What is the best fish for a beginner to get

eslucky

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Jun 20, 2012
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I haven't had much luck with having fish but I would really like to give it a try again. Are there any fish that would be good for a beginner? Something that is pretty easy to care for and hardy would be great. I would really like to start with something other than Goldfish. There are some beautiful tropical fish and I would love to get some fish that are very colorful.
 

Alpha1

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The only ones I can think of, that can be kept in a regular fishbowl without filters and pumps, etc. is the Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta). The males can't be kept together, either separate tanks next to each other or a divided tank.

They are colorful, live 2-3 years, and seem to be easy to care for as long as the water is warm and does not fall below a certain temperature. I think where you live shouldn't be a problem. Here's just one page with info, and 2 pictures to see. http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/anabantids2/p/betta.htm
 

petgoss

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yorkshire
Cherry barbs are a great choice as are Rosy barbs and Golden barbs. Rosy barbs are very hardy, temperature and soft/hard water tolerant.
 

Vash

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Almost all fish are hardy if you do things correctly. That means, you will need
a proper sized tank (undersized tank will kill the fish through ammonia poisoning and stress)
a filter ( must have or don't get the fish, sorry. The only thing keeps ammonia at 0ppm is a properly cycled filter system)
a heater (if you go tropical)
water conditioner (to get rid of chlorine in the tap water, or fish will die)
air pump/air stone for increase gas exchange between the water and the atmosphere, however it is not a must if you already have good surface movement from the filter.

On the top of all that, it is highly recommended to do a fishless cycle before getting any fish at all. It is a process to grow beneficial bacteria in the new filter system in order to have them convert the toxic ammonia into less harmful nitrate.

Nitrate must be removed by partial water change. That is why weekly 30~50% partial water change is highly recommended.

You also must not overfeeding. No matter how hungry the fish might look. They only need to be fed once a day and no more they can finish within a minute. No leftover food should be visible in the tank. Or you will just spoil the water quality.
 

justmesuzanne

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I think a beta is the best fish to start out with because they are super-easy to care for and they live up to 7 years with good care. Additionally, they are very personable and friendly and love to interact when you look into the tank. You shouldn't keep a beta in a tiny tank, but he will be happy in a 1-3 gallon tank, and that makes maintenance very simple. I wrote an article about beta care. If you would like to read it, you can find it at:

The Siamese Fighting Fish As A Desktop Pet
http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Siamese-Fighting-Fish-As-A-Desktop-Pet

I hope this is helpful to you! :)
 

bengraham

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Jan 14, 2013
I would get a pretty regular goldfish, that doesn't require a particularly specific water temperature. They tend to eb the most hardy in my opinion- if you want to upgrade from then on, then that's fine, but it may mean purchasing a few bits of kit.
 

Vash

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@ justmesuzanne,
The minimal recommended tank size for a betta to live a healthy long life is 5 US gallons. 1~3 gallon are too small to be called fish tanks, they will have unstable water temperature, water chemistry, as well as not enough swimming room for the betta to be happy and healthy.

Keep in mind that you will need a heater and a filter for any fish including a single betta. There isn't much room left after you install all the necessary equipments on the top of decorations. (Empty tank will stress the fish). A fish without place to hide, or swim, will always be stressed and there is no way they can stay healthy.

Yes, there are reports of betta living up to 7~10 years. But those betta are in fairly large tanks with a lot of swimming rooms. Some people even did experiments that artificially create current for certain amount of time every day, so the betta can get some exercises. The "7 years" report I read was under such circumstances.

