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FishyWonders

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Hello

Firstly, let me say hello and thank you for taking the time to read this post!

Previously I've had gold fish on 2 occasions, once as a child (in 80s) when I had two fish in an old fashioned fish bowl that lived seemingly happy for 9 years until my Aunt killed them whilst we were on holiday. Again in the 00's, when the gold fish made it to 3 years old before I went to bed with them all live and well and woke up in the morning with an empty cracked fish bowl, 2 dead fish and a very wet carpet.

Now I'm older with children we're looking at buying a new fish tank and fish, I just wanted to refresh myself on the best way to care for them and the right products to buy. I've been into our local pet shop (Pets At Home for those in the UK), and spoke to someone who seemed to be reading from a script. I got the feeling that they either didn't know what they were talking about or just giving a sales pitch. I'm sure some of it is true, but on the same note it would be good to know for sure. Whilst I'm sure that a filter is recommended (and I have no problem in buying one), I very much doubt otherwise healthy fish would be dead in less than a week without one!

1) We're looking for a 20-30L tank. I'm after a good quality tank that isn't going to leak on me, however I have no idea of how to tell what is and isn't a good quality tank. I know generally the price would be an indicator, but I would want to rely on this as something could be over priced, or just on sale or something. I don't mind paying extra, but of course it's all relative and will get to the point where you're paying a lot more for very little difference. At Pets At Home alone you can get a 24L for £32 or for around £99 for instance. Are there any brands that I should particularly look for? Or avoid? Or any shape or features of a tank that is recommended? Also any recommendations on a good place to buy?

2) Fish. Any recommendations for breeds of cold water fish please? We'd like at least four. Am I better buying from Pets At Home, a local pet shop, garden centre, or even mail order (this feels wrong!)? Do I need to do anything before putting them into the tank other than acclimatise the water temperature?

3) Care instructions. Do I really need to de-chlorinate tap water before using it for all fish? Or just particular breeds? How vital is this? Do I need to do it every time or is the occasional 'slip' okay? Just wondered as I never heard of it before. Any recommendations for the best way to clean them please?

4) Filter. Although I doubt fish would die within a week without them (unless they've evolved significantly in the last ten years) I understand they're extremely highly recommended, so I have no problem in buying one. Is any old filter okay? Or should I look for anything specific? Is it worth upgrading from the freebie that is included in most tanks? Although the fish tank will be going in the lounge, if we ever moved it to the bedroom could we set it on a timer to switch for 8 hours over night?

5) Any recommendations on gravel, stones, decorations, fish toys or anything else please?

Sorry for all the questions, but I just wanted to make sure I know what I'm doing before buying or doing something wrong.

Thanks
 
If you want to keep goldfish for their full 30 year or so lifespan, you need (gulp) 100 litres per fish. They grow if humanely kept.

So scratch goldies for your incoming tiny tank.

I can't comment on British brands. Over here, it doesn't matter much.

Kids like big fish but you have a small tank. I assume the goal isn't to teach them about death, so I would suggest white cloud minnows, or platys.

Now this gets strange. When your filter is doing its job, you have to see it as a living creature. It will be colonized by bacteria and archaea, and that's what makes it work. It has to be on 24/7, or it dies. Noise matters, but in a small lightly stocked tank with (needed) 25% weekly water changes, most brands work. Try to listen to brands if local stores have them set up.

Fish need no toys. When people put ping pong balls in with Bettas, for example, it's unintentional cruelty as the fish desperately tries to clear the surface so it can hunt. Floating things are in the way, and their instinct is to clear it. That's not play. But beyond that, buy what you and the kids like. If you decide Corydoras catfish would be cute you need sand. But for fish that don't live on the bottom, set it up as you want to.
 
I've been into our local pet shop (Pets At Home for those in the UK), and spoke to someone who seemed to be reading from a script. I got the feeling that they either didn't know what they were talking about or just giving a sales pitch.
Pets at Home does not have a good reputation as staff are taught how to sell and nothing about fish. Yes, they do have a script to work from written by someone at head office. Please do not listen to any advice they give. This does apply to other shops as well, always research for yourself.


24 litres is pretty small. I have a tank that size; once it had a betta (aka siamese fighting fish); just the one fish, nothing else. It now has cherry shrimps. Go bigger if you have the space.
If you have very soft water you could maybe have a shoal of chili rasbora in 20 to 30 litres; with hard water a few male only endlers (females are bigger, plain grey and will fill a tank with fry within a couple of months)
To find your hardness, look on your water company's website, it's usually in the same section as the water quality report. You need a number and the unit of measurement as there are half a dozen different units for hardness (worse than inches/cm for length). if you can't find it, tell us which company and we'll look for the page.

Look for a glass tank which is rectangular rather than cubic as rectangular tanks have more swimming length for the same volume. Look at the filter - what's inside (the filter media)? Some filters for small tanks contain mothing but a carbon cartridge which is the poorest type of medium; sponge is much better. How powerful is the filter, in terms of litres per hour? I once bought a tank with an over powered filter which would have kept any fish plastered against the opposite wall.



