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New Fishkeepers - Choosing The Right Fish Tank For Your Tropical Fish Hobby

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Offline Robert

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Choosing a new fish tank - starter tips for beginners

So, we have an article on choosing the right fish for your tank, but I don't think we have anything comprehensive for the best first tank set up or tanks to start with.

We have a planning an aquarium article but it doesn't go into too much depth and for me at least, lacks specifics.

Jane wrote a review of a starter tank here a while back and it's great to get those kinds of perspectives but it would definitely help if we had a bit more breadth on the topic

I'd love to hear the thoughts of you guys with a view to creating a useful starter guide for the interested fish keeping novice with tips and guidance from you more experienced folks, just thinking out loud here but things like:
 
  • Tanks you used pros and cons
  • Things to avoid
  • Best sizes and whys
  • First Tank Set ups

So,with this in mind, maybe you can share with us all what was your first tank, what was the brand/size/,and what would you do differently this time around?

Perhaps, you've seen a new tank here or there and thought how great it might be as a first time tank. If this is the case, tell us about it and why.

 :cheers:

Fish Community Creator Tanks - Assess Tankmate Suitability Tool
Clown Barb (5) - Banded Rainbowfish (2) - Bolivian Ram (4) - Angelfish (1) - Checkered Barb (18) - African Red Eye (4) - Cherry Barb (6) - Neon Tetra (8) - Golden Panchax (1) -
Note: The user may not necessarily own these fish, these are tanks that they may be building or researching for stocking purposes


Offline Sue

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My first tank was a 60 litre Marina tank, but that was so long ago that it hasn't been made for years. The main problem with this tank for newcomers was that it was just the tank, no filter or heater, leaving the newbie at the mercy of the shop for advice on which equipment to buy to go in it. For example, I was sold a Fluval 1 filter, rated for tanks up to 45 litres!
However this tank sprung a leak a couple of years ago and rather than risk trying to reseal it I bought a new tank. This one is still available and in my opinion would make a good starter tank. The only downside is that the quoted volume is right to the brim and as you have to leave space between the water and the rim, the usuable volume is less than the manufacturer states. This is unfortunately an all too common feature of modern tanks.

The tank in question is the Eheim Aquastar 54. It comes with a heater, Eheim Pickup filter and a thermometer - one of the liquid filled ones not a stick on type. Despite being labelled as 54 litres, it isn't and that should be borne in mind when it comes to stocking. However the footprint, at 60 x 30 cm, is the same as my old 60 litre Marina tank, it is just not as tall.
The filter contains just sponge as its only medium, no carbon cartridges to lure a newcomer into spending money on replacements. And the heater is an Eheim Jager, reputedly one of the best makes on the market. The light is one 15w T8 fluorescent tube.

I know this isn't my first tank but in my opinion it is suitable as a first tank, provided the purchaser is aware of the volume. As long it is stocked with suitable (ie small) fish, it should allow a newcomer to make a good start to the hobby.

Offline Richard W

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On the negative side, I would say do NOT start with a nano tank. Many people do and are then frustrated with the small number of small fish they can keep, not to mention that it is more difficult to maintain good water quality in small tanks.  A tank of about 60 cms length takes up very little more room and may actually cost less than some of the "designer" nano tanks. 60 to 80 cms (50 - 120 litres according to depth and height) is a good range to start with, but I would still advise sticking to smallish fish in these tanks. I wouldn't splash out on a huge tank until you are sure you really want to keep fish in the long term and can cope with such things as large water changes.

Offline Fiona

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My first tank was a Marina 55L, W60 x H37 x D30cm (including canopy), it came with a Marina i110 filter and a 50w heater. I ended up ditching the filter and getting a fluval U2 as the marina filter just had cartridges filled with  zeolite and carbon which you were supposed to change every 4 weeks and a plastic grill inside which was there for the bacteria to stick to. I did try customising the cartridges but it didnt really work out.

With hindsight I'd probably have bought a 100 litre as a first tank.


Offline Sanjo

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Agree with Richard regarding the nano tank.  My first tank was an Aquaone 30/22 litres 30x30x30 and as Richard says it was very frustrating to realise how restricted the fish choice was.
The filter is massively powered for such a small tank.
It is suitable though if you are only interested in keeping shrimp.

My second tank would make a good started tank I feel. 60 x 30 x 34 with hood, light, heater, filter.  It was second hand.
If you were going the second hand route then be careful you aren't palmed off with something thrown together to make a sale.
If it's a second hand tank with the original fitments it should be good, as long as it doesn't leak or have bad scratches on it.
I got mine on Gumtree and would never buy like that again as unlike Ebay there is nowhere to put unfavourable feedback so the seller has no need to be particularly honest.

Can you tell I was duped!!!

Offline Richard W

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Although I bought all of my tanks second hand, I turned down the opportunity to bid on several more because they came with totally unsuitable (i.e. large) fish that I couldn't accommodate. Be very wary of anyone who says there are "a few fish" included unless they can tell you what they are or you might find you are the new owner of half a dozen Oscars.

The tank I bought which leaked was one that had been left dry for a long time, I suspect the sealant had dried out and the seller didn't know about the leak, which is actually near the top. I'll get round to resealing it one day as it's a nice tank. But I'd beware of buying a tank if the seller says something like "it's been sitting empty in the garage for a couple of years".

Offline fcmf

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Not a lot more to add to the excellent comments above, other than to agree that a 60x30x30cm tank is a good starter size - and easier to set up and do water changes without spillages than the larger tank I used to have (when I kept my goldfish).

If buying a second-hand tank, I'd also advise inspecting the sealant carefully that it looks intact and clean.  After several months of being left unused but retained indoors, the sealant on my old tank seemed to develop algae not superficially but deep in/underneath the sealant and which I reckon would have challenged its "water tightness" - didn't wait to find out but instead got the new tank.

Offline Robert

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Great contributions everyone! First hand accounts are gold dust for newbs  :)

I thought I'd also add a link to this post from Richard ( link)   as it may assist a casual browser considering their options  :cheers:

Fish Community Creator Tanks - Assess Tankmate Suitability Tool
Clown Barb (5) - Banded Rainbowfish (2) - Bolivian Ram (4) - Angelfish (1) - Checkered Barb (18) - African Red Eye (4) - Cherry Barb (6) - Neon Tetra (8) - Golden Panchax (1) -
Note: The user may not necessarily own these fish, these are tanks that they may be building or researching for stocking purposes


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