I'm new at this hobby, need help!


My only experience with keeping aquarium fish was as a child. My brother & I had goldfish in a 10 gallon aquarium. We lived on a farm & in the summer-time we would put the glodfish at in the cattle watering tank. They got rather large. I didn't take care of the aquarium. My mother did most of that.

Anyway, I've recently decided to start keeping aquarium fish & wanted to try tropical fish. I bought a Betta & put it in a 5 gallon MinI Bows tank. I have changed the filter one time & did a 30% water change just a few days ago. He never seemed sick or stressed at any point & he's doing fine now.......blows lots of bubbles for some reason.
Then, just last this week, I started up a 20 gallon tank & a 10 gallon tank that I previously was using to house a Rose Haired trantula.
Here's my problem though........like I said, I'm new at this. I went to the pet store & bought two cichlids........I have no idea what kind. They are light grey....almost white with faint darkened vertical stripes. They are very aggressive eaters. I have them in the 10 gallon tank. They are about 2 &1/2 inches. I also bought two baby Red Bellie pirahnas & put them in the 20 gallon tank. One died & the other one is still going...........I did this before I read (on this site) about water chemistry & the nitrogen cycle....& now, I'm like ....oops! Should have read about this hobby first. I did go out & buy test stips for amonia, nitites, nitrates, ph , & other. I only did the ammonia test on both the 10 & 20 gallon tanks yesterday & they showed only low & safe levels of amonia.

What do I need to do now? Is that Bio Spira product something I should try? I'm not adding any more fish until I know what the **** I'm doing. As for the pirahna fish. I know the 20 gallon is too small. I was thinking about raising these guys to about 2 inches & then give them to a friend of mine who has a 75 gallon tank & would like to try pirahna fish. If the other one dies, I'd like to try again or get a Red Devil chiclid for the 20 gallon.

Please help Clueless out! If the idea of putting a Red Devil in the 20 gallon is a bad idea, then what would be a better idea? I wanted an aggressive species that would be fun to watch & that would eat feeder fish. Is there a smaller fish that will be like that?


I've heard BioSpira is really good...it's really expensive ($20 just for shipping), but I've heard rave reviews. As for the bubbles your betta is blowing...that's O.K. It's what they do when they are getting ready for a female! I know nothing of aggressive fish, so I'll leave that to someone who does. Good luck!


Welcome to FishLore!  It's great to have you with us!  First off, please read the "FishLore Articles for Beginners" listed in my signature to help you get started.  

The betta will be fine in your 5 gal. tank, but you should not put anymore fish in that tank.  He's blowing bubbles because he's a happy betta, and he's making a bubble nest.  Don't worry about changing out your filter media unless your filter becomes sluggish.  If the media is something that is removed and replaced, every time you change it out, you get rid of most of the bacteria in your tank, so it's better to leave it alone as long as you can.  If the media is like a sponge, then you can simply rinse and squeeze it in old tank water and put it back.  I would only clean it if you need to.  If the filter is running fine, don't clean it.  Your cichlids sound like they might be african cichlids, and may not be compatible, or your tank is too small for them.  If you can post a picture of them, we can help you further.  The pirahnas I believe are schooling fish, and do much better in groups of at least 3.  I think you are wise to let your friend have the one you have left.  I think he needs a bigger tank to be happy also.  The red devil would be way too big a fish for a 20 gallon.  You will probably need to house that red devil in a tank no smaller than 55 gallons, and he will probably be the only fish in that tank because of his aggressiveness.  Try and stick with fish that get no bigger than 2 inches as an adult in your 20 gallon tank.  You and your fish will be much happier.    Take a sample of your water to your lfs (local fish store), and ask them the exact numbers of your readings, and compare the ammonia and nitrite levels to what your test strips say.  Test strips are expensive and notoriously innacurate.  A more accurate and economical way to go would be to purchase a Master Test Kit made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals.  You can get one online at PetSmart for about $14.00 plus shipping, or if you print the page with the master test kit on it and the price, they should honor the online price which is probably half of what you would expect to pay for it locally.  I will let other members here give you some ideas on what to put in your tank!        


welcome to fishlore,

first off, you definitely need to upgrade your testing method, depending on where you live, in the US or outside, the shipping fees vary for online ordering, for instance, since I live in canada, at petsmart, I would be charged 15 for shipping plus $4 brokerage fees, or I could drive the 5 minutes and buy the test kit for abou 43.00.

secondly, bio-spira is basically cycle in a bag, add it to your tank, wait a day, add fish, instant cycle, reason why its so expensive for shipping is because its a live bacteria product, and basically needs to be there over night.

and now for your fish, I agree 100% with gunnie, the pirhanna must be in groups of 3 or more, but need much larger than 20G, the red devil would also be much too large, as for the cichlids you have now, I have no clue what they would be as my only experience with them is glancly at them in the lfs.  but it sounds as though they willbe too big for your 10G, you could try transferring them to the 20G which would give them 10G each, and build a nice community tank in your 10G, some stocking suggestions for either one would be dwarf gouramis, platies, guppies, small barbs, maybe some killifish if you can find them, tetras, and any small catfish.  the only small super aggressive fish that I can think of are called exodus paradox fish AKA bucktooth tetra, my lfs has them and they feed them small pirhanna, I think they only grow to be 3-5 but I'm not 100% sure here is a link for more info on them, pretty tough little fish though


are they actually red belly pirahnas? or are they red belly pacus? cause ive read that a lot of inexperienced stores will sell pacu as pirahnas...

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