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I'm getting a small aqarium......help me pick fish!!!!

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Okay, a small, easy to maintain aquarium....... but I'm a baby and cannot take fish dying on me too quickly. My grandmother had a fish that lasted SOOOO long in a tiny bowl, but I totally don't know what kind it was.

I'm also not looking to spend a fortune or have any special feeding instructions.....

So what type of fish could I buy for a small aquarium (a few mixed together maybe, if not, that's ok, I'm thinking 3 fish total)....that will eat normal fish food and will be relatively inexpensive??? Pretty would also be a plus. Long life span is the most important!!!!

Any Advice???

post #2 of 27
Stick to Goldfish and Catfish (bottom feeders) if you want long lived fish. Stick to the more generic types of goldfish. I've ahd good luch with 40cent feeders, fantails and orandas.

If you can deal with catfish torpedoes (kind of worm-like and immpossible to catch) I recommend Weather Loaches.

Both are cold water, meaning you can skip the heater business, and your fish won't die if the heat shuts off during a power outage in January. They are also less fussy about water pH and food.

I had some gold fish and loaches that lived 6-7 years. But be prepared sometimes they don't last long for whatever reason and there's not much you can do.

Also, get a filter system. Change the water every couple weeks, more often if you don't have one.

A good rule of thumb is one inch of live fish (not counting tail) per gallon of water.

I suggest a 10 gallon tank to start. You can have 4-6 fish with aeration (bubbles).
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Do you think the pet store will know what they're talking about when I ask questions?? LOL they never do with cats, so I'm assuming they won't with fish!!!

Thanks for the advice!
post #4 of 27
Some pet stores know what they are talking about, others don't.

General rule of thumb is 1 gall water for 1" of fish (keep in mind most fish are babies & will grow after you get them).

Don't go to the pet store & buy fish. Go to the pet store, make a list of the fish they have - and go home to research.

Goldfish get BIG, but are fairly easy to maintain - however, they get the tank dirty fast.

I would recommend a small tank of 10-20 gallons, I don't like anything smaller than that.
post #5 of 27
Ok right, first of all, don't get a goldfish!

Goldfish are actually quite hard to keep properly. They get over a foot long if kept properly and can live for up to 20 years. They don't become sexually mature until around 3-4 years. Most goldfish die as babies

Anyway the best fish by far for a small aquarium is the gorgeous Siamese Fighting fish or Bettas.

They're really big characters. They're carnivores so they're very aware of their surroundings and look at the world outside of their tank.

They are aggressive with each other so you can only keep one. However they won't get lonely or anything and are happy on their own.

Bettas don't live for as long as goldfish, their natural lifespan ends at around 2-4 years. However when they go then you'll know it's from old age and that they had a good happy life with you so it's not too bad.

They're also gorgeous and come in a lot of differente colours.

You can keep them in tiny bowls (I wouldn't go smaller than 2gallons though) if you do water changes all the time but they're much happier in small tanks.

A 3-5 gallon tank is perfect

You should get a java fern or java moss to go with it. They love plants an those plants survive very well in low light and don't need any special care.

The males make bubble nests as well which is really fun to see and watch.

I don't have any bettas right now but I've kept several.

Here's Don Juan, I rescued him from a fish shop, got him for just a dollar because he was so beaten up and in bad shape. Someone had put him in with another male betta and they almost killed each other.

This was Ziggy, my first betta:

They're really fun fish.

To begin with I'd just get the one male betta in the tank and see how that goes. You can keep them with other fish, for example corydoras catfish. The male bettas swim rather slowly though because of their really long fins so they can get harassed by smaller quicker fish. They're also really aggressive with each other like I mentioned and any fish that they think is a betta (fancy guppies or example with their long tails and bright colours would not be good companions).

Bettas like their water quite warm so you'll need a heater. Anyway if you decide to go for it feel free to PM me for more information!
post #6 of 27
for my small tanks..

pleco's were a staple in all tanks.. get a smaller one.. these are algea eaters and will help keep the tank clean.. this would not be the first fish to get tho.. I'd wait until you see a little algea growing to add one.

A bottom feeder or two.. such as a corydora catfish or a weather loach.

