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What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
05-12-2016, 07:30 PM,
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maxen57 Offline
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What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
My son's been asking for an aquarium ever since he saw this huge one at his uncle's office. I was considering it because having a pet would teach him how to be responsible. I'm actually planning to surprise him at his birthday on July when I finally can afford it. Other than the standard goldfish, what would you recommend to a beginner? And what different types of fish would be good to be kept in one aquarium?
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05-12-2016, 10:02 PM,
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Thor Online
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
Goldfish might be easy to take care of, but they require very large aquariums since they can reach 6~12 inches in length depend on their species. They also eat a lot and produce a lot of waste. So the general rule is that you need minimal 20-gallon for just one fancy goldfish, and 30-gallon for just two. If you get common goldfish, they are even bigger so they require minimal 40-gallon just for one, and 55 gallon for two.

When you mention "for beginner", do you mean "easy" fish?
Most fish species are quite easy to take care of if you do things correctly. Such as getting an ideal size fish tank, filter, heater, air pump, water conditioner, high quality fish food, etc. and get the aquarium properly cycled before get any fish.

I would suggest you to read through our articles of aquarium nitrogen cycle before getting started. It is highly recommended to do a fishless cycling before get any fish. Of course, you need to set everything up before even start the fishless cycle. So I guess you can't give your son a surprise after all. Getting pet fish is not something you can just one day bring them home without any preparation.

As for the actual fish species you want to get for the aquarium, it depends on what kind of aquarium you want to have. Will it be a community aquarium with a lot of fish? Or do you just want a few fish and be done with it?

If it is the latter, you might as well get a minimal 40 gallon fish tank for two fancy goldfish.
If it is the former, you can get a 10 gallon tank for no more than 10 small sized tropical fish of no more than 2" long. Some of the hardy species are, Zebra Danios, Platy, Guppy. But i would not mix them up in the same tank since Zebra Danios are nippy and fast moving, while the other fish are small and have have longfin as perfect target for nippers.

Keep in mind that if you get goldfish, you will not need a heater. To get tropical fish, a heater is a must. You can't mix them up in the same fish tank.

Actually I would recommend you to decide on the size of the fish tank first before decide on what fish to get. Sure you can do it the other way around if the size does not matter to you. Smile
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05-21-2016, 05:15 AM,
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remnant Offline
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
In my opinion, the best fish for beginners is Cory catfish. There are very popular fish in pet stores. Have you had experience with exotic species that died after a few days? A beginner should not have reason to cut his losses since Cory catfish are viable alternatives. They are quite hardy just like their cousins, the African catfish and has armoured box like material running through their bodies. As you can decipher, the fish require very little care and its basically effortless to rear them. This is a convenient choice for beginner hobbyists. These fish have a calm, peaceful predisposition. Some are shy and more timid than others usually those smaller in size. If you are disadvantaged in cash or in kind, one can always take heart in the fact that Cory fish can be reared in covered tanks of any size and dimensions say, 10 gallon aquariums. One needs to be mindful of overstocking just like in other living things. Cory fish are bottom dwellers and its good to keep at least 2 inches of gravel at the tank bottom. Be sure to include rocks and decorations for the fish to explore. As for the water changes, regular and partial changes are recommended. Under the right conditions, these fish have a lifespan of 5 years.
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05-21-2016, 04:16 PM,
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
While most Corydoras catfish are fairly easy to take care of, not all of them are equally hardy since there are many different species of them. Some of them such as Panda Corydoras, and Albino Corydoras catfish are more fragile in comparison to other Corydoras species.

Yes, I think Corydoras in general are very cute. It is required to have minimal 5~6 of them for a school. Any lower number will cause them to be shy and stressed, and they will hide most of the time. When they are high in number, they will be very active and digging around the aquarium substrate searching for food, or chase each other around for fun. The average life span of these adorable little catfish is over 20 years if you take good care of them. To get the best out of them, it is recommended to have a fish tank of minimal 30-gallon in size. Any smaller sized fish tank will limit their level of activity.

One good thing about these corydoras catfish is, they are bottom feeders. Not only they won't bother the fish that occupy other water level in your fish tank, they will eat the leftover fish food at the bottom of the tank. Who does not want free cleaning service? Tongue It is one of the good ways to keep the water quality high, although you still can't skip regular aquarium maintenance just because you have bottom feeders.
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05-27-2016, 04:54 AM,
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Novelangel Offline
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
For a beginner tank, I'd recommend easy-to-care-for guppies. I'm not talking about the fancy varieties that are sensitive and require more care. I am referring to fish that don't need heat because it can be difficult for a beginner, let alone a child, to get the water temperatures just right. Guppies live about three years and don't take up a lot of room, especially if the males and females are kept separately. Also, if you do allow the fish to breed this gives your son the fun experience and responsibility of raising the young fry. To avoid having to keep a separate tank for the fry, you can simply add 'hides' to your tank, which means rocks, plants and little aquarium toys that the young fish can swim into to avoid predation. Quite often, if the adult fish are kept well fed enough, the fry will boldly swim out among them anyway. Feeder guppies are perfect for this little project as they can be colorful and fun to watch and still give your beginner fish enthusiast the experience he needs, without running to a serious expense.
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05-27-2016, 06:02 PM,
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
(05-27-2016, 04:54 AM)Novelangel Wrote: For a beginner tank, I'd recommend easy-to-care-for guppies. I'm not talking about the fancy varieties that are sensitive and require more care. I am referring to fish that don't need heat because it can be difficult for a beginner, let alone a child, to get the water temperatures just right. Guppies live about three years and don't take up a lot of room, especially if the males and females are kept separately. Also, if you do allow the fish to breed this gives your son the fun experience and responsibility of raising the young fry. To avoid having to keep a separate tank for the fry, you can simply add 'hides' to your tank, which means rocks, plants and little aquarium toys that the young fish can swim into to avoid predation. Quite often, if the adult fish are kept well fed enough, the fry will boldly swim out among them anyway. Feeder guppies are perfect for this little project as they can be colorful and fun to watch and still give your beginner fish enthusiast the experience he needs, without running to a serious expense.


