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Anyone with an aquarium

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm going to be getting a 20 gallon aquarium this weekend and was curious who has one themselves that can offer advice. What kind of fish are ok for a beginner?
post #2 of 22
since I was into fish but goldfish are a pretty good start. If you prefer tropicals I suggest guppies;they're pretty hardy. They do breed quickly when the time comes you need a separate tank for the babies to hide in or mom will eat them.

The water must be treated,etc before the fish are put in so get your tank set up and running before you buy fish. Buy fish only from a reputable dealer as they are disease and shock sensitive. Very disheartening to have your new fishies floating belly-up a couple of days after you get them.

Hope this is of some help.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
How long should the tank be set up before the fish move in?
post #4 of 22
As I say,it's been awhile.. ..but i believe it should be a couple of days. Your pet store or supplier should be better able to tell you.
Your water supply does make a water has chemicals and our maritime water often runs through mineral deposits. Either can be fatal to fishes. Gravel,plants,etc should be in place first so any particles will go thru your filter. You will need a "janitor" in there to keep down algae and food particles. I used to use catfish..snails make a mess and the fish tend to eat them.

A good pet supply store will have books on the different species and their needs as well as basic setup information. This sounds like a lot of work I know,but necessary.

Amazing how relaxing it can be to watch the little beggars tho.:LOL: :LOL:
post #5 of 22
The janitor we used to always have was called a Pacostomas. (I know that spelling is WAY off!) We just called it a side sucker! Theyre cool fish, kinda prehistoric looking, and do a great job of cleaning the tank.

We started the tank with Cyclids , and only a few just in case the conditions arent right, you wont lose so many fish.

Like Kittyfoot said, the store person can give you all the details...Have fun and good luck!
post #6 of 22
Hi Melissa!
I can help you! What type of fish do you want to have in there? Most cichlids, except for the dwarf species get over 6" or so. Do you want aggressive fish, semi-aggressive or peaceful ones? At one time I did have a 20 gallon, and had 2 jack dempseys, a convict & a firemouth, but now they are in our big tank. Some of the African cichlids stay small, I think? Neons stay small.... I have a web page ( ) if you want to check it out. Jugen can help you, too.
post #7 of 22
Hi Melissa, I have an aquarium, it is a lot of fun, and a bit of work, and i had some disaters to start with too! I got a great book out of the library "the owners guid to a happy healthy pet series" it was very informative.

I can not remember how long it takes to "condition" a tank, about five days i think, but if you get a water conditioning treatment from the pet shop it makes it faster, and you need this any way for every water change (you have to change about 15% every week!) And`you have to only add a couple f fish at a time the water doesn`t get a huge surge in Nitrates!

as for fish...again mixed sucess, Cleo is right about the sucker, they are great! I started with neons, beautiful but need very precise water conditions, i had trouble with one male guppy attacking the others (i don`t think this is usual) so i put it in with my goldfish and is doing well, so i think they are pretty hardy and can handy a wide range of conditions. Swordtails, and mollies are lovely but a bit too goldfish like if you are after something more exciting. I have actualy had a lot of luck with Angels, the books all say they are not for beginners and hard to keep, but i have been lucky, and they are lovely. And Harlequins are another small beautiful fish of which i find hardy and great. We also have an underwater African frog (but that is another story.

Sorry for going on get as carried away about my fish as my cat...ok well not quite

post #8 of 22

Tigger said it best when she said "stay small" !! You will want to look up "small tropical freshwater fish" on the internet.

I wish I could help you but I don't know much, other than the one fish species I have.

The pet store will not necessarily tell you if the fish you like best will stay small or grow big.

I started out with a 10 gallon tank for my 4 fish (Oscars). I had never owned them before and the pet store man gave me no guidance. Now each one is about 11 or 12 inches long and I have a 180 gallon tank 5 years later - talk about hitting the pocket book!!

They are a joy but I never thought it would happen like this!!!
post #9 of 22
I have miniature koi in mine and I like them better than any I have ever had. They are big enough to watch from across the room. The plecostamus (sucker) is really cool, too, and they live well with the koi. I also have a small catfish to help keep the tank clean. My cats really enjoy the fish, too. They will watch them for hours.
post #10 of 22
I think kribensis stay fairly small, too..... BarbB is very right about fish stores giving you bad advice! Some stores are very unknowledgeable. Even a plecostomus is too big for a 20 gallon, as they can get well over a foot. We have one in our big tank (a 600), and he is about 13" or so. They do have ones that stay fairly small, such as the gold nugget. If you want fish that are medium sized, I'd suggest maybe a 55 gallon.
post #11 of 22
I've always wanted to get an aquarium, but been scared of the work
post #12 of 22

