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Basic Fish Tank/ Easy Care Fish?

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  • Basic Fish Tank/ Easy Care Fish?

    My daughter (nearly 3) would LOVE a pet fish. Are there any kinds that are easy keepers? Any tank setups that make it easier? How much work will it be to keep it/ them happy and healthy? I'd prefer a smaller set up and a few fish.

    I'd love any input!

  • #2
    I have this tank with live plants and a beta. It's pretty much fool-proof

    This site is excellent for a great run down of what to expect: http://faq.thekrib.com/


    • #3
      Someone here will suggest a betta fish, and if you believe what they tell you in the pet store, you'll be convinced they're easy. If you want a healthy happy fish, it's not so easy. They need at least 3 gallons and a heater. Don't think you can keep one in a tiny bowl. In a tank they are a joy to own---very active fish with personalities. Mine is in a 3 gallon tank that's unfiltered, so I do partial water changes twice a week and a full change once a week. It's a hassle, but I don't mind. Oh, and you can only keep one; they're fighting fish for a reason.

      Goldfish are sort of dirty fish and do better in a tank; you can also have more than one. I have no experience in setting up a filtered tank and it seemed a lot of work so I have mine set up as above.


      • #4
        I wouldn't recommend a tiny bowl for ANYTHING.

        Goldfish are a COLD water fish and require about 10 gallons per inch of fish, since they are quite dirty. They are also difficult to find healthy, since most people just use them as feeders and don't care if they don't live very long. I would absolutely not recommend goldfish for a beginner, since most people find they need to use a chiller on the tank in the summer (and sometimes in the winter, depending on the temp of your house) to keep them happy.

        DEFINITELY use a filter, as it makes fish keeping SO much easier. The simple filter in the kit I linked above is fine for a lightly stocked tank (like one beta, or perhaps 3-4 danios in a five gallon)...if you want to stock the tank heavier, you will need a more professional filter. Live plants aid in keeping the tank clean and they are QUITE easy with the new LED lights. I would recommend you purchase the "low light" plants available at a site like liveaquaria.com versus what you can find at the big box pet stores (those plants are often not actually aqueous plants at all and generally die pretty quick under water full time.)

        I do not heat my beta tank, as it maintains fine based on how warm I keep my house. If you keep your house cold, you will likely need a heater for any tropical fish.

        If you're looking for a schooling fish that's easy to keep, danios are AWESOME and seriously hardy. Platys are also neat, as they're live bearers, but you will soon have a bucket of babies! If you do get schooling fish, be sure to get 3 - 5 of the same species, versus one of this and one of that, as they may not school together and that will lead to stress, which generally leads to disease.

        OP, really check out the krib, which I linked above, for excellent beginner info about keeping a tank. They're great for that sort of info (and more complex stuff, if you really get into it.) I used to have a few hundred gallons of freshwater fish, but it does get to be a lot of work when you have multiple tanks and touchy fish and I really burned out a bit. But I do enjoy the single beta I have now


        • #5
          as far as fish go, I think a Beta in a real aquarium is hard to beat for personality.

          They are pretty easy care and fun to watch.

          Goldfish are really a mess in a small tank, I would not suggest them - not to mention that they grow big in a hurry, requiring a really big tank to be happy.

          Other than that, I think Guppies are fun, plus, if you have a pair (and you can tell them easily apart) they give birth to live babies (but without protection, the parents will eat them....giving a new meaning to baby-eating silliness)

          Definitely get something at least 3 gallons. BTW, I had pretty good success keeping Guppies and my Beta together....though I hear it's not the norm.


          • #6
            Some questions:
            1) What size tank do you want? 2-5 gallon? 10 gallon? 20 gallon? More?
            2) Do you have hard or soft water where you live?
            3) Can you keep your fish room cooler than 80 degrees in summer?

            Small tank

            If you want a very small tank, you are pretty much limited to shrimp or betta fish. I think bettas are about the easiest fish to keep. They are native to warm shallow waters like rice paddies and drainage ditches. Consequently, they are pretty tolerant of a wide range of water conditions. They need a heater to keep the water temp at around 80 degrees, and they appreciate live plants. Just don't make the mistake of trying to keep two in the same tank. Also don't keep them in an unheated brandy glass the way pet stores do. Undersized underheated bowls are cruel to the fish.

            There are two amateur friendly shrimp types commonly available in the aquarium trade: red cherry shrimp and Amano shrimp. The advantage to shrimp is that you can have multiple shrimp in a 2-5 gallon tank without crashing the filtration. Both will thrive in a range of temperatures and water conditions, though they prefer low to mid 70's. Red cherry shrimp will breed when they are happy. Amano shrimp have a salt water phase, so you can't raise Amano shrimplets at home. I wouldn't recommend keeping shrimp in with a betta, as a bored betta may harass and kill shrimp.

            Medium tank

            Most other fish want to live in schools, so you really need to keep them in a 10 gallon or larger tank. If you are willing to jump up to a medium sized tank, your next limitations are water type and temperature.

