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Old 09-19-2011, 07:22 AM   #1
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thoughts on fish vs. tank size..?

For starters, I am brand new to this forum and far from an expert on fish keeping, but i would not consider myself a beginner. As i browse the threads i see so many responses saying "Your tank is way too small for that fish because it will grow to be (insert length here)...!" This is a really common response even when its completely off topic. I'm a little confused and surprised to see so much emphasis placed on the eventual size of the fish. Now, I havent had fish in years, and man things have changed in this hobby!! Mostly good things, but maybe not this IMO.Before ya flame me, let me explain. When i was a kid my dad was an avid Aquarist and wouldnt be satisfied owning the same tank with the same fish for too long. His crown jewel was always an Arowana which was occasionally traded in for a bigger one as soon as he could get a bigger/better tank. Its tank mates were traded in pretty often. Sometimes they didnt do well together or dad just wanted a change. Either way, he never said no to a species he liked because of its EVENTUAL size, he simply wouldnt plan to keep the fish for its entire life span. He often talked about appropriate husbandry but only in terms of how long he could keep the fish if it was too large a species. It was a very different ideal than i see here, where the focus seems to be "the tank has to match the species" no matter how big the fish is at the moment. I just cant imagine him 'tsk-tsk'ing" someone for having a 2 inch bala shark in a 30 gallon tank just because it will grow to a foot long...because thats a long way off...isnt it? I certainly wouldnt consider my dad an irresponsible aquarist but I wonder if most people nowadays would dissagree?? I'm really curious what y'all have to say because its kind of a big deal around here but i've never seen a real discussion about it.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:55 AM   #2
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I think that's what is was like years back ... when information about proper fish keeping just wasn't as available. Speaks volume .. IMO ...to how the internet has changed many things .. this hobby included. When I was younger ... as most older members probably can relate to, we would probably either ask the LFS or friends with tanks for advice. Well problem with that is that some LFS employees were .. still are clueless, or just want to make a sale. As for family / friends? They probably got the same advice from who else ... LFS's, friends / family and so on and so on.

In today's information age, we have multiple sources to go to ... GLOBALLY. Personally, I better understand tank size to fish growth whereas 20-25 years ago ... it was different. I wouldn't thought twice about stuffing 10-12 goldfish
in a 20 gal.

I wouldn't call your dad irresponsible, I'd say your dad probably didn't know any different than from what he was taught or picked up on his own.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:45 AM   #3
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Also proper tank size for the adult fish, even from the beginning, is important because many fish grow very fast and stunting can happen quickly. Most of the time, at least with my experience, the advice is to get a larger tank sooner rather than later for the health of the fish as well as the fish keepers enjoyment. The hobby is much more fun and less labor/stress intensive when your fish are happy and healthy. This can also be attributed to more people viewing fish as pets and not just live decorations (not saying your dad did that but I know some who did)
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:02 AM   #4
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I will most definitely mention the size of the fish if it's blatantly obvious that the poster has no clue about the species they've picked up. Sadly, it seems most people don't do any research on their own prior to making the purchase. Granted, in a perfect world, the employees would give great advice, but for some reason, great advice is more the exception than the rule when it comes to buying stock for our tanks.

So, even though the poster might be asking about something not related to stocking, I will mention it.

I also think your father was the exception insofar as his desire to constantly trade in fish. I've never looked at fishkeeping that way. So, his method worked for him.
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:53 AM   #5
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I think it's because stunting used to be: "the fish will only grow to the size of the tank" while now, stunting is: "the fish's externals will stop growing but it's internals will keep trying to grow"

with the older definition of fish stunting, it wasn't a big deal since it's just "oh well, it'll just be a little fish!" but now, if you stunt a fish it's more akin to torturing it.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:40 PM   #6
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I do see where the OP is coming from. A responsible and knowledgeable fishkeeper may well get a species based on the fact that they know it will need to be traded at some point in the future.
I think however most people that come here would tell you that they are not experienced aquarists and have landed on this site seeking answers. So, in most instances giving FRIENDLY advice on proper stocking is probably the best approach.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:48 PM   #7
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I do see where the OP is coming from. A responsible and knowledgeable fishkeeper may well get a species based on the fact that they know it will need to be traded at some point in the future.
I think however most people that come here would tell you that they are not experienced aquarists and have landed on this site seeking answers. So, in most instances giving FRIENDLY advice on proper stocking is probably the best approach.
A problem I see with that is how does one know when the fish needs to be moved? If you wait until you see it stunting, then it's already too late. There's really no good way to know when a fish will need to be moved out to keep it from stunting unless you buy a fish and only keep it for like a week.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:03 PM   #8
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A problem I see with that is how does one know when the fish needs to be moved? If you wait until you see it stunting, then it's already too late.
First let me say, I don't agree with the philosophy. I personally would rather buy fish I am know I am going to keep for as long as possible, than buy them knowing I'm going to have to give them up.
I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here and see it from both sides.
Taking the Bala shark example:
When you buy one in your local store they are, what, about 2-3". An experienced aquarist with, say, a 55g tank knows that they could keep that shark in that size tank for a few months, but then it's going to be time to move it. Probably the same with a common pleco. They're small when brought home, but someone experienced is going to know that, agian, within a few months it's going to be time to move 'em on out.
Again, I'm not saying I agree with this approach, I'm just saying that it is possible, but not really for the average fishkeeper.
I also, it has to be said, agree that we should not be jumping down peoples throats about their poor stocking choices, but should rather be advising them in a friendly manner what a better choice(s) may be. Being condescending never helps anybody, especially when they have come seeking helpful advice in the first place.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:16 PM   #9
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First let me say, I don't agree with the philosophy. I personally would rather buy fish I am know I am going to keep for as long as possible, than buy them knowing I'm going to have to give them up.
I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here and see it from both sides.
Taking the Bala shark example:
When you buy one in your local store they are, what, about 2-3". An experienced aquarist with, say, a 55g tank knows that they could keep that shark in that size tank for a few months, but then it's going to be time to move it. Probably the same with a common pleco. They're small when brought home, but someone experienced is going to know that, agian, within a few months it's going to be time to move 'em on out.
Again, I'm not saying I agree with this approach, I'm just saying that it is possible, but not really for the average fishkeeper.
I also, it has to be said, agree that we should not be jumping down peoples throats about their poor stocking choices, but should rather be advising them in a friendly manner what a better choice(s) may be. Being condescending never helps anybody, especially when they have come seeking helpful advice in the first place.
I get what you're saying, but what I'm saying is even an experienced aquarist can't tell the future. No one can know how fast a fish is actually going to grow. You can go by average growth rates, but even so, how do you know at what size a fish will start stunting?
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:26 PM   #10
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Your tank is too small. That fish will be [insert length] in no time
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:11 PM   #11
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Well, there you go McLean. It has now been discussed
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