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keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:38 pm
by stonethrower
my autistic daughter is fascinated by fishtanks . . . . to come downstairs to a "floater" shortly after we start would cause serious upset for her, so i need to get this right

i have bought a 54 litre tank and i have the water in settling and the filter running
(i'm told a tank this size would need a week before introducing fish)

can anyone recommend what type(s) of fish to get and how many for a tank this size?

the tank also has a heater, so what temperature should water be at for your suggestions?

all help gratefully received

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:03 pm
by gregorach
Oh dear... Fish die. This is the immutable law of aquaria. Even the most experienced and dedicated aquarists lose fish on a fairly regular basis, and beginners lose lots.

Having said that... You really need to decide what sort of fish you intend to keep before setting up the tank - this will influence all sorts of choices: temperature, substrate, vegetation, oxygen levels, etc, etc. You also need to build your stock gradually, rather than all at once - the tank's ability to process the ammonia wastes your fish produce depends on bacteria, which need time to build up their populations.

Cold water fish such as goldfish are probably easier to keep successfully than even the easiest tropicals, but I have no experience there. It's been a long time since I kept fish, and I was never very good at it... Your best bet would be to find some local aquarists and pester the hell out of them. :wink:

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:22 pm
by Big Al
I used to keep cold water goldfish and the range of fish was absolutly huge but all were a cross bread of some other fish so the anommalies were genetic defects but they lived a long time but like gregorach said they do die.

The number depends on the surface area not the volume of water but as said pester the hell out of the local shop or where ever you plan to get the fish from. Tropical need heat all the time, what back up plans have you for power cuts or holidays?

As for floaters in the morning then make sure you get up before your child.

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:17 pm
by Mr and Mrs luvpie
hate to say the only fish we have ever succeeded with is the gold fish in the bath room, it is reguarly over fed and then starved for months when the boys forget and we don't check, all mr luvpies tropical fish that lived in the front room and were fed as per instructions died a prompt death!

we've gone back to hamsters!

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:40 pm
by Odsox
If you're thinking of tropical fish, then the temperature of mine is a steady 26c.
I found the best breed for resilience are Platys, they are the ones with Mickey Mouse outline on their tails and they come in interesting colours, plus neon tetras to go with them would be a good start.
Guppies tend to get problems with their tails if the water isn't just to their liking ... fungal infections etc.
Angels are a bullies and tend to fight (and eat) smaller fish, so not good in a mixed tank.
Oh, and a catfish of some description to clear up the algae ... not tropical snails or they will multiply like mad and inevitably escape.

For a 54l tank I would suggest about half a dozen platys and the same of tetras and a small catfish (that will STAY small ... mine is about a foot long now)

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:13 am
by stevetc
We always had goldfish . . . I seem to tenfoces them dying fairly regularly, though, although one survived fifteen years.
Maybe it's worth having a fish on the subs bench in a smaller tank in your room or something? Then, if you do come down to find a floater one morning you can quickly flush it down the loo and replace it before your daughter sees . . .
The water-snails do breed but i always liked them more than the fish!

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:24 pm
by bonniethomas06
Good luck. I always had the bog standard goldfish.

It may sounds simple, but my tip: if washing the gravel (which will get all crappy and green) in hot water, ALWAYS rinse it afterwards in cold.

I still feel bad about Nimrod and Oscar, who learned the hard way when I was 12... :oops:

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:04 pm
by skiesabove
I think guppies are great beginner fish. The males look great. Guppies reproduce quickly and are very hardy.
You have a very small tank so you should definitely not have goldfish (they eat a lot and produce a lot of waste).
Guppies, platys, or a single male fighting fish (Beta Splendens) are the best for a mini-tank. You can combine the fish with some beautiful apple snails. ... ii-ret.jpg ... culata.jpg

For the setup, first choose a sand or gravel, clean it properly until it doesnt cloud up the water in your washing bucket anymore. If you have collected rocks from outdoors, boil them properly. Fill the tank with water and let it run for a day or two (with the filter and the heater) until temperature has stabilezed.