@ bengraham
Goldfish is not a beginner's fish. They need large tanks because their physical size as well as their bioload. They eat a lot and poop a lot so they are messy fish. Like I have said earlier somewhere, the recommended size for a single fancy goldfish is 20~30 gallon of water. It goes up to 40~55 gallon for a single common goldfish. No way this kind of set up is for a beginner. When we say beginner tank, we usually look at 5~10 gallon, or no more than 20 gallon.
 

justmesuzanne

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@Vash ~ Yes, I have read all of the statements you have made elsewhere; however, in my personal experience a 3 gallon tank with regular water changes kept in a room with stable, comfortable temperature does just fine without heater or filtration for a single betta living alone. I, personally, have had bettas live 5-7 years with just the setup I describe in my article. The key is to have a backup tank and simply switch the beta from one tank to another every 3 days or so (as described in the article). In this way, the betta gets a completely fresh setup with water exactly the same temperature every few days. The mistake I most frequently see people make is thinking that a betta needs company. That's where problems arise as bettas actually tend to get beat up by other fish because of their long, flowing nippable fins. A betta kept in a clean, stable, 3 gallon tank alone, with clean water and carefully measured feeding will be perfectly happy for many years.
 

Vash

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A real fish keeper would never get any fish without filtration.

Sorry I do not believe for a moment that any fish can live for 5~7 years in a 3 gallon tank with no filtration. Let alone a tropical fish live in there with no heater unless you live in a tropical area.

Betta needs water temperature of 78~80F just to stay healthy. Any lower temperature lowers their immune system. They can easily be sick.

With no filtration, the ammonia released on a constant basis from the fish will poison themselves. Even daily water change is no substitute of a 24/7 filtration system. Because the ammonia builds up between water changes and any healthy aquarium system should have 0ppm ammonia at all time.

Constantly switch fish from one tank to another will not only stress the fish, but it will also shock the fish by suddenly change their water chemistry (PH, ammonia, nitrate, hardness, etc.).

Typical betta only live for 2~4 years, and that is with a filtration and heater in a normal setup.
For a betta to live 5~7 years require extremely good care. The water quality must be excellent, the diet must be excellent, and the fish should never be under any stress or shock.
The setup of 1~3 gallon without heater nor filtration falls into the category of extremely terrible care that is unsuitable for aquarium fish. Switch fish from one tank to another every 3 days is also unsuitable for any fish to live long.
 

justmesuzanne

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It's unfortunate that you disagree with me. I speak from personal experience. I have been a very successful aquarist and have kept many types of fish successfully for many years including bettas, which I have kept successfully for years on end in exactly the setup I describe in my article.
 

Vash

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Sorry, it's not just I would be disagreeing with a undersized, no filtration, no heater setup. I have been active on many very popular very specialized fish forums. Anyone who came up and say he doesn't have a filter or heater for a tropical fish automatically falls into the category of a misguided beginner.

Yes, I know there are a few people who try to use daily water change instead of a filtration system. In the very best case, the betta might live for 1~2 years, because such method is not proper care for a fish, and it is not recommended. However, if you have a filtration system while still doing daily partial water change, that is a totally different story, but it is not the case here.
 

Alpha1

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A real fish keeper would never get any fish without filtration.

With no filtration, the ammonia released on a constant basis from the fish will poison themselves. Even daily water change is no substitute of a 24/7 filtration system. Because the ammonia builds up between water changes and any healthy aquarium system should have 0ppm ammonia at all time.

Constantly switch fish from one tank to another will not only stress the fish, but it will also shock the fish by suddenly change their water chemistry (PH, ammonia, nitrate, hardness, etc.)
I don't have much experience with fish Vash, but what you say makes sense to me. I especially wouldn't want to stress the fish by moving them frequently from tank to tank. Once again, thanks for your advice. :bowl:
 

justmesuzanne

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I did not say a "daily water change". My article outlines my method (which works) in detail. I am not going to rewrite the entire article here in response to your criticisms. What you say is true, and what I say is true. This is an alternate method that I devised over many years of experience that works very well.
 

Patricia

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Jan 16, 2013
My advice for a beginner fish keeper has always been and always will be is to buy the largest tank you have the space for and can afford. Smaller tanks are more difficult to keep stable water quality in with the mistakes that beginners are going to make. While 10gallons are popular, I tell people to go with at least a 29 gallon. The more water you have the harder it is to make drastic water quality changes quickly. Stay away from goldfish unless you have plans for a large tank and/or pond.

