Fresh water fish for beginners

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crabby33
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Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by crabby33 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:13 pm

I'm not looking to get an aquarium like right now but I might want one later on. So my question is, which fresh water fish are recommended for beginning aquarists? I've already decided that salt water tanks can be very expensive and require a lot of knowledge. After watching some videos on YouTube, I determined they're not for beginners and I wanted to see if there was someone here who has fresh water fish and could point me in the right direction. I do not want to talk to someone at a pet store.

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wodesorel
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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by wodesorel » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:22 pm

I have been fishkeeping since 2004.

What size tank are you looking at getting? That really is what determines what kind of fish you can keep. A 20 gallon is a good starting point for smaller fish, but a larger tank will allow for more variety. A bigger tank is actually easier to start with as it is more forgiving in terms of water quality and mistakes.


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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by crabby33 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:40 pm

I'm thinking maybe a 55, but I haven't really thought the size.

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by wodesorel » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:15 pm

If you go with a 55 then you have many choices!!

You can do big schools of smaller schooling fish, which allows them to behave naturally. Neons, danios, rasboras, barbs, corydoras, and tetras are all non-fussy fish who display beautifully and act boldly when kept in large communities of 12 or more individuals of the same species. With a 4 foot tank, you could have two swimming species and a bottom-dwelling species easily. Among those species there are subspecies that are different colors and patterns, and some may be more challenging to keep. It makes for a gorgeous busy tank and is ultimately what I want once we work out how to get a 40 set up. (55s are too tall with my bad back.)

If you have naturally hard water you could do cichlids without much extra work. They get larger and you generally have to stick with the same one species per tank as they are considered aggressive to other fish, but they are active and colored like jewels. They do require a certain pH to the water to thrive, but there are places in the US where nothing special has to be done to achieve that. They are my husband's favorite.

You could also look into keeping a single oddball fish if you like that sort of thing. Birchirs and ropefish are interesting animals but will eat tankmates. A pair of larger freshwater puffers could work in a 55. That's something I have always dreamed of doing.

"Centerpiece" fish that can sometimes work in community tanks are some gourami species and Bolivian Rams. They get larger and are flashy, but they can also harass and eat smaller fish so planning is important!

I myself have a giant school of black kuhli loaches (about 24), a few of which I started with back in 2004. They are interesting and active but only when kept in large groups and only with other small fish, as they are afraid of big fish. I am working on building up a school of tiny little ember tetra, I have 9 currently, and am aiming for double that. I also have two clown pleco I sort of regret getting as they make a mess eating the driftwood, but I have had them for 11 years.

I think the best thing to do is figure out what you like, and work from there. Fishlore is a great forum to browse through for ideas and good information. You'll also have to see what is available locally, which is where planning can fall apart. I am lucky that my local shop is really into ethical pet ownership and keeps species that do well in smaller tanks, only occasionally getting in big or hard to keep species. They also special order.

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by aussieJJDude » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:15 am

Agree with Wod 100%.

Other than that, I'd like to suggest nano fish! Nano fish - YouTube Rachel Oleary - tend to have small bioloads, and in such a big tank its very forgiving in terms of water quality as you dip your toes into all things aquarium.

If you can, I'd suggest getting some live plants since these help with water quality and make fantastic additions!

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by GotButterflies » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:08 am

I agree with Wode and Aussie :)

Make sure you get the appropriate lighting for whatever you decide. Lighting can make a huge difference in the coloring of your fish. Also, if you do decide on live plants, they would need special lighting as well.

I do recommend that whatever you decide, do not get a plecostomus. Although they are popular fish for cleaning the tank, they tend to grow to large for tanks. Down here in Florida people resorted to letting them loose in the freshwater resources, and they have overpopulated and bother the manatees.

I personally love the color of cichlids, but they are extremely aggressive. They are probably the closest that you would get to color wise for mimicking a saltwater tank. The varieties that are available are remarkable.

Instead of dealing with a local pet store, try seeing if there is a local fish store within your area. Sometimes they are hidden :)
There is a wealth of knowledge there!

Good luck!!
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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by crabby33 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:07 pm

Okay, so plecostomus are not recommended for tanks because of how big they get. I will either consider cichlids, danios or tetras if I want some color.