            Guppies, mollies, sword tails, and platys are commonly recommended for beginners. They all prefer hard water around 78 or 80 degrees.

            Neon tetras and corydoras, in contrast, prefer soft water in the mid 70's. I've had great luck with them, but you'll struggle if your house is on hard well water.

            White Cloud minnows are pretty tolerant of different water conditions, but they are a cold water fish. They prefer temperatures in the 60s or low 70s and are just without a heater in your house in winter. However, they won't do well if your fish room gets into the 80s in summer.

            Large tank
            Goldfish have the reputation of being a beginner's fish, but in actuality they are very demanding. Goldfish are sociable and want to live in groups. A happy healthy goldfish can grow to be over a foot long as an adult. A happy healthy goldfish is a poop factory. Therefore, you need a honking big tank with a honking big filter if you want to keep goldfish properly. Goldfish are a cold water fish, and they do best in hard water. Like White Cloud minnows, they do badly in water over 80 degrees. All in all, I wouldn't recommend getting them unless you really want to keep a stock tank full of cold well water in your cellar.


            • #7
              I've had bettas. I don't think that they are easy at all. They are also short lived. I currently have 3 goldfish. They are easy peezy. No heater, simple filter and if I skip a water change they don't go belly up because they can live in crappy dirty water and I can buy their food at the grocery store.


              • #8
                I don't think a slightly bigger tank (maybe 20/30 gallons) is that much more work than a smaller one. Sure the water changes are 'bigger' because of the bigger tank, but the bigger tanks, once established and maintained properly, are more stable and seem to have fewer problems than the smaller ones.

                There are lots of good info about setting up a tank properly - its's a lesson in chemistry and above all patience. Start with a few fish and frequent water changes, then s l o w l y add more and test the water every day (keep up with those water changes, they are very important). Once you get the tank established and the biological filter is working properly, they really do take very little mainteance.

                I have a 30 gallon on a nice stand in my living room. I do partial water changes every week or so (probably 8 - 10 gallons at a pop), and I only add a water conditioner (to remove chlorine) and some bacteria (to maintain the biological filter). I have fish that do well with my 'natural' pH level, so no messing with that. I clean it using a fish tank vacuum to keep the poo out of the gravel. A pinch of food every day, and that's it.

                Another fun thing about a slightly bigger tank is that you can have a few different types of fish - some like to live in the top layer of water, some in the middle, some on the bottom. If you get a mix of fish types then there is something to watch at all levels of the tank. There are tons of good books out there - the one I got (which I can't find) actually gave me lists of fish that work well together in a community tank.

                Edited to say - I found the book - it's easy to understand, and not too expensive :



                • #9
                  The OP wants ONE FISH for her three-year-old - not a thirty-gallon tank! OP, go with Simkie's recommendation. That will be fine. Bettas come in lots of different colors; your daughter will like picking one out.
                  I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you everyone for your input! I've narrowed it down to a 5-10 gallon starter kit type (although I'm really digging the looks of the Biorb 8 gallon. Even though it's ridiculously pricy. I am planning on putting it on the breakfast bar, so I want it to look nice.)
                    I think I'll take my daughter to the store and let her choose a few guppies or neons or a beta and some decorations for the tank after Christmas.



                    • #11
                      I have had a large fish tank (150 gal.) for years, but last year I decided I wanted a betta and a small tank, and got one, along with a Fluval Edge tank. It is an all inclusive tank except for the heater. I absolutely love it. I put in a sand substrate and planted it, and have my betta with two cory cats. Easy, easy maintenance and it is very attractive....as is the betta.
                      Mystic Owl Sporthorses


                      • #12
                        If you get a betta (or any labyrinth fish, like the gourami family) one thing I haven't seen mentioned is you MUST keep a water line in your tank. Bettas need surface air to breathe due to an organ called the labyrinth lung - you can actually drown a betta!

                        5 gallons limits you. You can have one betta, one snail, or some shrimp.

                        10 gallons gives you a little more options. I'd suggest playing around with this site:


                        Also, the Aquarium Wiki is pretty helpful. www.bettatalk.com is excellent if you are considering bettas.

                        If you are ever advised of the 1 gallon = 1 inch of fish rule in a pet store, ignore it. It's not true. That would mean a 10 foot gallon tank could hold a 10 inch goldfish...common goldfish need about 75 gallons a piece, and double filtration.

                        Do you have a specific species of fish you are interested in? I'm just throwing some general things out there.

                        ETA I saw one of your responses, couple suggestions -

                        Guppies are bad with bettas because a betta sees a guppy as another betta and will attack it. Anything brightly colored or long-finned should be avoided with bettas.

