1.5 Years In. What I've Learned.

Joshuaharestad

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Other than the occasional betta I haven't really been a fishkeeper since 1.5 years ago. At least not a proper one. Some things I've learned of the past year and a half.

I used to keep betta fish in cups. Then I decided to do it properly. That led to a 10 gallon which became a 20. Then a 55, then a 75, now I'm getting ready to buy a 210.

My tank is overstocked with young fish. As in they'd never reach full size in the current set up, but I can keep up with them now while they're small and until I upgrade to the 210.

My 75 has three bichir. Two angels, 1 fire eel, one electric blue acara.

My 29 has 6 little goldfish.

As soon as I move the big tank I will also be moving the goldfish.

My 5 gallon has a betta, a couple snails and two ADF's.

I've been waiting over a year for the space and been experimenting with different communities. I don't like when my fish fight so it's been tricky getting the right balance.

My current community gets along swimmingly. (Pun intended)

So here's some things I've learned.

1.) Too much current is bad for betta fish. The bettas I kept in cups lived for years but I went through 4 in my cycled 20 gallon before I realized it was the current causing tears in their fins which were then getting infected. I recommend filtered and heated betta tanks, but watch the current speed. Make sure it's not too much for them.

2.) Bichir get a bad rap. I love my bichir. They will absolutely eat any fish that fit their mouths, but similar sized or bigger fish are left alone. That being said, they have bad eye sight and will occasionally strike at bigger fish. But they have been way less prone to fighting than any of the cichlids I have tried. My ornate bichir is fully capable of killing anything in my tank. He just happens to be a pacifist. Not all bichir are so still be careful.

3.) CYCLE YOUR TANK!!! I didn't understand this at first. I bought one of those ADD FISH RIGHT AWAY chemicals. They don't work. Just be patient. Let the filter cycle properly. It's worth it and only fair to the fish.

4.)Oscars are too smart. Oscars are awesome and beautiful. They are also difficult to keep with other fish. You'll see them in community tanks but I really think if you want oscars to just do oscars. Experienced fish keepers, that's a different story.

5.) Start BIG. This seems counter intuitive, but big tanks are more forgiving than small tanks. If you can when you start go bigger than you plan. Once you get into the hobby you're going to want to upgrade anyways. More water volume gives you more options.

6.) Buy a water python. Best $70 bucks I ever spent. Do some research and buy one. No more changing with buckets. No spills. No sweat. Easy breezy water changes mean you're more likely to do them when you're supposed to. Not to mention it's really handy when you have an emergency that requires a dramatic water change.

7.) The easiest big fish, is a goldish. Now hear me out on this one. Goldfish are messy. They require a **** of a lot more than a bowl. But fed properly they don't fight. That's why I say they're easy. IF you stay on top of maintenance and have adequate space for their size. Mine will quickly outgrow their current tank.

8.) Find someone you can give fish to. I'm lucky to have 3 LFS that will take live fish. This is handy with the semi aggressive tank as I've had to rehome several fighters. With that being said, don't start with semi aggressive like I did. Start with a single species, single fish, goldfish, etc... If you don't want to have to rehome anyone.

9.) The grim part. Sooner or later one of your fish will get sick. I recommend having a way to euthanize them at home in the event of a live fish being in intense pain without hope of recovery. It's not fun to do. But when you've got a fish who is suffering and not going to get better you'll be glad you can do right by them. I use clove oil because I've read it is the most humane way. A few drops in a bowl and the fish falls asleep, then stops breathing. Not fun, but I've had to do it a few times.

10.) Be careful of invasive species. I wanted dojo loaches for my goldfish tank. No one told me they were illegal in my state and I ordered three online. They came and went in the tank, no big deal. I thought, why doesn't everyone have these? Then I found out they were illegal. Oops. I couldn't give them to a fish store then. So I was stuck with three illegal fish. Oops.

11.) Use a ph buffer. I didn't do this right away. My favorite LFS recommended crushed coral and it works exactly like they said it would. Investigate and find a ph buffer for when you need to do bigger water changes.

12.) Sometimes fish don't stop fighting. This is self explanatory. Some fish are just never going to get along.

13.) Some fish do. Others will fight a bit but establish a pecking order and then leave it alone. My electric blue acara pecked at the angelfish for a few days. Now they get along fine. My bichir also used to fight a little but tolerate each other now.

14.) There's no such thing as a totally peaceful cichlid. Even the peaceful severums and acaras will occasionally be butt heads. I'm sure someone out there has one but I haven't had any luck finding any other than my angelfish, but even they occasionally peck.

15.) Plants are your friends. Plant consume nitrates and provide a source of fiber for some fish. One of my goldies died from constipation. I make sure there are always edible plants now. I also keep some in HOB filter that they can't eat.