My Dad had an aquarium. He always loved fish. The funny thing is he would buy wrapping paper with cats on it and tape it to the back of the tank facing in so the fish could see the cats. Talk about a sick sense of humor. I wonder if the fish were traumatized??
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
:LOL: Poor fish!! Thats pretty funny I'm a bit intimidated by all the stuff I've read on the net about how hard it is to keep an aquarium going. Oh well, if the fish all die (hoping that won't happen!) I can get a mouse or something Hee!Hee!
post #14 of 22
Keeping fish is easy
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

Any tips ?
post #16 of 22

Make sure that when you do water changes, you add water conditioner to the water to get the chlorine, heavy metals out, etc. We use a product called Stress Coat. Don't over feed your fish. Get a heater so you don't have to worry about the temperature fluctuating. For a filter, I'd reccommend a hang-on-the-back filter. Marineland makes nice ones (the penguins). Oh, and buy on-line.... MUCH CHEAPER than buying in the stores. I buy from and Have you decided what kind of fish you want to buy?
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips Not sure what kind of fish i want yet. I would like to get some that stay fairly small so I can have more varieties. I'm not going to be setting the tank up until after Christmas (its actually a present from hubby, but he's letting me pick it out so I get what I want ) so I have plenty of time to decide. I'll be looking at all the fish when I go Saturday and writing down the names of the ones I like so i can research them on the Net when i get home. I don't want any conflicts among the fish, and I know that all fish aren't compatible with each other, and I want to get my fish at this particular pet store, which I can't do the same day I get my tank. I need to cycle the tank for a bit before I add fish, from what i understand. I've heard that a good way to get the bacteria to start growing more quickly is to get a little bit of gravel from an established tank, so I'm going to try that as well. I don't plan to get one of those all inclusive kits, I want to get the top of the line stuff individually, so if I wait a bit I can get things a little at a time. I do plan to get a 'hang-on-the-back' filter, as they are supposed to be easier to maintain. I will look for the Stress Coat when i go. I've also heard that you should let the water sit out for 24 hours in a clean (new thats never been exposed to any kind of cleaners) bucket before you do a water change. My heads spinning a bit from all the info I'm gathering, but I want to be a responsible fish owner. I like to walk inot something new fully prepared, so i don't get any nasty surprises. If you have any further info for me, or tips feel free to email me at Thanks!
post #18 of 22
Tigger is the one that will give the best advice on fish! she and I can talk up a storm when it comes to fish! I have 9 tanks up and running with different fish in them! I have Oscars, Synodonisis(catfish) eels, earth eaters, rainbow fish, goldfish, mollies, black knife fish, Bettas, weather Loaches, yo-yo loaches, Cherry Barbs, flying foxes, Damsels(salt water) a mantis shrimp(also salt water), jack dempsey, algae eaters,a tang(salt water), lawnmower Blenny(salt water), black and white clown fish(salt water) dotti back(salt water) neon goby(salt water)star fish, shrimp and crabs all salt water. There, I think I've named them all!(or the majority at least!) LOL!
let me know if ya need any help and I'll do the best I can to help ya! :tounge2:
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Whoah! I'm nervous about getting a little goldfish! :LOL: I've always really loved those little Neon Tetras, so I really want to get a couple of those. What kinds of fish go well with them? I'm taking a sample of my tap water with me to determine the PH so I can choose fish suited to that level. That will mean I won't have to worry so much about treating the water with PH up or down all the time. Thanks so much for your willingness to help me out. I'm sure I'll be contacting you lots once I'm ready to get the fish and after they arrive
post #20 of 22
Tetras like to school. Pretty much any other peaceful type of fish will go with them. The dwarf gouramis are pretty. You just want to stay away from fish that are aggressive or get too big for the tetras. If you wanted to, you could do saltwater.. there are some fairly small fish. With a 20 you are limited to a lot of the cichlids, but there are always some out there that stay small. I know..... So many choices!
post #21 of 22
Good luck Melissa. My husband & I are thinking of starting one as well. Right now we have one fish only - a Siamese Fighting Fish. Dragon has the most beautiful colours & the cats love to tease him. He teases right back! Let me know how it goes & how you babies adjust to fish.
post #22 of 22
I have a 30 gallon aquarium, and have had it for a year. I only have 7 fish, because my fiance and I wanted them to grown big, and they have! We have 3 tinfoil barbs, 3 bala sharks, and 1 pleco (an algae eater, highly recommended to have one--they look really cool, too!)

When we bought the fish, the pet store people told us to buy them in 3s (these particular species) because they school together, and won't get aggressive with each other.

Maintenance is not too bad, I change about 6 gallons every other week. I use tap water, but put in tap water conditioner that I bought at the pet store. I leave the water sit in gallon jugs without lids for a week before adding to the tank.

I advise you to monitor the pH level, especially at the beginning stages. We had a drop in pH and lost 2 fish as a result. It is important to maintain a stable pH, there are things you can add to raise or lower it, but if the pH changes, those additions don't always help.

Fish are awesome to watch as they swim, and your cats will love them Good luck
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