One of my most long-lived fish was a zebra danio... there are many small species of fish that are good also tho.. several types of tetras, "sharks", gouramis, etc

I never had much luck with neon tetras.. they died so easily.

Your best bet may be to go to the petshop and look around abit.. make a list of fish that catch your eye. The petshop should also be able to tell you abit about each fish.

Stay away from places like walmart, they dont specialize in fish, and give their employees very basic training on fish care.. their fish are just not good quality.. I find that small mom and pop type petshops are the best place to get aquatics... or if you can find a petshop that deals specifically with fish and aquatics.
post #7 of 27
I'd get no smaller than a 10 gallon.. even a 20 gallon is still fairly small and easy to maintain, yet abit bigger to allow for a better balance of fish.

I personally am not putting a tank in my house unless its at least 55 gal! I want a big Chiclid tank!
post #8 of 27
Firstly, what fish you get all depends on how big the tank is. And I don't think youve mentioned exactly how big the tank you are getting is going to be.

1 10 gallon for goldfish is NOT adaquate. They need ATLEAST 30 gallon, plus 10 gallons for each additional fish if you want the fish to live a happy and healthy life. A goldfish in a tiny tank is a sad life, because their growth is stunted, but their internal organs still grow...equaling a slow and painful death.

I would get a 5-10 gallon tank, and a betta. If you go with the 10 gallon, you can also get platys, tetras, and other small tropical community fish(A school of atleast 5. And community fish should be in groups of atleast 5 for their own health). Bettas NEED heaters.

Do NOT put a plecosomus ("Sucker fish") in a tiny tank. They grow to 23 inches full grown, sometimes more. They get BIG, HUGE. They are not small tank fish. I have a whole bunch of Malaysian trumpet snails (Tons) and they do an amazing job keeping my tanks spotless. They clean the rocks, and the sides of the tank, and the plants, and the ornaments. Most pet stores (PetSmart and petco) will have them in their tank, and will let you tank as many as you want for free.
post #9 of 27
plecos can get big, but I've never had any outgrow the tanks.. I got them small to begin with and they just never grew much.

One of my brother's friends had a Pleco that was about 2 ft long.. it was solid black with blue eyes!
post #10 of 27
I had a goldfish once when I was a kid, and it lived over 3 years. The way it died was because of my stupidity. I had went with my dad who was fishing, and I was just trapping little baby fish from the river, newborns. So I was able to catch one and I decided to put it together with my goldfish. It turned out, it had tapeworm and my goldfish caught it from it and died of tapeworm- it started bleeding from the mouth Anyway I think gold fish are very easy to keep ..Just stick to 1 because usually the bowls they sell are not big enough for two. If you want a bigged tank then you can get more..
post #11 of 27
plecos can get big, but I've never had any outgrow the tanks.. I got them small to begin with and they just never grew much.
Yes, it didn't grow because its growth was stunted from not being in a properly sized aquarium . They should ALL grow to their proper size..but if they are in small tanks, they cannot grow properly.
post #12 of 27
I found they were pretty effective at keeping the tanks clean of algea tho.

I tried snails and just didnt have luck with them... I was told at the petshop they were pretty hardy and good tank cleaners.. but I just couldnt get mine to live. Maybe something in our well water that the snails were sensitive to?
post #13 of 27
I had a snail for a really long time too. He got HUGE ..Oh, and it was educational- I found out that snails are hermaphrodites because magically my snail that I had for about 2 years with no exposure to anything outside his tank, gave birth to tiny little one!! It was so much fun.
post #14 of 27
I never successfully kept a Pleco that did not outgrow my tank - every single one did.
post #15 of 27
They are effective tank cleaners. But its not very fair to cram on in a small tank, so it can die a horrid death. There are also chinese algae eaters, which don't get more than a couple inches long. But they are not extremely effective.
post #16 of 27
If you do some research, you can get plecos that won't get huge. Some are expensive, but others are quite reasonable. I have a "whip tail" pleco who seems to have stopped at about 6-7 inches (not including his "whip" string on the end of his tail, lol) in a 55 gallon tank (I miss my 110 ). I've also had a "bristle nosed" pleco, which are hillarious looking, but I've read they are great algae eaters and they do stay small. I've seen these around more than the whiptails, and if I've had one, they aren't the expensive ones, lol.

