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If you have a fish pond, fish tank or are seeking advice about keeping tropical fish, you can find advice on our Fish forum.


Does anyone fancy telling me about fish?

20 replies

D0oinMeCleanin · 04/03/2012 16:45

Assume I know nil. Which I don't. Dd2's birthday is soon and the most sensible present she has asked for so far is a "Fish tank with fish like what they have at your work"

The fish at work are angel fish and, um, brown spotty ones that seem to spend most of their time stuck to the front of the tank or floating accross the bottom of the tank.

That is the limit of my knowledge on fish.

OP posts:
TheSinglePringle · 04/03/2012 16:47

Go to a place where they sell fish and they will get everything you need. I did this when I got ny fish.

TeamEdward · 04/03/2012 16:48

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CharminglyOdd · 04/03/2012 16:53

There are people on here who know much much more than me (had two goldfish for just over a year) but the biggest thing that springs to mind is: learn about the nitrogen cycle! You have to have a tank already set up with the water balanced and 'cycled' before you put the fish in (if you're getting a new one) as otherwise they get really sick and it's very energy intensive to cycle the tank with the fish in. Spot the newbie who got crap advice from the shop and nearly killed her fish.

There are loads of websites that explain it really clearly and a lot of problems are googlable. Depending on how old DD2 is maybe it's an idea to sit down and explain cycling and how much cleaning etc they need? I think a cycle takes a couple of weeks and you can buy a kit (££) or take a sample of the water to a fish shop where they'll test it for free.

The fish are cheap. It's all the gubbins to look after them properly that can get expensive, although there are tanks on freecycle etc.

Also, I hope I'm not stepping out of line, but I have a vague idea you might be in the NE? If you're anywhere near Durham I can recommend a fish shop where they've been quite knowledgeable and very friendly.

D0oinMeCleanin · 04/03/2012 16:53

So what are simple fish? I thought goldfish were simple? Confused

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AnnoyingOrange · 04/03/2012 16:57

This thread has a lot of good advice. Especially if you follow the link in it from eaurouge which explains in detail about how to care for goldfish

D0oinMeCleanin · 04/03/2012 16:58

Dd2 is only 5 so it will be me who does the fish care. My used to keep tropical fish. I am going to have go against everything in me and ask him to help me aren't I?

I have no idea what nitrogen cycles are

I live in Teesside so not too far from Durham.

They should just buy a tank and put rats in it. That would be easier for me. I know how to look after rats. Or lizards even. But, no, dd2 is adamant it is fish she wants in her tank.

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CharminglyOdd · 04/03/2012 16:58

Goldfish are simple-ish (in the sense that I haven't killed them yet!) but they require loads of cleaning. They are very, very friendly and cute. I have broken so many of the rules through ignorance and they're still with us :) However there are (I think) degrees of goldfish - I have a fantail and a lionhead and both of those are more complex than a bog-standard goldfish but they are much prettier.

MonsterBookOfTysons · 04/03/2012 17:01

Just remember to get the tank up and running a couple of weeks before her birthday, or else you will have a tank with no fish on the actual day.

CharminglyOdd · 04/03/2012 17:05

Here is the Durham fish shop. If you speak to an older man (rather than the younger staff) you will get good advice. You also need to know what questions to ask. It's a bit of a trek to get water tested however.

The cycle is basically once you put in the filter and the plants and the water etc. it starts turning into a fish environment rather than tap water so the nitrogen, nitrites, nitrates and ammonia etc. starts changing. It eventually evens out and then you can put the fish in. Goldfish create loads of ammonia so you need to change the water and clean the tank to stop it building up. The smaller the tank, the more you need to clean. That's the non-expert version Grin EauRouge really knows her stuff ... hopefully she'll see this thread and explain it a lot better than I've just done.

You also need to treat water with a chemical to get rid of chlorine before you put it into the tank.

CharminglyOdd · 04/03/2012 17:06

Oh and by change water I mean partial water changes: if you change too much (there are ratios in fish care guides) then it upsets the environment and the fish get sick.

D0oinMeCleanin · 04/03/2012 17:10

I will enlist the help of my boss or my Dad I think.

I thought this would be easier than her original idea of hand crafted bunk beds with slides and climbing ropes and an in built TV that pops up when you press a button. I'm begining to think I should start building the bed Grin
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CharminglyOdd · 04/03/2012 17:14

Grin It sounds daunting but once you're in the swing of it (and we had no choice - DP bought the fish for me as a present before we'd done any reading not my choice!) it's easy.

This forum has some good articles on what to expect and how to do cycling. They were the first place I went and I learnt a lot. However the members aren't very... polite would be the best word Grin if they think you're being 'stupid' and they seem to class anything less than expert as 'stupid'. I tend to read articles on there for info and then ask questions here where people are more friendly.

EauRouge · 04/03/2012 17:28

Afternoon :)

Firstly I would recommend doing plenty of your own research. Some shops give good advice, some give really shitty advice and if you're a newbie then you won't be able to tell which is which!

Biorbs look very pretty but the filters aren't very good and the shape isn't practical for the fish or for cleaning- you can get much better for less money and it will give you more choice of what fish you can keep.