3) Care instructions. Do I really need to de-chlorinate tap water before using it for all fish? Or just particular breeds? How vital is this? Do I need to do it every time or is the occasional 'slip' okay? Just wondered as I never heard of it before. Any recommendations for the best way to clean them please?
Yes you do. Chlorine or chloramine in the water can irritate the fish, and especially with a new tank it can prevent the filter bacteria from growing. That's why water companies add chlorine/chloramine, to kill bacteria.
If you refill with a bucket, add dechlorinator to each bucketful at the dose rate for the amount of water in the bucket. If you have chlorine in your tap water - phone or email your water company to ask - the best and cheapest is API Tap Water Conditioner which doses at 1 drop per 3.8 litres. Pets at Home does have that on their website.

4) Filter. Although I doubt fish would die within a week without them (unless they've evolved significantly in the last ten years) I understand they're extremely highly recommended, so I have no problem in buying one. Is any old filter okay? Or should I look for anything specific? Is it worth upgrading from the freebie that is included in most tanks? Although the fish tank will be going in the lounge, if we ever moved it to the bedroom could we set it on a timer to switch for 8 hours over night?
It is possible to run a tank without a filter but this does mean daily water changes. The filter needs to be on 24/7.
Look for a filter which has decent media, in a small tank this means sponge rather than carbon cartridges. I have an AquaEl Pat Mini filter in my shrimp tank, this is basically a sponge with a pump on top. it also has an adjustable flow rate.



I've mentioned filter bacteria. Can I suggest you read the first part of this link which explains why they are important. The second part is a step by step guide on how to grow these bacteria. The link will leave your head spinning; just read the first part for now :)
 
I look,in at a video where the fishkeeper states its beneficial in starting a new tank, to ask your local aquarium shop to squeeze one of the filter sponges into a poly bag and add to your tank, what do you think.
 
That depends on whether the store is disease free. We always say when you buy fish not to let any bag water get into the tank because you can never know what disease pathogens are in the store's tank water.
 
I know what your saying, I have patience to wait but if there is a another way that can speed up the process as long as it not difficult I may have a go, one thing I may try is introducing three floating plants to help, and then later remove them.
 
You need more than three plants, more like the whole surface covered! OK not quite that many but you get the idea. For plant cycling, the more the better. You need enough plants to be able to remove all the ammonia excreted by the fish. The reason people fail with plant cycling is is because there aren't enough plants, or the plants are healthy and growing.

Depending exactly what plants are in there, it could be simplest to do a fishless cycle. If you also use Tetra Safe Start (which is known to contain the correct bacteria) or Nitrico Goop as well as adding ammonia, that should cycle a tank fairly quickly.
A lot of ammonia on Amazon/eBay contains detergent which is bad for fish tank, so look for Dr Tim's ammonium chloride.
 
Filter. Although I doubt fish would die within a week without them (unless they've evolved significantly in the last ten years) I understand they're extremely highly recommended, so I have no problem in buying one. Is any old filter okay?
If you shop at Pets@Home beware of the filter in the LoveFish branded kits.

We got the 40l tank and used the filter that came with it. After our adult male betta passed, we added a little female. She got sucked into the filter, I think her spine was damaged and she died within days. It was such a crying shame. When I checked the reviews, this had been happening for at least 7 years and they have never refined the design.

White cloud minnows and Platys are small enough to get sucked into the intake.
 
If you shop at Pets@Home beware of the filter in the LoveFish branded kits.

We got the 40l tank and used the filter that came with it. After our adult male betta passed, we added a little female. She got sucked into the filter, I think her spine was damaged and she died within days. It was such a crying shame. When I checked the reviews, this had been happening for at least 7 years and they have never refined the design.

White cloud minnows and Platys are small enough to get sucked into the intake.
Oh, that's awful!! I'm sorry you went through that, and so horrible to know they've been aware of this for so long, when it would be such an easy fix! But, profit margins before animal (or human, for that matter) welfare when it comes to big corps, every time.


I picked up a second hand 45L (I think it was) LoveFish tank just to use as a QT/fry grow out tank - didn't come with filter, thankfully, but the light in the light was so weak that not a single live plant could survive for long in there. Have seen so many beginners give up on live plants altogether, when I'm convinced it's just the rubbish lights that come with those "everything you need, starter kit" tanks, because they don't know why all their plants are dying. Shame when just a Nicrew light or decent clip on light would make all the difference.
 
I have patience to wait but if there is a another way that can speed up the process as long as it not difficult I may have a go
You're based in the UK, would you be able to get your hands on some "goop"? See here: https://nitrico.co.uk/index.php?cPath=70

I've heard great things about it! I wouldn't add fish straight away, and would do a fishless cycle as normal but I would expect this to majorly speed things along if it lives up to expectations
 
Oh, that's awful!! I'm sorry you went through that, and so horrible to know they've been aware of this for so long, when it would be such an easy fix! But, profit margins before animal (or human, for that matter) welfare when it comes to big corps, every time.
Thanks. It still makes me sad now, after 2 years. She was a beauty - pink pearly colours and as lively as they come.
 
Thanks for the replies. From the above, it seems like any fish tank other than one by LoveFish is okay. I just remembered shortly after writing that we're going to be decorating the lounge later this year, so it makes sense to wait until after then! We can probably go for a bit of a bigger tank, it's a big room just trying to find the right balance. It would be quite nice to have a small selection of fish, so I may opt for something larger.
 

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