Buy your plants and install them. Invest in some hardy, fastgrowing plants. Elodea canadensis is great, it's cheap, hardy, you can pinch it off when it grows too long and just stick the removed part down into the gravel and it will start growing! ... densis.jpg

Let the tank run for a week with plants before you buy the fish. Put the plastic bags into the tank and let the temperature adjust for about an hour. Cut a small hole in the bag while still in the tank, and let them find their own way out. If an hour passes without them finding the hole, carefully pour them out.

In such a small tank it is important to have a good filter, and exchange about 1/3 of the water once every or every two weeks. I don't know how to remove chlorine from your tapwater if you have that where you live, here in Sweden I just let the water sit in buckets for a few days before I exchange it from the tank. In a well-kept tank you should not need to clean the gravel. If you get algae and it looks mucky, then you have too much nutrition in the water. Get more plants, a better filter or switch water more often. For green algae (they are pretty and some tankowners try to grow them on purpose) on the front glass, use a magnet-scraper. Leave them on everything else, they help improve the water quality.

And oh yeah, don't overfeed your fish! A pinch of flakes is waaaay too much in such a small tank. A pinkie-fingernail area of flakes is enough, that is one big flake or 2-3 small flakes. It is a VERY small amount, don't pour directly from the jar. Use pincers instead! Overfeeding will clog up your water very quickly no matter how good a filter and how many plants you have.

Use the old water to water your plants =).

And good luck!

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:39 pm
by fifi folle
You've been given some good advice. With reference to chlorine/chloramine treatment (to make the water you are putting in safe for fish) ask your local aquarium shop which water conditioner you need as different areas use different chemicals.
I would say that I am not a fan of elodea densa as it is an invasive species if accidentally released into the waterways.
Practical Fishkeeping Forum is a good resource
It's always worth picking up a simple book on fish care.

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:07 pm
by skiesabove
It is true that it is an invasive species... How could I forget that. But the reason it is invasive is because it is such a survivor.. so it still is a good beginnerplant (disregarding horrible ecological impacts).

So look for other fastgrowing plants instead. Vallisneria (long "grasses") are very easy to keep. Other easy ones: Limnophlia sessiflora, Rotala rundifolia (turns red with good lighting, beauty), ceratophyllum demersum.

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:38 pm
by fifi folle
Vallis is definitely a good one, water wisteria also (easy to cut and replant). Sounds like you're another planted aquarium fan!?! Ours isn't as good these days but we used to have some lovely plants, sad that my water lily never flowered though! We found that mail order was the best way to get true aquatics.

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:17 am
by theabsinthefairy
We have just been through a beta fish keeping thing with our daughter. We got a little tank that is an all in one set up for a solitary fish (they should be solitary as they fight) and have now had 3 fish, the longest of which lasted a week. We have no idea why they died, we used water conditioners and cleaned the tank and gravel according to the beta fish keeping guide on wiki, fed the tiny amounts of food etc etc etc but they still died. Now wondering if it was the trace elements of arsenic we have in our water supply that killed them and are debating another fish and keeping it on bottled water? At the moment she is disenchanted with the fishy idea, luckily her doves are healthy and live for a very long time.

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:25 am
by Odsox
Just a quick note on water quality ... don't (as I first did) partially fill your tank from the hot water tank even though it sort of makes sense, the copper dissolved from the pipe and cylinder will kill fish in short order, especially if your water is on the acid side on neutral.
Top-up water should be out of the cold tap (or bottle) and prewarmed in a kettle.

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:04 pm
by skiesabove
I could spend hours looking at these beauties:

Re: keep pet fish properly (alive!)

Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:50 pm
by stonethrower
thanks for all the help folks

of course we are aware that fish die . . . . we just don't want to be the cause of it through lack of knowledge

following from advice given here we got two platys, two guppies, and some kind of black and yellow one that i don't know the name of :? . we also had a blue and silver one that didn't survive the journey home :( . they didn't have any neon tetras in stock but if what we have are still alive by next week we might add a couple of those :icon_smile: . thanks again for all your help