Need advice: small tank starter fish for child?

lexi_leaOctober 21, 2006

Hi, I am new to this forum. My 4.5 year old has been wanting pet fish so it looks like Santa will be bringing him a small tank & fish this Christmas. My husband and I have no clue what type of fish will work best. We'd like to get a small tank--we are thinking about the 5 gallon Eclipse Hexago Aquarium with built-in 3-stage filtration system. What type of fish would work best for this tank? I read some info already posted... White Clouds? Danios? Also, what are the pros & cons for live plants vs artifical ones? ANY insight for us would be much appreciated!!

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I can't think of a better small starter tank than an Eclipse, but before you buy the 5 hex, look at the 6 rectangle. It's a far better shape for fish, as they need swimming room and surface area far more than height.

But even a 6 is too small to support more than a few very tiny fish. Do you think your son would enjoy the color of a Beta?

The smaller Eclipse tanks are ideal habitats for Betas, but little else. Nevertheless, they are a brilliant design.

The only real drawback to the Eclipse filters is the cost of replacement cartridges, but if you have a steady hand with an e-xacto blade, you can recycle them easily.

Rinse the used cartridge to remove the worst of the debris (and smell) and let it dry. Then, very carefully slice under the edge of the filter material on 3 sides, peel it back, dump the old charcoal, rinse and dry.

Refill with fresh media and secure the cut edges with rubber bands.

No fake plant can replace a live one, but some are easier to grow in a small tank. Dwarf anubas would do well, with a few moss balls.

Also, when you clean the filter unit, draw enough used tank water to fill a gallon bowl, and swish the bio wheel in it, to remove any heavier particulates without killing the beneficial bacteria. Then leave it to float in that water until you are ready to replace the filter on the tank.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 1:16PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

A betta or some white clouds. You will need a heater for the betta. I always tell people to start with a 10 Gal. minimum. They are the least expensive set up because of their popularity and you can get a few different fish in them. They are still small enough to fit on a dresser or desktop. Live plants not only look better but help with the nitrogen process. Java Ferns make excellent beginer plants because they seem to do good in almost any environment.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 8:45PM
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I just thought I'd let you know what I think about your new fish adventure. I'm not a fish expert by no means but let me tell you what I do know. I've had bettas all throughout highschool (which wasn't too long ago). If the room you're going to keep them in is warm, then you really dont' need a heater. I've had betta do well in as cold as 69-70 degrees. Just, try to make sure the water temperature doesn't flucuate and of course, some do better than others in cooler water. I've had the best results with bettas when i've kept them a little warmer than that. I find with bettas, even though they are pretty they tend to get kind of lazy. I had a heater once with one of mine and even with regulated warm water he was always on the sluggish side. I would think that for a little boy having a tank with a few fish in it would be so much more fun becuase they're always so busy.
I myself have a 5 gallon tank. Let me tell you, they're a little trippy to get started with. I thought the water would be fine but it really took about 4 weeks to really have ideal water temperatures. I have 3 green barbs and this one orange coloured barb in my tank, along with a rock shrimp. Lots of people will tell you that my tank is overpopulated but the fish seem to be having a great time. Now that the water quality is good, they are all happy and look very healthy. So, for CHristmas, it might be a good idea to get the tank before Christmas and have it in a hidden place but get the water circulating and cycling before Christmas morning. That way, Santa can bring some fish that will survive in the tank. I know from experience that your son will not want to get the tank and wait a week before adding in some cute little fish to it. I also know that it's disappointing to wake up two days after you buy your first fish and to find them floating (or sinking because of ammonia poisoning). DOn't be scared, fish are easy to take care of once the tank has cycled. It sounds like you're well on your way.
P.S. I love barbs. I don't find that the four of them are aggressive at all. They play and swim around and seem to have fun but they don't eat each other and they don't pick on the rock shrimp either. I think something like that would give your son lots of things to look at in the tank. The shrimp is really fun to watch when he goes 'wandering'. Have fun!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 10:27AM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

