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  1. #1
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    Starter Fish Tank

    So the boy wants a fish tank for his birthday. I used to keep tanks all the time growing up (cichlids and oscars and the like), but it's been forever since I've had one and I'm sure stuff has changed.

    Yeah, I could google this or go spend time at the fish shop and end up spending a ton for something that may be a dud once my kid realizes that there's actual work to keeping a tank; so I'd rather ask you experts. (TR, do we have a fish tank expert or is AKPM just the general fish expert?)

    I'd like this to be easy to set up (read: fast), enjoyable for the kid, and not filled with lame fish. 10 gal seems like a decent starting point, and I'd really not like to go huge given this is a case of first impression.

    I'm open to any and all advice. Thanks.
    I still call it The Jake.

  2. #2
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    Beta in a 5ish gallon tank with some rocks or driftwood and live plants. Maybe add a bottom feeder like a cory cat or some ghost shrimp or whatever later on.
    Brandine: Now Cletus, if I catch you with pig lipstick on your collar one more time you ain't gonna be allowed to sleep in the barn no more!
    Cletus: Duly noted.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, i thought about Beta but they don't move at all. But they're pretty and virtually indestructible so there's that.

    Good call on the bottom feeder; we had a great Plecostomus sucker in our college tank named Squeegee that was pretty entertaining and hearty so I thought at some point that could be an addition.
    I still call it The Jake.

  4. #4
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    i got a tank for the kid, she lost interest quickly it now sits in my office.

    Freshwater. 3 fish, 2 snails, couple live plants and some stuff we've collects off beaches as a family. I remove 3/4 of the water once a week and change the entire tank every couple months. The upkeep was a bit more than expected, but the bubbling filter and the little fishys are pretty soothing.
    http://www.firsttracksonline.com

    I wish i could be like SkiFishBum

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skidog View Post
    i got a tank for the kid, she lost interest quickly it now sits in my office.

    Freshwater. 3 fish, 2 snails, couple live plants and some stuff we've collects off beaches as a family. I remove 3/4 of the water once a week and change the entire tank every couple months. The upkeep was a bit more than expected, but the bubbling filter and the little fishys are pretty soothing.
    I'm fully anticipating this life cycle which is why I don't want to invest anything more than 10 gal to start. If it goes this way i wouldn't mind having a tank of small cichlids in my office.
    I still call it The Jake.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    I've had both fresh and saltwater fish. If I was to set up another tank, for not much extra work than a fresh, you can maintain a tall 15 saltwater. It can go on top of any table. Put some rock in the base (no sand) and get a clownfish. They are mostly all captive raised now and eat flake--just ask the fish store. Buy an all in one mini filter with skimmer like this...
    https://www.tunze.com/US/en/details/...fpack-100.html

    Just don't be tempted to put more than a couple small fish in it.
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  7. #7
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    I always liked neon tetras.
    It doesn't matter if you're a king or a little street sweeper...
    ...sooner or later you'll dance with the reaper
    -Death

    Quote Originally Posted by St. Jerry View Post
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  8. #8
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    I'd get a 20 gallon to start with - not much more $ than a 10 and you'll have more stocking options. I'm not a cichlid guy but I don't think any are suited for a 10. Even dwarfs like appistos would need a 20 at minimum. Also the larger the tank the more stable the water chemistry is, especially important for a beginner.

    Pretty easy to set up a community tank with a heater, and pair of Aquaclear filters. I always over filter. LED's are pretty cheap now and strong enough to grow some plants well (very beneficial to your tank). If you plan to get plants you'll want a substrate made for planted tanks.

    If you're not above buying used equipment it can be really cheap to get into. Google to see if you have a local aquarium forum, they usually have pretty solid used offerings. Craigslist can be hit or miss. Generally a lot of very overpriced stuff, at least in my area.

    If you insist on going with a 10 I'd consider setting up a planted shrimp tank.

    EDIT noticed you want to set this up quickly - learn and understand how to cycle your aquarium before adding any livestock, which takes roughly four weeks.

    https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/a...h-tank-cycling

  9. #9
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    I worked in a fish store during college and had a tank. I've always felt you should never go smaller than 29gal for both flexibility in fish species and display it's a great size. It's the perfect size IMO. Cleaning is cleaning no matter the size but if you want more fish and you start small you're SOL.
    When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something." Rep. John Lewis


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmillsSkier View Post
    I'm fully anticipating this life cycle which is why I don't want to invest anything more than 10 gal to start. If it goes this way i wouldn't mind having a tank of small cichlids in my office.
    There’s your answer. But go 20 gallon. Cichlids need room. And 20 is cheap.
    And they’re active fish for kids in the meantime.