16.) Research fish. Some fish get huge. Some require live food. Some have special ph needs. Do research to make sure whatever you get will work in your tank.

17.) Don't trust the LFS. Some of them give BAD info. Not all. There are good ones out there. But you should always double check things like tank space required for a full grown fish, etc...

18.) Ask for help. These forums are intimidating and some people are really rude. Still, you can't let that stop you from trying to do what's best for your fish and asking for help. (So far fishlore is the nicest forum I've found.)

19.) Get a backup generator. I had an air pump fail for 36 hours while I was away from home. All but my bichirs died including my fire eel who I absolutely loved. Your power will go out from time to time. A few hours and your fine, but a couple days and your fish are all gone. Along with all the money and time you spent. It is worth having a generator. I spent $500 on a portable one. I've had to use it once and it was wonderful not having to worry about the fish.

20.) Fire eels are bloody brilliant. By far my favorite fish is the fire eel. They get huge. But they also recognize you, eat from your hand and are just plain gorgeous. Mine sadly died when young but I finally got a second one.

21.) Think long a hard about what you get. As I mentioned I have a bichir. I love them, but had I realized everything I know now I'd have started with a big goldfish tank or just a fire eel. My wife fell in love with the bichir though so everything in his tank has to work with him. For this reason I suggest going to multiple fish stores, researching, really decided what you want, looks, intelligence, a community, a solitary fish, etc... Just cause a fish isn't working in your tank doesn't mean you won't be attached. I've had to part with a few that I otherwise liked. It's sad and hard on the fish.

I hope these tips help someone. I'm sure I will be told what I got wrong. Remember I'm still a beginner myself. But these are just some things I've learned and wish I had known before starting.
 

loner556

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A lot of good advice there.

I'd add quarantining new fish is a must do as it's only a matter of time before it will bite you if you're not doing it.
 

Islandvic

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@Joshuaharestad , Fantastic write up!

What are your plans for the 210?

When the time is appropriate, will you start a new thread about the 210 in the Tank Build section of the forum?

That would be very interesting to see its progress !

Regarding #15, what plants do you keep in your HOB, and which HOB ? That is something I may have to try.

#19 is spot on regarding the generator! While I haven't lost power since we got our first tank back in Feb of 2018, in the past we've lost power anywhere from a couple of hours to 6 days straight after Hurricane Harvey!

If a fish keeper is on a budget, may I suggest the Predator 4000 Generator (3200 running watts) found at Harbor Frieght. It has a clone of a Honda 212cc OHV engine and 4 110v outlets. We've had ours for a couple of years now, and it's always run flawlessly. It ran continuously for 6 days after Harvey, only having breaks to cool down and refuel. Excellent $279 investment!
 
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Joshuaharestad

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@Joshuaharestad , Fantastic write up!

What are your plans for the 210?

When the time is appropriate, will you start a new thread about the 210 in the Tank Build section of the forum?

That would be very interesting to see its progress !

Regarding #15, what plants do you keep in your HOB, and which HOB ? That is something I may have to try.

#19 is spot on regarding the generator! While I haven't lost power since we got our first tank back in Feb of 2018, in the past we've lost power anywhere from a couple of hours to 6 days straight after Hurricane Harvey!

If a fish keeper is on a budget, may I suggest the Predator 4000 Generator (3200 running watts) found at Harbor Frieght. It has a clone of a Honda 212cc OHV engine and 4 110v outlets. We've had ours for a couple of years now, and it's always run flawlessly. It ran continuously for 6 days after Harvey, only having breaks to cool down and refuel. Excellent $279 investment!
The current plan is to move the filters over to seed the new tank. Then transfer the bichir fire eel angels and acara to the 210. That should be big enough for them to live out their days. Then the goldies will move to the 75 gallon and 29 gallon will eventually be my first attempt at salt water with 2 clownfish.

Regarding plants I have bamboo and pothos growing in the HOB.
 

Susette

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Joshuaharestad,
Thank you very much for your share. Im starting a 5gal for my betta (for the 3rd time in 2 months) and really struggling with just this one little tank for one little betta. So many mistakes that Im very anxious for him, and Im not sure I deserve him anymore...but trying and highly motivated. Iv dumped everything out and started tank over yesterday. He's in a 2 + 1/2 gal heated, filtered kit i got for ER use. Meanwhile I started his 5gal with clean gravel and stones, put the (squeezed out, scrubbed in aquarium water) sponge filter back in to stew, and this time, was going to just buy some quality silks to make it cozy for him plus try to keep fresh (trail along the top live) for comfort and hopefully help nitrate (?) levels. (My live plants all dissolved, tho water checked out ok so (?) . Thats why i thought if i kept my live plants to the easily scoopable and replaced floating ones. I appreciated your info and your tone very much. I dont need harsh chastisement, believe me, Iv been doing plenty that enough already...but I do need help. Iv written too much here and perhaps in the wrong place...my first post so my apologies...do you know if my plan might work for his 5gal? And can you advise where to find articles about cycling tanks, without plants. Iv started a new notebook with my water levels, and everything I can study about tank cycling, something I should have started before I ever got him. Right now he's fervently working away at recreating his bubble nest and im watching his waters 2x week. Ack...too much!! Im sorry.
 

