Dental office fish tank

cosmic dust

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Hi,
I love the site & it's been very useful, but I wondered if you could give me some more advice......
My husband recently graduated from dental school and is busy setting up his practice. I don't know if it's the Nemo movie or what, but people keep asking us if we have a fish tank for the waiting room yet!
So I finally relented and decided to give it a go (plus I'm allergic to cats & dogs & would really like a pet!)
I'm a total beginner at this so what would be your advice on a collection of bright, interesting, easy-to-take-care-of fish for the waiting room? How big a tank should I get? Should I have live plants? Snails? I'm definately going with the freshwater option.
Also, we live near Tyler Texas so if anyone could suggest a GOOD place to buy fish near there (I've been reading bad things about Walmart!) that would be great too.
Thank You!
 

Boxermom

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Personally, I wouldn't recommend it. Not for a beginner fishkeeper. Most doctors' offices I've seen have tanks at least 55 gallons, but they take a good bit of knowledge and a great deal of care and I definitely wouldn't recommend one that big for a newbie.

If you are really set on getting one, I wouldn't recommend one larger than 38 gallons to begin with. That's a good size for a varied community but not overwhelming. You'll need the tank, stand, filter, lighting, gravel and heater to start. Also, read up on the main page here about fishless cycling. Or you can try to find some Biospira to cycle the tank with. Please don't use fish for cycling, its not humane. And don't let anyone convince you that any other product will help - Biospira is the only one that has the correct live bacteria and it must be kept refrigerated until use. None of the products in bottles on shelves will do anything but waste your money.

I wouldn't recommend live plants, as they take a lot more work. I'd suggest staying away from snails as well. Some good community fish would be zebra danios, dwarf gourami (no more than one though), german blue rams, cherry barbs (I'd say stay away from any other barb, they tend to be more aggressive), white cloud mountain minnows, harlequin rasboras, or some tetras. There are also livebearers such as guppies, mollies and platies but then you have to deal with all the fry.
 

Isabella

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Hi Cosmic Dust,

Aquaria in medical and dental offices are becoming increasingly popular nowadays. It's because the wait period is usually long in medical and dental offices, and while people are waiting they have something pleasant to look at. Fish tanks have also a "soothing" and "calming" effects, especially on patients who may often be very depressed due to illnesses. All of these are perfect reasons for having a fish tank at an office. It is a great idea and you should definitely go for it.

If you're a beginner and never had a fish tank before, first and foremost that you should learn is about the cycling process. Before you add any fish to your tank, you need to cycle the tank first. Here is more information about cycling a tank: https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm. You should also read the rest of the articles for beginners: https://www.fishlore.com/Beginners.htm. Once you have read these, you'll understand why you need a test kit for your tank (especially the tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH).

As for the tank size: the bigger the tank, the better. I'd say get the biggest you can afford and will have the time to take care of. Also, when the tank is bigger, you have more options as to which fish to choose, as well as how many to have.

So, just read the beginners guide for now. Then ask if you have any further questions
 

Isabella

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Well, Boxermom, a tank at a medical or dental office is a GREAT addition. Not only does it soothe the patients and give them something to do while they wait, but it also may in fact help with the revenues. Patients want to come to an office that looks nice.

The reason I say bigger is better is because if there is any power failure and it is cold outside, the temperature drops MUCH more slowly in a bigger tank that it does in a small tank (thereby reducing the chances of fish getting sick or even dying from a sudden temperature drop). And actually bigger tanks ARE better for beginners. Besides, it's better for fish when they have more space.

As for live plants, maybe you can do without them for now. As you get more experienced with fish keeping, you could change things around and add live plants. Remember that live plants require regular and good maintenace, as well as good lighting and substrate (gravel), (especially for the more demanding plants). There are however plants that are classified as "low-light" and are good for beginners with regular gravels and with regular lighting. Let me know if you're interested in live plants. Plants actually help maintain a healthier tank.

Even without live plants, you'll need to maintain the tank regularly. Depending on your fishload, you'll need to perform regular water changes in order to keep the water clean and healthy. The more fish you have, the more water changes you'll need. You'll know why once you read about the cycle process.

I suppose that's all for now. Ask if you have any more questions. Do all the research you need before you set up your tank. This will save you a lot of problems. The reason why many beginners give up fish keeping soon after they started it, is because they haven't done their homework (a.k.a. research), and the fish died right after they set up their tanks. This does not have to be so if you learn before you set up your tank. Fish keeping is a wonderful experience if done properly and with patience.

Good Luck!
 

Boxermom

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I agree that a tank in a medical or dental office is a nice addition. That's not what I was recommending against. I recommend against larger tanks for new fishkeepers in offices specifically because they don't really know in advance how much time or effort it takes to keep one so they can get in over their head. Considerations such as the logistics of water changes aren't what they usually think about. How to do a large water change, the equipment needed, are they going to be using a bucket to carry water back and forth, how to scrape the algae off the back of the glass, doing filter maintenance, who is going to do maintenance, how much time it will take, what to do if/when the fish become ill, etc. Yes, larger tanks tend to be more stable and there's more room for error without causing a catastrophe. However, the amount of work involved also grows exponentially. It takes me a whole lot longer to do regular maintenance on my 55g tanks than it does on the 38g, and it takes a whole lot more time for me to take care of my 15g planted tank than two of my 10g non-planted tanks together.
 

Isabella

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Which is why I told Cosmic Dust to do the research beforehand so that she can decide for herself what she can afford in terms of money and time. Yes, the bigger the tank, the larger the water changes are needed. But also, the bigger the tank, the more stable it is. And if she won't have a lot of fish in there, she won't need that many water changes in a bigger tank. Plants would actually help eliminate many water changes as they themselves filter the water.

