Beginner With 0 Experience Need Help!

Gursher Nakai
  • #1
Hi! So this is my first time posting a thread on Fishlore, and I really need help on deciding what type of aquarium to get. I have absolutely no experience with fish tanks, and although I have done some research, I still have a ton of questions so here it goes.

1. Freshwater or Saltwater? I realize that this is the Saltwater Beginner forum, but that's because I'm leaning towards a Saltwater tank because of the stunning colors it can produce. But I've also heard a saltwater tank is way too hard for beginners, and freshwater is the way to go.

2. What tank size should I get? I have space for up to a 90 gallon tank, and I have heard bigger is better generally, but what is a good beginner for both saltwater and freshwater?

3. Which has been harder, a reef tank or a planted tank for anyone who has kept them both? (P.S. Is trimming the plants in a planted tank as hard as people say it is?)

4. Other than Oscars, what fish can I get that shows an interesting personality and recognise their owners? Also, I never knew you could hand feed fish! So please take that into consideration when recommending a fish.

That pretty much sums up all the questions I have. I'm sorry if any of these questions are hard to answer, but as I have said above, I have no experience with fish tanks, and any help would be greatly appreciated!
Sincerely,

A Newbie
 
BottomDweller
  • #2
1) freshwater is a lot easier. You have less parameters you have to keep on top of. You can generally stock a lot more fish. Also you don't have to deal with bristleworms which I find terrifying.

2) id recommend a 20 gallon long for freshwater or 30 gallons for saltwater. These are the minimum sizes id recommend for a beginner. They allow you to have a few fish. Remember the footprint of a tank is often more important than the volume when stocking. However have a look at what kind of fish you want before getting the tank. You don't want to end up getting a tank that is 10 gallons too small for your ideal fish and regretting it later.

3) I have not kept saltwater but there are a lot of very easy beginner aquarium plants that you can chuck in and ignore. Java fern and anubias grow extremely slowly and are very easy to care for. You don't have to worry about trimming them. Trimming plants is not difficult at all but is often not neccessary.

4) Bettas are easy to train to do tricks. They learn to eat from your hand pretty quickly. Goldfish can sometimes learn simple tricks and will eat from your hand. Dojo loaches are amazing and are so funny when they eat out of your hand. Mine like to sit on my hand once they've finished eating. Lots of common aquarium fish are happy to eat from your hand such as platies, danios, mollies, etc.
 
Gursher Nakai
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Wow thanks for the reply! I've also heard fish like platies and other live bearers can reproduce very quickly. Will they overpopulate my tank?
 
Fashooga
  • #4
Wow thanks for the reply! I've also heard fish like platies and other live bearers can reproduce very quickly. Will they overpopulate my tank?

It depends, water has too be perfect for it to happen. The main problem with live bearers is that they inbreed, so you do get deformities and whatnot.
 
BottomDweller
  • #6
Wow thanks for the reply! I've also heard fish like platies and other live bearers can reproduce very quickly. Will they overpopulate my tank?
Not if you just get males or just get virgin females.
 
oOBlueOo
  • #7
Saltwater isn't really that much harder if you go with a fowlr setup. I would go with the biggest tank you can afford. Bigger is always better for saltwater. It's technically more expensive than fresh because you'd need live sand and live rock.

False percula clowns are a good beginner fish. Tomato clowns, as well. But they can be bossy.

One of my fish-list options was a group of green chromis fish, but I opted for a school of chalk basslet instead.

The only pain about saltwater is that I had to haul water for the tank. My tap water had too much sediment in it and I was too lazy to get an RO system.

So every now and then I'd wander into walmart with culligan jugs and lug them back home. I got sick of it, so I sold off all my saltwater stuff. I kinda miss my clowns, but I don't miss hauling water.
 
Jesterrace
  • #8
1) freshwater is a lot easier. You have less parameters you have to keep on top of. You can generally stock a lot more fish. Also you don't have to deal with bristleworms which I find terrifying.

2) id recommend a 20 gallon long for freshwater or 30 gallons for saltwater. These are the minimum sizes id recommend for a beginner. They allow you to have a few fish. Remember the footprint of a tank is often more important than the volume when stocking. However have a look at what kind of fish you want before getting the tank. You don't want to end up getting a tank that is 10 gallons too small for your ideal fish and regretting it later.

3) I have not kept saltwater but there are a lot of very easy beginner aquarium plants that you can chuck in and ignore. Java fern and anubias grow extremely slowly and are very easy to care for. You don't have to worry about trimming them. Trimming plants is not difficult at all but is often not neccessary.

4) Bettas are easy to train to do tricks. They learn to eat from your hand pretty quickly. Goldfish can sometimes learn simple tricks and will eat from your hand. Dojo loaches are amazing and are so funny when they eat out of your hand. Mine like to sit on my hand once they've finished eating. Lots of common aquarium fish are happy to eat from your hand such as platies, danios, mollies, etc.

