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Old 08-02-2009, 01:47 PM   #1
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starter tank for a kid?

I have a little time before making the purchase.
OK my daughter is 9 years old and living with her mother. She’s smart but also tends to loose interest in things quickly. I was talking with the ex wife and ex mother in law cause I was wanting to get my daughter an aquarium. We all decided to hold off till school starts, this way she will be on a regular schedule. Plus it is an incentive for her to get good grades and not misbehave in school.
Now I want to ask some fin-folk veterans what would be a good set-up for a girl who will be closer to 10 than 9 when she gets a tank? I would need to ship the stuff to her instead of set it up at her place.
I think I saw a 5 or 10 gallon acrylic tank with all the hardware for about $50.
I was thinking of neon tetra and guppies for the fish (suggest to the ex wife) as they seem the easiest and most colorful fish to start out with…. Not to mention also cheap. I know that they will kill a few off before establishing a happy media.
I was also thinking of giving her test strips to check the water… not the most accurate way but I think a bit safer than a liquid test kit.
My daughter is smart (takes after me). She is doing well in math and science, which girls are not supposed to do well in (statically speaking). I figure the fish tank will teach her a few things. Responsibility, feeding and taking care of the fish and tank. Chemistry for the water checks. Biology for the actual fish….
She was really keen when I mentioned the idea of getting her a tank. I sent her a few pictures of mine via her mom’s email.
So I want to get some feedback from other what might a good set up for such a youngster.
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:58 PM   #2
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I would go with the biggest you can afford. A 10g would be fine, but if you could find a 15 or 20g, that would be even better. Its easier to keep things stable the more water you have. 10g will work though. Neons and Guppies are good. Sometimes Neons are weak and have issues. Most tetras would work though if you want to pick something else.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:26 PM   #3
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Like how the engineer at work put it (he had some huge marine tanks)... The ocean is big, a tank is small.

I am wanting to get her started on the hobby with the minimal expense... Guess also the massive die offs would be an expense also I'll check 20g prices too....

...want to go acrylic just cause her step sister is under 5. Acrylic can a bit more banging than glass.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:28 PM   #4
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Larger tanks are easier to stabilize, I would start with a 15 or 20. But really it's all in what you can afford, have room for, have time for etc. My first tank was a 10g when I was like 7 or 8. I've grown since then and so has my tanks. *lol* But seriously, again it's all in what you feel comfortable with maintaining. As said, neons can be tricky at first, but some stores do have good return policies. If you go guppies I'd stay with all males. Lots of color and no babies that way. Maybe a male platy or sword tail once the tank has cycled. Glo light tetras, black neon tetras and neon tetras look good when they school together. Even harliquin rasboras make a good first fish. (after cycling of course) They're small, hardy and pretty.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:44 PM   #5
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I have had 2 acrylic tanks split around the top.

Go with the largest you can for the space and money. Craigslist is usually full of used tanks in my area some with stands. Check the price of new compared to used.
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Old 08-03-2009, 01:56 PM   #6
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I just sent my my daughter an email telling her that keeping an aquarium is hard work... not as simple as add water, add fish, feed

Not sure how much room she has at the ex-wife's place (they live in a different state). My daughter will be 9 and 1/2 by the time she gets the tank and think the half sister is somewhere around 4 or 5, that was why I was thinking an acrylic could take a bit more bumps.
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:50 PM   #7
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Does your daughter want an aquarium? It's hard to make a kid care about something they didn't want in the first place. That said, a 29g tank is pretty perfect for a first tank. It's big enough that it doesn't limit you terribly on fish selection and the water parameters don't swing really fast either, yet it's small enough that maintenance and water changes aren't a huge chore. They're also pretty common on the used market and can be had cheaply. Don't underestimate glass tanks. My 29g took an errant dart to the glass about ten years ago and has been going strong ever since.
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:06 PM   #8
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Did your daughter spontaneously ask for an aquarium? My own personal history is that when I was about 10 my Dad asked if I wanted one, with the implication he wanted me to say yes. It became an unwanted responsibility that put me off owning an aquarium for over 25 years. I am not at all saying this is the case here. It is just a cautionary tale.
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Old 08-04-2009, 01:13 AM   #9
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Another good thing to keep in mind is the cost: a typical all-in-one kit usually does not include essentials such as gravel, a heater, a full-sized bottle of water condidtioner, plants or other decor... that lot will easily add about $40-50 for every 5 gallons onto your purchase.

A surefire way to go is classifieds/craigslist, where people sell everything, (including the nasty financial surprises mentioned above) for under 70 bucks (if you're a clever shopper). Do a bit of research on buying used tanks before you walk away with a broken tank, canopy, heater, etc.

The good thing about a tank is that even though your daughter may get tired of it after a year, it is still worth it to keep it packed away somewhere... I, for instance, got a 10 gallon tank when I was about 10. I only used it for a year, but we stored it in the basement and lo and behold, 8 years later (In June, actually) I dragged it out on a whim... now I have 2 more tanks on top of my old one! I love the hobby- beats the summer blues when you are on the opposite side oft he country from all your college buddies

Good luck with the tank!

