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Old 02-13-2013, 12:02 AM   #1
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Newbie 5 gallon (yeah, I know) set up

I'm just starting, and my research tells me I'm already in trouble. Apparently no fish should live in a 5 gallon tank. Maybe a beta and a snail. But that's what I have to start with. I bought a Fluval Chi at Petco. It has a filter and an led light. The top is open, which concerns me a bit. I added tap water on day 1, and conditioned it as directed with the supplied water cleanser and bio something-or-other. Day two it was still empty and looking good. Day 3 it was really cloudy, but still empty. Already seems bad, and I haven't even done anything yet. So that's my first question...why, what?

I tried to attach pictures of day 2 and 3 (If that worked).

My second question deals with stocking it. I want to put as much in there as I can successfully. A live plant, a beta, small school of tiny fish, a snail...shrimp? some sort of algae eating thingy? What can I do? Maybe just a goldfish or two? I hear one goldfish needs 20 gallons and can get 12'' and live for 20 years. What happened to carnival goldfish in a non-filtered bowl? Why can't I have 1 or 2 in a 5 gallon tank (that by the way seemed to take more than 5 gallons to fill)?

Also looking for advice on the rest of beginner set up. Gravel? Accessories? Do I need a heater? An air flow current dealy?

Is there such a thing as a beginner's fresh water pico tank?

Thanks for any help...or just to yell at me about the 5 gallon thing. From my research so far, you fish people don't like that.

-Joe
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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You could do 1 betta. Have you read about cycling the tank? Fish-in or fishless? Lots of people keep shrimp only tanks. Shrimp come in a large variety of colors.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:43 AM   #3
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I am far from a goldfish expert, the closest I have come to owning a goldfish is watching my roommate's weird looking Nemo goldfish that swam backwards. I'll share what I've read about them in several other threads from people that do know more.

From what I've understood from these people, goldfish are a type of carp. They get really big, and some types get longer than others. They can live 10-20 years if properly cared for. When they're in a bowl, they get "stunted" meaning their body may stop growing, but their organs do not. This is why they end up dying in a year tops in a bowl and for the fish, it's rather uncomfortable. In a 20+ gallon tank, they won't get stunted.
If a goldfish expert sees this, please correct me if I misunderstood. We all learn like this.
In a 5 gallon tank, a betta would be nice. They come in all different colors and types. Only one betta, as they will kill each other if you put two in. You could do a shrimp tank, as mentioned before. They also come in all different colors and sizes, and my red cherry shrimp are very entertaining. I don't think there are any schooling fish that would work in a 5 gallon. I believe they are all too active for that small of space.

For decor, you'll probably want a little gravel or sand on the bottom. Just about any aquarium decoration will do that fits inside the tank. I would stay away from plastic fake plants, since IME, I've had several fish get caught in them. If you decide you want a betta, stay away from decor with sharp edges, as these can catch their fins and tear them. Other than that, I think just about anything you want will work.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:58 AM   #4
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So...to cycle the tank, does that mean I should add gravel, 1 Betta, a plant (live?) and change 15% of the water daily for 6 weeks? Then I can add just a minimal amount of new occupants?

Can 1 Betta and some shrimp live together? Also, yes, you are recommending a live plant?

Did my pics come through? What's the deal with the clouding in the empty tank? Cycling with 1 Betta will help?
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:05 AM   #5
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You can do live plants. Some Bettas will eat shrimp.
You will need a freshwater tst kit for when you cycle the tank. API is good and is cheap off Amazon.

Fish-in Cycling: Step over into the dark side - Aquarium Advice
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:19 AM   #6
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I learned a valuable lesson the other day- Bettas only live a few years. The ones sold at the pet stores are full grown so they are bigger/sell better.That means they are older and thus will not live as long. You might start another thread once you decide what kind of fish you want to get. Many people on here are experts on a variety of fish. Bettas are a good starting choice but as I said just not long lived.

What water conditioner did you use? And did you but as beneficial bacteria (BB) starter in the tank? That could account for the cloudiness.

