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What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

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What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by alexmtl on Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:39 am

What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?


What is the best fish to start off with for an introduction to the hobby ? For those who may wonder what fish to stock with and what to chosse, here are some suggestions.

Before we start with the list, here are some considerations in order to ensure best success :

Tank Size
First, consider the size of tank that you have. In general there is a "one inch of fish to one gallon" rule. The rule is a guideline and works for most fish. As you become more expert you will find that certain fish will depend more gallonage.

Water and water treatment
Secondly, what type of water will you be keeping. Let's assume that you will be keeping freshwater fish. If your local water is hard or soft you want to choose a "hardwater" vs "softwater" fish. While most fish in the local pet store are from fish farms, they are raised for general water conditions, the fish that you choose will probably do better in the water from which they originate.

Do you intend to treat your water ? If your municipal water supply is treated with chloramines then you will need water treatment for each water change. If you just want to top off with straight untreated water then choose a hardier fish.

Temperature : will you have a heater or will you choose a simpler route and just have room temperature.

Investment of time and commitment
Many beginners may not know that purchasing that cute little red and orange fish will mean several years of commitment and eventually a 100 gallon tank. Most cichlids will live several years and some decades and grow to monsterous sizes. Goldfish and related carps are perhaps the most misunderstood of all beginner fish and the pet store clerks are generally not aware of their potential. (By the way, never release your unwanted fish into the local pond or river. This will have potentially disasterous effects). Do you really want that exotic rare fish ? There is considerable time and knowledge to keep it (thriving).

I'll start. For the beginner who wants to try out the hobby, here is my short list (since I'm first I'll choose obvious favourites):

Danios :
Freshwater, all water conditions. No need for heater. Will thrive in most situations and are active and colorful. Not as prone to diseases as others. Short lived being a minnow. They jump so you may want to consider a lid.

Guppies :
Endlers and guppies are colourful and hardy. They do best with a heater and in harder water. They jump as well. They are short lived (ie 2 yrs max).

Gouramies :
I include bettas here as well. They are larger and more robust in body size and they are colourul.

What is on your list, Canadaquaria experts ??
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by Sbenson11 on Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:23 pm

How can I follow that?

You have already come down against goldfish, I'm taking my ball and going home Smile

All jokes aside if I can get my hands on them, explain what they are in for and help setup the aquarium. I would have no problem recommending goldfish to a new fish keeper. You don't need a heater, but you do need plenty of filtration and as large a tank as you can afford.

Guppies would also be on the short list.

Don't know enough about any other fish other then Koi and that is definitely not a beginner fish.

Actually let me throw plecostomus into the mix as NOT being a beginner fish. They are to often recommended for beginners by the retail trade but get way to big for all but the monster tanks and add way to much to the bio-load for what you get in return.

Steve
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by alexmtl on Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:10 pm

Sbenson11 wrote:
All jokes aside if I can get my hands on them, explain what they are in for and help setup the aquarium. I would have no problem recommending goldfish to a new fish keeper. You don't need a heater, but you do need plenty of filtration and as large a tank as you can afford.

Well that is a good point.

Everyone is a beginner

Everyone is a beginner with a certain species of fish at any point in time. Even with experience certain fish can be challenging and fraught with difficulty because they require different ways of managing them. Take for example mollies vs killies. An experienced molly keeper, with hard water, livebearing habits and diet, may be totally frustrated switching to killifish. A koi keeper may be totally inept keeping snails. Even within the class, keeping rare Endlers is far different than Brachyies.

At what point are you an expert ? Maybe after a few months you get the hang of "it" and you have success not only in keeping them but also breeding them. What about situations with disease, sudden die-off and fighting. How can we consider ourselves fully equipped for each and every situation.

What about someone who has never had an aquarium before ?

Steve is right. If you had a mentor that showed you the ropes then all things are easy. We may have had someone who was our guide through a certain new species, and everything was event free and blissful. If you have wandered into a pet store, and the only contact with an experienced aquarist is the clerk at the store, then you will be frequently in and out. But that is what it was like in the old days. In those days, the specialty fish aquarium store was owned by a guy (or gal) who was an expert in the fish. Many of the fish sold were in fact bred by him (her). Coming back to the store was exactly the point, where the more you spoke, the more you bought and stayed in the hobby with the success gained. I had the fortune of knowing several of these store owners when I began and I was so thankful for their tips.

