and obviously we want them to be comfy and happy. What plants should we get? Filter? Heater? (but preferably we'd rather not get fish that would need a heater.) Lights? Gravel? There's so much to consider!

Thanks in advance for your expertise and advice. smile

EauRouge Tue 02-Apr-13 21:09:53

First of all get the biggest possible tank you can get. Small tanks are not good for fish or for fish owners- they are actually more work than bigger tanks because you have to do more frequent water changes.

Tanks are usually standard sizes and there are a lot that are 60cm wide- would that fit your gap? A 60cm tank is roughly 60 litres which is a perfect size for a first tank. Don't get anything less than 45 litres, it won't be suitable for fish. Don't get a biorb, a fluval edge or any of those 'lifestyle' type tanks, they are all overpriced crap. A plain old glass box like a clearseal or similar will be fine, or try a one with a built in filter like a Juwel.

Filters are a MUST! Don't bother with an undergravel, they went out in the 80s. An internal filter like a Fluval U2 would be just right for a 60 litre tank. Easy to maintain, also cheap and reliable. A heater will give you lots more options for fish and tropical fish are no harder to keep. In an unheated 60 litre tank you'll be limited to minnows, although they are lovely fish so not much of a big deal if you really want an unheated tank.

After setting up you will need to prepare the tank for fish. This can take 4-6 weeks. Do NOT put any fish in the tank during the preparation, despite what some people might tell you (yes, even the staff at the fish shop). Adding fish to the tank too early can cause illness or even death. Patience will pay off and avoid many potential problems. Full explanation here

You'll need a water testing kit to monitor the cycle and also to see what sort of water you have- your fish choice may be limited if you have really alkaline or really acidic water. A liquid test kit is more expensive to buy but better value in the long run. Try the API or Hagen mini master test kit. You need to be able to test for ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte, pH and hardness.

Real plants are fab, there are lots of easy ones to grow. You'll need lighting and a fertiliser to go under the sand/gravel.

Sorry, that's a lot of info all in one go and probably makes it all sound very complicated. It isn't really, it takes a while to set up but if you do it right and choose the right fish then you'll just have to do one water change a week and that'll only take about half an hour or so.

If you want me to explain any of it in more detail just ask smile

BoringTheBuilder Tue 02-Apr-13 21:23:45

Well done for asking first!
There are lots of interesting reading out there and from my experience, fishkeepers love to help each other, so you will always have good advice and help if you look at the right places.
have a look around your home and see if you can move some furniture around, perhaps there is something you don't even need and would like to get rid of.
My 4ft second hand tank arrived today foe less than half price it would be if I bought it brand new, so it is worth to 1st decide what fish do you want (the most difficult part if you don't know anything about fish yet) than check what are the fish requirements and minimum tank size, research for a good second hand deal or buy brand new if you want, prepare your tank and than, add your fish.

Ah, and I know you didn't ask it, but in case your DC is wishing for 'nemo', he is marine, which is a bit more tricky to run than cold water or tropical.

EauRouge Tue 02-Apr-13 21:28:40

Yes, defo try second hand or even Freecycle. I got a 60 litre clearseal the other day for nowt.

misscph1973 Tue 02-Apr-13 21:34:23

Oh, I so miss having a fish tank, but I am paranoid that The Master of Disaster (5 5 year old DS) would end up knocking it over ;)

I agree with all of the above, very good advice. Fish choice: Siamese fighting fish aka Betta are wonderful fish! I had a marvellous burgundy and turquoise male named Kurt, a gift from a friend who had taught him to swim through a hand formed as a circle for food! Only get one male and a couple of females and then get 10-15 black neon tetra or neon tetra to mix it up. You will have hours of tranquil fun!

FourEyesGood Wed 03-Apr-13 21:13:45

Thanks for all of the help - I knew I was asking the right people! I'll print this thread out and start to get things in motion (but nice and slowly, making sure I don't rush and fish into any tanks!).

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