Fish too big for a tank?

Discussion in 'Fishkeeping Hot Topics' started by Yeoy, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. YeoyWell Known MemberMember

    Many times (and I have thought the same thing) people say..

    "I know I shouldn't get this fish ____ BUT I will be getting a bigger tank in the future...."

    People get plecos that will get to 18" , rainbow sharks and RTS in small tanks, silver dollars and bala sharks, and many more species that they "know" will outgrow their tanks.

    Often these fish need a 4 or 6ft tank pretty much to themselves, in the long run. I feel this is how so many LFS ended up with these big fish that they can never sell on to anyone.

    Is it OK to do this to start, even if your intentions are genuinely good and you want to get a bigger tank in time?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    It really is not a good idea to purchase fish with hopes of upgrading tank size to meet their future needs. When a fish is purchased, it would be best to meet their needs from the beginning. Reason being, sometimes life gets in the way and the possibility of upgrading tank size falls through and then the fish may suffer because of it.

    I only purchase fish that I can house properly from the beginning.

  3. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    I agree completely. It generally is very frustrating to see people post "I've got a bala, an Oscar, and a common pleco on my 10gal tank, but don't worry, I'll upgrade it before they get too big."

    As Ken said, life happens. Expectations go belly-up, and then so do the fish. *The fish you want will still be available when you have a suitable tank set up.* WAIT.

    This is not a hobby for the impatient, and it's too expensive a hobby for most people to be able to plan way ahead like that.
  4. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    I think its totally fine to get a fish that you don't have a suitable size tank for, assuming you have the means to upgrade when the time comes. It'd be silly to look at a 2" oscar alone in a 75g for example. I know plenty of people (including myself) who keep fish in small tanks while they are small and then move them to larger tanks as they grow.

    The big caveat to this approach is that you have to be responsible enough to actually go through with getting the fish a proper home as the time comes (as well as know when you need to upgrade).
  5. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I agree. that proper home may be with you, or with someone else. And the time to upgrade a tank is BEFORE it outgrows the old one.
  6. gourami88Valued MemberMember

    I have done it before but only when I was just about done cycling my big tank and when it was a harder to find fish that i wasn't sure if the pet store would have again. But I only ever got it when the tank was less than 2 weeks from being cycled and when the tank it was going to be temporarily housed in was plenty big enough for its current size (only juvs., never done this with a full grown fish as they obviously need the full sized tank). I've never done this when I haven't had the tank set up and going though. Only when i've not only had the tank but had it set up and cycling for some time and both my ammonia and nitrites were 0ppm and my nitrates were all that was reading.
  7. BumblebatWell Known MemberMember

    It's really up to you and whether it not you're fully confident that you will be upgrading. Unfortunately, intentions aren't enough. Anything can happen to anyone, and you have no way of knowing for sure if you'll be in a position to do so in the future. Situations change, and when they do, it's quickly with little to no time to prepare. At the very least, I would ensure that I have a very reliable long-term alternative. Always have several backup plans.
  8. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Yes, circumstances change. However, it's also a real possibility that circumstances change AFTER getting the big tank, forcing you to get rid of it. So even if you do everything right, you might still wind up in the same spot as if you didn't. All you can do is plan responsibly and act responsibly when faced with decisions.
  9. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    This is just a personal preference, but i do keep fish that get larger in smaller tanks, but the intentions arent there. I get the fish knowing it has a home to move to later. eg: I currently have a 6" Texas cichlid and 2 Eartheaters (5") in a 30G temporary home for my 125G, which is already setup.

    This just avoids the whole "circumstances change" thing. Fish IMO are the last thing you do to a tank, but the first thing you consider. Considering and doing are 2 different things, hence my approach. :)
  10. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Sure, and if your future circumstances change such that you have to sell the big tank, you've got bigger concerns than the fish....
  11. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    I think it just depends, if you are say, 15, and living with strict parents, then you probably shouldn't plan on getting that 2500 gallon basement tank for your pacus. But if you are a self sufficient adult and aren't in dire straits, then I don't see any harm in it.

    And it's not like rehoming a fish to a good LFS or a capable fishkeeper is a mortal sin, either, if the situation arose.
  12. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    That's not a bad point, but it's a lot less likely to get rid of an owned tank... circumstances generally have to be a lot worse for people to part with existing property of any description.

    We could go to the LFS tomorrow and buy that 75gal tank I've been wanting, with a stand, nice lights, canister, etc. We have the money. But... we aren't rich, not by a long shot. We both teach, and we're in a state whose legislature is increasingly unwilling to fund public schools. Long story. So we're not going to buy that tank, nor any other tank of any size (anytime soon, I mean... I'll get it eventually), because we don't know what tomorrow will bring. That also means I won't be buying any angelfish tomorrow, either. Not even babies.

    On the other hand, we're also not parting with any of the tanks or other luxury items (video game systems, smart phones, nice big TV, laptop) that we own... even if my wife is told tomorrow that her system can't afford to pay the salary of an art teacher (her) any more, we won't be running to the pawn shop to trade items for cash.

    The tank you own is, generally, a tank that you can reasonably buy fish for. The tank that you DON'T own is a tank that you may never own, if life turns against you.