While I agree that having a few fish may be more entertaining then just the one and that barbs are cool fish that's where it ends. The barb's Anna described get to be 3" - 4" as adults, they also tend to get a bit more aggressive as they age. They may not be aggressive towards each other but may (or may not) single out the golden barb (if thats what the yellow one is). When setting up a tank for the first time, especially when a child is involved, you want the best chance possible for success. The thing is since barbs are very active indeed, they need alot more side to side space then a smaller Eclipse can give. The smallest tank I have seen suggested for them is a 20L (20 gallon long, about 30" side to side). You have to think of the adult size when you are planning fish for your tank space. Again, I am not saying this can not work at all and it won't work. I am just saying that it is not "ideal" and for a first tank you should stack the chips on your side. The tank will take 3 weeks to 6 weeks + (average 4 weeks)to cycle. The best thing to do is research the nitrogen cycle in aquariums so you know whats in store. Since you have time before Christmas to get the tank and do a fishless cycle I would advise that. The worse thing for a child is to be presented with a tank and have to wait for a month before you can go and get fish. You could do the fishless cycle in the basement or garage hidden from the child, and just wrap the tank box for opening. Then durring Christmas week go to the pet shop and let your child pick out the fish. IME I have found bettas to be very active when people are arround to watch. Cold water will make the fish lathargic and suseptible to disease and parasites, the most common with cold water is ICH. It is true that "if" the room is maintained at a set Temp. you don't need a heater. But all it takes is the door to be left open by mistake and the Temp. will drop. The heater for the betta is a important and wise purchase. For only $20 it will seem worth it if you loose the fish after you have gotten attached to it. Below is a link about the Nitrogen Cycle. It also has links with in the article for fishless cycle directions. This may seem more then you expected just to have a couple of fish, but you will be happier in the end. It also makes the experience more rewarding to know what you are doing. Keeping interest is important because the novelty of a fish tank wears off after a while. The other aspects of the hobby keep the interest up and is a learning experience in itself. It's a hell of allot better then watching crap "reality" TV (exception is The Girls Next Door).

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ

    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 8:47AM
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I can't think of anything better than a 10 gallon tank setup, complete with heater, thermometer, filter, pump, light.... and a tank full of livebearers - guppies, mollies, platties and swordtails. Just put the hardline together, buy some Water Sprite, and let the tank do the Nitrogen Cycle thing. Add fish slowly, like one pair at a time... and wait a week. Monitor the Ammonia and the Nitites. Follow the general one 1 inch fish per gallon of water. Don't overfeed.... only feed as much as they can consume in a few minutes. Enjoy and watch them do their thing - reproduce!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 8:10PM
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rayama(7b Birmingham, Al)

You can buy a box with the whole shebang, which is nice...but read the box! I had mine all set up and realized it didn't have an areator, and had to go get one. No biggie, since I had a betta in the tank.

Look into ghost shrimp...They are COOL looking, hardy, cheap, and useful.

I was reading the suggestions for cycling the tank where your child can't see it...but moving it would be a night mare! Maybe this: Do the cycling thing at a friend's house (or yours if you can keep it secret) and get one of those siphon thingees and some 5 gallon buckets with lids. That way, it would be easy to remove and keep the water (you want that water) and then you can move the tank easily.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 3:57PM
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fgilles02420(z6 MA)

I would recommend a betta - with a heater - and a big clump of Java Moss, the world's easiest aquarium plant. I just floats there and grows, doesn't have to attach to anything (although it will if it wants to) and helps purify the water.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 6:42PM
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i would recomend a 10 to 20 gallon rectangular tank. the aeration isnt nessesary if you have live plant and you dont have to clean as much. as for fish, a pleco or some other algae eater is good. guppies are aslo good as a first fish . most importantly is to cycle the tank for the proper amount of time.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 3:12PM
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