Let her just learn the basics for now, then we'll discuss the other factors. We have already told her that regular maintenance will be required so she is aware of that. She'll undoubtedly know she or someone else will need to carry out the regular maintenance. Once again: that's why she needs to do her research NOW, before she sets anything up.

P.S. 1) You could have a lot of fish in a large tank without the need for a lot of water changes, provided that the fish are some small species. Small fish like neon tetras, zebra danios, and the like ... do not produce a lot of wastes in large tanks, even if they're in large numbers. The bigger the fish, the more wastes they produce. I am confident that 10-20 (or even more) neon tetras or zebra danios won't produce as much waste as 2 adult and well fed angels will.

P.S. 2) Even if you have a lot of water changes, or large water changes to do, there are ways to do it very quickly. A Python gravel vacuum will do the job for you in minutes. That's what I am getting for my 75 gallon tank.
 

Isabella

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LOL ... I hope Cosmic Dust won't get discouraged by the long posts I and Boxermom posted!
 
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cosmic dust

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Hi
Thanks for all your posts - I'm certainly not discouraged, in fact I'm encouraged that people are willing to help me get this right! I must admit that when I first thought of getting a fish tank, I imagined a huge one with BIG colorful fish swimming around. (okay, I wanted an angelfish or two....!)On reading this site yesterday, I realized that dream is a long way down the road! I have read all the beginner pages & I understand the things about the nitrogen cycle....don't worry, I realize this will be a long project with lots of planning and a tank with no fish in for a while - I wouldn't want to destress any fish more than is absolutely necessary. Thanks for the advice about live plants......I read about how they're good for the tank environment, but how there's difficulties stopping the fish uprooting them etc. I guess I'll start with fake ones & once I've got to grips with looking after the fish I'll think about adding some real ones.
I think I would probably like to at least start with a smaller tank (say 10 or 20 gallons).....all this cleaning stuff is a little daunting & if it works out, in the future we can always move the smaller one to our home and put a bigger one in the office.
I have a question about tanks though......almost all the fish this site suggests beginners get (Zebra Danio, Serpae Tetra, Cerry Barbs etc) come with a recommendation you buy at least 6. But if I buy a 10 or even 20 gallon tank & put, say, 6 Zebra Danio in, isn't that going to be over stocked? (adult size = 2 inches, this site suggests 1 inch per 2 or 3 gallons). I think for the tank to be interesting, I'd like atleast 2 or 3 types of fish - how does this sound (obviously not all at once, but to build my tank up over time until I had all this): 6 cory cats to dwell at the bottom of the tank, 6 serpae tetras or white cloud minnows or something to swim around in a shoal and maybe one dwarf gourami? That's a total of 27 inches though......is that too many for a beginner? I guess I would need like a 50 gallon tank for all that.....I guess that is too much........can you make a smaller tank (maybe 20 gallons) look interesting with just one kind of fish, or is there room for 2?
Sorry for the rambling! As you've suggested, I really do want to think this all through & understand it before I start out.
Thanks!
 

Boxermom

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Good, glad to see we didn't scare you off. I just tend to err on the side of caution and am somewhat of a worry wart. I think its a great plan to start off with a smaller tank, get your feet wet so to speak, and move up to a larger tank when you have more experience under your belt.

The 1 inch rule is very general and not something that is all that good of a guideline. Much depends on the fish's body type and requirements. For a 20 gallon tank, your stocking plans would be fine, since they all have a very small bioload, except I'd cut back to 3 cories rather than 6. But 6 serpae or minnows and a dwarf gourami would be good. What I'd recommend instead of the cories altogether though, would be three otos instead. Cories will eat leftovers but won't do anything for algae and almost all new tanks will have an algae problem called brown diatoms, even those with fake plants. Otos are great for taking care of a variety of algaes and will eat other foods as well. Their diet can be supplemented with algae wafers.
 

Gunnie

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Sounds like you've gotten great advice already, so my 2 cents will be brief! Most tanks I see in waiting rooms are way overstocked and/or poorly maintained. They usually have a service come in for their maintenance, and to replace dead fish. Since you will be keeping tabs on the tank on a daily basis, your tank will be much nicer than the norm. Please also consider where the fish swim in the tank for balance. I think quite a few cory cats would be a fantastic choice for the bottom level. Pepper corys are a hardy species and a good beginner cory.

You may also want to consider some loaches, but make sure you do your research. Some of the loaches can get too aggressive for a community tank. I love my yo yo loaches, and they add lots of activity in the tank. They are housed with cory cats, and they seem to do fine. Check out some of the danio varieties for the top region like pearl, gold, or spotted varieties. They are good beginner fish, and will provide a lot of activity in the upper region.

http://www.fishprofiles.com/files/profiles/253.htm

Tetras might be a good place to start with filling out the middle of the tank. Start here at FishLore and read the profiles we have here. Fish Profiles is another good place to have lots of pictures available, along with good information about each species. You can also try www.liveaquaria.com and just browse through the fish they have available for sale to learn more about each fish. You might also want to check out www.aquabid.com and just browse the fish they have for sale. If you look long enough, you will probably find breeders and hobbyists right in your area, where you can get beautiful, healthy fish at a great price, and skip the shipping. Aquabid is also a great place just to sit down and drool for awhile. You will see fish you've never heard of, and you will be compelled to check it out in the profiles. I have learned a lot about different fish just seeing them for sale on aquabid.

Rainbows might be interesting for the middle. I'm not sure how they would do with danios though, but oh are some of them ever beautiful! Even the Australian rainbows you can buy at WalMart are eye catchers.

http://members.optushome.com.au/chelmon/

This is the most fun part of starting up your new tank. Do your research, and you will have a wonderful experience. Keep it fun, and ask any questions you can't find answers to while doing your research. Starting a new tank is always a blast!
 
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