• Preparing tank

    From Mike Roberts@1:261/1381 to Sean Dennis on Tue Oct 11 12:20:52 2005
    Sean, this is a reply about starting the hobby. However if anything about preparing the tank helps, This is good! ;-)

    * Message extracted by Mike Roberts via Telegard 3.09.g2-sp4/mL
    * Message extracted Wed 17 Aug 2005 3:01p
    Message to : Mike Roberts
    From : Carol Shenkenberger
    Subject : Bickersons
    Date/Time : Wed 17 Aug 2005 7:43p

    ----------------- b e g i n e x t r a c t e d m e s s a g e ---------------- *** Quoting Mike Roberts from a message to Carol Shenkenberger ***

    *** Quoting Carol Shenkenberger from a message to FRANK SCHEIDT ***

    I think Mike was looking for tank keeping help. I can help if he
    tells me what he needs help with. xxcarol

    Hi Carol!

    Well it is going to seem stupid, but I have known fish enthusiasts tha
    into fish and become addicted. I remember my Father and uncles had fis
    back when I was a kid, same with them. So the stupid question of the w is... Is it smart to start with a small tank and get larger later on o
    like a computer, purchase what you can afford cuz if you buy small and larger tank latter, you're only spending more money? Also is it good t

    It is *addictive* in a small way. Once you have one, you want to upscale tanks and some fools have 20 tanks in a single house.

    The biggest thing to watch, is the 'local fish store' (LFS) is probably not very responsible so will sell you a small tank then a fish that needs a big tank. Most often they will sell you far more fish than can survive in the size tank you have. They will visually make you think what they stuff in a tank, is suitable and not tell you they have massive exchange systems that you do not even see, and have over loaded the tank.

    Smart? Start with a single tank of 20 gallons and fresh water fish only. A 40G tank is also workable for the first time fish keeper but thats the top size for a new person to manage. Sure they will sell you a bigger one, but you will not know enough to be able to maintain it and it will rapidly turn into a true eyesore (I got my 70G tank off such a newbie just for the cost of getting it out of his house, he even tossed in the 200$ then stand).

    Second tank? That will happen but it's not a bad idea. The new fish you get can be treated in that before you add them to the main tank, of if the ones inthe main tank get sick, you can put all thehealthy ones inthe second tank.

    larger tank latter, you're only spending more money? Also is it good t
    from a Pet store or better to buy your equipment lets say from an add paper? Just wondering what is the best way to get started in the hobby

    On the equipment, it's all the same. Get it where you find it easiest to get it.

    Cycling the tank is the real 'new person mistake'. They buy the tank and the fish at the same time then all the fish die as the water turns milky. A reputable store will ask you what you know and tell you how to handle this phase of a new tank. Kmart will not most likely but you can luck up with an employee who has a clue even there.

    When you first add the water, there is no natural bacteria to handle the breakdown of the natural ammonia (they pee in the water afterall). The simplest way to handle this is very old fashioned. Get the tank, add the water and turn on the filter and such, and just ignore it for the next 3 weeks. Adding a little of the natural biota they sell in small 8oz plastic bottles will hep this phase speed up. Adding a single guppy will as well (be prepared for the guppy to die). Some folks just add a little human 'pee' (a tablespoon or so a day) to make this happen.

    The tank will turn milky white as it establishes. New person mistake is to try to empty the tank. With a smaller one, you can do that a bit, but with a larger (70G and up) *let it be* or it will never set just right and you will have problems with algae and everything else forever on.

    There's this 'ugly phase' that lasts from 3-8 days then suddenly overnight, the water is crystal clear without you doing anything at all. The tank is now ready for fish.

    If you didnt add a single scrub fish or the ammonia so didnt get the cloudy stage, your tank is not cycled. If you add fish before that, you will lose at least 1/2 (may lose all) as it cycles later.

    If you have a friend who has an established fish tank, as them for a scoup of gravel complete with the fish poop and drop it in your tank just as it is. Tis will establish faster.

    Placement of tank: Tempting as it is to put it in a sunny window, thats bad. For one, you will be forever scrubbing algae and for the other the sun will overheat the water and kill any 'delicate' fish. Put it better in a darker corner you want to light up a bit, and use a tank light hood.

