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Want to start keeping fish - point me in the right direction?

(10 Posts)
SoapyBubbl Tue 27-Nov-18 20:18:57

I've been mulling over getting a fish tank and some fish for DS for a while. He is only 6 so it will be 100% my responsibility of course. We are moving in the next couple of weeks and our new house has room for a decent size tank so I want to start doing some proper research.

Initially I'd like an easy to care for tank/set up whilst I figure everything out, can anyone recommend a good website to check out?

I'm sure all set ups have their pros and cons but in general what 'type' of fish are easiest to care for - cold water/tropical/other? Should we look at getting one species only or are there advantages to a mix?

I won't buy anything till I have done some proper research and am confident I am getting it right so for now I'd like some tips/thoughts please...

bunnygeek Wed 28-Nov-18 10:58:13

Here's a good website to start doing some reading:
www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/
Read about the nitrogen cycle first, getting your head around that is the first hurdle!

Go for a freshwater tropical set up, one with a heater, that's the easiest option with the most variety of fish to keep.

I would test your water so you know if you have a low (6-7), average (7.2-7.6) or high pH (7.8 - 8), that will dictate what tropical fish will do best in your set up. I'd love to have a low pH but sadly I'm stuck with middle-high so have to go for X selection of fish and pine after the Y selection I can't keep easily.

Size wise, don't go any smaller than 60 litres, ideally 100-150 litres is a good starter size and gives you a margin for water chemistry errors and loads more stocking options.

You can easily do a mix of species, just have to research carefully. Some fish need to be groups - a group is 6 or more - or they start fin nipping their tank mates. Some swim very quickly, some swim very slowly, some are nocturnal and will hide all day, some are active in daylight but hate bright lights, some will jump or find escape routes out the tank given the opportunity!

As long as you're happy to take it slow and research, you're on the right track smile

itsthemenopausenotme Wed 28-Nov-18 11:10:19

A good fish shop should be able to advise. If you can get to a Maidenhead shop they're usually good. Pets at home have a tendency to give wrong information imho.

Fishless cycling is the best way to start, lots of information online. Try and get a good testing kit to test your water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates so you know when it's safe to add fish.

You'll need a tank with lid, filter, heater if required, water conditioner to remove chlorine, gravel or sand, plants or decoration, it's useful to have a thermometer to check the temperature and a gravel cleaner to remove some water and fish poop!

Bear in mind if you keep live bearers like guppies, platties etc you may end up with many babies.

Easy fish to keep are danios, barbs, guppies, platties, tetras imo but these vary too, so definitely advise finding a good tropical fish shop for advice.

Scaramooshfandango Wed 28-Nov-18 11:11:30

Have you got a garden/aquatic centre near you? If so, pop in and ask for advice! My DD wanted a fish tank, similar age to your DS and we went to our local fish stockist.. They suggested a 70l tank, which gravel, an API water testing kit (you can buy them off Amazon) and also API Stress Coat which makes the water safe and API Quick Start to get the biological cycle started. (I don't work for API I promise! We just use their products).. The kit explains all the testing which is also a great science lesson for your DS! After about a week, pop back to the aquatics store and they can point you in the right direction of fish to start you off.. If you see some that particularly take your fancy, they will be able to tell you which fish are compatible with them etc! I have to do all the work too but really enjoy it and we have now added a second tank with a stunning blue fighter fish which I'm rather proud of! Good luck

bunnygeek Wed 28-Nov-18 11:43:13

Looping back to the joy of the nitrogen cycle - to do it fully from scratch without any seeding can take 4-6 weeks.

This is why I dislike a certain large chain store that says you can add fish after 3 days. Even running a tank with a filter start product for a week only will start a cycle, it will take many more weeks to mature and more delicate fish will suffer in the process.

The only way to entirely skip the cycle is to clone - use filter media from an already established tank. If you have a friend a with a healthy tank you can ask them to cut the corner off their filter sponge, shove it in with your new sponge and that will help "seed" your new filter. Bacteria is the life you REALLY care for with a fish tank! Look after the good bacteria and they will look after your fish.

SoapyBubbl Thu 29-Nov-18 09:50:44

This is great thanks all. Possibly a silly question:
This fishless cycling business is obviously very important; I suspect it will be tough for a 6 year old to understand why we have a tank but no fish so I'm wondering if we can do it in a different room out of sight and not let him see the tank until it's time BUT I realise moving a full tank isn't on the cards - are there any options here, can the cycling be done and then some water removed (into buckets?) so the tank can be moved and then put back? I'm sure I'll come across the answer to this in my reading but can anyone advise?

bunnygeek Thu 29-Nov-18 09:56:13

If your 6 year old is anything like 7 year old nephew, science is the BEST, so maybe explain that you need to prepare the invisible "magic" bacteria in the filter as they will keep the water healthy when the fish arrive and start all their pooping in the water. Bacteria is like an invisible little animal and has to be grown up, it can't just be put there from a bottle, you have to grow it.

SoapyBubbl Thu 29-Nov-18 09:58:36

I think he is only starting to get into science - he is in year 1. He is actually great at waiting for things with a count down but I'm guessing this isn't going to be an exact countdown. Maybe I will stockpile two advent calendars and have a 48day fishy countdown 😂😂

itsthemenopausenotme Thu 29-Nov-18 10:51:04

You could move it if you really wanted to but it's a lot of work and you'd have to make sure the filter didn't dry out and was up and running as soon as possible, as far as I'm aware.

Would it help if you had live plants in the tank, makes it pretty to look at in the meantime? Spend the time looking online with dc and visiting the fish shop to research and plan? A good lesson in patience too grin

bunnygeek Thu 29-Nov-18 11:35:00

100% a lesson in patience haha!

If you get a master test kit, the one by API is good, a liquid kit not strips. That bit of science where you can add drops and then he can wait for the colour to develop and compare to the colour chart. You can write the numbers on a spreadsheet or in a little book to keep track of the changes.

You could get him to look up different types of fish, he could put pictures of them together on something like Pinterest or a Word or Powerpoint (my nephew loves trying to write me stories on Word!!)

You could go on a trip to aquatic shops, but with a pen and paper rather than a wallet, write down the names of the fish you both like the looks of and come back and research whether they'd be suitable or not.

And yes, plants and decor is an idea, although silk plants may be better initially, some live plants are harder to keep than fish haha!

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