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CmdrSlack
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on: October 10, 2010, 09:55:05 PM

So my lazy-as-fuck brother-in-law promised my daughter a fish tank. That was three months ago. I broke down today and purchased a ten gallon tank (which is best for our space) and talked to the person at the pet store and my buddy who has loads of fish.

So far, I've been sold on the following fish:

1. Some kind of molly. Perhaps two.
2. Snails, which I understand don't count towards the fish to water ratio.
3. A catfish, for bottom feeding goodness.
4. Three to five guppies for maximum fish to space ratio.

Any other newbie level starter fish? My daughter will be 5 in February, and we're working on responsibility skills right now, so fish seemed like a good idea. Also, she's been on about it for three months.

Suggestions would be welcome.

I traded in my fun blog for several legal blogs. Or, "blawgs," as the cutesy attorney blawgosphere likes to call 'em.
Pezzle
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Reply #1 on: October 10, 2010, 10:53:12 PM

A very simple guideline for freshwater fish is 1 gallon per inch of fish.  For a beginner you can go with the Molly or Platy (They come in amazing color ranges, and are live bearing, they are also inexpensive).  Bottom feeding fish are only useful for extra food, not waste, if that is your reasoning.  Snails will multiply multiply multiply!  I suggest you get a timer for the tank light as it makes life much easier.  Good lighting is important.  You should start your tank up at least a couple of weeks before adding fish.  Get used to how the filtration system works.  Introduce fish in small numbers to a new tank and keep a good supply of various water treatments on hand.  You want to establish a proper bacteria balance that will break down waste and other contaminants.  Get a bucket and some kind of water removal/exchange hose system.  Your local shop should have all you need. 

It is very easy to overfeed fish.  They do not need much to eat!  There are multitudes of guidelines with a simple search. 

If the water gets cloudy you need to be doing water changes every day or two.  10-20% at a time. 
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Reply #2 on: October 10, 2010, 11:32:41 PM

The quick and dirty way to cycle a tank to make it almost immediately ready for fish is to have someone with an established tank and sponge filter squeeze that filter and all the crap in it, out and pour that into your tank and let it work into your filtration system. That is a quick bacteria seeding. Other than that, keep in mind new fish die quite often until you get the tank water parameters set. I concur with Platys as they are a fairly hardy livebearer species and the mickey mouse ones are quite attractive. Mollys are a nice looking fish as well but are not as hardy. Corydora catfish are pretty easy and a cute fish as well.

Water changes are crucial for maintaining a tank long term, so keep that in mind. A 10gal tank will need more frequent water changes due to the small volume, however its easier to change out a gallon or two than say the 15gal changes I used to do on the 72gal bowfront.

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Hawkbit
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Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 12:13:28 AM

Lots of good solid advice here, though my personal opinion is to go with less than 1 inch of fish per gallon.  I tend to be more successful with 3-5 1" fish in a 10gal.  It's overall less waste and easier to clean. 

Never did saltwater, but I've done brackish/Mbuna, goldfish, simple tropicals, piranhas, tutles and amphibian/tree frog setups in anything from 1.5gal to 75gal variants.  The only real problems I had were the tree frogs, which I never could keep in the damn tanks.  Only one mild case of ick in all my 15 years of tanks... I strongly recommend using someone's filter to establish a bacterial colony first.  You can also get kits that have stress coat/water cleaner drops in one bottle, and bacteria in another to get you started. 

Mollies are great starters.  Tiger Barbs and Danios are good, too, but I've had both types become aggressive in tanks.  Neons are too fragile, imo.  Don't bother with them until you get the tank setup for six months.  I'd keep the snails out, if you can.  I've been pretty successful with them, but I had one tank that they took over. 

Only tank we have now, sadly, is a 1.5gal for my daughter's goldfish.  We've been wildly successful with the 1.5, but if I had it to do over again I'd just buy a 10gal... it's a lot easier on the fish. 