    Type of fish: Start small. Start *cheap* but pretty. Mollies and Guppies are good starter fish and you can ignore all that PH kit stuff and the tank heaters as they do not need them. Mollies best as guppies breed fast and you will eventually have to start throwing out some live ones to keep the tank under control. Mollies will generally replace themselves with no effort on your part.

    Danger zone: Goldfish get very BIG. 1 goldfish per 20G and that is hard as when they get older, they cant turn around ina mere 20G tank. I had to find a new home for 2 goldfish who couldnt turn around in my 70G tank. Nuff said? Same for Plecos (Platystomatus) and catfish though if you can find a geniune dwarf catfish, they are hardy and work well. Do not mix goldfish with any other type of fish. They pee more ammonia and no matter how well cycled the tank is, it will kill the other fish (exceptions are Plecos and catfish but you need a huge tank to do this). The upside of the goldfish is they are cheap and hardy and tend to live 25 years if you treat them right. I got one when I was 11 that lived in my bathroom til I moved at age 23 (gave it to a neighbor who was fish savvy).

    General rul on getting fish. Dont get too fancy with community tanks at the start. Start with one placid type. Angel fish are not starter fish. A single male beta with nothing else in that tank, looks well and fits a 7G or less tank.

    More info? Ask!

    -!- Telegard v3.09.g2-sp4
    ! Origin: SHENK'S EXPRESS, Sasebo Japan 81-6160-527330 (6:757/1)
    * Message extracted by Mike Roberts via Telegard 3.09.g2-sp4/mL
    * Message extracted Sat 20 Aug 2005 10:12a
    Message to : Mike Roberts
    From : Carol Shenkenberger
    Subject : Fish
    Date/Time : Thu 18 Aug 2005 6:18p

    ----------------- b e g i n e x t r a c t e d m e s s a g e ---------------- *** Quoting Mike Roberts from a message to Carol Shenkenberger ***

    *** Quoting Carol Shenkenberger from a message to Mike Roberts `

    It is *addictive* in a small way. Once you have one, you want to
    upscale tanks and some fools have 20 tanks in a single house.

    You know some too, Huh? <Grin>

    Yup! The care level is too high for me to be enthused with such shennanigans.

    Carol... Thanks so much for all the information. I really do appreciat Saved the message to file and will go through it a couple of times. Th again for all the time you spent, and Information. It will come in ver helpful.

    Hey, I love talking fish! Used to be a good echo on it but the echo sorta went 'newsgroup' and what remnents I can find of it now, are all one way (fidonet posts do not get out the gateway site).

    I can post *significant volumes* on this lovely and fun hobby, if folks do not mind. I think they dont mind it here.

    You are going about the whole thing in a very smart way. By asking some sensible questions, you can setup something that you enjoy, and will not be overloaded on.

    So far, my advice has been on the basics. It really is best to start that way and I get the impression you have never had a tank before, just admired them? So I started from there. The gist of my advice will be how to keep the costs and maintenance down to what *you* find suitable.

    For example: One reason to start with a 20G or no more than a 40G is how long it takes to maintain. I presume you want something that looks nice in the livingroom etc. The 2 most important parts of making that happen is to properly cycle the tank and to not put it in direct sunlight (which will cause algae to grow all over the sides and lead to much time cleaning every week).

    My 70Gallon (70G, called a 'tall as it was a tall long but not wide back to front) is perfect for small schooling community fish or a small salt water tank. Because it was well cycled and was in a darkish corner, the tank lights made it a perfect way to 'showplace' an odd spot of the room. Time spent per week keeping it pretty (changing out some water, clean gravel with syphon) was 15-20 mins a week. A 20G will take 5-10 mins and if you skip it some weeks, it's ok. This presumes you do not have super fancy fish that need constant PH testing and adjustment.

    The easiest fish to keep alive are Goldfish and Guppies. Keep in mind that goldfish do not mix with any other fish other than some of the algae eaters or largish snails. This isnt because they beat up the other fish, but because they are called 'dirty fish' meaning they add huge amounts of ammonia and 'fish poop' to the tank. They are so tolerant of this that it doesnt bother them, but the other fish cant take it and die.

