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Aquarium advice

Discussion in 'Personal' started by robyn147, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. My son has been nagging now for ages to get an aquarium for the new house. He is quite frankly obsessed with fish - he normally has very detailed discussions with the fishmonger about the fish on display. I blame the Octonauts.
    OK - so had a look and read up a bit. He wants tropical fish - although we did then discuss the running costs of heating the aquarium and responsibility for feeding, cleaning, monitoring the pH etc. I can see this being very educational.
    What size would people recommend? Apparently big is better - as it keeps the water more stable for longer which makes sense. How big do people recommend? Do you need a special stand or would a suitable cabinet from Ikea do the job? Any other tips - plants? Coral?
    We looked today in Pets at Home. It seems he wants a Moray eel. I know. Lots of beautiful fish and he picked that. Still to be fair to him, he did mentally calculate the cost of the £17 and £18 fish. Only £35 to use his words. Maths by motivation I call it.
    So - size advice for a beginner would be helpful. All in one or separate equipment? Special stand or not?

  2. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    At least 2 feet or 60cm across (not many tanks come in imperial sizes these days), and definitely 100% a special stand designed for the tank you buy. Generally I'd say to go for a cuboid rather than anything fancy.
    Without a special stand, the tank will be under extra pressure and is likely to leak. Take advice from the aquarium store (please, not a general pet shop!), and see what they recommend regarding filters etc. Make sure they stock any cartridges etc it'll need. I'd say to go for a separate heaterstat, since they break often and need replacing!

    What fish is he after? The size of your tank determines what is suitable, but you also need to consider the substrate etc.
  3. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    Don't rush to buy your fish, even though it's the fun part. Leave it a good two or even three weeks after putting water and plants in.
    Be careful what you put in there, of and their relationships with each other in the tank - for instance, Tiger Barbs are very 'nippy' and will chase around and around nipping each other and anything else.
    Don't over feed fish - once a day is easily enough and give them a day off eating once a week, so they scrounge and clean up the tank.
    Introduce your fish slowly; don't dump 25 in at once!
    In a small tank, I would have some Zebra Danio, Neon Tetra and some nice colourful Mollies. Maybe you could have a couple of Angel Fish too (Angel Fish won't eat Neon Tetras when they're babies, and when they get bigger they know they're fed regularly and aren't interested).

  4. Also, be prepared to be patient in setting up the tank before any fish can be added. It stresses fish to be put in a tank that hasn't properly been 'cycled' to let all the right amounts of bacteria built up to deal with the fish wastes.
    I went the fishless cylcing route and was glad I did. I felt a bit like a chemist with all the water testing. I added amonia to kick start everything and borrowed some mature filter media from a friend to speed things up. I was able to put fish in after only 3 weeks of cycling and all fish did well.

  5. MrGator

    MrGator New commenter

    Hi Robyn,

    I'm glad you've asked for some advice before jumping in - most people don't and end up in a bit of a pickle, with masses of dead fish and a load of money gone!

    I'm an avid fish keeper and have a fair few years experience with both coldwater and tropical (freshwater) aquariums, so here's my advice:

    Bigger is indeed better, I currently have one 240l aquarium and one smaller 48l aquarium.

    As a starter aquarium, you would be best to look at a minimum of a 60l tank, (usually 60cm if looking at a standard, rectangular) although if you can push, 90l is ideal.

    There are a few tanks that I could recommend (ones that I have had myself) and they all come with stands/cabinets suitable for keeping them on. The kits also have adequate filters, heaters and lighting for their sizes.

    1) The Tetra Aqua Art 60l ( http://www.seapets.co.uk/products/aquarium-supplies/aquariums/glass-aquariums/tetra-aqua-art-aquarium-kit-60l.html)

    A great tank with a nice DVD guide on setting up your aquarium.

    2) The Fluval Roma 90 (http://www.seapets.co.uk/products/aquarium-supplies/aquariums/fluval/fluval-roma-aquariums/fluval-roma-90-aquarium-and-cabinet-oak-with-black-inserts.html)

    This would be my setup of choice - I have the 240l version and have previously had the older model of the Roma 90. They are made by fluval/hagen as is my 48l and I have never had a problem.

    Design wise, for the price, they can't be touched.

    Whatever tank you choose, you want to put a pH neutral substrate such as silica sand (playsand from argos is MUCH cheaper and just as good as other sands/substrates if you're happy with the colour - remember to rinse the sand first. Keep it shallow at the front (1-1.5" and work a gradient to the back of about 4-5"). I tend to stay away from pebbles/coarse gravels as they're poor for planting.

    Ensure your tank is well planted. For starters, Java ferns, Anuabis and java mosses are ideal. They all take nutrients from the water column as well as the substrate and are very undemanding when it comes to light.

    Decorate with with ornaments or whatever you like. I prefer natural looks, so go for driftwood ect. If you go for wood, but it from your local fish shop/pets at home and ensure it is pre-soaked so that tannins don't leach too much and, more importantly, that it sinks!

    Your aquarium must be cycled - this takes between 4-6weeks and you can get a test kit to ensure that nitrates, nitrates and ammonia are at 0 before adding any stock. Cycling is building up the bacteria that will break down your fish waste (poop) and prevent them from being poisoned! Also, if stops them from swimming in a sewer!

