What kind of tank shall I get?

  • #1
hiI guyss i'm new to all this! I've been doing lots of research into fish keeping and to be honest some of it is soo confusing lol!

I've always loved the bright, colourful fish, so should I go for the tropical fish? I've heard that theyre hard to look after though but some other people say it's easy, you just need a heater! so naturally I'm kinda confused !

soo.. some people are saying that a 20 gal tank would be a good start? its not massive is it? and what kind of fish could I keep in there that would all get along, eat similar food (not eachother haha) etc...

and this sounds dumb... but where do you put the fish when you're cleaning your tank? or are they just happy to stay in there?

and when you clean the tank do you use Prime in water and a sponge?
  • #2
Tropicals (freshwater) are a nice place to start, since they give you more species to select from than coldwater, but are a bit easier to keep than saltwater fish (which are also tropical, but I assume by "tropical" you meant freshwater tropical). Hopefully I didn't just confuse you more.

I wouldn't consider fish hard to care for. There's a lot of info thrown at you initially, but once you get the hang of things it's not difficult. But there is a whole lot more to keeping fish than just a heater, so you have to be prepared to do some research (or else pick other forum members' brains ).

A 20gal is good to start with...no it's not massive. It's a good size because it isn't overwhelmingly huge but it's better than super small tanks which can be harder to keep stable.

There are a TON of fish you could consider. Do some research (fishlore has a lot of fish profiles, as do most fish sites) and see what type of fish you like. Let us know what you like and we can help figure out which ones are compatable.

When you do a water change, you use a siphon to simultaneously drain water from the tank (usually 20-50%, once a week) and suck up debris from the gravel bed. Then you pour back clean tap water (dechlored with a product like Prime) that is the same temp as the tank. The fish are fine in the tank while you do this.

Not sure what you mean by the sponge? Do you mean to clean the inside glass with? If so then yes you can use a sponge type thing to scrape algae off the glass if it gets to be a problem. But you won't need to worry about that for a while.

Have you read up on the nitrogen cycle? That's one of the first things you'll need to know. Here's a good article if you haven't... https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
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  • #3
oh yeahh I suppose I mean freshwater =] do you know any really good brands of siphons? soo in order to clean my tank I should get some prime, a siphon, and the spongey thing I meant to scrape off algae
the nitrogen cycle looks quite complicated... I read somewhere that if I put a few flakes of fish food in the fishless tank every day for a week it would help the nitrogen cycle start? do I need to consider an air pump also..? thanks for the help =]
  • #4

There's a link to a more comprehensive writing of what's going to be in this post, and it's written by an excellent author *ahem*

Anyway, 20 gallon is a decent tank to start with. Actually, in most aspects, the bigger the tank, the better for starters. The reason for this is that, the larger the tank, the more stable the water quality.
Tropical fish are what most people keep, and there are many, many tropical fish that are very hardy and much easier to keep than the more temperate goldfish.
Guppies are a wonderful, brightly colored fish, though if you're going with a 20g, you probably want to get only males as a mix will overpopulate your tank (most stores keep males and females separated, making it easy for employees to pick particular gender fish, and keeping them from breeding rampantly). Tetras and barbs also have a wide range of colors. The African cichlids are really brightly colored, but also have some particular water requirements (that are relatively easy to fulfill, just something you need to think about before setting the tank up)
Every tank needs a filter of some sort. Most 20 gallon tanks are fitted with a HOB (hang on back) filter, and these are relatively cheap and easy to maintain. Tropical fish need a stable temperature in the high seventies, meaning that most people have to put a heater in the tank.
Most of the smaller tropical fish do relatively well together, with a few exceptions (barbs, for example, have a tendency to nip the fins on longer-finned fish). There is a general (very general) guideline of 1" of adult fish per gallon, so you'll be working with around 20" of fish. Some fish, like goldfish, don't fit in this guideline at all, for various reasons, but most of the smaller tropicals follow it closely enough. An example of this, using a guppies-only tank, would be that, since guppies grow to be about 2", you could have 10 guppies.
Most of the time, the tank itself doesn't require much cleaning. Just siphon out a portion of the water (while vacuuming with a gravel vacuum) and replace it with new water treated with your conditioner of choice (Prime is an excellent option). If you have algae on the walls, you'll want to clean that off, but they sell various tools to aid in that without disrupting the fish too much.
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  • #5
thanks =]
  • #6
I started with a 29 gallon tank, which isn't all that much larger from a 20 gallon. A bit longer and a bit taller is all. I also started with guppies, which are relatively hardy fish. Another option to start with are Zebra Danios, which are also, by reputation, very hardy fish.

