I tend to not think of people as stupid but as uneducated which causes them to sometimes do stupid things.
That all can be changed.......with time.
I think you are seeing a failure, on multiple levels, to educate a "new" hobbyist in the art of fish keeping. It may have started with the store they bought the tank from or the hobbyist themselves if they bought the tank from someone and they never learned the "proper" methods of keeping aquarium fish. I put the word PROPER in quotations for a reason. There are many different proper ways of keeping fish and it's all dependent on the fish themselves. There is no "One size fits all" for fish. I've read in the other post here of things that MAY have appeared wrong but in actuality may not be wrong, per say. It's possible your friend was told his tank was a 200 LITER tank and he misspoke when he said 200 gallons? That's about a 50 gallon tank which still means that the 30 gallon filter was the wrong thing to buy but that may not have been their fault but the fault of the salesperson guiding them on their purchase. Just as the person above stated that the ammonia level in the water they tested was so high, they failed to mention the PH value which would make the ammonia level not really serious if it in the lower ranges. While not an ideal situation, it's not toxic ammonia so the repercussions of it aren't as bad as they could be. Filling a tank straight from the hose? I do that too. I can because I am on well water so there are no chemicals I need to worry about. I tested the water before I did that the first time. ( I couldn't do that when I lived in the city however. There were tons of chemicals in that water!
) Your friend not being willing to do any maintenance on the tank without the Father's knowledge was the right call ( Don't be mad
.) What if there were certain circumstances that you 2 were not aware of that doing a water change would mess up? Maybe the fish were being medicated? Maybe they were being changed to a different type of water? Maybe the levels were slowly being adjusted? So many variables that you COULD have screwed up if you just changed the water.
I worked in retail pet stores for a long time and put in over 40 years in the pet industry so I think I have heard just about every bad idea when it comes to fish keeping there is. LOL
From using 10 gal
filters on 100 gallon tanks (" I'll just clean it 10 times more frequently!") to "Can I have that large KOI for my 20 gal
long tank? He won't need to swim too much to find his food that way." I have heard a lot of stupid things for sure. My goal was to help them understand why what they wanted to do was not the right way of doing things and how it would poorly effect the fish, not make them feel stupid for thinking in those terms.
So you have 2 opportunities in front of you. You can be one of the ones who stands by idly and just "B" & moan about it or you can be one of the ones who helps correct this situation. For number one, type away. I'm sure there are plenty on this site who will agree with you ( and that's part of the problem with the hobby today IMO
). For the second choice, I suggest tact
. Try having a discussion with the Dad about the tank. Bring up the issues you were concerned about and hear his side. It may be he just doesn't know or a specific reason YOU don't know about (as earlier explained.) You might want to lend them your books about fish keeping so they can read up on what you know that they might not know. WHAT!!!!? You don't have books, you rely only on the internet???
There's a lot of bad information out there on the internet ya know
. Maybe suggest a trip to the book store together and look at what's out there on fish keeping. If you don't have a good book store nearby and you know of some good websites with valuable information, you might want to jot down the URLs to them and give them to your buddy and his Dad. As I said, use TACT. Don't say " HERE!!! Go to these sites and learn something!!!!!!
Say something to the effect of " here are some sites I use and I know have some valuable information. You might find them helpful as well"
Bottom line, you can be part of the solution or part of the problem. You may not get through to them immediately and they may kill some fish before you get there with them. That's what happens some times. But I can say, that some of the best aquarists I know all killed a few fish along the way so don't be that " I TOLD YOU SO!!!!" person.
It doesn't really help
Good luck to ya and I hope this helps