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Bigger Is Not Always Better

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by andy305mia, May 27, 2019.

  1. andy305mia Valued Member Member

    Hello, I was thinking how often I read people say "bigger is better" and "more forgiving". I'm no expert by far, but I've been keeping fish for a while now and have to disagree with that statement. From personal experience, bigger is harder to maintain period. Larger water changes, more glass to wipe down, bigger filters. I had a 55 and a 29 setup at the same time, both heavily stocked and my 29 was my throwdown tank and it was a lot easier to maintain than my 55. Water would evaporate and I would top it off, I rarely did large water changes. I rinsed my HOB filters once a month with fish tank water and wiped the tank down and that was it. I never lost a single fish for years, and I even have a fancy goldfish in it with several other fish. My 55 on the other hand, I did water changes once a week which I had a good system which was easy. Wiping the tank down was a pain with the tops installed and well I had 2 Ehiem canisters that I cleaned every 3-4 months that weren't too bad. I would say if you have the same exact fish in both tanks the larger tank would stay cleaner longer, but that's obvious. Bigger tank has the advantage of keeping bigger fish, more fish, but still needs water changes and maintenance. I could go maybe 2 weeks before my 55 would begin to slip. I would like to cancel the notion that bigger is better and easier to maintain. It subjective. I thought it would be interesting to see what others have to say from experience. Thanks

  2. Agua86 Valued Member Member

    I agree that bigger is not always better in some cases... For example, I had several bettas that I housed in 1g bowls. Did water changes and was able to keep the guys happy for 1 year.... I moved and decided to give them "bigger" homes ... Each got a 10g with heater and sponge filters. They all died within the month.( the tanks were fully cycled when I transitioned them. I was distraught. Thinking I killed them.) Then I had a 20g guppy tank... I decided to transfer them to my 40g that was housing 2 gourami girls and some nerite snails.... They stopped eating and slowly started dying off. I moved all the guppies back to their 20g and never had a problem. Then I had 4 pea puffers in a 10g planted tank and moved them to a heavily planted 29g.... These little suckers are thriving! They all look much healthier and are more active.

  3. david1978 Fishlore Legend Member

    Well yea you still need to maintain your tank. Water changes, glass cleaning and filter cleaning. I have a few 10's that will never see water so those I don't know. Had a bunch of 20's with guppies. Constant maintenance but they were over stocked. Any more I much prefer my 4 foot tanks. Lightly stocked you really can't make a mistake short of dumping in something you really shouldn't. Water conditions change much slower in them too.

    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  4. andy305mia Valued Member Member

    Sorry about your Bettas, strange how these things happen sometimes. Sounds like they stressed out. Totally underestimated in the fish keeping industry. I have lost fish re-homing as well
  5. scarface Fishlore VIP Member

    I agree 100 percent, and I've actually said this before sometime back that my nano tanks were a breeze when I had them compared to my larger tanks. If properly stocked or stocked somewhat within reason, a smaller aquarium is definitely easier to maintain. I can do maintenance in a 2.5g in a few minutes, and I loved that.

    I'll digress a little bit. There are a lot of things that get reflexively repeated without thought that makes me shake my head, for instance, when people suggest doing 10-20 percent water changes no matter the tank volume. They should be doing more for smaller volumes. Again, it does not take long at all to do a 80-90 percent water changes in small tanks, whether they're 1.5g or 10g. If that sounds too drastic to anyone, then just do 50 percent.

    I suppose my point is it's not only that thing you mentioned; it's that people don't really put very much thought into anything. They read something online, and repeat it like a cockatoo or macaw.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  6. Agua86 Valued Member Member

    The bird references had me dying
  7. andy305mia Valued Member Member

    I agree, there is nothing beneficial in old water, I always do 50 percent water changes. I don't change more for one reason only, and that's to not stress the fish. 10 percent water changes are fine if you're doing them EVERY day, which to me is not practical.
  8. Agua86 Valued Member Member

    My 55 had one fancy goldfish. I still did my water changes even though I knew the parameters were still "great". It was a pain scrubbing down the glass and it took longer to empty/refill. Since my 55 had a leak and I had to break it down, my water changes time has gone down to 1/2. Or at least it feels like it did.
  9. david1978 Fishlore Legend Member

    I agree it does take longer but for the fish a 55 was better for them then something like a 40. Bigger is always better for the fish.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  10. Basil Well Known Member Member

    I’m glad someone brought up this topic. Because I completely agree that maintaining my 10 g is so much easier than my 75 g.
    And I don’t notice huge changes in water parameters in my small tank which, I believe, is the basis of the statement “bigger is easier”.
    However, I do love the size of the 75 g as I can stock a much larger variety of fish.
  11. Platylover Fishlore VIP Member

    If you properly care for a tank in all aspects, they should have the same amount of difficulty. I do not always understand why everyone typically says this, even parameters wise I don’t see the larger tanks being that more forgiving in my experience. For a beginner I believe a 10g is a great tank to start with as maintence is not as difficult but it still has stocking options.