Most pet store fish are pretty hardy

I will state a generality that most fish offered in the stores are pretty hardy; except the ones that are high priced. That is my rule of thumb, where the higher the price the more fickle and demanding the fish. I guess if you were a beginner you would not be investing more than $15 in a fish anyways. If the average fish is priced at $2.99, $3.99 and $4.99, then you are most likely to have a farm bred fish from overseas or a southern mega farm. That is the hardy, bread and butter type of fish that is propagated in order to ensure that they survive the transport, overcrowding and extremes that they will face in the future. They are bread for colour and hardiness.

What are the questions that you should ask the pet store clerk when selecting the fish?

Well, are they compatible fish ? Will they be peaceful enough.
Are they bottom, medium or top dwelling ? Most beginner want all of the tank visible with fish.
What is the maximum size of this fish ? I only have a 10 gallon aquarium so I do not want more than 10 inches of fish at maturity.
Are the water conditions similar ? Do they come from soft or hard water ?
How long have you had these fish ? If you see dead or struggling fish and cloudy water, stay away.
How long do I need to wait before introducing these fish ? Assuming that your tank is fully cycled, introducing all fish at the same time will mean a die-off within a week due to the load on the system.
Is there a local club or someone that I can talk to when I have a problem ? Does the store provide a web site or forum to sort out issues or bounce ideas ?

Canadaquaria experts, what do you think ?
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by GaryE on Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:14 pm

The best fish to start with has to be one you like. It has to catch your eye and appeal to you, and not be an afterthought. You have to want to take care of it, and learn about it.
It probably should be small (measure your tank - its full adult size should be no more than 15% the length of the front glass).
It should inspire you to read up on what it is and what it needs before you buy it.

It should be listed as a hardy, easy to keep fish.

Beyond that, Biulu will suggest an Anabantoid, I'll suggest a killifish, Alex will say a livebearer, Steve will suggest a snail, errr, a goldfish, suprd71 a gigantic chainsaw wielding Cichlid and Shell a kind and gentle fish.

Whatever you pick, beware of imprinting. I had guppies and mollies in my first tank, and they still give me pleasure to look at them.
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by Fishypastor on Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:47 pm

GaryE wrote: suprd71 a gigantic chainsaw wielding Cichlid

LOL. Thanks for the smile.
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by Fores41 on Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:57 am

I tend to go with Biulu on this one as they can be tougher than they look and handle a a lot.
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by ksimdjembe on Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:26 am

Imprinting is a funny one, and I agree.
One of my first fish aside from bettas was honey gouramis.
I still eyeball them when I see them.
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by hello_rockview12 on Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:35 pm

I too agree about Danios, Guppies and Gouramis being great fish for a beginner as they're hardy. I also believe what Gary is saying in that a good pick is any fish that peaks the individuals interest. If you don't like the fish you select, you won't be motivated to learn about it and the interest will gradually fade. I do believe there are some limitations, however as I wouldn't recommend someone start off with discus or some complicated salt water species until they are familiar with requirements and the demands of routine maintenance (WATER CHANGES).

I think a hybrid model of something that you love for whatever reason, be it color, behaviour, etc, but also something hardy that can handle a missed water change or a less than ideal nitrogen cycle.
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Re: What is the best fish for a beginning aquarist ?

Post by Shell on Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:07 pm

GaryE wrote:...and Shell a kind and gentle fish
 Yup!  I love you cheers

I will say, our first fish were black skirt tetras, we started with 15 about four years or so ago, and we have 13 still with us. I would say they are a good 'first fish' - but only if they are in a decent sized group (e.g. 10+) and a good size tank (e.g at least a 20g, but if another group of fish are added - I would say 55g plus...our skirts own the 55g here - and they are happy and healthy!). These guys are amazing fish if given the space and proper companionship! If you have a 10g though - not a good choice! 

We, however, have never kept them with other fish types....so my review is only based on a black skirt tetra only tank - which has proved to be amazing! 

I agree with guppies - great first fish... just be sure to be prepared for babies if you have females and males of course! Wink

_________________
-220g home to 9 gold barbs, 10 denison barbs, & 3 weather loaches
-55g home to 12 black skirt tetras
-55g home to 1 angelfish, 5 kuhli loaches, & 4 zebra loaches
-36g home to 15 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 2 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 1 panda cory
-10g home to 1 zebra nerite, 1 onion nerite, 1 leopard ramshorn, & 2 mosquitofish
-5g home to 1 female betta fish
-3.5g home to several leopard ramshorn snails
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