This newbie has lots and LOTS of questions!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Seas, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. SeasNew MemberMember

    Hi! So I'm extremely new to all this, and also very very excited!! I've been trying to get an aquarium for 2 years but my mom kept saying no. And last night (This is how new I am) she finally said I could get one after we move. I did research for hours, read probably 10-15 threads on here, and a handful of articles elsewhere, and I have come up with more questions than I have answers! There's a lot too, so I'm going to put them under little categories so everythings organized lol

    Sorry if these are like REALLY basic, obvious questions...or too many questions for that matter. But I want to know everything I can before diving into this! I'll also be keeping notes on all the information I get (Stupidly didn't do that to begin with :/ ) so that none of this information gets lost along the line :)

    Fish in general (Anything about fish I didnt know where to put in other categories lol) :

    Is 2 fish too many to start off? I know you're not supposed to put too many in at first, but I'd like at least 2
    Can you get schooling fish to start off? I heard they get stressed without about 6 other fish so how could I get a schooling fish to start?
    Can I get a Blue Diamond Discus locally? Or do they usually have to be bought online?
    How do you tell if a fish is pregnant?
    How long is the gestation period?
    How do you tell if a fish is ill?
    Is there anything I should know about medicine?

    Tank set up:
    Which works better - Live plants or fake plants? Which is more beneficial for the fish?
    Is a breeding trap (I think that's what it's called?) immediately necessary?
    Is a digital thermometer better or a different kind?
    Whats the best way to start the nitrogen cycle? The only way Ive heard of is by fish flakes is that the only//best way?
    - General tips on setting up tanks appreciated ^.^

    Quarantine Tank:
    How many gallons would be appropriate? How can you tell if 20g is too little for your fish?
    I don't understand how you keep it cycled. I've read that you don't have to keep it running if you're not using it, then how do you keep it cycled?
    When you buy new fish you always keep them quarantined for a couple weeks, correct? Similar to my other question about schooling fish - How do you keep a schooling fish quarantined for the 2 weeks without stressing it out?
    When you start with your first fish, do you put them in the quarantine tank first or straight into the main tank?
    I've also read that you can simply use two filters in your main tank and if you need to use the QT you just move one filter into the QT and you're set. Do you have to wait a little while after putting the filter in or can you just put the fish in immediately? And can you move the filter from the QT back to the main tank afterwards? This part really confuses me
    - General tips on quarantine tanks is appreciated ^.^

    Tank up-keep and care:
    Why can't you use tap water? And if not tap water, where are you supposed to get water for the tank?
    How do you do a water change? And how do you know if you need to do say a 50% water change instead of a 25%?
    Are pH liquid test or strips better and which are more accurate?
    How do you adjust the pH levels?
    - General tips on tank up-keep is appreciated ^.^

    Will all carnivorous fish eat other fish in the tank? How do you make sure that doesnt happen?
    What are alternatives to feeder fish? I don't like the idea of feeding my fish goldfish or guppies...Shrimp would be okay or something else just not goldfish or guppies lol
    How does a feeding cone work and why would I need one?
    - General tips on feeding appreciated ^.^

    I've heard a vacuum being mentioned a lot...can someone just explain it for me?
    How do you clean a big tank?
    What would be everything I need to clean the tank?
    I'm assuming this is never done but I have to ask anyway - Are all the fish and water taken out of the tank and cleaned that way? I'm assuming not since I can't think of anywhere else to put all those fish lol
    I really don't know a lot about cleaning but I know it involves a siphon (thats not the same as the vacuum i keep hearing about, is it?) and a bucket. What if you accidentally siphon a fish into the bucket?
    How often do you clean the tank and filter? Should it be done on a set schedule?
    - General tips on cleaning is appreciated ^.^

    And there you go! Sorry it was so many questions, I have answered a few not mentioned on my own, but these are all the ones I haven't found an answer for! I'm sure some of these can be answered with a simple link to a thread or article, but others would probably be better giving a specific answer.

    Thank you so much in advance!! :)
  2. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to Fish Lore!!!! Wow, so proud of you! Good job for asking for advice before buying! You just avoided a bunch of mistakes that tons of beginners make!

    Fish Questions:
    1. Depends on what fish you're getting.
    2. Again, depends on the type of fish you're getting. Neons, for example, would not be good to start off stocking a tank with. But zebra danios would be a different story. I'd say you could get at least three at a time to avoid overloading the bioload too quickly.
    3. I would not recommend starting off with discus, those are better for more experienced keepers.
    6. Clamped fins, torn fins, odd behavior, swollen belly, raised scales, red gills, bulging eyes, white spots, injuries, and fuzzy looking growth are all signs of illness in fish.
    7. Yes, some meds are not good for certain types of fish and inverts. Do your research before treating.

    Tank Setup:
    1. Live plants.
    3. Digital thermometer, I love mine! :)
    4. A bottle of ammonia and some Tetra Safe Start.

    Quarantine Tank:
    1. Depends on the fish, but 20g should be fine for most, imo, especially since it's just for such a short amount of time.
    2. I'd keep extra cycled filter media in your running tank for this reason, or an extra filter.
    3. Two weeks would be the absolute minimum, imo. And yes, they'll be fine for that long without a school. I still have two incomplete schools right now, I'm afraid. They're just much more comfortable in a school.
    4. Straight into the main tank, imo. Unless you have something that sensitive to meds in the main tank. Or if you just don't want to treat that many gallons of water if they're sick, as many medications will dose by the volume of water in the tank.