The most important thing to stress is make sure your tank is cycled before you put any fish in it. Get a test kit for ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. I hope this isn't confusing you more. Read the article posted above because the most important thing in keeping fish is understanding the nitrogen cycle.

You can use fish food to get the process going, but only use about a flake every few days. Some people choose to use fish to cycle their tanks, but this can be really hard on the fish. That's why they recommend to start out with hardy fish.

I can tell you how I started my first tank. I set everything up and just let it run for about 2 weeks. When I first set it up, I used Cycle (a bacterial supplement for your water to kick start the nitrogen cycle). After about 2 and a half weeks, I took a small sample of my water to my LFS and had them test my water to make sure everything was cycled. They said it was fine, so I brought home 2 guppies and put them in after acclimating them to my water properly. Try not to add too many fish at once. The reason for this is so that your filter has a chance to catch up with the increased amounts of ammonia being produced by the fish from their waste. Only add 2-3 fish at a time and give you tank about a week or so to catch up. Then you can add some more.

I hope this helps and I haven't confused you more.
  • #7
You should get some tropical fish to start. They are pretty and they are easy to take care of.
If you do get some tropical fish you should get some guppies,mollies,platies,tetras and some danios. If you are looking for some pretty fish.
You should get a 10-20 gallon to start. If you sure like it you can start to get more tanks. Dont go over the limit though. Every gallon is a inch of fish. That means if you get a tetra lets say, that is an inch.
You should keep you fish in the tank while you are cleaning the bowl. Just stir up the rocks and scoop a gallon of water out and throw it in the tub. Then get some more water that is clean and has some chemicals in it.
Use Water Conditioner,Salt and some Cycle. Keep a 5 gallon bucket aside for fresh water and put chemicals in it. Cover it so no stuff falls into it. Clean your tank weekly.

Good luck and it isn't hard.
  • #8
Good ideas, guppiemaster, except I would say guppies, mollies, platies, tetras or danios. There isn't room in a 20 gallon for more than two of those types of fish if they're kept in proper schools.
As far as the danios go, if you're looking for color, I would look for something other than zebra. There are a few new types of danios that have brighter colors than the zebras.
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  • #9
..... There are a few new types of danios that have brighter colors than the zebras.

Yep, those Glo-type danios are very eyecatching and good to start with. As far as I know, they come in glo-yellow, glo-green, glo-orange and glo-red.

Correct me if I'm wrong btw
  • #10
Welcome to the hobby!

Tropical fish are much easier than all other fish.
I don't see what it is about goldfish...

20gallons is actually quite small! It's best to get the biggest tank you have room for. However, 20 gallons would do you.

Here are some species you should consider:

Harlequin rasbora,
Cherry barb,
Zebra Danio,
Common hatchetfish,
Corydoras species,
Glowlight tetra.

Do a little research into them. (This site is good for that!) We can help you out with choosing which ones would fit in your tank together.
  • #11
Tropical fish are much easier than all other fish.

This isn't necessarily true. Probably the single easiest fish to care for is the white cloud mountain minnow. It's as hardy as a zebra danio, requires no heater, and will adapt to a huge range of water parameters.

Likewise, goldfish, presuming you have a properly sized tank, are extremely easy to care for and will outlive nearly every other freshwater fish out there. Combine this with their intelligence, and you end up with possibly the only freshwater fish that beats bettas out for true personality.
On the opposite end, there are tons of tropical fish that are anything but easy to care for. In fact, there are many tropical fish that I would love to have that I just can't keep because I know I wouldn't be able to maintain the water qualities that they prefer.

As far as what is "with" goldfish, that is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I don't really like hatchetfish, platies, or most of the tetras. That doesn't mean anyone else is wrong for liking them.
  • #12
* what kind of tank shall I get? begginer =] *

Well, for begginers golds can be hard as they produce a ton of waste! However - they would stand an atomic bomb hit I guess. (Well, not really. You know what I mean!)

Really it depend what kind of tropical. But I would generally say to get tropical to a begginer as they can have more fish in there - and if they get hardy ones they'll get an easy start which is something like they imagined. (A tank full of colourful vibrant fish swimming all over the place. We've all had that vision once...)

WCMM's are an interesting subject. They can thrive in literally any temperature below 26C.