    Add a few fish at a time (in a 60l lets say 6 tetras, or 3 cory cats) and ensure you leave 1-2 weeks before you add any more.

    Do NOT overstock your tank - as a general rule, 1'' of fish per litre. Therefore a 90l tank could hold 90'' of fish. A tetra would be about 1.5''

    You mentioned a moray eel. All moray eels, with the exception of one are marine and this means, live sand, live rock, protein skimmers, daily top-ups of water, ensuring that the water is the correct salinity (using marine salt), only using reverse-osmosis water. Marine keeping as a starter is not advisable and is costly. A minimum marine tank should be 120l (especially for a moray). You would be looking at a minimum of £1000+ as a startup.
    The freshwater moray eel, is not truly freshwater - it's brackish which means you still have to add marine salt, just at a lower dosage and again, this can be costly and time consuming.

    ideal starter fish are guppies, endlers guppies, harlequin rasboras, bettas (siamese fighting fish - only 1 per tank), gouramis (honey gourami's are lovely), panda cory's, zebra loach, rummy-nosed tetra's and a pleco.

    Once you have a mature setup, you could add glass catfish, some dwarf puffer fish, a black-ghost knife fish or other, odd-balls.

    You should remove and replace at least 10% of the water weekly, adding a dechlorinator when you do so. Clean you filter sponges once a week in the water you removed from the tank (you only want to rinse out any accumulated sediment). If you use tap water, it will kill

    Good luck with your/your son's new hobby and if you need any advice, feel free to PM me.

    MrGator :)
  6. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Mollies require hard water or even brackish water, depending on the species, and angel fish require soft water. Not good advice!

    What fish does your son have his eye on, OP?
  7. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    I've never had problems keeping them together.
  8. MrGator

    MrGator New commenter

    In the wild, mollies CAN be found in brackish conditions. They are also found in full marine environments as well as freshwater. Those found in your LFS are likely to be tank bred, and will happily live and reproduce in the freshwater aquarium.

    PS, just realised I didn't finish one of my sentences.......
    the beneficial bacteria!
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Thanks for all the advice. I had read about cycling of the tank (some very interesting websites out there). Big is better, I see as is a tank. Think I might have to calm my son's ambitions - mind you he told me he only wanted 2 fish in the tank.
    More research to do[​IMG]
  10. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    The price of these two made me wonder whether they are suitable... what were they?
  11. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Not buying them now. Just had a look on another website and I'm guessing that Morays grow from the tiny ones we saw into big ones that bite and try to escape. Will have to let him down gently or just tell him that Morays seem to be for advanced fishkeepers and not beginners. He still hasn't seen Finding Nemo so that might put him off an aquarium forever!!
  12. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    I've always fancied having a large tank of guppies. I think they are magical!
  13. MrGator

    MrGator New commenter

    Juvenile Moray will grow up to 2' in the aquarium. This means at least a 5' tank. Glad you're rethinking. Opt for something small and easy to care for - just like guppies!
  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    The hard part is when you have to move or want to decorate.
    I got a 90 litre tank about 3 years ago but I'm downsizing and have been decorating prior to selling up. Fortunately I got a home for the fish I had left (the enormous catfish that started out tiny, the platty and 2 neons) but emptying and cleaning the tank was a bit of a pest.
    I found guppies to be quite aggressive - they seemed to torment the other fish to death and I wasn't unhappy when the last of the guppies died.
  15. grandelf

    grandelf New commenter

    If you're looking for a easy tank to run and keep clean, within a size that doesn't take over the room! I'd look at the bio orb range. Comes with everything you need, just buy a heater if you want to go tropical

    I have a 60ltr bio orb life, had it for 18 months now. Works well, just needs the filter changing once a month and a clean every so often.

    I also like the look of the fluval range

  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    We are now the proud owners of a Juwel 60L aquarium. Have got it set up with some decorations (Greek ruins, a desert rock and a shark cove) and a few fake plants.
    No fish in yet. Going to aquatic shop Wednesday Person there has promised to guide us through how to introduce them with the cycling process.
    Now it's a case of testing water, changing filters. testing water etc - we've done a SOP for it and a monitoring sheet. It's like being a bloody scientist again having to test a machine on a regular basis.

    Still DS now has a basic understanding of nitrogen cycle. Fish poo and wee. Bacteria clean it.
    He's very excited about it. Has done lots of research and notetaking off internet. We did come across a video of someone feeding a goldfish to a piranha (fish snuff movie [​IMG] )
  17. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    I dont consider a special cabinet a must. Ive had mine sat on the sideboard for many many eyars and never had any problems... just a piece of polystyrene underneath. Maybe Ive just been lucky.
    Other than that, super advice from others, once set up I find them pretty trouble free.
  18. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    We got the stand as well. Looks good. I think fish would help though.
  19. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    What do you plan to stock it with?
  20. A good specialist shop won't sell the fish at the same time as the aquarium and will advise happily about set-up. Buy a few tetras or mollies to start off (once the tank has settled). Don't buy anything expensive AT ALL for a long time, unless you prepared for the disappointment when they die. Avoid wall units above the tank as the moisture and heat can weaken the joints.
    When you go on holiday, either get a fish owner to feed your fish or measure out the amount for each day. We found the feeding blocks were useful for short breaks, as friends tended to over-feed, no matter what we advised.


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