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by wodesorel » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:17 pm

If you like the look of common plecos, a bristle nose pleco would work in a 55 gallon. They reach about 8 inches in length, versus the 18 that the commons will grow to!

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by LadyJinglyJones » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:25 pm

Haha... also agree with wode & aussie. A lot of neat Nanos coming onto the market... Rachel O'leary is a great. I love SA species. Researching the ecology of the animals you buy can really deepen your appreciation of the hobby. Animals often have neat adaptations to their environment, and that's cool to know about.

Its fun to think about what you like... what appeals to you & what about fish gets you feeling enthusiastic... I happen to love SA biotopes & dwarf cichlids, like rams or the small apistos because they're like little water doggos - they're inquisitive & often bossy (really just a bit territorial, but superficially it looks like bossiness and I think that's cute)... they tend to do best in male/female pairs & geneally engage in some super neat parenting behaviours.

Rummynose tetras tend to be very hardy & look striking in a school. Ditto a lot of other tetra species.

Cory cats are great, and they like being in good sized schools, but are cuter than a lot of other schooling fish... I think that's one of the most important things about setting up a tank; you get the most out of watching fish when you give them the best environment, & a big part of that is social - schooling fish in decent sized schools, not putting two male rams together, etc. Just my two cents. :)

Buying captive reared individuals vrs. Wild caught is the way to go if your local water is a lot harder than the environment the fish naturally come from (this is often an issue for me)... but fish can adapt to different conditions over time - you just aren't as likely to be able to breed them without changing your water perameters, if that's something you might be interested in.

Also, dont skimp on water changes: nitrates cause spinal warping & weaken fish over time. Having a solid understanding of the nitrate cycle is helpful if emergency strikes - and a quality liquid test kit so you know exactly what is off in the tank. Water quality is a big part of what determines success in your tank. Understocking is a good idea, especially just starting a new tank. Add fish gradually.

Finally, if you want a plant you're unlikely to kill & doesn't need a ton of light, it's crypts... man, the abuse my crypts have taken overy the years... they're all basically offshoots of a plant I purchased ten years ago. Anubias is good too, especially with low light. They can get melty if you do end up buying a fancy lighting system.

Anyway, have fun!
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RIP Vegita :(


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crabby33
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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by crabby33 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:40 pm

I agree. When I'm able to, I would prefer tank raised fish over wild caught. I don't want to support taking fish from the wild. I was actually watching some YouTube videos last night and learned that after the success of the Disney/Pixar movie Finding Nemo, everyone wanted clown fish and Pacific Blue Tangs. Wildlife groups urged the Walt Disney Company to tell people not to buy "Dory". While clown fish will breed in tanks, blue tangs will not and have to be taken from the wild. There were ligitimate concerns it could put pressure on wild populations. Blue Tangs also require large tanks because these are very active fish.

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by wodesorel » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:57 pm

I was in Petsmart once and this mom comes in and asks if she can get a Nemo fish to go in a bowl with their betta. Major props to the fish girl for not losing her cool until after the lady walked away.

And they are now able to captive breed something like 300 species of saltwater fish including tangs. The problem is it is so expensive and time-consuming it is cheaper to send a diver out to catch wild ones. You can find them but it costs a lot more.

Definitely do online research into what is and is not tank raised. Petsmart tried to tell me everything they had was captive bred, which is not true when it comes to otocinlcus and my own kuhlis. (One of the reasons I have them is I hope to get them to breed. It's happened rarely in captivity and always unplanned. )

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by LadyJinglyJones » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:04 pm

wodesorel wrote:I was in Petsmart once and this mom comes in and asks if she can get a Nemo fish to go in a bowl with their betta.
ACK SPLUTTER GAH PFFT :shock: :shock: :shock:

I must now go get a cloth to mop up my coffee. :?
"Gaze upon the rolling deep..."
Quince the fat tailed gecko; Amazonian minnows; and now Harry & Luis, Bede & Aster, Chandra & Jace, Pax, & Piccolo, my adopted PPs.
RIP Vegita :(

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Re: Fresh water fish for beginners

Post by piratetoothgir » Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:52 pm

I am 16 now, and have been keeping fish since I was 4 years old :)
I always recommend larger tanks, I started with small tanks, but soon worked my way up to the larger sizes.

I currently have a 31 gallon which is my favorite, and a few ten and five gallon tanks which mainly just have bettas.
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