Looking for ideas on some good college dorm fish...

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by starflite, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. starflite

    starfliteNew MemberMember

    Hi all, been lurking on here for a few days before I finally joined :)

    I will be going to college in the fall, and I would love to have a 10-20 gallon freshwater tank in my dorm room. Before anyone says that dorms might not be a safe place for a large, glass, breakable fish tank, (lol) I'm not the partying type, and I'm lucky enough to have a room to myself. I don't believe any issues would arise if I were to have a large aquarium in my room :)
    That being said, I will be going to school here in my hometown, and I'm hoping for some fish species that are hardy and able to handle moving well; I'll be taking them home with me for the longer school breaks, and then for summer vacations. I've already ruled out goldfish (due to their waste output/space requirements) and bettas (I'd like more than one fish in the tank lol), but I'm pretty much open to any other ideas. I'm not sure what size tank I will be getting, but the size in the dorms is limited to 20 gallons, so it will definitely be between 10 and 20 gallons.
    While I'm at it, what are your preferences for filters/etc?

    So, any ideas/recommendations? Thanks in advance, you guys are really knowledgeable ^^
  2. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I would go with the 20 gallon tank since they leave you with more stocking options and because a larger than is easier to keep proper water parameter in.

    I really love my cannister filter that I have on my 36 gallon tank. But I do have a 25 gallon tank that I just got, and bought a AquaClear filter for it. I like the AquaClear because it has seperate sponge, carbon and ceramic bio-ring media. This allows you to be able to replace the spounge of carbon, without loosing your cycle since the bio-rings can remain. (As opposed to filters with carbon built into the floss cartridge.)
  3. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!!!
    Glad to see that you're planning ahead. I like Marineland's visi-therm stealth heaters.
    They're very reliable, fully submersible, unbreakable, have an auto shut-off (if for some reason the become unsubmerged) and they're gaurenteed for life.
    The down side is they don't have an indicator light. Marineland has recently come out with a visi-therm pro that has an indicator light. I've never used it, so can't vouch for it, although others have said they're very good.

    As far as fish, there are a lot to choose from. If you get a 20g, maybe guppies, they're very pretty and active with a small schoal of cories.
  4. Prince Powder

    Prince PowderWell Known MemberMember

    Hello starflite and welcome to Fishlore! :;hi1

    It's always nice to see someone who asks questions first! Since you have the option of going up to a 20 gallon tank, that would be the size I would recommend. Not only are larger tanks easier to maintain, but the stocking options will open up quite a bit, particularly with the 20 gallon long. Trust me, you'll be kicking yourself in the butt if you don't get the larger tank. For filters, I like Aqua Clear filters, as jdhef mentioned the separate media pieces makes it much easier to maintain than using cartridges. As for heaters, I have heard great things about the Stealth heaters, I personally use a Hydor Theo and am quite pleased with it. One of the most important things you will need is a good quality liquid test kit such as the API master test kit. It will help you keep track of your water parameters and let you know when your tank has cycled and is ready for fish.

    As for fish, what you can get would depend on which size tank you wind up with. Gouramis make nice centerpiece fish in a community tank. There are lots of options when it comes to schooling fish, particularly with a 20 gallon. Depending on the tank size you can do either shrimps, corys or a small species of pleco for the bottom. It is much easier to decide on fish if you have one or two species already in mind, then build from there. Here are some of our fish profiles to get you started. Freshwater Fish Profiles Choose a few species that you are interested in and start researching them. We can help you on any compatibility questions.

    Your aquarium info says you already know about the nitrogen cycle. Since you are starting from scratch I would recommend doing a fishless cycle. Here's a link that will help you cycle your tank before you get fish. Four Methods Of Fishless Cycling Cycling will take about a month or so usually so you'll have plenty of time to research your fish while you prep your tank.
  5. funkman262

    funkman262Well Known MemberMember

    As jdhef mentioned, the aquaclear filters are good, and you can get a "knock-off" of the popular aquaclear 70 filter (although several people said it was the actual aquaclear filter when they received it) from this link for only $20: I don't know if the filter would be too powerful but you can always get a different impellor to slow down the flow rate. Definately go with a 20g if that's the largest you can do. If you want less maintenance, only put a few fish in there. The fish will love the extra space and the water won't build up toxins as quickly so that reduces how often you need to do water changes. For a small tank, you can have guppies, platies, swordtails, tetras, rasboras, as well as many others. If I were you, I would consider maybe getting a large school of harlequin rasboras (I might be a little biased because I love my school of 7) or maybe even a school of neon tetras or something similar. Some fish like those rasboras school very tightly and they're very interesting to watch. They've also developed a lot of color in them so they add a lot of character to the tank. I'm sure others here will delve into their favorite fish as well. Good luck starting your tank ;)
  6. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    Shame you ruled out bettas already -- one in a 5g would make a wonderful college dorm pet.
  7. funkman262

    funkman262Well Known MemberMember

    Or if he gets the 20 gallon he could get 4 bettas ;D Just kidding :;smack
  8. bassbonediva

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    Why "just kidding"? There's always the option of dividing a 20 gallon long tank into four (or five) betta "apartments." In the betta subforum there's a great DIY divider sticky that is cheap and effective. Just my :;2cents though.
  9. MindTravel3r

