My daughter wants a fish for her birthday. We have a small square tank with a filter that we used last year to keep tadpoles in.
My intention is to take DD to Pets at Home on her birthday and ask them what we can have for a tank this size and spec.
Before I do this (friday is the big day) can anyone advise me on what I should do to get the tank clean and ready for the fish? Is there special tank cleaning stuff? Should we put live aquatic plants in there?
How big is the tank? 60 litres is a great size for beginners. Anything less than 45 litres is too small for fish really. Small tanks are often sold as easy for beginners but they are actually much higher maintenance because you have to do more cleaning. 60 litres is a great size and you can maintain it in only about 30 mins a week.
Don't go to Pets at Home! They are almost universally rubbish (i've certainly never been in a good one). Have a look at local independent aquatic stores or Maidenhead Aquatics if there's one near you. Either way, never take what the shop says as gospel because there's no requirement for them to know anything about fish at all. Do your own research or ask an internet fish geek who isn't going to profit from selling you stuff you don't need.
Before you add any fish you'll need to do a fishless cycle. This can take around 4-6 weeks. It's essential to do this because adding fish before a tank is ready can result in illness and death, not to mention loads of long term problems. You'll be saving yourself a lot of trouble if you do a fishless cycle. Full details are here
While the tank is cycling you can decide what fish you'd like to add. Some fish are pickier than others about what type of water they need. If you test your water for pH and hardness then that'll tell you more about what sort of fish will suit your tank. Also research things like size, compatibility and any other requirements.
It's complicated to get started but if you do it all properly then it's pretty simple to keep it all ticking over.
Thanks very much for taking the time to post all that info. I think I'm going to have to persuade her to think of another present as our tank is too small and we don't have enough time to prepare the tank properly.
I've persuaded her to have Aqua Dragons (I think they are sea monkeys by another name). She's quite excited about it all.
I'll see how she gets on with those and if she maintains interest in looking after them, we can graduate to a proper fish tank. It's sweet that she's so keen on a fish, but its probably best to e-a-s-e into it after all.