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Good fish tank for a studio apartment

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JonasN1120

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Hi. My name is Jonas... I'm from the USA! I currently live in a studio apartment but would like to have a fish tank. I want to do research on everything first before I even consider getting one. I've read horror stories online about people not knowing what they are doing and everything ends up horribly. Don't want that to happen to me.

First question: What size tank, filter, heater, and plants are good for beginners?

I looked online at pH levels for my apartment and it seems to be 8.3. What else do I need to know about water levels? I live quite close to a Petco but also not too far from a local fish store called Aqualand. They've been around for roughly 20 something years and have a good reputation. I haven't gone as far to go in there and ask them questions, figured I'd start online first with you knowledgable people! Thank you in advance for answers and comments. Feel free to ask me any questions as well! Thank you for your time guys!!!

Jonas
 
The first thing is never believe anything a fish store worker says - even the good ones. Always do your own research.

Second, do you know the hardness of your tap water - that's more important than pH. Your water provider's website may have this information - you need a number and the unit of measurement as there are several units for hardness (it's worse than just inches and cm!)

Last question for now - what's the biggest tank you can fit in your apartment? Larger tanks are actually easier than smaller tanks, and they open up a wider selection of fish that can be kept.



Keep asking questions, that's what we're here for :)
 
A lot of apartments have restrictions on aquarium size do to weight and potential water damage so check the rules; you can do a lot with a 10 gallon aquarium but if you find that too small then i'd go with a 20 long. This is a 10:

Also ph can be misleading as a lot of water companies put in an additive that will dissipate over night; what you want is kh/gh/tds.

With a small aquarium (20 long is still not too large) you can get away with a pair of sponge filters ($10); small air pump ($20) and some tubing ($10). Heaters are more problematic as you want one reliable - a lot of cheap heaters can 'stick' and the aquarium will get quite toasty. Last if you want to grow plants you will need a 1/2 decent light or be adjacent to a window (you don't want direct light from a window as that can cause a lot of algae). The aquarium below has been setup for 3 years.

nn1.jpg
 
According to google, the average for the city I live in is 157 PPM. The biggest one I can get is a 20 gallon which I thought would be good for starting out. Petco has one on sale right now for about $30.. Is that good? Thanks again guys! BEAUTIFUL fish tank by the way!
 
That size tank is good for a starting tank. As anewbie said, make sure you're allowed to keep a 20 gallon tank before buying.

157 ppm is upper soft, so you need to look at soft water fish, but not those that must have very soft water. Avoid hard water fish. Fish profiles give a species hardness range in either ppm or dH. Your 157 ppm converts to 8.8 dH.



Do you want to have live plants or fake plants? The main reason for asking is a tank with live plants is prepared for fish (what we call cycling) differently from a tank with fake plants.
 
I was thinking live plants but don't know where to get any. I was also thinking about putting Zebra Danio's in while cycling. I don't want to kill them though. Should I just wait and cycle with no fish? Just anxious is all! Thanks!
 
It's funny, but where we are in the world affects how we see. I saw 157 and thought moderately hard. Either way, you can keep a lot of fish in water like that.

Don't cycle with fish in that you won't keep. A "cheap fish" cycle is a poor idea from the past, as you owe the fish a living once you take them home.

There are tons of threads on how to cycle, and a lot of dogmatism for a lot of views for you to sort out. Put 3 aquarists in a room and you'll have 5 opinions. ou just have to bear with us.

How you cycle depends on whether you know people with tanks who can jumpstart the process, or if you are working alone (in which case the dreaded fishless cycle ins an option). You have to look, read and decide.

A 20 is a good start. Avoid the chain and use Aqualand (from your description of it) for any fish, but make sure you go in well read and ready. Trust only your fish.
 