Keep the tank out of sunlight - you'll have temperature fluctuations and it will go batshit crazy with algae growth. 

Dont dump fish down the toilets, either.  They don't go to some magical happy rainbow stream down there.  If you need to euthanize one, put it in a cup in the freezer.  They just go to sleep that way.

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Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 12:20:33 AM

Also, my kid is 5 and she's been really, really good about feeding her fish daily.  You're likely right in the perfect age for her to get a tank.  It's how she gets up in the morning... if she's waking up rough, all I say is "it's time to feed Goldie!" and she jumps out of bed and runs right in to do it.  Pretty awesome. 

Tinker with small, hardy, live plants, if you can.  They add a lot of realism to the tank.  I did a tank setup for a friend that was FULL of plants with little guppies.  It was awesome to look at.

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Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 02:43:12 AM

The only thing I can add is that a couple of live plants will really be nice. I have a 155 gallon tank and it's damn near an automatic ecosystem. I don't have to mess with tank cleaning very often at all because of the mix of fish and plants I have. (I also have the tank in direct sun and have no algae problems. But this is due to fish selection)

As fish additions, Cichlids can be fairly hardy and colorful, but they aren't really a community fish.

Bumblebees are awesome but I also call those North American Jerkfish, because being only a quarter inch long, one claimed half of my tank and ran all the other fish out of the area. This went on for 8 months till he got fatter and more content. Still a neat looking fish though.

Fish are great. The larger the tank, the easier your life will be. Honest.

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Reply #6 on: October 11, 2010, 04:46:30 AM

I had pet fish when I was around that age, in addition to guppies and such, I always liked Siamese Fighting Fish, they look really impressive and you can get them to display using a mirror. You can only have one male at a time though, otherwise they will fight each other.

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Reply #7 on: October 11, 2010, 07:09:25 AM

Salt water tanks aren't really feasible @ the 10gal range. Way more trouble than they are worth - esp the mess. 35+ is usually a good rule of thumb for those tanks mainly due to being a bit more forgiving on the water parameters on changes. Way easier to fuck up any number of things on a 10gal salt tank. That said, nothing comes close to the vibrancy of color of a salt water tank.

As for betta splendens - they are a solitary fish but great color variations. My xgf was raising out a few yellow dragons before I left and I really loved the color on those fish. If you go that route, definitely give places like aquabid a peek given that most big box pet stores are bottom of the barrel in terms of fish.

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Lantyssa
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Reply #8 on: October 11, 2010, 08:22:41 AM

Any of you dealt with a pond before?  The house game with an approximately 160 gallon pond, with water lilies and a few other plants.  We had four goldfish, one died due to a pre-existing fungal/bacterial condition, but the others are going strong and we have five babies now which are doing well.

Mainly I want to cut down on algae, but other tips for an outdoor pond in a fairly temperate area would be useful, too.  It can get hot and sunny during the day (trying to bring shade to the area, which may take years).  We don't get a lot of freezes, although they are a possibility.  Neighborhood cats love to drink from it, but tend to leave the fish alone.

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Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 08:53:23 AM

The fact that you still have fish in the pond puts you well ahead of the pond my neighbor had. The average lifespan of any fish he would put in it was two days - that's how long it would take the local blue herons to notice he had restocked it.

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bhodi
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Reply #10 on: October 11, 2010, 09:48:29 AM

Get a Plecostomus. They are awesome looking (the inside of the sucker mouth), eat algae, and live through almost anything. They are a good alternative to snails.

Mine LOOOVES zucchini, as a treat; we attach it to a little magnetized clip to the side of the tank and he just devours it.

They can ultimately outgrow the tank, but it'll take 2-3 years for them to go from 3in to 8in. Then, you can give them back/re-sell them to the fish store for a profit and get new ones!
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 09:57:00 AM by bhodi »
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Reply #11 on: October 11, 2010, 10:15:10 AM

Get a Plecostomus. They are awesome looking (the inside of the sucker mouth), eat algae, and live through almost anything. They are a good alternative to snails.