    Fish wise, I do agree that bigger is better for them, but that does not mean smaller tanks are good for them either.

    This being said, I’m not certain how it is in SW. I know there, tanks can be a lot more temperamental in certain aspects.
  12. kallililly1973 Well Known Member Member

    I agree and disagree. While I enjoy my 2 5.5's and my 10 and 20 I would much rather have a wall of 75's or bigger. It comes down to being able to stock biger and better and it also allows us to enjoy staring at one tank for quite possibly an hour or more. Lastly personally looking into my 55 after a WC feels much more rewarding and feel of accomplishment than say doing a WC in one of my 5.5's... While IMHO all of my tanks look beautiful the reward is far greater for me with my big tank. Just my opinion.
  13. camste Valued Member Member

    Yes, maintaining my 80g takes longer than the 16g. But I don't feel like it's a lot more "work". I don't really scrub the glass, I just leave that for the nerites. I vaccuum and fill with the python, so there's no buckets. And for filling I have this little hook that goes over the edge of the tank, so I sit in the sofa and watch tv while it fills, and just glance over there every now and then. For the 16g I have to do more frequent plant maintenance for instance, because if a plant grows one inch it might easily reach the surface. But emptying and filling is a lot faster.

    I have to say I love the 80g quite a bit more than the 16g. There's a lot more life in it, even if it's under stocked, because they have a lot more room to swim in, and you can have bigger schools of fish. There's room for quite a lot of plants for the fish to feel safe, but still keeping a big open area for them to swim in. So they are out and about most of the time.

    I can believe a bigger tank is easier in the beginning though. If you stock slowly then one fish in a 30g tank will cause less of a parameter swing than stocking the same fish in a 15g tank. If you stock twice as much at a time though (which many do because of bad advice from the store), you would end up with the same result :)
  14. coralbandit Fishlore VIP Member

    Math rarely changes .
    50% which seems difficult for some with 10g could turn into a nightmare for some with larger tanks .
    A larger tank could allow the same slacker who ignores a 10g to get a 75g into a place where 50% water changes may never even touch it unless done for over a week every day ..
    Are big tanks more forgiving ? Yea , for those who have a basic understanding and work it . Are they easier ? Yea like running 5 miles instead of 1 ,you know what is 4 more ...
  15. Fishcat Well Known Member Member

    I don’t have huge tanks, but I think my 20 is easier to maintain than my 10. More room to get around in there and clean. In the smaller tank I feel like the proverbial bull in the china shop with the siphon and my hands in there. I do water changes twice a week, about 10 to 20 percent, which I feel gives me a little more leeway in case I have to delay a change. I’m never dealing with huge volumes of water.
  16. Feohw Well Known Member Member

    I always assumed this statement was for new hobbyists who didn't know much and tend to want a bunch of fish. Anytime I've heard it said, it was intended as, "20 gallons would give you more room for error than that 5 that you have." Rather than jumping all the way up to 80 gallons.

    Personally I would recommend a 20 gallon for newcomers, rather than something smaller. Not too big to make life difficult, but not too small so that they can get a school of neons, a gourami and a bristlenose without it being in a 10 gallon - as well as to give the fish some breathing room in terms of space and any eventual slip ups that are bound to happen.

    Personally I much prefer larger tanks. And once you get a python, or even make one yourself it becomes much easier to handle. I also don't really clean my glass, my algae eating fish tend to do that and I only ever clean the front panel with my magnetic scrubber. Either way my 6 gallon and my 53 are simple to manage. I'm getting the tank bug again too and looking for something bigger. Resistance seems futile!
  17. roXen Valued Member Member

    I think when they say bigger is better, it is from the perspective of the fish and its health and wellbeing. You're looking at it from the perspective of your maintaince time commitment required, in which case bigger tanks will almost always require more work.
  18. wrs2 Well Known Member Member

    When I had a 55 gallon, to do anything with it WC wise was a 2 person job (because I used a hose and didn't have one of those python things - still don't actually) and took forever. With my smaller tanks everything is a breeze. Still I wish I had my 55 back because it gives way more stocking options, then of course there is the issue that it requires me hardscape and plants which = more money, and as a teacher I don't have much money to start with lol.