                        Neons are pretty fragile actually, I don't suggest them if you are new to fish and in only a ten gallon. They do better in bigger schools, I think the minimum most places will say is 6 but I prefer at least 10 individuals. Also - I have heard of bettas eating neons.
                        Last edited by shiningwizard255; Dec. 11, 2012, 05:27 PM. Reason: typos galore
                        *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05


                        • #13
                          My personal suggestion is the betta, not because they are easy, but because they are so personable. A three year old would probably love a betta because the betta will come to the side of the tank and interact with you. Especially at feeding time! Three gallons or plus on the tank, upper 70s/lower 80s on the heater, and either no filtration (which I prefer for mine, but that's a personal opinion) or low filtration...heavy current is hard on a betta with those fins.

                          Good luck.
                          *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05


                          • #14
                            Also - read up on "cycling" before you buy fish, you'll need to set up your tank a few weeks in advance before adding fish. And you'll need dechlorinator, which you can get for a few bucks. If you do go the betta route, feed either pellets or bloodworms. Most bettas will turn up their nose at flakes, so save yourself a few dollars.

                            ETA - sorry for all the posts, I am excited for you...I am a giant fish dork Hope your daughter enjoys her pet!
                            *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05


                            • #15
                              The biOrb LOOKS cool, but the filter is lacking. It's really just a under gravel, which.....eh. Would be okay for a fish or two, but is certainly not my favorite, ESPECIALLY at that price. OUCH.

                              The tank kit I linked above would likely do fine on a breakfast bar, since the filter is IN the tank (versus a hang on the back version) and the only thing you'd really have to hide are the cords.

                              If you want something sexier, the Fluval Edge series is quite nice to look at, and has a hang on the tank filter hidden in the back column. (FWIW, I really, really like the simplicity of having the filter IN the tank because it really cuts down on water leaks. Water leaks out of hang on the back filters aren't common by any means, but it does happen sometimes and It. Sucks. A. Lot. when it does.)

                              This is really an embarrassingly bad picture of my tank, but I think it gives you an idea. Flame the beta is mugging for food. The plants in there are java fern, anubias nana, and a red crypt. The java fern keeps having babies and the anubias is really out of control. I've also got some driftwood and rock. This tank is set up for MINIMAL maintenance requirements...I scrape the algae off the glass every couple weeks (would be less, but the tank gets a fair amount of sunlight), I refill with water when it gets lowish and I feed Flame every other day. I am a little ashamed to say water changes are terribly infrequent, but the tank is stocked at such a low level, the fish is not overfed and the plants help keep the chemistry in check, so it works just fine.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by shiningwizard255 View Post
                                And you'll need dechlorinator, which you can get for a few bucks.
                                You only need "dechlorinator" if you have water that's chlorinated. Have well water? Don't need it.


                                • #17
                                  Oh, here's another sexy looking tank. I'd prefer this over the Fluval:


                                  Eheim has been around FOREVER and makes a great filter. I've actually had some of these in the tank units that come with, and they just can't be beat. If you want to spend the dough, this would be a great way to go.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by 4Martini View Post
                                    My daughter (nearly 3) would LOVE a pet fish. Are there any kinds that are easy keepers? Any tank setups that make it easier? How much work will it be to keep it/ them happy and healthy? I'd prefer a smaller set up and a few fish.

                                    I'd love any input!
                                    My grandfather was a big-time tropical fish breeder - used to breed & sell them to local pet stores way back when. Thanks to him, even as a toddler my room was never without a fish tank - lol!!

                                    Regardless of what fish you ultimately choose, I vote for an "Eclipse" aquarium system. http://www.bing.com/shopping/search?...FORM=HURE#x0y0

                                    They're inexpensive, come in a variety of sizes, & come complete with built-in bio-filtration & proper lighting systems. All you need add is a heater (also very inexpensive). I've had my current 30-gallon setup for 15 years now. No problems, runs beautifully, & is easy to keep up.

                                    I've never kept Bettas, so can't help you there, but from what I've heard/read, that sounds like a decent choice for your daughter. Fairly easy keepers, & much more tolerant than other fish of water quality issues, etc.

                                    But - as with taking on any critter, do spend some time researching care, etc.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Bacardi1 View Post
                                      Regardless of what fish you ultimately choose, I vote for an "Eclipse" aquarium system. http://www.bing.com/shopping/search?...FORM=HURE#x0y0
                                      They don't make these anymore There might be a few still floating around, but they're really tough to find, and I'm not sure if they're still making the filter cartridges....

                                      I LOVED my Eclipse tanks, and when the ballast went out on the light in my 3 gallon, I went looking for a new one. Couldn't be found, which is why I wound up with this. (Marineland used to make the Eclipse tanks, and as far as I can tell, this is their new "all in one" offering.)

                                      Frankly, I like this setup BETTER. The LED lights are an improvement over the CFs in the Eclipse hood, the in the tank filter is quieter than the Eclipse and also less likely to leak water out the back. Since the filtration is less complex in this new set up, I don't think you can stock the tank as heavily as you could with the Eclipse, but for one or a few fish? It works just fine.


                                      • #20
                                        I had 2 eclipse tanks - and when one component of the hood went, it was pretty spendy to replace the hood. Ballast went on mine 2 different times / hoods.

                                        I eventually got rid of them both (6 and 12 gallon) and got a regular tank that has different pieces.