Mine LOOOVES zucchini, as a treat; we attach it to a little magnetized clip to the side of the tank and he just devours it.

They can ultimately outgrow the tank, but it'll take 2-3 years for them to go from 3in to 8in. Then, you can give them back/re-sell them to the fish store for a profit and get new ones!

Plecos love veggies. Well, the non-acidic ones. Get some fresh peas and split them and drop them in. you'll have to suck out the skins, but they love those as well. Had mild success with seedless cucumbers as well. Keep in mind plecos also should have a piece of drift wood to gnaw on as well. And if you want to breed them, provide a single entry tunnel - when the male seems to be stuck head first in there and is constantly moving, he'll be most likely sitting on eggs. In a few days he'll clean out the shells / dead eggs and you will start seeing tiny little guys moving out in a few weeks. Talk to the local pet stores to get rid of them for credit.

For ponds and algae - yeah, its a very common problem until you get the filtration under control. More than likely, the filter is the cause - either its not big enough for the load or the water is not moving enough. You can treat it with a fish friendly algaecide but that is only temporary. A bio-box filter for a 200 gallon pond and an equal pump should do well in the long run, but it will take some time to level things off - the more surface area the better. Shade works to keep the temps down, but being outside, you will never avoid all the ambient sunlight that lets algae thrive. More plants (water lilies, irises, etc) will also reduce algae since they are at the top of that proverbial food chain and will "starve out" the algae by reducing the nutrients algae needs.

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Musashi
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Reply #12 on: October 11, 2010, 11:40:56 AM

Convict Fish.  They are awesome.  Get like seven or eight of the mother fuckers.  They'll breed and keep you in fish forever.  If they breed too fast for the tank causing too much competition for food, they'll eat the weakest fish.  Nom, Nom, Nom.  Only drawback is you can't have any other kind of fish in your tank, because they'll perceive them as a threat when they lay their eggs and eat his ass too.

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Reply #13 on: October 11, 2010, 11:51:52 AM

#1 - let tank settle for at least a month before you introduce fish, 3 month if you use live plants.
#2 - introduce fish slowly, 1-2 at a time
#3 - don't cheapen out on filter
#4 - explain your daughter what overfeeding does to fish

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Reply #14 on: October 11, 2010, 11:55:49 AM

Plecostomus are generally a bad fit for a 10 gallon tank.  They start out small but get VERY large pretty quickly.  You can get the same effect out of an otocinclus.  Add me to the list advocating a few live plants.  They go a long way to helping the ecosystem of the tank and generally look about a billion times better than any plastic crap.
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Reply #15 on: October 11, 2010, 01:22:43 PM

For ponds and algae - yeah, its a very common problem until you get the filtration under control. More than likely, the filter is the cause - either its not big enough for the load or the water is not moving enough. You can treat it with a fish friendly algaecide but that is only temporary. A bio-box filter for a 200 gallon pond and an equal pump should do well in the long run, but it will take some time to level things off - the more surface area the better. Shade works to keep the temps down, but being outside, you will never avoid all the ambient sunlight that lets algae thrive. More plants (water lilies, irises, etc) will also reduce algae since they are at the top of that proverbial food chain and will "starve out" the algae by reducing the nutrients algae needs.
Currently it is mostly unfiltered.  I've gotten the tiny fountain they had in there working again and put a filter in it, but other than a little aeration, I'm assuming it's doing squat when I run it.

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CmdrSlack
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Reply #16 on: October 11, 2010, 02:20:46 PM

Wow, lots of good advice here.

Does anyone have experience with these products that help promote the development of the bacteria, etc.? I've read some stuff on various fish tank websites (had no idea there was an aquarium blog, but sure enough...), but it's hard to know if the opinions are biased by free goods, etc.