If you don't have water conditioner I would suggest Prime. You will only use a tiny bit for your tank so a small bottle with last a very long time. The Marineland brand is not bad, its not as concentrated at Prime so it won't last as long. Also Marineland needs to really be shaken well.
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:29 AM   #7
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I used Nutrafin Aqua Plus Tap Water Conditioner, and Nutrifin Cycle Biological Aquarium supplement. That's what came with my new tank. Is the bio supplement with no fish causing the clouding?
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:35 AM   #8
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I'm not familair with the Nutrafin products , but yeah I think you have cloudiness due to the bacteria starter with no fish. ALso do you have a heater? Bettas need to be 78-82 degrees for optimum health although they usually can adjust to less but not alot less.
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:45 AM   #9
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I don't have a heater, but I was wondering if I needed one. Thanks so much!
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:51 AM   #10
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If you want plants I recommend eco-complete for substrate. I have used gravel, sand and dirt capped with sand and I like the eco-complete best. It comes in reddish or black, black really make the plants and fish stand out IMO. My next choice would be black sand. Eco-Complete is usually something you have to buy online, I got some off Amazon and off ebay before. Black sand is cheap at Petco for a small package. For plants you may need fertilizers depending on what you buy.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:07 PM   #11
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I doubt you can keep a fish without a heater. I have heard that White Cloud Mountain Minnows can live without one, but you can't keep them in a 5 gallon. If you keep your heat around 76-78 degrees then it might be possible for a betta, but I would need other opinions on this.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:31 PM   #12
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Good point. I went to get some fish and that is what they told me as well. So now the heater is in there keeping the water at a constant 78 degrees. They also told me once that is ready I will need some hardy starter fish, like danios, to cycle the tank, and can maybe add something else after a month.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:37 PM   #13
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Do not put danios in a 5 gallon! They are way too active and need 20 gallons as a bare minimum. You can cycle a tank by adding pure ammonia, like the stuff from Ace Hardware. Just make sure it has no additives. If you shake the bottle and foam appears, don't use it.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:57 PM   #14
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IMO you should do a fishless cycle if you don't have fish yet. It's what I'm doing, and it's much less work than fish in. You need pure ammonia (most people that I've seen on here use ace hardware janitorial strength cuz it's for sure unscented with no surfactants) an API master test kit (can find on amazon for about $20) and patience. Look for the fishless cycling for dummies thread, or the other fishless cycling articles.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:53 PM   #15
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I started my betta in a Chi, they are nice tanks. A betta would be perfect for that tank with maybe some shrimp if the betta will tolerate them (it will depend on the personality of the betta you get; some tolerate tank mates, others won't). As far as other fish in a 5 gal Chi, probably not. It's more narrow than a standard 5 gal plus most schooling fish need swim room. Even nano fish might be a bit cramped in there due to the dimensions. A single betta can be very entertaining though. Goldfish are a whole other story and one single goldfish would need a 20 gal minimum to start with, so sorry but no goldfish.

To start the cycle, you need to add an ammonia source; letting the tank run empty doesn't do anything to help cycle it. You can either add the fish and do a fish-in cycle, or opt for fishless with pure ammonia. This guide should help: Guide to Starting a Freshwater Aquarium - Aquarium Advice

The light on the Chi isn't great but I was able to keep some low-light plants alive; java fern and anubias are pretty easy to come-by.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:07 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the advice. I think a betta, some shrimp and a live plant might be the way to go. I went back to get some fish today, didn't get much good advice, and prob made a bad decision. I got a Molly and a Petra. They said they were hardy, and good starter fish. Don't feed for 48 hours, right? Tank is still foggy. Trying to do good...guess I'll see what happens.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:12 AM   #17
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Do you mean a tetra? I've never heard of not feeding new fish for 48 hours. I always feed mine right away.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:23 AM   #18
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Mollies and tetras both need much bigger tanks. They both like groups. You'll end up needing to either return or rehome them. Most fish stores give mostly bad advice intent on making a sale. I started keeping fish on the fish store employee advice. I made the exact same mistake, and I'm sure most of us here have.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:31 AM   #19
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Mollies and tetras both need much bigger tanks. They both like groups. You'll end up needing to either return or rehome them. Most fish stores give mostly bad advice intent on making a sale. I started keeping fish on the fish store employee advice. I made the exact same mistake, and I'm sure most of us here have.

BettaGal is right. I used to keep goldfish in bowls and male and female bettas together in bowls again, until I knew better. Local fish store people rarely seem to know what they are talking about IMO. I overhear big box store empoyees constantly telling customers bad info.

I'd take the fish back or rehome them on Craigslist and get a Betta. Petco has some nice ones usually, better than Petsmart or you can look on Craigslist or at your local fish store.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:17 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by randomjc View Post
Thanks for all the advice. I think a betta, some shrimp and a live plant might be the way to go. I went back to get some fish today, didn't get much good advice, and prob made a bad decision. I got a Molly and a Petra. They said they were hardy, and good starter fish. Don't feed for 48 hours, right? Tank is still foggy. Trying to do good...guess I'll see what happens.
I'd try to take them back to the store if you can. Mollys get too large and are too messy for that tank; if it's a tetra, they need more of them to make a proper school and a 5 gal Chi isn't large enough for them. It's best to ignore the advice the people at the fish store give you until you can research it first.
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