I used to have goldfish, and I wouldn't recommend starting with them, unless it's just the common single tail variety. They are VERY dirty fish, and the fancy ones can be tough to raise. I've switched to tetras since I had my daughter (but have had bad luck with neon tetras too, lol) and they come in a variety of colors and shapes and I'm quite pleased with my assortment and their toughness.
My favorites are rummynosed tetras- they have a grey body and a red spot on their forehead, and a black and white striped tail , but tetras come in anything from long and lean to fat and short and also long and short finned varieties. Cory cats are great too, and they will help keep the "lost" food cleaned out of the rocks. The little black and white spotted ones are my favorites (can't think of the name, lol).

Oh, and I'd suggest getting some kind of external filter, as opposed to one that goes in the tank. They tend to be more efficent and easier to deal with. And don't forget to set your tank up for at least a week before you even think of adding fish if you want a good start. You might want to get a "tank starter" additive to help the good bacteria (that help keep your water clear) get a jump start too .

Oddly enough, I've had good luck with the fish at Petsmart (ours are relatively new though) and Pet Supermarket, but at Pet Supermarket, the manager is in charge of the fish department- it's independant of the chain. So that may vary greatly. The plus is, mine said it can order me specific fish . Our mom and pop's these days are poor quality for the most part (didn't used to be this way- depressing ) , so it really just takes becoming familiar with what a healthy tank of fish looks like.

Okay, sorry I rambled on...I've had a bad day, and this was a nice distraction . I hope you enjoy your fishtank!
post #17 of 27
Our daughter just got a dog-faced puffer fish. He is so cute! She calls him Kiwi.
post #18 of 27
Goldfish need a MINIMUM of 10 gallons per fish. I had two goldies in a 55 gallon tank and even that looked "too small" to me. My goldies lived for 6 years and both died in the last few months. Everyone says, "Oh, that was so old", but no, goldies can and should live to late teens or 20. If they don't...something wasn't right in their environment.

Remember, fish are living, feeling creatures, too. Make sure your tank cycles BEFORE putting in fish. That means set it up and let it just "do its thing" for a month or so. That will balance the bacteria and get it more compatible with life.

Good luck.

post #19 of 27
Originally Posted by CatMom2Wires View Post
Make sure your tank cycles BEFORE putting in fish. That means set it up and let it just "do its thing" for a month or so.
I thought you only had to do that for 24 hours before you put the fish in ..
post #20 of 27
Nope, that's just if you are letting the chlorine evaporate naturally. The tank needs time to set up it's own balance of bacteria, ph, etc. and stablize. Sometimes you can get away with a week if you are adding something like biozyme to help it along and adding just a few small, "clean" fish (like a small school of tetras in a 10 gallon or bigger tank), but Cally is right- a month is better (it's been around 15 years since I started a tank from scratch- sorry ). If you don't start right, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Oh! And when you go and get fish, just get the minimum you need for a healthy school of one kind. That will help the good bacteria adjust to the fish waste, and compensate. Otherwise, there won't be enough good bacteria and your tank can start having issues with ph, cloudy water, etc. A fish tank truly is a tiny ecosystem .

Getting a good book on starting a freshwater tank would be a great help too. I highly recommend that! There are other things that you will need, like a ph test kit for example, that will be in a beginner book.
post #21 of 27
Wow, now I know why I can never succeed in keeping a tank..The water always, always gets cloudy and it just looks ugly that way! Jeez, and to think all I needed to do was some research as to how it's done properly!
post #22 of 27
I always let my tanks run at least a few days to a week before adding fish.. I also used a bioenzyme tho when I set up the tank.. I'd only add one or two fish at a time, and wait about a week before adding more.

One thing I highly suggest is that you buy a bottle of ich medicine to keep on hand.. my favorite is the brand name Jungle. Ich is a common problem, expecially when you are learning how to care for fish... it does not take long for it to wipe out your entire tank if not treated.. however if you have medicine on hand, you can treat as soon as you notice symptoms, and you may be able to save all or most of your fish.
post #23 of 27
Originally Posted by nekkiddoglady View Post
I found they were pretty effective at keeping the tanks clean of algea tho.

