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Aquarium Advice Regular
Oct 4, 2023
Hello all,

Just setup our first tank (20 gal) to get the kids started on this exciting hobby. Hoping to teach them some responsibility as well!

Any suggestions for what fish to start out with? Ideally fish that are visually appealing, playful and that will get along with one another. Also, low maintenance will be preferable (i.e. no significant issues with mating, etc.).

Do we need any "cleaner"-type fish or snails?

Any recommendations or what to avoid would be greatly appreciated.

We have a fairly basic setup ... tank, cheap heater and filter.

Yep! I've read through some posts discussing it.

Once the tank is properly cycled, do you have any recommendations for fish that the kids might enjoy (and again, fairly low maintenance)?

In doing some research online, I found the following being suggested:

1) Platies
2) Guppies

with some more exotic suggestions of:

3) Gouramis (Dwarf)
4) Rams (Bolivian or German)
5) Peacock cudgeon

What do you think?

Also, is there a suggested amount of fish to add to the tank initially?
Platys and guppies are good beginner fish. My guppies are colourful and active, fun to watch, not too expensive should something go wrong. They arent going to bomb about the tank, but they do explore and interact with each other.

Platys and guppies are both livebearers, they breed easily and can quickly overpopulate an aquarium. If you dont want to get into breeding, then single sex, preferably male to avoid buying already pregnant females.

Id would avoid dwarf gouramis. I understand 1 in 3 dwarf gouramis are infected with dwarf gourami disease, which is incurable and once the disease is in your tank the only way to get rid of it is disinfection. There are other small gourami species though. But having said that, im planning on breaking my own advice and getting a dwarf gourami tomorrow.

Of the 2 rams, bolivian rams are probably the best. German rams and all their colour varients like the water hot, much hotter than most other fish are good at. Ive never had much luck with German rams, but really want to give them another go, planning the tank around the rams, rather than adding the rams into an unsuitable environment.

Dont have any experience of peacock gudgeons.

If you wanted a "community" tank. Id start with 5 or 6 guppies. Maybe add in some small cories, like panda corys, and a small school of 6 tetras, like maybe neon tetras. You should be OK with a honey gourami in there.

If you wanted a species only tank, id get a school of 15 to 20 tetras. Again maybe neon tetras, or silvertip tetras are very active swimmers in my experience.
If you are doing a fishless cycle, and do it properly, see it through to the end, your tank will be cycled sufficiently to fully stock the tank in one go. But it still might be advisable to add fish in gradually over a month or so. But no reason why you shouldn't add in 10 fish to start with and add 2 or 3 more every week until fully stocked.

If you are doing a fish in cycle, 1 small fish per 10 gallons. So in your case a couple of small fish to start with.
For snails, Mystery snails are fun to watch. They like to play and cover a lot of ground chugging around on all surfaces. Nerite snails are smaller but come in a variety of lovely patterns; they are the cleaners you mentioned. A good formula would be one Mystery (two will likely mate, and then you'd be dealing with egg sacs) with two Nerites, who will clean everything including the glass.
From someone who just started a couple years ago, cause mainly I was only interested with crayfish and shrimps and kinda disliked fish, the thing that got me into it was betta fish. They like to interact with their owners which was opposite from some of the fish we've had before we're they'd just run and hide if they saw you. My 1st betta would stick his nose in and stare at whatever I'd be fixing in his tank or plant something in the substrate. Idk if it'll have the same effect on your kids but that's what got me into the hobby.

But seeing as you wanna start with something big I'd probably recommend guppies. They have different variations and colors and pretty hardy. It's up to you if you wanna keep their line pure or you wanna mix them. Your kids might like dragon or snake skinned ones.

Patty's I hate cause of personal experience. I've always had bullying problems with them when kept with other fish but other than that they're very hardy and easy to take care of. If I had enough space I'd probably try again and get a tank with just them. The koi showa swordtail ones.

For the other fish I think the guys know better.
Snails, for me anything that doesn't become pests. But I just got some that I really liked. Horned racer nerites.

Also you can try checking out kuhli loaches. Some kids could find them interesting.
Is that the tb disease from gouramis? I was planning on getting a honey gourami for my community tank then I remembered they can develop a disease that you can only get rid off from your tank through disinfection. That would be a pain especially since i usually have scaped tanks and would have to disinfect everything.
Is that the tb disease from gouramis? I was planning on getting a honey gourami for my community tank then I remembered they can develop a disease that you can only get rid off from your tank through disinfection. That would be a pain especially since i usually have scaped tanks and would have to disinfect everything.
Gourami are more prone to getting TB than some other fish species, but no more so than tetras, barbs, danios (and a few other species). Dwarf gourami disease is different and much more prevailant in dwarf gourami than TB. DGD can affect all gourami species, but is much more common in dwarf gourami than other types. I recently read 1 in 3 Dwarf gourami are infected.

To continue my comment above about me getting a dwarf gourami, the fish room manager and me looked at some of their dwarf gouramis and they didnt look good, he immediately took them off sale. So i ended up with a honey gourami instead.
Wow in Asia that's kinda rare, they just wanna sell the fish. Bought some newly imported spotted rasboras and they were really thin when I got them. The fish store didn't even quarantine or make sure they were all healthy. Thankfully all of them survived and I've fatten them up now.

I really want a couple of honey gouramis but it's probably best if I keep them in a tank where it's just them right?
My local fish store is one of the best in the country. They regularly win industry awards, especially for cichlids. They are proud of their reputation and it works for them to do what they can to keep that reputation. People will drive hours to purchase from them, im lucky they are 10 minutes away.

The guy took maybe 20 fish off sale once he noticed a problem. Thats about £150 of fish. They will probably monitor them further, try and treat the problem, before deciding what to do with them. They wont knowingly sell sick fish there. The guy im talking about is a big time hobbyist, i think he has around 80 aquariums in his home. A few of their employess run their own fish rooms, so if you can get them talking they have a wealth of knowledge.

As said honey gourami are no more likely to be carrying TB than tetras, danios, barbs etc, and much less likely to be carrying DGD than dwarf gourami. You have to live with a little risk or you end up not keeping anything. Quarantine is a proportionate measure to take with any fish.
Over here there's a lot of backyard breeders and a lot of shops that don't usually care about the fish they get. They just sell for the sake of selling and the knowledge they have are usually just from experience. So I don't think they'll know if their fish has tb or something. I found a guy that sells fish from his garage and was a little bit more conscientious about what he sell his customers but sadly he closed shop. I heard a lot of them get their supply from the same importer. One of these days I'm gonna get one of them to tell me where so I can finally get some kubotai for my shrimp tank hehe
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