Complete tank newbie!

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Aquarium Advice Regular
Jun 25, 2013
Hello everyone!

Before I decided to make an account on a fish forum website I looked at different threads from the different sites I found. I think this site had the best and easiest advice by far. So I made an account here and I hope to be a helpful part of the community :).

Now, down to business. I am a complete newbie when it comes to aquariums and owning fish. I currently have a 1.5 gallon tank with two tiny common goldfish that I've had for a few months. These seem to be thriving and are doing really well. The tank has a filter and a light source and they get fed goldfish flakes twice a day.

I'm hoping to start a 10 or 15 gallon freshwater tropical tank soon and this is where I'm running into trouble. I've never had a tropical tank and even though I've been doing research on it there are still a couple aspects I'm a bit confused about. First of all I hear people talking about water changes and I see that they only replace 1/3 or 1/4 of the water at a time. When I clean my coldwater tank I usually empty it completely. How does the 1/3 or 1/4 water change work? And should I be doing this with my coldwater tank as well? Also, when I start my freshwater tropical tank, how do I go about cycling it?

Another thing I had questions about is the types of fish I should include in my tropical freshwater tank. I need fish that are fairly hardy since I'm pretty much a first time tank owner. I also would like a really diverse community in my tank, but I don't want to overpopulate it. I'm interested in guppies, corydora catfish, ghost shrimp (or some other type of shrimp), and possibly platys and some other oddballs like a dwarf African clawed frog, but I am open to any suggestions on what type of fish I should get. (I'm new and don't really know what I'm talking about so I also need to know if the fish I choose will even coexist in the tank and not kill each other.) I understand that I won't be able to fit all of these into one tank, I was just wondering what this lovely community suggested :).

Also, I understand that some fish have different dietary needs (?). How can I make sure that all of the different types of fish get enough food? Also, if I get shrimp and/or a frog for my tank do I need to buy them special food?

I can't think of any other questions I have at the moment and I've already asked so many questions! Thank you so much to anyone who takes the time to read this and weigh in!
Welcome & hope I can help. I m a relative newbie, too, but have learned ALOT from this forum.
Ok, will try to answer some if your questions, but will start by asking you one. Do you have a liquid test kit?
Read up on cycling in the Freshwater-Getting started section.
The stock you mentioned are all good starter fish I think, would reccomend getting all male or all female Platys unless you want fry. They re as bad as rabbits. I do not know a thing about keeping frogs tho .
Also, if your finances are limited, you may want to upgrade the goldfish first. They ll need a much bigger tank soon.
Good luck in all of your endevours & keep asking questions :).
sorry to say it but if you dont have the money i would not suggest having goldfish because two need a bare minimum of 20 gallons for just one and ten extra gallons for each extra. as for the tropical tank i think if you start with beginner fish you should have good luck. guppies and platies are the most popular beginner fish. african dwarf frogs can live in a ten gallon so you will be fine they will just eat the same flake food as your fish and so will the shrimp. this is a great forum and you will find lots of advice. for the 1/4 water changes you will need a siphon hose and you have to fill up a bucket with water that is the same temp as the water in the tank then siphon out the water to the same level as in the bucket then dump the new water in. have you read about cycling the tank? you will need to do that before anything
Thank you both for the advice! Before I buy the 15 or 20g tank I am definitely going to buy a water testing kit and I'll be sure I know exactly how to cycle the water. I realize I should've already done this with the goldfish but seeing as they are my first fish I was sort of coming into the whole hobby blind and I had no idea what I was doing. The goldfish will probably be going to my friend's tank as he has a HUGE goldfish tank and it's probably only 25%-50% populated.

Does anyone know if platies are preferable over guppies for any reason? If it's all the same I kind of had my heart set on some male fancy guppies.
I like all livebearers (mollies, platies, guppies, etc.)
For a 10 gallon, I'd recommend:
x1 Platy
x2 Guppies
x1 Dwarf Molly
x1 Swordtail
x4 or 5 ghost shrimp.

MAY be slightly overstocked, but seems ok if you have the right filtration.

By the way, sell your goldfish, or find someone with a pond or a huge enough tank with space for 2 goldies. They need way too much work and cleaning and ugh... way overstocked on the 1.5 gallon buddy! Like A LOT! Sorry, I don't like telling people to sell fish... but it's for the better.
Thanks for the reply :). I understand what you're saying completely about the goldfish. I hate to say it but they were major mistakes! They're going to a fried if mine's tank. He has plenty of room for them and they'll be much happier.

How many fish would you suggest for a 15-20g tank? Also, how can I be sure I have plenty of filtration? I want everything perfect in my new tank :).
I beleive you want at least 10 gallons per hr per 1 gallon of tank minimum. Fellow AA ers, correct me if that s wrong :). And it ll depend a lot on what size tank & stock you get. Bio wheels are good but for a 50 gal or bigger, you ll want a cannister filter, too.
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