    MindTravel3rValued MemberMember

    There are number of automatic fish feeder products out on the market that will feed your fish on a schedule. They usually range between $25 and $50. I think I would try something like this for the shorter breaks like winter and spring break and only move the tank over the summer; less stress on both you and the fish.
  10. funkman262

    funkman262Well Known MemberMember

    lol I realized that it could be divided as soon as I went back on the forum a minute ago and I was hoping nobody had called me out on that so I could edit my post. But bassbonediva is completely correct about splitting the tank. I've never done that (or owned a betta :;smack) but plenty of people here have and would be glad to help you with the project. From what I hear they've got great personality and from what I've seen they're actually like the coolest looking freshwater fish available. If you decide to keep a community tank instead, you can always put a betta in a 1 liter bowl and put it on your desk (sorry sorry just kidding again guys :;a)
  11. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    It's doable, but making sure you had proper filtration across all dividers might be a problem. I think I've seen people do one of these setups though:

    |~~~~~ filter here ~~~~~|

    Anyway I think the OP was more interested in seeing movement, color, and all that with the community/species tank. That many dividers in a tank kind of blocks your line of sight on the little guys unless you're right in front of them.
  12. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    welcome to fl.
  13. OP

    starfliteNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the tips guys :) I'm sure I'll be going with the 20 gallon if at all possible.

    Fish - I'd love to have some gouramis, but the only variety available where I live is Opaline, and I feel like they'd get too big for a 20 gallon eventually.
    I like guppies, but am a bit hesitant about their reproductive capacity... I don't think I'd have any problems if I just left the adults in the same tank so they'd eat at least some of the fry.
    Would guppies do well with Zebra Danios/GloFish? I know my LFS has these in stock, and I think they're very pretty. I'll probably want to throw in a few Ghost Shrimp too, and I'll look into the Cories :)
    As for bettas - I've had several in the past and I love them, but as someone mentioned, I'm definitely looking for more active fish.

    MindTravel3r - I'd be fine using an automatic feeder for spring break, thanksgiving, etc, but I'm not sure I'd be able to leave them alone for our month-long winter break... I'd feel extremely bad about it even if none of them died.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  14. funkman262

    funkman262Well Known MemberMember

    I've never owned any but if you're interested in fish like guppies or tetras then endlers are another possibility.
  15. thequietman44

    thequietman44Valued MemberMember

    Glofish are very active and they do look great. They should be fine with guppies, though the colors may clash a bit ;).

    If you're looking for color you might consider black gravel substrate especially with the glofish. It really brings out the colors and shows algae/waste a lot less than lighter colors.

    Also, if you're considering shrimp you might want to look into blue pearl shrimp. They are extremely easy to care for, reproduce easily in an aquarium, and the light blue color would really stand out if you opted for black gravel.

    And, being in a dorm, you might just want to have a black light around for some real eye-popping displays (note, black lights should not be used for extended periods, just a temporary effect). Nothing beats glofish under a black light with dark substrate :). Well okay, very few things :).
  16. OP

    starfliteNew MemberMember

    I have a blacklight I was planning on using if I get them ;) It's about 20 inches long, and it would fit easily behind the tank.

    I'm pretty sure my LFS only has Ghost Shrimp, otherwise I'd really like to check out the Blue Pearl shrimp =/

    I've been playing around with the fish calculator someone just posted on this forum, (AqAdvisor), and I came up with a few possibilities...
    5 GloFish/Zebra Danios
    3 Guppies
    2-3 Albino Corys
    and maybe 2-3 mollies.
  17. fbn

    fbnWell Known MemberMember

    Danios\glofish are fin nippers. I had guppies with danios and the guppies got harassed. If you do get danios\glofish get atleast 5 or 6.
  18. funkman262

    funkman262Well Known MemberMember

    AqAdvisor is a good tool to use as long as you don't solely rely on it to do your stocking. In this situation where you're discussing it here then it's fine (just keep that in mind).

    If you don't mind the breeding since the fish will probably eat any fry then keep them in a 1:2 ratio for male:female. This will help to keep aggression levels down. I decided to get 3 male guppies to stay away from any breeding and even in a 45g tank they chase each other around (well one of them chases the other two).

    I think these fish would prefer at least 4 in a group. I'm sure they will survive with only 2 or 3 but you won't see them in their full glory if you do that. An although they only get 2.5", they get really large. There are other species that stay smaller but if you prefer the albinos then I don't think it would matter too much.

    Same deal with the guppies, except that some species like the sailfin do get fairly large (5" I think).

    I think you're stocking list is looking pretty good. I'm sure after others throw around some other suggestions and you continue to do more research...well it'll actually be harder to form a stocking list because you'll want them ALL :p
  19. bassbonediva

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    If you do a black light, only turn it on for VERY short periods of time (like if you want to show your friends how cool the glofish look with the black light), then turn it immediately off. And don't use it every day. Black lights are EXTREMELY stressful for fish (of any kind).
  20. OP

    starfliteNew MemberMember

    If I end up going with Mollies or Guppies (will probably only do one of the two due to their prolific breeding xD) I'll definitely be sticking with the 1:2+ male:female ratio. This way if I only do a trio of one species, I could at least have 4 corys together without getting close to overstocking the tank. I was going with the Albino corys because the LFS (-cough-Petsmart) website said that the other type of corys they sell (Emerald Green) get to 4"... not sure how correct they are on everything though, you guys might be able to correct any misinformation =/

    I looked into the Power Filter/Aqua Clear 70, and it looks like a great deal, but where would I get a different impeller to avoid getting the little fish sucked in? xD