    We all recognize that everyone's situation is unique. Some members on here could probably put a baby arowana in a 20-long and have absolutely no worries about getting a thousand-gallon tank in a few months. For most, though, that would be unwise at best... ranging all the way to pure stupidity for those with uncertain futures, like my wife and I. (And we really do have reasonable job security. "Reasonable" does not equal "take it for granted," unfortunately.)
  13. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    We aren't talking about making a life decision here, it's just a fish tank, and they can be had for cheap if you know where to look. Obviously this doesn't include someone who gets a redtail cat or arowana for their 20g knowing they'll need a massive tank/pond in the future, but going from a 20g to a 55g or 75g for a baby JD isn't exactly an epic life changing moment for most self supporting adults.
  14. carolo43Valued MemberMember

    You see it all the time. "I know my fish will outgrow this tank but I hope to get a bigger tank next year."
    I would like to think I'd win the lottery next year, too, but fact is, I will not. This is kind of like getting the horse before the barn. I know that next year I will be as broke as I am this year.
  15. YeoyWell Known MemberMember

    I was/am jut interested in perspectives. As I only have small tanks now I only get small fish that never outgrow two inches or so. And rehoming fish is an option, but if it takes up so much space a lot of people don't want it either. Thanks very much for your input! :)
  16. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    Yes I've seen it a lot. That's where responsibility comes into play. Some people say things and actually mean them, and some don't.

    Again, buying a fish tank (rather cheap if you buy used) is a noncomparison to hitting the lottery, it's not a big life decision for most people, and if it is, then perhaps they should be more focused on their income issues than keeping fish.

    I've got a fish (red terror) that is still very small, only 2" at the most. He's in a 20H by himself. I don't have an empty 75g for him to go into right now. I don't intend on buying a 75g and letting it sit till he grows big enough to make use of it, and I'm not putting a 2" fish into a 75g alone.

    When the time comes, I'll get him a 75g, and all will be well. I know I can do this because I'm responsible enough to make it happen. Lets assume that life turns on me at that point and I can't go out and buy him a new tank. At that point I'll have to make some sacrifices, maybe move some fish around and make another tank suitable, maybe trade or sell off one of my other hobbies/toys. Or ultimately I may have to find a LFS or suitable fishkeeper that can take him, because at that point in my life I will obviously have much bigger issues than whether I can buy a fish tank.

    Can it turn out that way? Absolutely, but it's highly unlikely and unrealistic, so I don't plan around failing.
  17. AlexAlexWell Known MemberMember

    I agree with Ken's post - Responsible fish keeping runs thin these days, IMO. If I know that I will have to upgrade to a bigger tank then I will not purchase that specific fish. I truly believe that is the MORE responsible action to take.
  18. ayladWell Known MemberMember

    I have three comments on this, and then at the end of this post I'll end up agreeing with your larger point, so don't take it personally. ;)

    We're mostly talking about large fish here, I guess. Maybe that's an unfair assumption on my part, but I at least am mostly thinking in terms of fish that will need 75 gallons or more to be healthy.

    So comment #1: Finding a cheap used tank of the size that I'm thinking about is not as easily said as done. Psalm18.2 has been struggling in to locate just such a tank. The tanks mentioned in that thread are mostly priced at $400-$500; she's being advised that $225 is a good price for a 125gal.

    Which leads to comment #2: $225 (or even $500) probably isn't life-changing for most people, but it can be a difficult price to justify for a hobby if times have suddenly gotten tough. Back to using my wife and I as examples: we're college-educated professionals who live VERY responsibly, financially speaking. And yet we don't know whether either of us will have a job next year, due solely to the nature of our chosen careers and the current economic climate. Spending $500 on a tank is doable, but then we're one injury, one car wreck, one layoff, or one pregnancy away from needing as large a reserve in savings as we can get. At that point, buying an expensive tank because my (hypothetical) baby bala shark is getting bigger is going to be a low priority.

    Finally, comment #3: we all are aware that we have a large number of members who are financially dependent on their parents... mostly children or students. How many times have I seen the claim, "mom won't let me buy a bigger tank now, but Christmas/birthday/bar mitzvah is coming up and I'll get one then"? And how many parents are actually going to go out and spend $500 on a tank just because their high-school-age son says the tiny pleco they got at Petco is going to hit 18 inches long? As a forum, I think we need to push the general rule of thumb that you only buy fish you already have the tank for. I think that's the responsible message to push, just like regular water testing is the responsible message to push... even though many of our members (including some on this thread, IIRC) will admit that they don't choose to test their water regularly. It's been a few months since I've tested mine. What we teach as best practices and what we actually do can be different; new fishkeepers will learn what they should do, and experienced fishkeepers can decide whether to keep doing it.

    This is obviously the bigger issue, anyway. I agree 100% with this attitude. Responsibility. I've had strongly negative reactions to my telling people that they should return a fish to the store; I'm sure people who spend more time in the Beginners forums see it a lot more than I do. Responsible fishkeepers will do what they need to do, and irresponsible fishkeepers have no business owning live animals.

    This makes most of what I've said in this thread irrelevant, IF it's followed by everyone.

    Since we can't force irresponsible people to get their heads on straight or give up the hobby, I think maybe we need to take a responsible course of action ourselves, and push the message of "only buy fish you have a tank for."

    TL-DR: See my bolded comments above.
  19. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    EXACTLY. I couldn't agree more. Every day I want to say that to someone, but that's really not my place....

    Keeping fish doesn't have to be expensive. A betta in a 5 gallon tank is cheap.
  20. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I think it's way more likely to get rid of a tank you own than one you don't ;)