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Questions From A Beginner
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Joined: 08 Jun 2006

PostPosted: 2006.06.08(Thu)22:30    Post subject: Questions From A Beginner Reply with quote

Hi there! My name is Kay and I am considering fish.

I am currently a keeper of small mammals - hamsters, to be specific. I started with one who, during an ill-fated weekend staying with a family member who is no longer allowed anywhere near the children, escaped. Since then I became the accidental owner of three rescues (two of which were gender assigned incorrectly by the pet store and procreated and then there were 7 in total) Anywhoo, the lifespan of a Dwarf hamster is relatively short and as we approach their first birthday, it is time for me to start planning for the adorable pet who will help get me through the process of them not being alive anymore. (Trying to avoid that whole horrible crying issue Smile)

I've done a teensy bit of research on fish and helped my brother through a few scary looking little crabs but what I am really in need of is some advice I can count on. As I mentioned, my experience with saltwater is almost non-existent but I did deal a little bit in the brackish water tank for the crabs my brother was given. I'm also familliar with water testing from pools and various and sundry volunteer projects with local water ways. (Course, those usually involve sulfuric acid Razz)

Unfortunately, there's more. My tank size goal would be a 10 gallon tank. That said, I'm not looking to overstock it - I would be settled with one or two fish even. My attraction is to small, adorable fish. Pink and purple and blue and shiney and under 1.5 inches. However, I'm pretty sure there's more that goes into it than that Razz

My only previous fish ownership experience was one of those cute, multi-colored fish that they sell in cups at the front of the pet store, always looking so sad and depressed. My grandmother bought me one when I was 15 and all of my information came from the PETCO guy was...well, wrong.

Here's what I know:

- with any fish tank, you never change all of the water out. Instead, remove about 1/3 weekly and replace it. This will keep the water clean and keep from shocking the fish

- use a goofy vaccum thing to pick up anything in the bottom of the tank that has wedged itself in the gravel or you need a bottom feeder.

- a good filter is important.

- never overfeed.

- they don't grow to fit the size of their tanks - so that really cool eel I saw at the store today that grows to 30 inches really does grow to 30 inches and, as much as I would love to take it home because it rocks, I shouldn't.

Still, there are some more specific questions that I do have. Are there certain types of fish that are hearty to a beginning owner like me but would be appropriate for the tank size? Do plants improve the health of a tank or hurt it (I assume this depends on the type of fish you purchase)?

I realize this is somewhat less of a researched post than you might prevfer to see but I find that it's best to get advice from people who know what they're talking about before I get my heart set on the cute little pink fish at PETCO.

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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2006.06.09(Fri)1:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi bitter epiphany,

Please take the following in the best light, as you sound like a nice person and I only wish success for everyone involved in the hobby. I think, if you want to be successful in saltwater fishkeeping, you need to change your approach (at least if you want to have meaningful discussions in which others will invest their time and thought towards).
S.W. is not about pretty colours, warm and fuzzies or general references. Far more than F.W. it is about being specific, technical, accurate and doing LOTS of detailed research. You will have to deal with water chemistry issues, matching and calibrating equipment, environmental and dietary needs of flora and fauna, species compatability and interactions etc... The less guessing the better.

For example, the ten gallon tank you refer to (commonly called a "nano" tank) is one of the harder systems to manage properly. While it may seem easy and cheap to "set up" most are doomed to failure due to the difficulty in managing their water chemistries in the longterm.

My best advice would be to spend some time reading the many good articles and topics on this, and other, S.W. related websites. Make yourself familiar with the language and general concepts involved. Either purchase or borrow a good book on saltwater fishkeeping and assess the real costs involved in stocking and maintaining even a small S.W. tank.
Then your posts will be more productive and beneficial for all. It is important to note that, while you are asking the particular questions, many others are viewing these posts and learning from the discussions as well.

Again, best of intentions.
Good luck!
Intelligence is not having all the answers; it's knowing how to think!
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003

PostPosted: 2006.06.27(Tue)3:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

A nano is nice but would be better if you get some experience and knowledge under your belt before attempting it. I'm not sure how much brackish info you checked out or learned but it does have some of the same basics as saltwater. Testing salinity levels, longer cycling, higher pH and alkalinity ranges so it is a start. Best thing would be to read up more before buying anything. Books, saltwater magazines, forum (like this one). Also for a beginner a fish only tank is best with some hardy fish till you get the hang of things. A lot of people use short terms for things, on the reef corner link check out the reefing dictionary

If your interested I can put some links up for you

online magazine

setting up, maintaining, and much other info
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Location: Okotoks, AB

PostPosted: 2006.07.10(Mon)16:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why not try a FW (FreshWater) tank? FW fish are beautiful, too, and you shouldn't have any problems with doing FW in a ten gallon.
Am I obsessed? Wait a minute... don't answer that!
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Pete Harcoff

Joined: 18 Jun 2005
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2006.07.10(Mon)17:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's generally recommended not to go under 30 gallons for a s/w tank, especially one with fish. Saltwater tanks tend to allow less margin for error and a greater water volume means tank parameters are less likely to go out of whack quickly.

That said, if this is your first aquarium (outside of the betta), you might be better off starting with a freshwater tank. Freshwater tanks tend to be more forgiving than saltwater tanks and there are lots of attractive freshwater species that would work in a 10 gallon.
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Joined: 07 Jul 2006

PostPosted: 2006.07.11(Tue)20:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you really want to start with saltwater, try keeping your water stable with just live rock, live sand and a few hermit crabs and snails. Live rock and live sand have tons of tiny ceatures living in them that are fun to watch and pretty much survive with very minimal effort from you. That way you can get a feel for this hobby.

Also check out It's a site with geared toward this specific size of saltwater tank. Plenty of tanks there 30 gallons and under that have been running for years.

Hope that helped.
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