Susette

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Thank you!!! Im ashamed that I had no idea that there was even anything To study...my lil boy suffers for my ignorance. Hey Iv not set up a profile yet, and do not know how to use inbox (for more direct questions ?). Im sure I put my question in wrong place, thnks 4 ur 4giveness with that, and thank you so much for replying and for your link. I think I may need to start a notebook for this (group?) LOL.
 
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Joshuaharestad

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Joshuaharestad,
Thank you very much for your share. Im starting a 5gal for my betta (for the 3rd time in 2 months) and really struggling with just this one little tank for one little betta. So many mistakes that Im very anxious for him, and Im not sure I deserve him anymore...but trying and highly motivated. Iv dumped everything out and started tank over yesterday. He's in a 2 + 1/2 gal heated, filtered kit i got for ER use. Meanwhile I started his 5gal with clean gravel and stones, put the (squeezed out, scrubbed in aquarium water) sponge filter back in to stew, and this time, was going to just buy some quality silks to make it cozy for him plus try to keep fresh (trail along the top live) for comfort and hopefully help nitrate (?) levels. (My live plants all dissolved, tho water checked out ok so (?) . Thats why i thought if i kept my live plants to the easily scoopable and replaced floating ones. I appreciated your info and your tone very much. I dont need harsh chastisement, believe me, Iv been doing plenty that enough already...but I do need help. Iv written too much here and perhaps in the wrong place...my first post so my apologies...do you know if my plan might work for his 5gal? And can you advise where to find articles about cycling tanks, without plants. Iv started a new notebook with my water levels, and everything I can study about tank cycling, something I should have started before I ever got him. Right now he's fervently working away at recreating his bubble nest and im watching his waters 2x week. Ack...too much!! Im sorry.
No worries. You're trying to do right by him. Cycling is weird. I didn't properly cycle my first tank. Ammonia was through the roof and I was fighting it constantly. I actually gave up I'm ashamed to admit. Went a month with no water changes then checked again and it had cycled. I think water changes during cycling set you back. I think. My best advice is to leave the tank. Provide an ammonia source. And just leave it be. Your conditions are going to get worse before they get better. But you need high ammonia initially to grow the bacteria.

I'm always happy to help and promise not to judge. I hope that helps some. As for the plants. They may need to go in later. They will consume nitrates after the ammonia is converted by the bacteria. Without it I don't think they have a good source. So I would add them once you detect the nitrates.
 

Momgoose56

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Other than the occasional betta I haven't really been a fishkeeper since 1.5 years ago. At least not a proper one. Some things I've learned of the past year and a half.

I used to keep betta fish in cups. Then I decided to do it properly. That led to a 10 gallon which became a 20. Then a 55, then a 75, now I'm getting ready to buy a 210.

My tank is overstocked with young fish. As in they'd never reach full size in the current set up, but I can keep up with them now while they're small and until I upgrade to the 210.

My 75 has three bichir. Two angels, 1 fire eel, one electric blue acara.

My 29 has 6 little goldfish.

As soon as I move the big tank I will also be moving the goldfish.

My 5 gallon has a betta, a couple snails and two ADF's.

I've been waiting over a year for the space and been experimenting with different communities. I don't like when my fish fight so it's been tricky getting the right balance.

My current community gets along swimmingly. (Pun intended)

So here's some things I've learned.

1.) Too much current is bad for betta fish. The bettas I kept in cups lived for years but I went through 4 in my cycled 20 gallon before I realized it was the current causing tears in their fins which were then getting infected. I recommend filtered and heated betta tanks, but watch the current speed. Make sure it's not too much for them.

2.) Bichir get a bad rap. I love my bichir. They will absolutely eat any fish that fit their mouths, but similar sized or bigger fish are left alone. That being said, they have bad eye sight and will occasionally strike at bigger fish. But they have been way less prone to fighting than any of the cichlids I have tried. My ornate bichir is fully capable of killing anything in my tank. He just happens to be a pacifist. Not all bichir are so still be careful.

3.) CYCLE YOUR TANK!!! I didn't understand this at first. I bought one of those ADD FISH RIGHT AWAY chemicals. They don't work. Just be patient. Let the filter cycle properly. It's worth it and only fair to the fish.