We're both right and wrong. It really depends on the fish in question.
  • #13
I was specifically pointing out that the statement "tropical fish are easier" wasn't always correct. The words "tropical fish" cover such a wide area, as you've pointed out in your last post. "Some tropical fish are easier to keep than goldfish in smaller tanks" would be a more accurate statement.

On the point of goldfish, if you have a properly sized tank, they are no more difficult to keep than tropical fish in a properly sized tank. Vacuum the gravel once a week when you're doing a 25% water change, they're good. And, technically, one koi, a close relative of the goldfish, did indeed withstand an atomic bomb (obviously not a direct hit), and survived for many years after. The koi lived until the 2000's, and was 250+ when she died. She also lived through at least two major earthquakes, one of which is known to have damaged her pond. So you're definitely right on that count.

It all depends on if you want one relatively intelligent, long-lived fish that is, admittedly, rather bland compared to a school of male guppies, or said school of male guppies.
  • #14

Really? What a super-fish!
Yeah. Settled - goldfish can be easy in a large tank - but really you NEED a large tank!
  • #15
Really? What a super-fish!
Yeah. Settled - goldfish can be easy in a large tank - but really you NEED a large tank!

Most definitely. Even for a single smallish goldfish, we're talking something like a thirty gallon tank. To keep multiples, it can take a hundred or more gallons.

And, due to their long lives, one also has to consider if one is going to be moving anytime in the next twenty or so years, if it will be feasible to move the fish, too. Further, it is possible that a goldfish outlives its owner, particularly if the goldfish is purchased later in life, and not every family is happy to be saddled with the responsibility of caring for grand-dad's goldfish. (If I have kids, I'm going to have to impress upon them how important daddy's koi, Miyamoto, is, as he may outlive me. )
  • #16

I never thought about having to do that! I sure hope my grandma's goldfish don't outlive her... She has two in an 8 GALLON tank! Along with 2 Chinese algae eaters and 4 Zebra danios... I know; it's embarrasing.

SpudandBob - have you made any decicions yet?

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  • #17
thanks soo much for all your help! I went and got my tank today! its a 70 litre which is quite big so I thought that was big enough right? I'm just setting it all up today with the water purifyers and the background to run for a week before I get fish. I can't wait to get my fishys!
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  • #18
oh my gosh though I was so shocked at this one pet shop they wouldve let you go home with the fish straight away instead of completing the cycle and then taking a sample of water and they had a sign up saying 'we do not garuntee your fish survive after 48 hours because the water in our tanks may be different to your water' how bad is that!!
  • #19

That's a sign of a VERY good store actually! Keep coming back to that one.

70litres isn't that big... Its pretty small, acctualy!:-\

Wait until your test kits have the right readings that show the cycle is over before adding fish. You DO NOT want to add fish to a half-cycled tank!

What sort of fish do you plan to stock it with, and how many? I recommend one school of 6 and 3 platys/guppys.

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  • #20
oh my gosh though I was so shocked at this one pet shop they wouldve let you go home with the fish straight away instead of completing the cycle and then taking a sample of water and they had a sign up saying 'we do not garuntee your fish survive after 48 hours because the water in our tanks may be different to your water' how bad is that!!

I actually would not regard that as a very good shop.
  • To allow people to go buy fish before the Nitogen cycle is complete is not helpful. To allow people to buy a couple of hardy fish (eg: Danios) to process the Nitrogen cycle on the other hand is helpful, depending on the tank size. Most of the time a fishless cycle is recommended.

  • To only guarantee the fish bought for only 48 hours doesn't put a lot of faith in their stock. A guarantee for 5-7 days would be better IMO and testing the client's water before purchases and keeping a record, helps both parties as then the shop knows how to advise further and the customer doesn't end up with a lot of dead fish then getting totally disheartened.

To me, that shop comes across as just wanting to make a quick pound.
Just my :
  • #21
That's a shop that I would definitely avoid. Even the chain pet stores known for poorly fish give 15-days to return fish. To me, that sign is really saying "Our fish will probably die soon after you take them home."

oh my gosh though I was so shocked at this one pet shop they wouldve let you go home with the fish straight away instead of completing the cycle and then taking a sample of water and they had a sign up saying 'we do not garuntee your fish survive after 48 hours because the water in our tanks may be different to your water' how bad is that!!
  • #22
It sounds like that was what Spud and Bob was getting at with the description.
  • #23

You know, that is not a lot of faith in the stock. Don't buy from there again unless it's the best in the region.


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