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Small tank vs. large tank.
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What tank should be recommended to beginning fish keepers?
A small tank.
 25%  [ 8 ]
A large tank.
 46%  [ 15 ]
Doesn't matter. Everyone should get what they want.
 28%  [ 9 ]
Total Votes : 32

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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Boston, MA, USA

PostPosted: 2003.09.11(Thu)11:22    Post subject: Small tank vs. large tank. Reply with quote

Hey everyone. I got the idea for this topic after reading this thread. There, like in many aquarium guide books it was said that you should start off with the largest tank you can afford, 20 gallons at the least.

This seems by now like accepted, conventional wisdom, and there are several points that support this idea. The main argument is generally that larger tanks are more forgiving. Water quality seems more stable in large tanks and one can let the water changes slip a little longer than in a small tank. Secondly, the main problem of new tanks often is overcrowding. In a small tank crowding becomes a problem much faster than in a large tank (which is directly related to the first point). Finally, in a larger tank you have more options for the kind of fish you want to get. Large or very active fish of course fair poorly in small tanks.

What is often forgotten, in my opinion, is that small tanks also have a number of advantages over large tanks.

    * To set up a small tank, only a very small committment of money is needed. A 10 gallon tank with an incandescent hood, filter and heater will cost less than $50. With an additional investment of $20 dollars for compact fluorescent screw-in bulbs the tank will be ready for planting. The space savings are a factor, too.

    * Unfortunately, many of us don't have much space (college dorms, roomates, unsympathetic spouses, ...) so a 10 gallon tank on a dresser might be one of the few viable options.

    * The issue of water quality also has it's positive side in a 10 gallon tank. By changing a single bucket of water every week (I.e. 50% water change), the water can be kept in pristine conditions with much less effort than in a 30 gallon tank.

Other advatages of small tanks include that they are easy to store or transport in case of a move. They can be used as quarantine tanks, grow-out or breeding tanks in case the hobby is expanded. They can even easily be converted into a nice wet plant biotope on a windowsill.

So, what do you all think. Small tank? Large tank? Something in between? Did I forget some important points? Am I talking complete nonsense?

I'm looking forward to all your replies and possibly your own experiences with your first tank... mario
"Save me Jebus! And I don't even believe in Jebus!!!" Homer Simpson
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Jen S

Joined: 15 Aug 2003
Location: Columbus, Ohio USA

PostPosted: 2003.09.11(Thu)12:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great topic. For what it's worth, I think people should get what they want. But as a new fishkeeper, I do wish there was a website, book, message board or some other resource dedicated to small tanks. (If anyone knows of any, please share.)

I have limited space and limited resources. I started with a 2g betta bowl. To my, a 20g long is HUGE. What would be especially helpful for those of us with tiny tanks would be information on species of fish, invertabrates and plants would do well in small tanks. Also, information on heating, lighting, and filtering small tanks would be great.
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Joined: 31 Jul 2003
Location: East Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: 2003.09.11(Thu)12:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the key here is 'to get what you want'. What you need to do is lots of research and decide what you want to keep in the tank and what you might want to keep in the future before you go buying anything. If you think you want to keep Congo Tetras then it's obvious that a small tank is no good. If however you want to keep a small shoal of neons and some dwarf cory's then it's fine. I would agree with Mario that it's easier to maintain a small tank then a large one but that you really must maintain it properly! The only advantage to a beginner of having a large tank is that if they screw up their fish will last a bit longer before they die! Hopefully if people do some research before they get their tank any major screw-ups are avoided. It's the 6 P's. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!
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Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Location: Phoenix, Arizona USA

PostPosted: 2003.09.11(Thu)22:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mario,

Great discussion question Smile

I have really only returned to fishkeeping recently, since June when my daughter wanted a fish aquarium. I had been putting it off, knowing that I would be the one who would have to do all the work (and my instincts have proven correct). She received as a gift, a nice little Eclipse 3 gallon. It has a biowheel.

It probably is true as a rule that smaller tanks are harder to keep stable, but I find that ours, once it was cycled, is very stable. It must be because of the biowheel. I can clean everything, and as long as I leave the wheel alone, there is no negative impact. I do keep up with regular weekly water changes.

The cost and the time needed to keep this tank are minimal. The only problem was that I wanted more fish. So I went out and bought a 20 gallon. Then I got a 10 gallon for a hospital but now it is going to be a home for even more fish Smile I initially bought a mini aqua clear for the 10 gallon, but had some trouble with it and changed to a penguin mini with biowheel. I don't have any problems with instability, but with the AQ I had to worry too much about how to change out the media without disrupting the biofilter.

My experience with all these smaller tanks has been very good. It might be a good thing for a beginner to learn with a smaller tank, so that the understanding of the importance of regular maintenance of water quality can be established at the outset. But if a beginner wants many fish, or larger fish, then a smaller tank might be frustrating and seem boring. That is the only downside to what I have -- I would like to have a much larger aquarium with many more interesting inhabitants. Nevertheless, I am really enjoying this hobby and am not at all bored, even though I was weaseled into it against my will Wink

My vote was that each person should get what they want -- or what works best for what they can realistically manage in terms of time, space, and financial commitment.
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Joined: 31 May 2003
Location: Phoenix, Az

PostPosted: 2003.09.12(Fri)10:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

I initially started out with a 2g hex tank with a UGF... and put three black molly's in there... This was before I found this board... Soon (two days later) I purchased a 20g tank. since then... I've wanted a bigger tank for my community fish.. and I want to someday aquire a 135g tank for a red devil. All hopes, I have other bills to take care of. Wink Personally I like the options that a bigger tank give you.
There are only 10 types of people in this word; those who understand binary and those who don't. Smile
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