I traded in my fun blog for several legal blogs. Or, "blawgs," as the cutesy attorney blawgosphere likes to call 'em.
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Reply #17 on: October 11, 2010, 03:05:11 PM

Like this stuff:  http://www.amazon.com/Tetra-3-Ounce-AquaSafe-Conditioner-BioExtract/dp/B000HHM4T6/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1286827091&sr=1-2-fkmr0

I use API brand and never had a problem.  You should be able to snag a Stress Coat + and Stress Zyme 4oz combo back for $4.00 american at a local petshop.  Just follow the instructions and it's all good. 

Once the tank is established, if you forget about the Zyme once in a while, that's no big deal.  But every time you change water you have to remember to add Stress Coat + (or some other similar product) to get the chlorine out of the water. 

If you REALLY want to go crazy, get a ph test kit so you can balance the water out to perfect test levels, and an ammonia test kit to check how often you're getting buildup in the tank.  But it's really not necessary for a 10gal setup with some guppies. 
CmdrSlack
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Reply #18 on: October 11, 2010, 03:11:03 PM

Yeah, I'm just trying to get this going with 24hrs of running time.

My daughter is only patient to a point, and I don't want an empty tank running for a month before adding fish. If there are a few dead guppies at the outset, no big deal. It's not like I'm using expensive fish. If this effort is successful and it turns out that she's really into aquariums, we can get a bigger one later and go for more exotic fish. Right now this is a "is the kid responsible enough for pets" test. The wife won't let me outsource cat litter sifting to her yet, so fish it is.


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Reply #19 on: October 11, 2010, 03:44:08 PM

Yeah, I'm just trying to get this going with 24hrs of running time.

My daughter is only patient to a point, and I don't want an empty tank running for a month before adding fish. If there are a few dead guppies at the outset, no big deal. It's not like I'm using expensive fish. If this effort is successful and it turns out that she's really into aquariums, we can get a bigger one later and go for more exotic fish. Right now this is a "is the kid responsible enough for pets" test. The wife won't let me outsource cat litter sifting to her yet, so fish it is.



Like I said, you can "seed" a tank if you can get an already used sponge filter's water. I know most mom and pop fish stores will be happy to squeeze out the stuff into a bag at little to no cost. Other than that, you can minimize dead fish by changing the water frequently the first month (3-4 / week). If not, buy some throw away guppies/platys and let them cycle your tank. A quick and dirty way would be to set the tank up, start your filter and drop a few sinking food pellets in and let the tank sit for a week then add fish.

Considering my xgf had a fish room with 40+ tanks going for breeding, we never had a real problem cycling tanks and in fact never had a problem starting a fresh tank when a leak developed or a new breeder tank was needed. We used Prime exclusively and never had an issue. 2-4 drops in a 2 gal bucket neutralized all the chlorine and provided slime coat supplement.

Just be weary choosing your fish. Mom and pop shops tend to have a healthier selection than big box stores since they don't deal in the bulk fish. I have seen fish at Pet Co and Pets Mart with the worst cases of ick I have ever seen which also get past throughout their stock due to a common water source/catch nets used. Likewise for the other diseases like velvet... blech. Smaller stores control it better and have more of an interest saving their stock and keeping the crap contained.

Pro-tip: you can get rid of ick relatively quick and painlessly by adding aquarium salt to the tank and raising the temp, albeit very slowly, to 86-87 degrees. Salt has to be marine salt and I seem to recall using 2 tablespoons per 5gal. Now that was doing a 25% water change on a 20gal tank so YMMV.

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sinij
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Reply #20 on: October 11, 2010, 04:19:02 PM


My daughter is only patient to a point


Alternative is dead fish and tank overrun with green goo.

Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.
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Reply #21 on: October 11, 2010, 04:28:20 PM

All this is much much more work than "Glue fish pictures to cardboard, set on wires hanging from the lid" that I did for my son.   I hate fish, though.  Smelly, suicidal bastards.