Bettas will always have controversy around the best way to keep them. Personally MOST people should keep them in a tank with a filter, however, they can and are kept without very successfully by some people. Bettas are a labyrinth fish and are accustomed to oxygen poor water (why they have to breath air at the surface), making them suitable for tanks without air being mixed in. However, just because they can live in a low oxygen environment does not mean they can live in poor water quality. Most people make the mistake of keeping them in bowls and changing the water once it becomes cloudy, which is too long. You want to change the water frequently to avoid major swings in the chemistry. This can be done, though in my opinion is more work than it is worth coming from someone who has bred bettas and when not in the tank they were kept individually without filtration. As for temperature changes...most houses are pretty constant in their temps and they do make small heaters for the smaller tanks if someone's house is too cold and no matter what your tank is, it should never be in direct sunlight.
 

Vash

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@ Patricia,
Yeah, I have said the same thing somewhere in another thread that the bigger is better due to the same theory - more water = more stable water in both temperature and chemistry. That is why I said earlier in this thread that 1~3 gallon are unsuitable for even a single betta. I have a 1 gallon container, it can't be called fish tank. I used to transfer snails and small decorations.

It is generally accepted that a 5-gallon is the minimal recommended size for a single betta or similar sized tropical fish. Sure, a 10 gallon will be better, and in my opinion it should be in the place of a 5-gallon. At my local stores, a 5-gallon is only $3 cheaper than a 10-gallon, thus making it not really saving any money. So unless someone has room/space issue, he/she should always get a 10 gallon for just one betta.

Yes, to avoid large swings in water chemistry, 10 gallon is superior. It is very simple, when the fish produce same amount of ammonia, 2x the water means only half the pollution concentration. On the other hand, a 1~3 gallon will have very high concentration of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate etc. under the same condition. That is why I stated it is not recommended to get a tiny container of 1~3 gallon which I wouldn't even call them a tank.

All knowledgeable fish keepers know that those "fish bowls" are unsuitable for fish, it's also because the same reason - too small. So we stick with real fish tanks. Fish bowls are just a marketing item for profit. Yes, there are exceptions that fish can be kept in there for a long time, but it is not recommended.

Betta is in the gourami family, so they have labyrinth organ which enable them to directly breath air.
This part only saves you on the air pump/airstone. It still doesn't mean a filter can be avoided because it is for the different purpose.

Quite the contrary to belief, betta live in fairly large body of water instead of in the rice paddy. They do require clean water like every other fish. Especially in the part regarding ammonia... no fish is immune to ammonia toxic.

Yes, like I have said there are people keeping betta without filter for fairly long time compare to typical newbies, but it's nowhere near 5~7 years like someone stated.

I also do not understand the idea behind keeping the betta without a filter and use daily water change or switch tank to justify the action.
Because:
1. It creates more trouble for the fish keeper without a filter.
You have to do daily water change instead of weekly. A lot more work load for yourself.

2. It stresses the fish more often.
Fish gets stressed during water change whether you like it or not...and they are more stressed in a smaller tank(1~3 gallon) instead of a larger tank (5~10 gallon) because there is more room to retreat to as well as there will be more water left in the tank.

3. Since water change requires water and aquarium water conditioner, it doesn't really cut down the cost if you do water change every day.

A lot of people who suddenly become interested in fish actually burnt out after just a while due to the amount of work they have to do. Daily water change is on the very top of the list for these people as "too much work", and it shouldn't even be happening in the first place if the tank is setup properly with a filter system. :)
Guess what happens when people burnt out on fish keeping? They simply stop water change all together and the fish eventually die in its own waste water.

With all the reasons above, no one should get a 1~3 gallon fish "tank", without a filter, without a heater.