4.)Oscars are too smart. Oscars are awesome and beautiful. They are also difficult to keep with other fish. You'll see them in community tanks but I really think if you want oscars to just do oscars. Experienced fish keepers, that's a different story.

5.) Start BIG. This seems counter intuitive, but big tanks are more forgiving than small tanks. If you can when you start go bigger than you plan. Once you get into the hobby you're going to want to upgrade anyways. More water volume gives you more options.

6.) Buy a water python. Best $70 bucks I ever spent. Do some research and buy one. No more changing with buckets. No spills. No sweat. Easy breezy water changes mean you're more likely to do them when you're supposed to. Not to mention it's really handy when you have an emergency that requires a dramatic water change.

7.) The easiest big fish, is a goldish. Now hear me out on this one. Goldfish are messy. They require a of a lot more than a bowl. But fed properly they don't fight. That's why I say they're easy. IF you stay on top of maintenance and have adequate space for their size. Mine will quickly outgrow their current tank.

8.) Find someone you can give fish to. I'm lucky to have 3 LFS that will take live fish. This is handy with the semi aggressive tank as I've had to rehome several fighters. With that being said, don't start with semi aggressive like I did. Start with a single species, single fish, goldfish, etc... If you don't want to have to rehome anyone.

9.) The grim part. Sooner or later one of your fish will get sick. I recommend having a way to euthanize them at home in the event of a live fish being in intense pain without hope of recovery. It's not fun to do. But when you've got a fish who is suffering and not going to get better you'll be glad you can do right by them. I use clove oil because I've read it is the most humane way. A few drops in a bowl and the fish falls asleep, then stops breathing. Not fun, but I've had to do it a few times.

10.) Be careful of invasive species. I wanted dojo loaches for my goldfish tank. No one told me they were illegal in my state and I ordered three online. They came and went in the tank, no big deal. I thought, why doesn't everyone have these? Then I found out they were illegal. Oops. I couldn't give them to a fish store then. So I was stuck with three illegal fish. Oops.

11.) Use a ph buffer. I didn't do this right away. My favorite LFS recommended crushed coral and it works exactly like they said it would. Investigate and find a ph buffer for when you need to do bigger water changes.

12.) Sometimes fish don't stop fighting. This is self explanatory. Some fish are just never going to get along.

13.) Some fish do. Others will fight a bit but establish a pecking order and then leave it alone. My electric blue acara pecked at the angelfish for a few days. Now they get along fine. My bichir also used to fight a little but tolerate each other now.

14.) There's no such thing as a totally peaceful cichlid. Even the peaceful severums and acaras will occasionally be butt heads. I'm sure someone out there has one but I haven't had any luck finding any other than my angelfish, but even they occasionally peck.

15.) Plants are your friends. Plant consume nitrates and provide a source of fiber for some fish. One of my goldies died from constipation. I make sure there are always edible plants now. I also keep some in HOB filter that they can't eat.

16.) Research fish. Some fish get huge. Some require live food. Some have special ph needs. Do research to make sure whatever you get will work in your tank.

17.) Don't trust the LFS. Some of them give BAD info. Not all. There are good ones out there. But you should always double check things like tank space required for a full grown fish, etc...

18.) Ask for help. These forums are intimidating and some people are really rude. Still, you can't let that stop you from trying to do what's best for your fish and asking for help. (So far fishlore is the nicest forum I've found.)

19.) Get a backup generator. I had an air pump fail for 36 hours while I was away from home. All but my bichirs died including my fire eel who I absolutely loved. Your power will go out from time to time. A few hours and your fine, but a couple days and your fish are all gone. Along with all the money and time you spent. It is worth having a generator. I spent $500 on a portable one. I've had to use it once and it was wonderful not having to worry about the fish.

20.) Fire eels are bloody brilliant. By far my favorite fish is the fire eel. They get huge. But they also recognize you, eat from your hand and are just plain gorgeous. Mine sadly died when young but I finally got a second one.

21.) Think long a hard about what you get. As I mentioned I have a bichir. I love them, but had I realized everything I know now I'd have started with a big goldfish tank or just a fire eel. My wife fell in love with the bichir though so everything in his tank has to work with him. For this reason I suggest going to multiple fish stores, researching, really decided what you want, looks, intelligence, a community, a solitary fish, etc... Just cause a fish isn't working in your tank doesn't mean you won't be attached. I've had to part with a few that I otherwise liked. It's sad and hard on the fish.

I hope these tips help someone. I'm sure I will be told what I got wrong. Remember I'm still a beginner myself. But these are just some things I've learned and wish I had known before starting.
That was pretty awesome. And you learned all that in 1.5 years! It takes some people a Lifetime to figure it out.
Welcome to the MTS (Multi Tank Syndrome) and BAB (Bigger, Always Bigger) support group!
 
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