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Reply #22 on: October 11, 2010, 05:20:15 PM

24 hours is tough, if you can stretch to a week before adding fish you'll be better off. Tetra's are a very hardy fish and can survive a LOT. Cardinal Tetra is a nice small fish for a 10 gallon, they are about an inch long and have awesome coloration, and 6 or more together will swim in a school which is neat. Besides they are usually only about 2 bucks each at my LFS (local fish store, I point that out as it took me a while before I knew what that meant on forums). Tetra's are a great fish to help cycle a tank.

Snails are cool but make sure it's the type of snail that needs a mate to lay eggs or you'll be knee deep in them in no time. Plecos are also neat and will typically grow as big as the tank/environment allows, though there are types that will stay fairly small. A clown pleco was the first fish I ever bought, in a 10 gallon at the time, and he's the only original fish I still have. Name's Art... Art Pleco  Rimshot Yes, I'm a geek and I name some of my fish. Check out Oto Cats for tiny sucker type fish, cute little dudes and also cheap.

Regardless on the bottom feeder/snail thing, don't get one for algea control. Maintaining water conditions and light will control your algea. Live plants can and will help a lot. As someone else mentioned too, my 75gal planted freshwater practically runs itself at this point. Can't say when the last time I even bothered testing the water was. I can tell by the stress of my fish, visibly, if something is going wrong in there.

Some tips and/or hard lessons learned along the way:
1) - Find a good local fish store and buy there. Make sure the tanks look good. Do NOT buy from the big chain pet stores unless you know they are crazy about maintaining their tanks. The only times I've had diseases introduced was after adding fish from a chain pet store, and it ended up almost a full wipe of my tank after battling it.
2) - If you enjoy it, be prepared to upgrade soon, it can be addictive! I started with 10g to see if it was something I liked, and 8 months later I had all running a 10g, 29g, 75g, and 4g biorb.
3) - So When you go bigger than 10 gallon, get a Python with a longer hose than you measured the distance to be. Your back, carpet, floors, marriage and free time will thank you.
4) - Stable and consistent water conditions are much more important than target values.
5) - My #1 chemical - Prime.
6) - Fish keeping is like opinions are like a-holes... There are so many conflicting opinions on every aspect it will drive you insane and kill your fish at the same time. [/li][/list]

Do we need a 'post you tank pics' thread?
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Reply #23 on: October 11, 2010, 05:58:21 PM

Post up the pics here...  I'd love to see some setups.  My wife will freaking strangle me if I get back into it. 

That Prime stuff looks sexy - never used it but I like what it offers.
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Reply #24 on: October 11, 2010, 06:42:59 PM

I can provide a few... some pics are blurry, sorry, ISO was set wrong.
(I'll spoiler them for brevity sake)

back wall.

side wall.

overflow from the breeding stock tanks

we were in the process of setting these betta shelves up and moving the cds/dvds else where.

72bow front before cleaning. Stocked with twin Oscars - one of which has died which we expected. Also stocked with her Pimodella cats. Primarily used as a culling tank.

full shots of the room - not shown is the 72 and 36 bowfronts.

air supply pump for the room.

Planted show tank in the office upstairs. the "L" tanks were limited editions and had leak problems, but we snagged it at an auction for $50 with the stand.

some of the prize winners - sorta

1st place winner - blue marbled dragon

my baby I got from her first fry - gold dragon male - had to leave him with her though... cry

Another male juvi from the second fry - he'll be a breeder as well, mainly for the fin rays.


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Reply #25 on: October 11, 2010, 06:51:57 PM

This is what I love about this place, always something new and interesting.

Fascinating setup, do you breed to sell?

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01101010
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Reply #26 on: October 11, 2010, 07:06:04 PM

This is what I love about this place, always something new and interesting.

Fascinating setup, do you breed to sell?

She does now.. her gig, and now I am miles away. I think she sells to some distributor for her big fry, the other stuff I want to say goes up on aquabid.

"I want to watch it all burn in an orgy of smashed Coke machines and weasel rape." - HaemishM
CmdrSlack
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Reply #27 on: October 11, 2010, 08:38:32 PM

So we ended up with three fish. I'm glad I decided to go to our local pet shop that has been open since at least 1985, when my family moved to this town.

