Shopping List For Complete Beginner?

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Antoniakr

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Hello everyone. 
 
There's so many things to buy for fish and so many different brands! I'm interested in plant keeping also so if anyone suggests any fertilisers or substrates that'd be great :) What are the complete essentials to start and cycle a tank? What would i need? What brands are the best? What test kits are good but not extremely expensive? 
 

eaglesaquarium

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Well, you are asking the right questions.
 
 
Step 1 - cycle the tank.  You need ordinary bottled ammonia - available at your local hardware store.  Make sure that it includes NO surfactants nor perfumes.  Just ammonium hydroxide and water.  Or you could get some ammonium chloride.  There is a thread in the Beginners Resource Center (linked in my sig) on where to find ammonia in the UK.
 
You will need a test kit - API makes a nice kit with pH, high pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.  Very affordable to buy that kit rather than the individual tests.  Be sure to check out the article on fishless cycling (also in the Beginner Resource Center).
 
You will need a heater and a filter.  Opinions vary on both.  What size tank are you considering?
 
 
The good news is that the cycling process will take a few weeks which will give you time to research the rest of this.  
 
Planted tanks come in a variety of styles... and you will want to work out what type of planted tank you want to have before you choose your substrate and lighting.  There are high tech which include CO2 dosing, daily fertilizing doses and high lighting.  Then there are low-tech that require very little effort from the fishkeeper other than standard fishkeeping maintenance.  Remember that your plant choice options will be limited based on what you are looking at in terms of lighting, CO2, and ferts.
 
 
You can start the cycling process on an empty tank - other than a heater and filter - while you work out the other details.  You will have about 3-6 weeks to research everything.
 
Tell us about your water - pH, gH, kH, etc. as well as your tank dimensions, and your personal taste, and we can help to steer you in the right direction.  
 

LyraGuppi

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A tip, shake the ammonia bottle. If it foams, it's not good to use, but if it doesn't, it's usually good.
 
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Antoniakr

Antoniakr

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eaglesaquarium said:
Well, you are asking the right questions.
 
 
Step 1 - cycle the tank.  You need ordinary bottled ammonia - available at your local hardware store.  Make sure that it includes NO surfactants nor perfumes.  Just ammonium hydroxide and water.  Or you could get some ammonium chloride.  There is a thread in the Beginners Resource Center (linked in my sig) on where to find ammonia in the UK.
 
You will need a test kit - API makes a nice kit with pH, high pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.  Very affordable to buy that kit rather than the individual tests.  Be sure to check out the article on fishless cycling (also in the Beginner Resource Center).
 
You will need a heater and a filter.  Opinions vary on both.  What size tank are you considering?
 
 
The good news is that the cycling process will take a few weeks which will give you time to research the rest of this.  
 
Planted tanks come in a variety of styles... and you will want to work out what type of planted tank you want to have before you choose your substrate and lighting.  There are high tech which include CO2 dosing, daily fertilizing doses and high lighting.  Then there are low-tech that require very little effort from the fishkeeper other than standard fishkeeping maintenance.  Remember that your plant choice options will be limited based on what you are looking at in terms of lighting, CO2, and ferts.
 
 
You can start the cycling process on an empty tank - other than a heater and filter - while you work out the other details.  You will have about 3-6 weeks to research everything.
 
Tell us about your water - pH, gH, kH, etc. as well as your tank dimensions, and your personal taste, and we can help to steer you in the right direction.  
 
Thank you, the information you gave me was very easy to understand :) I want to start off small, although i do have a 4ft tank but it currently houses a hamster. It'll definitely be used for fish in the future though, no doubt. I've come across a 70 litre tall hexagonal tank for free. I know it's not the most ideal shape or size for the majority of fish but it's free and small so it's less stressful for a beginner i guess :) The Original owner hasn't stated the actual dimensions of the tank - i've asked for them but i haven't got a reply just yet. 
 
I'm not too sure what the PH etc.. of my tap water is, i'll have to test it when i get the test kit :) My Mum owns some goldfish and she doesn't test the water or treat it no matter how many times i tell her that she should. The fish have been in that tank well over 10 years now though so there must be something she's doing right, or maybe the tap water is pretty good? who knows.
 
I was thinking due to the size of the tank to go for things like Danios, Tetras and some sort of cory maybe? Suggestions would be great, i honestly have no preference, all fish are beautiful :) Also because of how the tank is taller rather than long, it's be nice to have some high/top dwelling fish to make the tank look used more, if you know what i mean :) 
 
 
LyraGuppi said:
A tip, shake the ammonia bottle. If it foams, it's not good to use, but if it doesn't, it's usually good.
Thank you! I'm sure that'll come in handy.
 

Jenste

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To be honest, a common misconception is that smaller tanks are easier. You will be doing the same amount of work to cycle a 70l than a 350l (just number examples).   It's just that at the end of all your work one is going to give you a lot more options than the other.  Should you choose to upgrade in the future you will probably have to either cycle the second tank also or hope you can transfer the media over correctly to the new tank and only go through a minicycle. 
 
You will probably enjoy the result of your labor if you look for a larger, more ideally shaped tank as a small tall hexagon is really going to limit your stocking and decorating abilities. 
 
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Antoniakr

Antoniakr

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Jenste said:
To be honest, a common misconception is that smaller tanks are easier. You will be doing the same amount of work to cycle a 70l than a 350l (just number examples).   It's just that at the end of all your work one is going to give you a lot more options than the other.  Should you choose to upgrade in the future you will probably have to either cycle the second tank also or hope you can transfer the media over correctly to the new tank and only go through a minicycle. 
 
You will probably enjoy the result of your labor if you look for a larger, more ideally shaped tank as a small tall hexagon is really going to limit your stocking and decorating abilities. 
I completely agree but for now i don't want to go all out on my desires because hopefully i'll be going to uni for 4 years in a years time and i wont be able to look after them whilst i'm there. It's easier on my mum (The cleaning) and i don't want something which is too complicated for her to understand. I also don't have any room to put a large tank because i already have one but it's my hamster's cage. I'm on a budget anyway due to me still being in education, so even if i wanted to go all out i won't be able to.
 

Jenste

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good.gif
 

AmtotheBurr

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A small freshwater tank sounds like a great option for you then! Best of luck and let us know how it goes.
 

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