    And no plants with them. Just some rocks and the stupid bubbler toys that make kids happy.

    I’ve had community tanks. Expensive. And fragile.
    I’ve had salt water. Pain in the ass doing water changes. But amazing fish.
    My cichlid tank was my favorite. 40 gallons of low maintenance and high activity.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
    Hunter S. Thompson

  11. #11
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    I know it's a whole lot more involved than the "my kids wants a little fish tank" route, but I used to have a helluva kickass small Coralife BioCube saltwater reef tank. Chock full of gorgeous corals, a couple clowns, and the cutest little skunk cleaner shrimp. They make them bigger now, like 16G versus my old one's like 10 or 12 gallon, but I never had a crash. Had that thing DIALED. Was kind of like my own little watery Zen garden. Check 'em out. You can make a really impressive setup out of these things: https://coralifeproducts.com/product/led-biocube/

    I also had a great African Cichlid tank that was also fun, but that was much bigger. Like a 75 gallon or so with a jumbo, high end Fluval canister filter that totally did the trick. Unlike saltwater where it's all a delicate balance of life, the cichlids were the opposite, ie you actually want to have lots of them so they won't fight since they're so freaking aggressive if you give them too much space. Also had a neat little "eel" in there too that I'd hand feed. Might've been a tire track or some kind of spiny eel. Not a true eel, but still a fun fish. The cichlid tank was EASY, but way big to do it right IMO. All this stuff was far easier as a swinging bachelor. Haha.

    I definitely want to get back into reef keeping someday. Just waiting til my kids are a bit older and I have a bit more time (and money). SUPER enjoyable hobby. Pro-tip: Join a local enthusiast group. I used to be in a pretty massive local club that had monthly meetings with kegs at the local fish shops where we'd hang out and swap corals. I got a TON of free coral and very healthy, populated live rock that way. When your tank takes off, your coral will grow and multiply, so you sometimes need to "prune" your tank and you can make new frags on little plugs I used to make out of homemade live rock (aragocrete). Always cracked me up seeing the crazy prices corals go for when we were all just giving them away to each other for free since they were so abundant. Neat thing about the hobby is that many aquarists have actually returned the favor to the oceans by re-seeding the frags back into the ocean where coral populations have been harmed.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Core Shot View Post
    There’s your answer. But go 20 gallon. Cichlids need room. And 20 is cheap.
    And they’re active fish for kids in the meantime.

    And no plants with them. Just some rocks and the stupid bubbler toys that make kids happy.

    I’ve had community tanks. Expensive. And fragile.
    I’ve had salt water. Pain in the ass doing water changes. But amazing fish.
    My cichlid tank was my favorite. 40 gallons of low maintenance and high activity.
    My tank was mostly Gouramis, Harlequin Rasporas and Cardinal Tetras. Super easy to maintain and really lovely fish. Two pair of Blue or Sunset Gouramis will get pretty good sized in a 29gal tank. Good movement/play too. Also - IMO live plants really add to a tank in both aesthetics and the health of your fish.

    You should probably go into this planning on the tank being your responsibility in the long run and get what makes you happy.

    Dang... now I want to set up my tank again!


    Blue Gourami


    Harlequin Rasporas



    Cardinal Tetras




    Sunset Gourami



    When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something." Rep. John Lewis


    Kindness is a bridge between all people

    Dunkin’ Donuts Worker Dances With Customer Who Has Autism

  13. #13
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    Ooh. Almost forgot to mention something important if you're going for EASY. Test the pH of your tap water. My local municipal water matched EXACTLY the pH of the lakes that my cichlids came from, so all I had to do was toss in some chlorine remover and was good to go. They thrived in that water.