I tried snails and just didnt have luck with them... I was told at the petshop they were pretty hardy and good tank cleaners.. but I just couldnt get mine to live. Maybe something in our well water that the snails were sensitive to?
I had the exact opposite problem. I can keep plecos alive to save my own life but I do fine with snails.

I'm actually getting ready to repopulate my little 5 gal tank so I've been loving this thread. Originally I had a beautiful crown tail betta but he got dropsy and died over Thanksgiving weekend. My tank has been running since then and I think I'm ready for new fish but I can't decide is I want a small group or another betta.
post #24 of 27
Its been awhile since I had a tank.. but I dont want to mess with one unless I can have a BIG one.

When I was in school me and my older brother were both into fish tanks.. between the 2 of us, I think we had about a dozen tanks of various sizes running at one time.. from a 2 1/2 gallon up to a 40 gallon. Now that I think of that, Im not sure if I want to know what the electric bill was like with all those pumps and flourescent lights!
post #25 of 27
I just want to add that even Goldfish (and other cold-water fish) need heaters too, because they have a range of temperature that they do best in (the heater just needs to be set lower, at the temp coldwater fish like). Temp gets too low, thats not good. A heater helps keep the temp steady and consistant. Changes in temp equals stress in fish.

I would ditto the Betta suggestion. They're great for newcomers and are relatively easy to care for (and they're hardy, so the beginner mistakes don't kill them so easily). They also have a nickname of being a dog of the sea for a reason (they have personalities too). You can get between 2-5 gallons, and even up to 10 gallons (in a 10gal, you can add in some Ottos, which will take care of algae, or some African Dwarf Frogs, NOT to be confused with African Clawed Frogs). If you decide on female Bettas, you can start up a sorority, getting a 10 or 20 gallon tank and stocking it with a minimum of 4 girls (any less and they may start fighting with each other; the more girls there are, the more spaced out the aggression is. 6 girls seems to be the peaceful number). Just keep a watch for the one that's sold as a girl, but turns out to actually be a male Plakat, because he'll need to be moved out to his own little tank (males cannot be housed with other males, or females, unless you're going to breed them. Then there's a certain program you have to go through with them, and even then you may end up with some beat up, or even dead, fish). I've got one of those. Named him Sudoku because it was a puzzle trying to find all the evidence of whether he was a boy or a girl. On the plus side, a Plakat would no doubt be sold for higher than a Crowntail (which is selling for $8 here), but I got Sudoku for the female Betta/male Veiltail price of $4. I have one female Plakat (actually, turns out all 3 of my girls are Plakats) that was sold as a male Roundtail at one place (I wanted her because she was OBVIOUSLY a female, and she kept looking at me), for $19.87, which is extortion. I got a REAL Roundtail at Petsmart (my very first fish ever) for $4, which is how I knew this girl was no Roundtail. But I still love Paprika. She's the steady old lady of the bunch amongst little spitfires.

But yeah. I would research cycling of a tank (which does NOT mean leaving a tank alone for a week; it's a process of adding a certain amount of ammonia so that certain types of bacteria are created to eat up the ammonia and make the water safe for the fish. It takes about a month to complete, but your fish will be happier for it. Breathing in the Ammonia can kill a fish, or harm it for life). But once it's cycled, you never have to cycle another tank again. Just take a bit of the filter media (sponge or something that's in the filter) and put it in a new tank's filter, and the bacteria in the sponge will carry over into whatever filter media is in the new filter, and presto! A cycled tank!

Here are a couple of good forums to help you out.

I've only been into fish for a year, since my sister's friend had us fishsit her Betta, and since I wanted to change his filty disgusting water, I changed it, but didn't realize he needed water conditioner, which the friend hadn't brought with her. So a day later, he was dead at the bottom of the little container. I did research, fell in love, and got Sweeney a few months later. He choked to death on some brine shrimp a couple of months ago and I'm still gutted. He was my favorite.
post #26 of 27

This is my daughter's little dog-face fish. His name is Kiwi.
post #27 of 27
I'd got for a single betta, 5 gallons minimum is good. If it's only 5 gallons I wouldnt ave any other fish with it, have it by itself, but you can add aquatic plants to to liven up the tank's look!
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