1) Freshwater is easier than a full fledged reef for sure, but honestly a modest sized Fish Only With Live Rock (no corals) isn't that much harder than a freshwater tank. Bristleworms/pests are a non-issue if you go with dry rock (dead live rock) and then seed it with bacteria or go with something like Life Rock (dry rock with a bacteria coating). I have had life rock in both my saltwater tanks and have NEVER had a single bristleworm in my tank in the past 2 years that I have had them.

2) A 20 gallon long FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) tank would be fine for about 4 smaller saltwater fish (ie a pair of occ clownfish (Nemo), a Royal Gramma Basslet and a small Blenny or Goby). Sure you could have more freshwater fish, but the only ones that will hold a candle to saltwater for coloration would be Glofish, but they won't have the personality of Clownfish, Royal Gramma or a Blenny or Goby.

3) Just stick with the rock, get comfortable with the fish and then move on to coral after gaining some experience. A FOWLR is actually easier than a planted tank IMHO.

@ The OP, it honestly depends on what your preferences are. I wanted something more exotic/unique and so I went with saltwater as my first fish tank of any kind. Yes, it was challenging and I did make mistakes (fortunately none with fish in the tank), but in hindsight it provides a lot of satisfaction for me. As you pointed out it is very tough to find an answer to the colors of a saltwater tank. There is no freshwater fish that can answer to the variety and depth of color of my Leopard Wrasse, Coral Beauty Dwarf Angel, my Melanurus Wrasse (once it matures) and my One Spot Foxface. You will need RODI or at least RO water in most areas. So I would look into getting a system. You can find some pretty cheap these days. This one will work:
 
Jesterrace
  • #9
False percula clowns are a good beginner fish. Tomato clowns, as well. But they can be bossy.

.

Agreed on the Occ clowns, but I disagree completely on the Tomato. Bossy is a gross understatement, they are flat out aggressive and once established will kill any new additions to the tank and even flip over new corals. Can't tell you how many of them have ended up back at the LFS for the aforementioned reasons.
 
oOBlueOo
  • #10
Agreed on the Occ clowns, but I disagree completely on the Tomato. Bossy is a gross understatement, they are flat out aggressive and once established will kill any new additions to the tank and even flip over new corals. Can't tell you how many of them have ended up back at the LFS for the aforementioned reasons.


My tomatoes were mostly whimps. I had a yellowtail damsel that the lfs assured me would be fine. That had to be returned to the store because it was relentlessly chasing my clowns all over the tank.

Looking back, I most likely stocked them wrong.

My clowns got along great with the basslet group.
 
Gursher Nakai
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Thanks so much for all of the replies! I think I'll get a 40 gallon FOWLR tank, but I do have two more questions: Should I get an anemone (fake or real) for the clownfish and are they able to learn tricks or be hand fed like a betta fish? Thanks!
 
Jesterrace
  • #12
Thanks so much for all of the replies! I think I'll get a 40 gallon FOWLR tank, but I do have two more questions: Should I get an anemone (fake or real) for the clownfish and are they able to learn tricks or be hand fed like a betta fish? Thanks!

Skip the 'nem for convenience. Most clowns are captive bred these days and many don't even know what to do with one. Real 'nems generally require well established tanks with plenty of light to thrive. A clownfish will be perfectly fine without one and I wouldn't trust ANY fake decor in a saltwater tank. Made in China plastic/latex decor and saltwater don't mix IMHO. As for learning tricks and handfeeding? You can teach just about any fish to hand feed, but clownfish can become aggressive and bite their owners as they become established. You could also look into something like a Pygmy Angel (ie cherubfish) for a 40 gallon if it's the dimensions of a 40 breeder. They are pretty cool, although they can have some attitude. Most people with cherubfish have pretty good experiences with them provided they are added last. Here is a cherubfish:
 
Gursher Nakai
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Really? Wow, I thought clownfish were one of the most peaceful species of saltwater fish. Anyway, thanks for the recommendation! Would anyone recommend any good invertebrates or clean up crews for the tank?
 
Jesterrace
  • #14
Really? Wow, I thought clownfish were one of the most peaceful species of saltwater fish. Anyway, thanks for the recommendation! Would anyone recommend any good invertebrates or clean up crews for the tank?

Conch snail for sand bed, Trochus snail for all around glass and rock cleaners. If you reach a point where maximum algae cleaning is required for rocks and glass then a Mexican Turbo is what you want. Hermit Crabs are debatable, I have a few in my tank, but I quit buying them. If you do get them I definitely don't recommend the "one crab per gallon" rule.
 

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