Cycling with fish or without fish as a personal preference. I always prefer to cycle without fish it's not hard, the hardest thing is finding the ammonia as it has to be free of anything else other than ammonia. You can usually find it if you have a local Ace hardware or true value store. There is even a product that Dr Tim sells that will help you cycle a tank. Or there is a product called Fritz zyme that is wonderful at helping you cycle a tank many local fish stores will have them in their refrigerated section if you call them or ask them directly. I have not had any good experience with other so-called instant start bacteria in a bottle. If you have any friends who have a cycle tank you can ask for some of their ceramic or biological media to help Kickstart your cycle as well but you will need the ammonia to feed them if you don't have any fish. I've also always done live plants in a fishless cycle and have never had any problems with the cycle completing. So I'm not sure what the prior comment meant about the cycle being different if you plan on using live or plastic plants.

A sponge filter is a good option for a tank but you can also use a hang on back filter. That will negate the hum from the air pump which may be annoying if you're in a studio apartment.

A good heater is one that has an external control. The heaters that I have used consistently and without issues are from Finnex. I've got mine from saltwateraqarium.com

Best of luck with your setup :thumbs:
 
Cycling with fish is not approved of nowadays. To be done correctly (ie without harming fish) it involves a lot of work. The two methods we use nowadays are fishless cycling and plant cycling.

One of the best sites for fish research is Seriously Fish. This gives the hardness, pH and temperature ranges for fish species; the size tank they need; fast or slow flowing water; one, a pair or a group; suggested tank mates; and any quirks. The profiles for shoaling fish usually say at least 6 but recent research has shown that 10 or more should be the minimum number.
 
Welcome! I agree that 20 gallon is a good size. If you can get one, a 20 long is even better. Be sure you get a stout stand to go under it, as the finished tank will probably weigh just over 200 pounds.

I always do planted "cycling" in my tanks. Set up your tank and plant it semi-densely. Once the plants are settled in and growing vigorously, start gradually adding fish. The plants will absorb the ammonia they produce.

You can get plants from big box pet stores, ebay, or reputable online stores like TheWetSpot or (my favorite) Buceplant.com. Once you know for sure what size of tank you are getting, we can recommend some easy plants to look for.
 
There are two types of 20 gallon aquarium - there is a 20 normal and a 20 long; i'd fist determine what kind of fishes you wish to keep before picking the aquarium. Also i always cycle with mature sponge filters and live fishes even if it is not approved ;)
 
I was thinking live plants but don't know where to get any. I was also thinking about putting Zebra Danio's in while cycling. I don't want to kill them though. Should I just wait and cycle with no fish? Just anxious is all! Thanks!
I order a lot of plants online from Etsy. Generally they arrive in good condition. Now there is one big caveat. This time of year when temperatures go down is the trickiest to ship live plants. Most retailers on Etsy will offer heat packs and insulated packaging. It's still rolling the dice.
Most local fish stores offer live plants. You mentioned Petco in one of your posts. Personally, I don't mind buying hardware or other supplies from them. Their sales on tanks are very good. But I generally avoid buying anything living from them; fish, invertebrates or plants. I'd look for a good local fish store in your area. They generally offer live plants. Make sure it's a good one. Check it out before buying anything from there and make sure they are squared away. Like Essjay said, never trust a fish store employee. There's a million stories of bad advice from store employees. I recommend doing the research. My personal rule is I know what fish or invertebrate I'm buying before I walk through the door of a fish store. I might buy a plant or anything non living on impulse but never an animal.
 
There are two types of 20 gallon aquarium - there is a 20 normal and a 20 long; i'd fist determine what kind of fishes you wish to keep before picking the aquarium. Also i always cycle with mature sponge filters and live fishes even if it is not approved ;)
Well, that's kind of like cheating, though. :lol: Re-using established filter media gets you about 90% of the way there.
 
Well, that's kind of like cheating, though. :lol: Re-using established filter media gets you about 90% of the way there.
So i cheat; i never said i was honest. BUT the first time i setup an aquarium i didn't cheat ;) I do test for ammonia every day and if needed add a few drop of prime.

did you know that 2 3 inch square sponge filter was enough to cycle a 240 gallon aquarium with 30 fishes !!!! (18 cardinals and 12 glow light). Did you know that little cardinals will crawl under the sponge fitler when a giant monster looks into their cage ?
 

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