Actually guppy is still tropical fish.   They might be able to handle lower than the usual tropical water temperature, it is not a good idea to have the water temperature to go below 66F or 19C.    The recommended range for water temperature is still between 70~80F.   

Yes, guppy is fairly hardy if you do everything right.   The problem is they reproduce too quickly.   Before you know it, you might need a few more fish tanks for all the growing up fry.   There is a reason they have the nick name of million-fish.    All live-bearers (give birth directly to fish fry instead of fish eggs) can reproduce very fast and overpopulate your aquarium in just a few months.  

Unless you actually want to breed guppy for some reason, I'd recommend to have a few good "predator" fish for guppy population control.    While guppy is not smart enough to leave their own fry alone (they will eat their own fry), you need something faster than guppy.
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05-27-2016, 09:32 PM,
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Novelangel Offline
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
Actually, I raised guppies myself and the fish happily occupied exactly one aquarium. The population takes care of itself with little or no help from the fish-keeper. When there is more room, they breed more and eat fewer fry. When there is less room, they breed less and eat more fry. Plus, the guppies I raised were originally purchased at a big box store, turned out to be Mosaic Deltas, and thrived for several years without artificially heated water. The only heat they received was from the ambient room temperature, which of course, was warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. When I finally felt a little guilty and went out and bought an aquarium heater, I put it in the water and within a few hours the fish seemed sluggish. A few hours more, and they were definitely looking stressed. The heater I used had only one temperature and stopped running when the water hit that warmth level. When I took the heater out of the tank, the fish quickly recovered and resumed their happy little lives. This is why I insisted that guppies make good starter fish. I emphasized in my original post that you should buy feeder guppies, rather than the more exotic breeds, for the purpose of 'starter' fish in a first time aquarium. Some types require more care than others and should not be purchased unless the fish-keeper is a bit more experienced.
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05-28-2016, 05:07 PM,
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
Actually you never knew the true reason for your fish to be stressed after you installed the heater. Smile

In my opinion, it can be one or more of the following reasons other than "they do not need the heater".

1. The heater raised the water temperature too quickly.
It is recommended not to change the water temperature faster than 3C per hour. Any quicker might cause fish to be stressed or even die. Since you have said your heater had only one setting. The temperature couldn't be adjusted. It is obvious that your heater have increased the water temperature all the way to its setting temperature without waiting for hours.

2. The heater might have raised the temperature too high.
Did you have a stand alone thermometer? Never trust the setting on the heater, since even the exactly same model of heater will produce slightly different water temperature under the same temperature setting. You have to use a separated thermometer to monitor the true water temperature. When the water temperature is way too high, the fish can be stressed.

3. Lack of oxygen in the water after the temperature had been raised.
When the water temperature had gone up, the oxygen in the water would be decreased accordingly. Since warmer water can hold less air. If you did not have an air pump to produce bubbles to cause enough water surface movement for gas exchange, the fish can be stressed for the lack of oxygen in the water.

By the way, I also would not count on the guppy themselves for population control. Yes, sometimes you might get lucky that they do not overpopulate your fish tank. There is always the chance for them to keep reproducing and overstock your aquarium to the point your filter can't handle the ammonia produced by them. The fish will die if the ammonia level couldn't be kept at 0ppm. Anyway, it is not a problem if you have a good plan for the fish fry. For those who have no idea what to do with the extra fish, it is the best to think ahead for population control.
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05-30-2016, 07:13 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-30-2016, 07:21 PM by delta678.)
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
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06-30-2016, 04:48 AM,
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
I would highly recommend betta fish as a beginner fish. these fish re hardy and dont require much besides a 3 g tank for 1, a heater, plants and a filter is optional.
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07-01-2016, 12:16 AM,
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RE: What fish would you recommend for a beginner who wants an aquarium?
(06-30-2016, 04:48 AM)fishyfriend Wrote: I would highly recommend betta fish as a beginner fish. these fish re hardy and dont require much besides a 3 g tank for 1, a heater, plants and a filter is optional.

An aquarium filter is definitely not "optional".    Smile
It is a must for all fish species in captivity.   Without a filter, toxic ammonia will build up since it is released by the fish on a constant basis.  No amount of water change is substitute for a running filter system.  

3 gallon is also too small.   Ideally we need minimal 5 gallons of water to keep it in stable conditions.  Most betta fish die young because people are misinformed about their basic needs.  

We have an article on betta fish tank setup and basic care.  If you have the time please take a look. Smile
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