A properly setup betta tank should be 5~10 gallon, with a heater set to no less than 76F, and 78~80F is recommended. A filter system that is enough for a 5 gallon will do just fine. Some decoration/fake plants etc. for the fish to have hiding place in order to make it feel safe and thus not stressed.
With such setup, the only work the fish keeper needs to do is feed the fish once a day, and weekly partial water change of 30~50%.
Under such circumstances, both the fish keeper and the fish are much happier. The fish also can live longer and healthier.

Why anyone would take the less than ideal setup when you can do better without costing a fortune?
Especially the less than ideal setup require daily work (daily water change)? The daily work alone turns people away from getting many things, you know. :)
Many people would rather pay for convenience, and in this case it doesn't cost more in the long run if you have a better, proper setup.
 
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Patricia

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Jan 16, 2013
So what you said is pretty much identical to what I had mentioned...And yes, a betta can indeed live 5-7 years in a container with daily/every other day water changes and be brought into breeding condition. We had bettas at our wedding and the one I kept just passed away 2 years ago, 2010, we were married in 2005 and my neice lost hers last summer from my wedding.

This is normally why I stay away from fish threads because there is always a person who thinks there is only one way to do it and anything less is absolutely wrong. Some people enjoy doing something every day and honestly a water change does not take any time at all. But if you reread my post you will see that I do not reccomend that for beginners. When I bred my bettas and the fry had to be seperated that is more work than I wish to ever do again and will wait till my husband makes me a drip system for individual bettas!
 

justmesuzanne

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"I also do not understand the idea behind keeping the betta without a filter and use daily water change or switch tank to justify the action."

@Vash, perhaps if you would take time to READ MY ARTICLE you would understand it.

The Siamese Fighting Fish As A Desktop Pet
http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Siamese-Fighting-Fish-As-A-Desktop-Pet

Your repeated assertions that I am not a "real-fish keeper" are insulting, uncalled for and untrue. I have kept a wide variety of fish successfully for over 15 years, and I have read all the same information you have and probably then some. I created a successful way to keep bettas as desktop pets at work and did so for 9 years. I have the knowledge, skills and abilities to create a successful alternate method of betta care and to write about it, and I should not have to defend myself vociferously against you or anyone else.

Patricia, thank you for your sensible comments.




 

Vash

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I don't mean insulting. I am sorry if you feel offended.
I agree there are always more than just one way to do things. However, are these different ways all require the same cost/work load as well as offering the same results? I don't think so.

Sure, it is good for you if you actually like to do daily water change or every 3-day switch tanks.
It is a downside for the majority and very often fish die because the keeper got sick tired of water change etc. Daily water change is just that much more workload than weekly water change....once again for the majority. It is also not suitable for the fish.

It is also well known that it is not recommended to do 100% water change since fish do not like sudden environment change. Switching fish from one tank to another is doing just that. Typical (partial) water change is for the very purpose of not stressing/shock the fish. Yes, there are people doing 100% water change and take the fish out into a bucket during the water change, and there are people not using water conditioner at all with just chlorine filled tap water... can it be done? Yes! Recommended? Nope! Will fish always die quickly? Nope! Because even the tap water in different area can be different.

I am just trying to recommend the best method (least workload for the keeper, least stress for the fish, and more swimming room, more stable water for the fish). Yes, it can be done differently with (more workload for the keeper, more stress for the fish, and less swimming room, less stable water). It is not up to me how everyone choose their own method. I totally agree. I still recommend the best method to people, so they don't stuck with other "different" methods while thinking those are the only methods to keep fish.
 

justmesuzanne

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Again...if you had read my article, you would know that it is about keeping Bettas successfully in an office environment. Again...I know all of the things you are saying. I have read all of the same information you have read and probably then some. I am an experienced and successful aquarist, and I am capable of creating and practicing an alternate method of keep Bettas in an office environment and, indeed, have done so successfully.Fini!
 

