Aquarium tips for complete amateurs?

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notdavid

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My partner and I won a few goldfish from the local fair last night, and we're starting to get a little emotionally attached to the little bastards. Like, we named them and stuff. I'm aware of the stigma of carnival fish, i.e. them dying almost instantly. Carnies aren't always the best fishkeepers, and their immune systems are pretty much shot from stress.

We're fully committed to nursing these suckers back to health, and eventually starting up a fish tank with some other little buddies for them. We're picking up a used 10 gallon from a friend tonight, along with gravel, a filter, and de-chlorination stuff. Until then, our fishy friends are hanging out in a bowl covered by a net so they don't jump.

My problem: Every article I've been reading online recommends having an aquarium running for at least a week before you add fish, and now that we already HAVE the fish, we're kind of on a time limit. Does anyone here have experience taking care of carnival fish, or hastily putting together a working aquarium that can provide a nice home in less than a day?

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notdavid

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Gilda, Fitzpatrick, and Jerome
Gilda, Fitzpatrick, and Jerome

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isomeri

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#3  Edited By isomeri

Aquariums can be beautiful and cool, but most I've seen, including mine, end up in a really depressing dilapidated state.

The tip about having your aquarium running for a week or so without fish is a sound one. You need to clear out all the small particles that get into the water, even when you carefully wash the sand and stuff before putting it in. That being said, even an aquarium in a bad state is likely to give your fish more comfort than some random vase.

EDIT: Oh and about plants. Buy plenty of plants, because without oxygen your fish will have a hard and short life and your aquarium will look like some random sewer. And make sure to clean out algae as soon as it pops up.

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456nto

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If you're going to start an aquarium, either make it exclusively for goldfish or don't have any. Goldfish tend to get attacked by other species and they are used to colder water than your average fish. They have sensitive scales and other fish tend to nip them. Goldfish can also grow pretty large and they eat everything, so plan ahead and get a decent sized tank. Another reason to get a larger tank is because goldfish pollute the water very fast and if they're all bunched up they will die quickly.

I think other common fish only require to be fed every 3 days so their metabolism builds up (they also get nutrients from any plants or bacteria kicking around in the aquarium with them). Goldfish seem to eat way more than your average fish though. If there's excess food lying around, scoop it out before it rots.

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MonkeyKing1969

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I think the advice above is fine:
- Just keep goldfish
- Dont over feed
- Clean the tank

But, the best advice is DON'T GET OVER YOUR HEAD.

If you want to add ornamentation on the cheap most people think "I'll use rocks I find outside!" You can but that is a lot of work to clean! If you want cheap and fast ornamentation go to a Goodwill or Salvation Army and buy colored glass cups, vaises, jugs, etc. NOT CERAMIC! NOT CRYSTAL! Just glass! Glass is easy & fast to clean, is non-porous, and if often interestingly geometric. The nice thing about glass is when it is time to deep clean the tank, taking it out and cleaning is EASY! It easier to clean glass of alege and goop, than it is from plastic plants or the plastic sunken treasure chest.

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freyamal

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#7  Edited By freyamal

yeah, agree, the most important part in taking care of an aquarium with fish is to do everything for their comfort and not for you to enjoy what you see. It takes a lot of time and patience to create a convenient atmosphere in an aquarium. The decoration must be well selected and so on. For instance, when I had my first aquarium I didn't care about the rock I put in there, and that was a mistake. One day I came across this site about live rocks that helped me never make the same mistakes again. This is the site https://arcreef.com/live-rock/live-rock-guide/

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#8  Edited By mmcg

I owned an aquarium for about five years and here are a few things you'll probably want to consider:

  • Yes, you need to run the tank for at least one to two weeks before you can introduce any fish to the tank. This is because the tank and filter need to build up bacteria that can eat fish waste and turn it into stuff that won't decay and kill your fish. This is a process called "cycling" because you're creating a cyclical chemical process that keeps the fish alive in the long run.
    I won't go into all the details here, but this is a pretty good but not overly in-depth guide to how to do it: https://aquariuminfo.org/cycling.htmlThat said, I would highly recommend not using "starter fish" as recommended in that article as I think it's a pretty cruel thing to do to the fish.

  • In the meantime, you can just do partial water changes of whatever the fish are living in now, if it's big enough. Your fish won't run out of oxygen; the reason they need fresh water is because waste builds up in their environment and kills them.

    I can't tell from the picture, but if you can get a container that's maybe 3-5 gallons for the short term that should be more than fine. Add distilled water and then throw the fish in. Also, as mentioned earlier in the thread, don't use anything except glass or plastic that you know is clean and has never contained cleaning products or really kind of contaminant, etc. Even trace amounts of chemicals can kill fish.

  • Ideally, you'd want to remove about 25% of the water in their environment every week or so and replace it with fresh water. You're going to want to use distilled water rather than tap water, because your tap water will contain trace amounts of chemicals like chlorine that don't affect humans in any way but are concentrated enough to harm fish. Once you get a tank up and running you can buy water conditioner to neutralize that stuff from your tap water (or you could do that now, if you want to run to the pet store, it's very cheap).

  • Sounds like you have a tank lined up already but something to note is that a the larger the tank the easier it is to actually keep the water chemistry from getting out of whack (more volume means its harder to poison your fish, basically). 10 gallons should be pretty easy to keep running without a lot of hassle. Make sure you have a good filter, as well. Just throwing the fish into a tank and letting it go will lead to dead fish.

  • Feed them way, way less than you think you should. Your fish will not die of starvation even if you feed them once or twice a week, and if they start eating each other it's because they're aggressive and territorial, not hungry. Over-feeding is the easiest way to screw up the tank water, throw off the chemistry, and kill your fish.

  • Lastly, and this kinda sucks, but try to keep your expectations for these fish, or any individual fish in your tank, pretty low. Even very hardy species like goldfish can get sick randomly, get stressed and die, get injured, etc., and they'll croak. I had to learn the hard way not to name mine because it hurt too much when they died. If you want to do this as a long term hobby I think it's best to think of the different groups of fish in your tank rather than individuals because they're just not very robust creatures in general.

    I'm not trying to dissuade you from taking up the hobby, but, imagine if you were trying to keep a parrot alive in an airtight bubble at the bottom of a swimming pool and you were responsible for every part of its environment. You probably wouldn't want to name the parrot.

Anyway, best of luck, and if you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message.

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north6

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Don't drink the tank cleaner.

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Shindig

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Are fish high maintenance? I know you have to clean the tank out, swap filters and shit. I've only owned fish once in my life and that was as a small child.

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kaungo

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@shindig: with gold fish, yes. Gold fish produce a lot more waste than say guppies or Betta. Fresh water aquarium are cheaper to run and tend to have less maintenance issues than salt water aquariums.