Probably the first thing to consider is how much space, time and money you have before you go choosing any fish- A tank of around 60-70 litres is a good size for a beginner, there are lots of species of fish that would be suitable. Don't be tempted by small 'beginners' tanks. Small tanks are a total bugger because you have to clean them every 5 seconds and even then it can all go belly up.

Fishkeeping is very sciencey and it takes a lot of patience to do a fishless cycle (which you definitely, definitely must do and ignore anyone that says to just chuck in a 'hardy' fish or tries to flog you some magic potion that will cycle your tank instantly). You also need to test the water each week and do a water change which can take an hour. Fish are also not very interactive (many people would say boring!) and they live for quite a while compared to other pets so you need to be absolutely sure.

This explains about fishless cycling and the nitrogen cycle- it's all simple really, but essential to know about. It can take around 4-6 weeks for a tank to be ready for fish.

There are loads of beginners articles here

Hope that helps a bit :)

D0oinMeCleanin · 04/03/2012 17:35

We've fancied an aquarium since we moved in here (about two and half years ago) but never gotten round to buying one, so we are sure. It's not solely a child's whim.

Space? I'm thinking of putting the tank in the dining room on the cabinet we aleady have in place there which is approx 2ft deep and 4.5ft long.

Money? Set up budget would be anything upto £200 (ish) but since it is also a present for DH and I we could stretch that to £300. We were hoping to get a second hand tank, filters, heaters etc.

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EauRouge · 04/03/2012 18:01

Ah, sounds like you're good to go then Grin Second hand is a good plan, there is a lot of stuff around on ebay at the moment. I sold a 4ft tank last year complete with an Eheim filter and solid wooden cabinet and it only went for £60- it's a buyer's market! Carboots, free ads and freecycle are good places to pick up bargains too.

If you do get a 4ft tank then that will give you plenty of options fish-wise. The only thing you need to consider is your tap water. There is a little bit of adaptibility especially in farmed fish but it's best to try and stick to fish that suit your tap water pH and hardness. If you don't have a clue what your's is then it might say on your water company's website but it's best to test and be sure anyway.

There are potions available that claim to change the pH of water but it's a tricky thing to get right. You can buy reverse osmosis water (or get your own RO machine if you really want) so that you can make water whatever pH and hardness you want but it does get pricey.

There are loads of different test kits available, the main types are dipstick tests and liquid tests. The dipstick ones are simple to use but they work out more expensive in the long run and personally I can't stand them because I find them inaccurate and hard to read. I have heard other people say they like them though.

Liquid kits are a bit more fiddly but I find them more accurate and you can pretend you are a mad scientist. The API one has a good reputation. You need to be able to test for ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte (don't get these 2 mixed up!), pH and hardness. There are loads of other kits you can get like phosphate and iron but I wouldn't bother with those.

Hopefully I haven't put you off altogether Grin A planted up 4ft tank will look amazing and you'll probably forget you have a TV. It's well worth all the work IMO.

D0oinMeCleanin · 04/03/2012 18:09

I spend more time watching the fish at work than I do the TV Grin

You haven't put me off. The links you gave which I've just been browsing through are very helpful. Thank you. I will sit down with Dh at one point and we'll talk exact budget and what kinds of fish we'd want/be able to manage.

I am in charge of most of the dog care so I think I will put DH in charge of fish management. He sounded quite keen when I told him dd2 wanted fish.

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MamaPizza · 05/03/2012 09:07

A year ago I knew nil. Now we have a mature tropical community tank and I am so hooked and planning on chucking out toys so I can get a huge one in my living room. It was originally DSs birthday present last year, but I am just as fascinated as he is.

From personal experience I can recommend tropical fish, there is so much choice and they are lovely to watch. All you need is a heater in addition to the other usual suspects, and they are not too expensive.

Definitely cycle the water before her birthday, I have learnt a lot about the nitrogen cycle in the past months.

If you go for a tropical tank I can recommend the fish species we have: guppy, platy, cory and minnow. They all go very well together and live peacefully side by side. Guppies and platties are livebearers, so if you don't want babies get same sex ones. (We are currently anxiously waiting for Polly to give birth to Paul's babies!!! Grin) Cories are bottom feeders, so great for helping keeping the tank a little cleaner. Minnows are a schooling fish and they liven up your tank.

Your DD will surely love getting involved in feeding and cleaning the tank, DS always talks to all his fish by name every day. They can really become part of a family. Have fun!

Oh, and one more thing - go for the biggest tank you can afford / have space for. You will want a bigger one once all is set up, trust me Wink.

D0oinMeCleanin · 05/03/2012 09:24

Dh informed last night that his Dad used to keep tropical fish and he would help out so he knows the basics.

We'll definately be getting the biggest tank we can afford. My parents currently have a huge, unused tank in their sitting room. I hope to steal it, then we'll just have to buy the extras for it.

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MamaPizza · 05/03/2012 10:31

Sounds fab. Enjoy setting it all up. Tropical fish are great!

EauRouge · 05/03/2012 10:56

That's brilliant, it's great to have help from someone that's done it. There have been a lot of very recent changes in fishkeeping (especially fishless cycling) so your FiL might do things differently to the way things are done now.

I've got this mental image of you trying to stuff a massive fish tank in your handbag while your parents' backs are turned Grin

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