    Guppies do not live long (goldfish can live 40 years) but they breed fast.
    They also tend to become 'food' for any other fish in the tank but can mix with mollies. They will outbreed the mollies though and eventually you will have just guppies. Guppies are great if you have kids as they bear live young.
    Warn the kids though as once the tank starts getting crowded, the older guppies will eat most of the babies. Unless you have a friend who needs live fish for feeding, your tank will have to be filtered out of excess less pretty guppies after a bit and you kinda end up needing to flush them.

    Mollies come in several colors and will crossbreed but breed slowly enough (though live bearers) that if you just get 3 types (2 each, a male and a female) that they will do well for a 20G. Not as hardy as the goldfish or the guppie, they are still a very GOOD starter fish. Later, you can add angelfish and neon tetras if you want to try that as they co-exist well.

    These 3 types do not require fancy PH testing and can take plain tap water fine, even with cloramines if you water has that additive. It wont *hurt* to use the store bought cloramine removal stuff, but it isnt an absolute requirement. They also dont require fancy water heaters as long as you keep your house between 60F-90F.

    A note on snails. Good addition to have 1. If you have 2, you better pray they are the same sex. Snails normally have as many as 100 offspring at a time and you can imagine the mess that makes of the looks of your tank! I normally had a snail and learned to put them in a bucket for 2 weeks before adding to the tank, to be sure I didnt have a pregnant female. Watch any live plants you get as they may have snail eggs....

    To keep costs and maintenance down, it's best to skip the live plants at least at the start. Without special lights and a CO2 system, they tend to not thrive well unless you get a special tank just to grow plants in. My plant tank was in the 4th bedroom, direct sun in the morning, and very algae ugly but it was an out of the way spot. I just added water as needed. The 'gravel' was the cheapest kitty-litter with no additives (just clay pellets). I was able to grow enough in that to stock the 70G and sell the excess but it was not a pretty tank although very easy and cheap to maintain.

    Ok, filters. The ones that hang off the back of the tank are the least messy and easiest to maintain. I used in-tank ones for ages but they are messy to change. You got fish-poop everywhere <g>. The undergravel filters are a waste of time and a pain as you have to completely empty the tank to get at them and to add to that, you cant have more than 1/2 inch gravel. That means the fish will pile what little gravel they have up all the time and leave you bare spots and you cant train this out of the fish <g>. You also cant settle plants (plastic or live) in that minimal gravel.

    Cleaning the bottom of the tank: Easiest way is just a piece of tube that way smaller than the fish. You suck up some water til just below your mouth, cap it with your finger, then put the end in a pail of some sort and use the end in the tank to scout around and clean the fish poop out of the gravel. They sell fancy units for this. With goldfish, I used the end of a garden hose that had splitup inthe sun and would have been 'trash' except this use. Grin, I sometimes as it wasnt clear, got a mouth of fishwater. They have fancier ones though that wont do that. Just dont get one that has to be plugged in as thats for much bigger tanks and you can hurt your fish with them. Cleaning gravel in a cycled tank takes 5 mins to get the basic stuff each week. Overcleaning is actually not good.

    Gravel: Get any color you like except pristine white which will not stay white for more than a week if your tank is cycled right. I tend to the mixed natural pebble type but the dark blue or emerald green are very attractive. Use any size you like with the fish types I mentioned. If you make an 'island of color' amid a tan sort of pebble, it can be quite fun to watch as over time the fish mix it up til it's evenly spread out.

    Wood: Dont use actual driftwood from the seashore except with goldfish (highly salt tolerant) because it's imbedded with salt. Most stuff at the local fish store will be safe though. It can take 2 YEARS to leach all the salt out of actual driftwood at the seashore to be safe for fish tank use in a fresh water tank. Average worker at the LFS may not know this but if it's paperwork says 'perfect for a Marine tank' you can have a clue that it is not for a fresh water tank.

    Time: Freshwater is *much* less time intensive. It's also generally less expensive by far.

    Ask anything you want!

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    ! Origin: SHENK'S EXPRESS, Sasebo Japan 81-6160-527330 (6:757/1)

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