P.S.- The 10g is a great size as long as you don't overstock it. Just make/search a thread asking how to stock a low-maintenance 10g. These people know what they're talking about!
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Old 08-04-2009, 02:12 AM   #10
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personally i would explain to her how hard work it is. also make sure the ex wants to keep it up too.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:46 AM   #11
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Um, just curious, does your ex-wife want a tank? Your daughter is too young to change tank water by herself...
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:29 AM   #12
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why couldnt she change the water?
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:02 AM   #13
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You know, i dont mean to be a buzzkill for all the pros here.. but you guys are making this WAY more than it actually has to be. Dude, listen up. Honestly, forget about all this pro stuff.. shes 10.. When me and my brother were younger, my parents bought us a 20G long tank. We NEVER did any "water changes" or crazy chemical testing stuff either. We got the tank set up, we let it cycle and then bought fish. We had the SAME fish.. for over 4 years without ANY problems. There are alot of fish out there that are hardy and can surive many water conditions. As long as the filter is running.. the tank is being airated.. theres no overfeeding and she cleans the algae off the tank every time it accumulates.. the fish WONT die.. and nothing will go wrong, and THEN it will be a great experiance. Im completely aware that the experts here are trying to help you out so that the fish dont die and she wont get upset or whatever the case may be.. but doing what i said above, and as long as the tank isnt overstocked.. then IT WILL BE FINE. Take my word for it.. there are TONS of tanks out there owned by people who haven't the slightest clue about chemical testing etc.. but they keep the tank clean and dont overstock and nothing dies. Its pretty much as simple as that. And to all you pros out there.. you can argue my point, but the fact of the matter is, a 10G tank.. with no overstocking and correct cleaning and feeding, will be fine.. and is NOT alot of work... at all really. Opinions? Arguers?

Oh and by the way.. what the heck is with all the personal questions... "Does your ex even want a tank?" Did he come here for marital advice? No.. i highly doubt it. He came here for answers regarding a fish tank. Lets all try and stay out of HIS life and just give him advice on the FISH TANK. Jeeze.
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:05 AM   #14
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linksyz, you do make some interesting points. If the tank is lightly stocked, it's amazing how little maintenance a tank can require. My tank was pretty neglected when I was away at college. My family didn't help me out much. The algae fed the guppies and the guppies fed the catfish. It didn't even have a filter that worked. I just refilled the tank every two months when I came home and didn't mess with a system that was pretty much self-sustaining. I got lucky that the tank took care of itself for a long time, however, the fish are much happier and the tank is much prettier with regular maintenance.
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:44 PM   #15
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why couldnt she change the water?
I don't know the particular child in question, but I work with youth of all ages every day and 9-10 is generally considered too young for such a task on their own. He also stated that she tends to lose interest in things quickly. Developmentally a child that age can't be expected to do the things, physically and mentally, required to do weekly water changes. At least not completely on their own. I just don't want to see the dad disappointed, he has such good intentions and seems so excited. It's my opinion, but that's what we're all here to give, but I think she should start with a betta. It is much less expensive, less complicated, less work, and is just as likely to get her hooked on fish if she's going to get hooked. And, a 9 year old can handle it. If she gets bored with it, it isn't a tremendous strain on mom and it's much easier to rehome.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:17 AM   #16
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I have to agree with linksyz here to a point. I had a tank as a kid and I did pretty much the same thing. I changed the filter media about every other month, keep the water topped off with dechlored water, only had a couple fish and didnt dump a crapload of food in it and it was ok for a long time.

I know alot more now but then it was a great thing. I know its not the best for the fish, but not the worst either.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:16 AM   #17
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The dad wants to get his daughter interested in the hobby and it sounds like he does things right. I assumed he'd want to teach her to do weekly water changes and to test the water. If he wants to teach her to do a half-a!! job, then perhaps that's another story.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:26 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by mgamer20o0 View Post
personally i would explain to her how hard work it is. also make sure the ex wants to keep it up too.

I did, and the daughter still wants one.
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:23 AM   #19
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I did, and the daughter still wants one.
Don't worry about hard work, fees etc. With new equipments and some chemical preparations the operating of aquarium will be simply for your daughter.
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:29 AM   #20
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Nippy Fish, excuse me for this but.. is there something you really want to say? As its known by all, not always changing water, or testing constantly for parameters is NOT half-***. Its doing things differently. Im sure that at one point everyone here has had success in a tank, that needed MINIMAL care taking. When you are a child, you dont want to have to worry about all these things.. or worry about too many responsibilities. You want to have fun doing things elsewhere, and then have something you can come back to to enjoy, not "take care of" or, "its just another chore". My suggestion, is to let the child have fun with it. Do not bring into the equasion all of the things that the pros do.. They find fun it, because tis what they want to do, and its what they have time for. She may only want to take care of the tank so much, and who are we to scare her away from keeping aquariums just because "they" say that taking care of a 10G freshwater tank is TONS of work. It shouldn't be that way. Minimal care, and doing small things.. the right way, will provide an enjoyable experiance, which in return will then provide her the grounds to step it up a notch and really know what fish keeping is all about. And that time is for her to choose. So honestly, get off your high horse about all these crazy chemical changes and water changes and "oh my god the fish WILL die if you dont do this." Let her enjoy keeping a fish tank.
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