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Old 08-08-2020, 01:13 AM   #1
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Too Large Fish for Tank

Hi

I recently completed a fishless cycle on a 20 gallon high tank, my very first venture into fishkeeping. I went to my local fish store today to finally purchase my first couple fish. Honestly I didn't know much about what species would fit well with my tank, and I didn't do much research because I expected that a lot of fish that I would read about online would not necessarily be available at this (rather small) store. I also expected the folks there to be able to recommend pretty well what would fit well in my tank. So trusting this, I bought two Lake Kutubu Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia lacustris) on the recommendation of the guy at the store. I tried to do a quick google on my phone in the store to get some background on the fish, but of course there was no cell service in the store.

Only upon getting home, drip acclimating, and introducing them to my tank do I start to do research into my new fish and discover that they typically reach 4.5-5.5 inches and have a generally recommended tank size of at least 55 gallons.

Clearly my tank is not a great match for these fish, but I'm very new to this hobby, so what is the protocol in this situation? Will they be healthy and comfortable enough in my 20 gallon, or should I try to return them to the store tomorrow? My instinct is to return them, but I'm not sure if fish stores even typically do that kind of thing. I'm also hesitant to put the fish through the stress of another move back to the store if it's not necessary. Any advice would be much appreciated.

For clarification, at the moment they must be quite young because they're slender and a little less than 2 inches long. If only they stayed this size they seem like they would have been a great fish for my tank.

Thanks
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Old 08-08-2020, 02:59 AM   #2
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These fish are better kept in numbers of 6 minimum, preferably 8. In these numbers i would say your tank is on the small side and 30 gallons would be better and 55 gallons better still.

Returning them would be the best thing to do and most reputable fish stores will do this, often for store credit.

If they wont accept them back your options are to either upgrade your tank or make do with what you have. The fish will survive rather than thrive in your 20 gallon.

Lesson learnt, fish stores are there to sell you fish, if they get sick they get to sell you medication, if they die they get to sell you more fish, if they sell you fish that need a bigger tank they might get to sell you a bigger tank. You can get good advice from fish stores but you need to know who you are talking to. Most of the employees are just that, employees, especially in a big box store. They arent necessarily in the hobby and just parroting what corporate tells them.
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Old 08-08-2020, 11:07 PM   #3
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Aiken

I appreciate the advice. I called the fish store up today and the agreed to take them back sometime next week, and apologized for being misinformed about how large they get. I'll definitely be doing a lot of research on what would be suitable for my tank before I go in next week to look at getting some different fish. Also I'll probably be rather more skeptical of fish stores' advice in future, or at least make sure I do research of my own. In the meantime I'm enjoying fostering the juvenile rainbows, keeping them comfortable and as happy as possible until their return trip to the store.

Thanks for the help, I appreciate the helpful and warm welcome into this hobby. I must say, even as juveniles, the rainbows are exceptionally gorgeous, they'll definitely be on my list to get if I'm every able to upgrade to a larger tank in future. I can imagine a school of 8 or more full grown ones would be an awesome sight.
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Old 08-09-2020, 04:15 AM   #4
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The best thing to do is spend some time in the store, see what they have, what you like the look of, and don't buy anything. Then go away and do some research before returning and making your purchases.
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