The guy was really cool and after I admitted I had purchased the tank at a Petsmart, and was told 24 hrs was fine, he gave me a schooling on the fish.

I now have a plan for adding fish gradually, etc. We will eventually yank the fake plants for live plants.

For now we have two guppies, a male and a female. He told me the blueish male and the yellow-tailed female were a pair as far as being the ones you'd want to hopefully generate more fish. We also got a striped damio.

The damio is tiny, and looks a lot like a minnow to me. We're currently letting the bag o' fish hang in the tank and then releasing in a few more minutes. We added tank water to the bag at 10 mins of soak, and we'll be letting them loose in about five more minutes. He and I both explained to el kiddo that these fish might die, but they'd be sacrificing themselves for the greater good of a healthy tank down the line.

I guess the next additions come in about two weeks. He told me that I don't need a bottom feeder until mid-November. Still debating what to add for bottom feeding and algae eating, but this place seems like the right place for us. I'm glad that I remembered it was there -- it was where the entire senior class bought crickets for our class prank.

Here's hoping this works out.

I traded in my fun blog for several legal blogs. Or, "blawgs," as the cutesy attorney blawgosphere likes to call 'em.
01101010
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Reply #28 on: October 11, 2010, 10:21:04 PM

For a cool bottom feeder I highly recommend an Ancistrus. My X bred veil tail albinos and they are pretty cool fish. They don't get too big for a 10 gal (her alpha male was around 5" tip to tip), but they are a tad on the shy side in bright lights.

Good luck man... and welcome to the fray.

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Reply #29 on: October 18, 2010, 09:15:25 PM

Be aware that guppies (and other livebearers) can multiply fast.

Your danio will like to school with other danios. The longfin ones are particularly nice, and they come in stripes and spots. Don't get the large danios, they will not fit your tank.

Avoid "chinese algae eaters". They grow and turn carnivore.

Seconded on the corydoras. We have 4 in our 80 gallon.
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Reply #30 on: October 18, 2010, 11:35:39 PM

Be aware that guppies (and other livebearers) can multiply fast.

This is half the fun!  But you do need to have a plan for what to do with all the extras.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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Reply #31 on: October 18, 2010, 11:44:29 PM

We lost the male guppy to stress. We waited a week and added another damio to school with the larger one, as well as a (apparently) lyre tail molly.

Ammonia is holding steady at 0.25 ppm. I expect a spike any day now.

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Reply #32 on: October 18, 2010, 11:54:08 PM

When I had guppies I found that they lived much longer when I had two females for each male (i.e. maximum breeding efficiency).  One female isn't quite enough to satisfy the male's libido and they both end up getting stressed out.  More males than females is even worse, obviously.

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Reply #33 on: October 19, 2010, 02:36:59 AM

When I had guppies I found that they lived much longer when I had two females for each male (i.e. maximum breeding efficiency).  One female isn't quite enough to satisfy the male's libido and they both end up getting stressed out.  More males than females is even worse, obviously.

QFT. If you buy the right colors, the females can be pretty too. I like the metallics because of what they do in the light.

If you're going to keep danios, I recommend getting the long fin. They're pretty, they'll mingle with the normals just fine, and they're pretty.

Whatever you do, DO NOT BUY AN ELECTRIC BLUE LOBSTER. Yes, they're fucking cool looking, but they will eat every damn fish you own. Except red tail sharks. The sharks like to fuck with them. This was your final warning. (Lost 220 bucks worth of fish to this fucker. He also tore up all my live plants to the point I said fuck it and bought fake. The day the shipment arrived, he died just as a final fuck you to me I'm sure. Cocksucker.)

Paelos: Somebody find that post where I declared Seattle dead, because those fuckers are NFL cockroaches in the NFC.
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Reply #34 on: October 19, 2010, 12:22:16 PM

Sounds like given a big enough tank the lobster and the guppies would make fine companions.   awesome, for real

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
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