Patricia

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Jan 16, 2013
Obviously we are not going to get anywhere in this thread. I will make my last bit and then I am done. Doing a water change daily is actually a more stable environment than waiting longer to do even a partial water change with a filter since there is very little time for anything to build up. There is no arguing that it is more work for the keeper and that is again why I said for beginners I don't reccomend it. As for being more stressful on the fish, I will disagree. Stressed fish do not reproduce period. A fish must have ideal conditions to be brought around into breeding condition and to be able to mate and raise fry till they are free swimming. A female will not have viable eggs if she is stressed out and not heathly and a male betta will not make a bubble nest let alone tend the eggs and the fry till they are free swimming. In addition stressed fish have reduced life spans and do not live 5-7 years and my bettas have an average life span between 4-6.

Now the whole betta vase thing that was mentioned in her article drives me nuts. I know more bettas that either starved because people thought they would actually eat the roots or drowned because they filled the water up all the way touching the plastic base holding up the plant and the poor fish couldn't get air.
 

justmesuzanne

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Let me make it clear that I am totally opposed to the Betta vase and say so in my article! That is completely unsuitable in every way under any circumstances. And yes, keeping bettas to breed is very different than keeping one betta on your desk at your office. I, too, have raised bettas and kept them differently for that purpose. And again, I do not recommend a daily water change. What I suggest for keeping a betta as a desktop pet is outlined in detail in the article, so I a won't go into detail here.
 

Vash

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Obviously we are not going to get anywhere in this thread. I will make my last bit and then I am done. Doing a water change daily is actually a more stable environment than waiting longer to do even a partial water change with a filter since there is very little time for anything to build up. There is no arguing that it is more work for the keeper and that is again why I said for beginners I don't reccomend it. As for being more stressful on the fish, I will disagree. Stressed fish do not reproduce period. A fish must have ideal conditions to be brought around into breeding condition and to be able to mate and raise fry till they are free swimming. A female will not have viable eggs if she is stressed out and not heathly and a male betta will not make a bubble nest let alone tend the eggs and the fry till they are free swimming. In addition stressed fish have reduced life spans and do not live 5-7 years and my bettas have an average life span between 4-6.

Now the whole betta vase thing that was mentioned in her article drives me nuts. I know more bettas that either starved because people thought they would actually eat the roots or drowned because they filled the water up all the way touching the plastic base holding up the plant and the poor fish couldn't get air.
While I agree daily water change will reduce the buildup of many chemicals in the water, it doesn't completely eradicate them.
Without a proper cycled filter system, there will be no nitrate building up in the water for sure. But...it is a totally different story for ammonia. Even if you do 100% water change every day, there will always be ammonia in presence in the water... the concentration would be higher in a smaller tank such as 1~3 gallon. Just because most test kits can't pick up readings below 0.25ppm, it doesn't mean it is 0ppm and harmless to the fish. Since fish produces ammonia on a constant basis, it is only natural for the water to have ammonia all the time, and it is in fact harmful to the fish. Keep in mind that ammonia is in fact toxic to even humans. We don't have to drink the water with ammonia, and we don't have the ammonia infested water going through our mouth, eyes... but the fish in captivity do!

It is the very reason a proper cycled filter system is needed to keep ammonia at 0ppm.


As for your comment on stressed fish can't reproduce, that is false.
One time I got a few Dwarf Gourami from Walmart... poorly kept in overstocked tank... and you know Gourami are aggressive toward each other... as well as how terrible the fish are kept at Walmart.
Just one hour after I put them into my tank, the male already started to build a bubble nest. Two days later they spawned. The female actually died just one day after spawned, and the male lived for only another 2 weeks. Because they were terribly kept at Walmart under so much stress.

Their offspring are still alive and kicking after years.

In fact, some fish under stress will be more likely to spawn because of survival (of the species) instinct. Something tells them they don't have much time left, and they must complete the reproduction before they are dead.

But anyway, my point is, fish under stress can still reproduce. So by using the fact some fish had reproduced, is no way to prove they were not under stress.
 


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