    Tank Upkeep and Care:
    2. Depends on your stocking, tank size, and water parameters.
    3. Liquid test kits all the way! I totally recommend the API Freshwater Master Test Kit!

    You won't usually use live fish, tmk. Most of your live foods are types of bloodworms and such.

    1. The suction of the water siphon/gravel vacuum will suck up water and if you poke it down into the gravel, it'll suck up the waste from the gravel too.
    2. Same as 1. as far as I know. ^^
    3. I use a bucket, siphon/vacuum, water pitcher for refilling what I took out, and an algae scrubber on hand just in case.
    4. No, you don't have to take them all out lol!
    5. Siphon and vacuum are the same, yes. With mine, the fish really wouldn't get past the main vacuum part and into the tube. If yours did somehow get sucked up, just net him and place him back into the tank and watch for injuries and/or odd behavior.
    6. I change water once a week in my tank (I'm late this week), and the filter media, once it's completely finished cycling, should be good just being swished around in a bucket of old tank water when it gets yucky. Don't change it every month like the stores tell you to, or else you'll lose your cycle!
    Extra Tip: Remember to use water conditioner! I treat for the entire volume of the tank with Seachem Prime water conditioner at every water change. Water conditioner makes the water safe for your fish. :)

    I answered the ones I could, hope it helps! Also, another tip, make sure you don't use anything that's come into contact with soaps and chemicals and such, those can be deadly to the fish.

    Good luck! :D
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  3. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    The best option for you just starting out is a fishless cycle where you cycle your tank with pure ammonia. Do you know about the nitrogen cycle?

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  4. Et tuValued MemberMember

    Welcome, great questions. In my humble opinion, Discus are not a fish that would be a good 1st timer choice. Other posters will disagree, I have newbies start with species that are not fragile.
  5. CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

  6. SeasNew MemberMember

    I've read 3 different articles about the Nitrogen cycle, and I have kind of a good understanding of it but I'm not entirely confident I know it entirely

    What would you suggest the best fish for a beginner would be? I want something blue at the very least!

    I read all of those (I believe) I still had soo many question!
  7. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    A new beginner fish that comes in blue would be neon tetras.

    We really need to know what tank size you are getting so we can recommend fish to stock.
    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  8. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    I don't know if I'd exactly recommend neons to beginners........
  9. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    Neons are alright once the tank is cycled, but they should not be used for a fish-in cycle, they likely won't survive.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  10. SeasNew MemberMember

    This is so amazing, thank you for all those answers!!

    Oh gosh sorry I didn't think of that! I want as big as I can get. I want 175g but wouldn't be able to afford it for a long while, so I'm thinking around 125g
  11. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    No problem! As for the tank size, the bigger the better! Not only can you have more fish, but bigger tanks are also more forgiving of mistakes.
  12. pritamValued MemberMember

    lots of questions shows your curiosity about this beautiful hobby....nice
    if you already read those article what @Coradee suggested and you know about nitrogen cycle then you are almost safe to start.
    i think you can start with fishes like zebra danios....dont go for discuss now.
    just enjoy this beautiful hobby...i think eventually you will get answers of all of your quires.we friends are always ready to help each other.good luck.
  13. Et tuValued MemberMember

    I agree 100%. Once slowly acclimated to a fully matured,stable steady state tank, they can live well beyond 5 years.
  14. pritamValued MemberMember

    125g is pretty big tank...good to start with that.
    most of the time people start with small tank and do lots of mistakes...results in lots of death.
    as you start with that size of the tank little mistakes can easily forgiven....yes, bigger the tank better the stability...also less maintenance...
  15. SeasNew MemberMember

    I usually go big or go home hahah I really wouldn't want a small tank, and i'm glad that bigger is better in this case!
    I'm still not sure what kind of fish I should start with though :/ There seems to be a bit of a debate here about whats best hahah
  16. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    With such a big tank, there aren't very many things that you can't do. I would recommend with going with bigger schools of the same type of fish rather than smaller schools of a bunch of different fish, imo. So, I'd basically recommend getting maybe 12 zebra danios instead of six zebra danios and six rummy nose tetras, for example. Just my opinion. :) But they're very pretty in large schools, so......
  17. SeasNew MemberMember

    I could still have at least some other fish though, right? I don't really want /all/ of the same fish. I don't know is 12 zebra danios would be a full tank or what though hahah
  18. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Of course! And for your tank size, 12 zebras wouldn't take up much room at all! Don't even have to do zebras, you could search around for something else you'd like! :D
  19. SeasNew MemberMember

    I'll do some searching around then. You're very helpful! All of you are :)
    Would it be okay if I PM'd you for more information on certain fish I find? What they're like, how good they are for beginners etc?
  20. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Aw, thank you! Actually, the forum doesn't allow members that have under 50 posts to PM other members, it's a tool to help protect against spam. :) But, I think you can leave visitor messages on our profiles and we can chat there, or just continue to help you on this thread. You'll get more help on this thread though, imo. :)