    That was one thing a great fish shop owner once told me. He said see how your water is, and then if you base your choice of fish off of that, it's all downhill from there. Piece of cake. Often times, people are constantly fighting the water chemistry without even realizing it and wondering why their fish are always having a tough time with diseases and other problems. For the reef, I used RO-DI water + some really good salt.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmillsSkier View Post
    I'm fully anticipating this life cycle which is why I don't want to invest anything more than 10 gal to start. If it goes this way i wouldn't mind having a tank of small cichlids in my office.
    ours is 10 gallon. weird when I go to petsmart to pick fish they always ask what size tank and then wont give you more than like 3 fish? Cmon now....3 fish in a 10 gallon tank...i always say 20 gallon and only keep about 5 total fish at any one time.
    http://www.firsttracksonline.com

    I wish i could be like SkiFishBum

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skidog View Post
    ours is 10 gallon. weird when I go to petsmart to pick fish they always ask what size tank and then wont give you more than like 3 fish? Cmon now....3 fish in a 10 gallon tank...i always say 20 gallon and only keep about 5 total fish at any one time.
    You can get away with a few more fish in your tank if you make sure you have a variety of top, middle and bottom swimmers but ultimately it's about water surface area (oxygen).
    When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something." Rep. John Lewis


    Kindness is a bridge between all people

    Dunkin’ Donuts Worker Dances With Customer Who Has Autism

  16. #16
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    Dec 2012
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    What about salmon or tilapia? At least when the kid (and you) get tired of them and decide to shut the operation down, you'll have dinner.
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  17. #17
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    Goldfish in one of those small tanks.

  18. #18
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    Sep 2001
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    HR
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    Try local fish. I had a smallmouth (named Biggie) all through college that was a bad ass. A bluegill would be cool too.

  19. #19
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    What about a sturgeon? For the eggs.

  20. #20
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    I'm kind of disappointed we've only gotten up to 75 gallons so far.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by KQ View Post
    You can get away with a few more fish in your tank if you make sure you have a variety of top, middle and bottom swimmers but ultimately it's about water surface area (oxygen).
    Yeah. I also did increase the filter size to a 20gallon, so I'm refreshing water pretty frequently.

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    http://www.firsttracksonline.com

    I wish i could be like SkiFishBum

  22. #22
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    Too late to suggest a dry terrarium?


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  23. #23
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    My aquarium days are far in the past - tapped out after attempting to bread Discus (tried to go against the dictum quoted by MF: "only raise what you local water can support"), however, if you're thinking large aquatic research/production facility with both flow-through and RAS, I'm yer huckleberry.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruiser View Post
    Beta in a 5ish gallon tank with some rocks or driftwood and live plants. Maybe add a bottom feeder like a cory cat or some ghost shrimp or whatever later on.
    Did this; kid is on betta #4 in 7 years. Not bad.

  25. #25
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    Starter Fish Tank

    Gosh man I wish u were in my neck of the woods, I got so much extra stuff lol.

    Applies to freshwater:

    KQ is on the money about the 29G I love mine great display size the only downside is that lighting options are a bit limited but... pros n cons.

    “Safe start” actually works to get your cycle going. Make sure you have a cycle.

    If you go with HOB filters, use the old “aqua clear” style which I think is Fluval now but use those because you can use whatever media you like/want/need

    I used HOB for years and years, finally got a canister and honestly it’s been very nice to have.

    Already stated but over filter. Under stock, over filter. Under stock, over filter. Under stock, over filter. Life is easier. Big tank is less hassle over a little tank. 29 is about the smallest big tank to get.

    Plants are awesome. Keep the water clean and, mentioned above, the lights needed to grow plants have gotten cheap with the LED prevalence.

    CO2 works like a frigging drug. ENd of tank dump with a Milwaukee regulator is a real thing so just watch it.

    Algae is a fact of life live with it. Algaecide is harmful to inverts like snail and shrimp and honestly probably not awesome for plants or fish but people use it. It damn sure works. I just try to adjust the light/nutrients and live with it.
    Much like any other hobby, buy the right shit the first time. I’d generally steer clear of the “starter kits” and just put one together yourself so that you get the right size filter which is probably 2-3 times more GPH than comes with the starter kits.

    A 10g with a nice light and an AQ 30 HOB filter is a fine set up. It could be a bit boring for a youngster because you just can’t put so many fish. Maybe 5 neons. I used to use a 20 dollar fountain pump to pump water from a bucket for changes. Worked fine.

    If you do not want plants, you don’t need hardly any light or else algae will kinda go nutso. I’d look for an LED array with a dimmer. It used to be too easy to under-light but these days it’s easy to go overboard.

    They also sell a deal that attaches to your sink like a radiator flush kit or water bed kit. Made life easier.

    My fish had a baby!!! (Middle left of pic)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And yes. The tank is a bit of a mess atm. Did I mention fertilizer for the plants? It’s no biggie but algae will take over when your lights/nutrients are out of balance.


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