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Where to begin ?- we have a 20L fish tank


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#1 seayork2002

Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:38 PM

Ok we bought this fish tank

https://www.petstock...fish-tank/53386

I don't think it was the one we were planning on buying but we have it now and am not returning it!

so we want some fish, some decorations and some plants (real/artificial?)

I think our plans are way to much for the size of the tank we have

So can anyone please advise what in the most we can have and the beat fish for starters.

We can put it where we can plug in whatever we need

also what equipment is best to have please (for maintenance)

thanks

#2 Navy Blue

Posted 17 September 2019 - 04:39 PM

We recently got a tank, DS tells me it's 16L.

We have 2 goldfish, a shark type fish and 2 little fish (not sure what type) in there.

Ours came with a pump, water conditioner and food. We bought another pump as DS wanted a more powerful one. We also have other bits and pieces, DS is always testing the water for ph levels, we also have something that is like a fish antibiotic that he puts in there sometimes.

They eat fish flakes and sometimes blood worms. DS is very fastidious about them having a clean tank so does that every weekend. I did not realise how much fish poo!

#3 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM

You have to decide what type of fish you want. Are you going down goldfish route ( so don't need a heater, however goldfish are the most poo creating fish), freshwater tropical ( so you will need a heater as well as an aerating pump) or saltwater tropical ( heater, pump, salt etc, which is not easy for a newbie).
Personally, I would do freshwater tropical. Now you should get a mixture of real and plastic plants (although plastic plants can be fine, just feed a few frozen green peas occasionally) as the fish will eat them. You also need to buy some sort of fish that cleans, like a clown loch, red tailed shark etc to help clean the tank. Then buy some other types of fish, guppies, tetras, angelfish etc.
You also need gravel for the tank bottom and stuff for fish to hide in. In regards to filling a tank, you to it and wait a few days for the chlorination to dissipate before adding your fish as well as letting the water to heat up. You put the plastic bag with the fish submerged in the tank to acclimatise the temperatures before dumping them in.
Do some reading online or books about fish care. They do requure a bit of upkeep and cleaning. The water also needs to be changed every 6 months or so as well.

#4 fig_jam

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:17 PM

A 20l tank is too small for most fish. One Betta fish or a couple of small tropical fish like endlers.

You need to cycle the tank to build up the bacterial colonies required to process the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates produced by fish waste before you put any fish in. This can take a few weeks.

A 16l tank is absolutely unsuitable for goldfish. They grow big and produce a lot of waste. They will die quickly in a tank that small.

#5 tenar

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:18 PM

OK, you need to read about fishkeeping.

20 litres is very small and small tanks are harder to maintain than larger ones, because the chemistry is more easily unbalanced.   So you need to know what you are doing before you start.

A 20 litre tank will have a very small filter on it. It can't support many fish or any large fish.  What happens when the fish you have create more waste than the filter system on the tank can handle is that the buildup of ammonia that the fish excrete will poison the fish by burning its skin and gills.  Ammonia is pretty toxic stuff and it is excreted by fish and created when organic things in the tank decay, so it's unavoidable.  You have to plan the stocking levels to the size of the tank.

Now to goldfish.  Goldfish grow to around 4-6 inches (fantails, or other fancy goldfish) or 8-12 inches (comets and other single-tailed goldies).  They are beautiful and intelligent and highly social creatures and, as you'd guess from the size they get to, they need very large tanks.  This is exacerbated becase being carp they have "messy" digestive systems and they make a lot of mess for their size.  They cannot be kept safely in tanks of less than 100l.  Keeping even a single goldfish in 20 litres is like keeping a labrador in a carboard box: it might seem to fit when the dog is a baby, though the waste will quickly overwhelm the system even then, but there's no way it would seem reasonable for an adult dog and most people would righly immediately say that it's cruel to even think of doing it.

I'll say it again: goldfish need big tanks.  At least 100l for two fancy goldfish, more if you keep common (single-tailed) goldies or more fish than that.  Since they also need company (3 or more fish: they are highly social animals), you are looking at a 200l tank as a good starting point to keep a few goldies in for any length of time.  Also they can live for 10-20 years: not a trivial commitment.

The good news is that there are things you can keep in 20 litres and the obvious choice is also a very hardy fish: a single male betta (siamese fighter).  Bettas are interesting and beautiful fish that are very hardy and can survive a bit of beginners error when you set up the tank.  However they are tropical fish and require a heater (set to around 25 degrees, iirc: look it up).   You can't keep a betta in cold water.

Other choices that could work are:

- a small group of white cloud mountain minnows.  These are coldwater and won't need a heater.  Tank is marginal for the minimum group size of 6 fish for a schooling species, but with frequent water changes you might get by.  Personally I think it's mean: they like to swim all over the place and 20 litres isn't much space for them.

- a small group of endlers' livebearers.  These are a close relative of guppies.  If you get all males they won't breed (if you get a female by mistake you'll have hundreds of them in no time: not a good idea).  They are tropical, so need a heater, but about 6 of them would do nicely in 20 litres, especially if you keep the tank where it gets enough indirect light to grow some live plants for them: elodea densa is usually pretty bulletproof for beginners).

- another small group of small tropical fish: make sure you check carefully on an aquarium website about stocking densities and minimum tank sizes, as you don't have much room for error in 20 litres.

Personally for a beginner, I'd go get a heater and keep a betta fish.  They are great!

Whatever you get, your first step is to

1.  Research the nitrogen cycle in aquariums and do a fishless cycle.  This is how the filter matures so the tank is safe for fish from the get go.  Don't believe it if the shop staff said something about "run it with just water for a week and it'll be fine": it doesn't work like that.  You need to read up on it yourself.

2.  research the needs, including tank size, water chemistry (you might need to know your water supply type: is the water hard or soft where you are, for example, and get a pH testing kit so you have some idea of this), of any species you are considering keeping.

(I started fishkeeping by believing what the pet store staff told me when they sold me a 40l tank and 3 goldfish.  Stupid me did no research before buying that setup and assumed the staff would tell me right.  I very quickly got another much larger (150l) tank for the goldies and then had a heap of fun putting little tropicals into the 40l.  At one stage I had 7 tanks going, pre-kids.  Now sadly down to one at the moment...)


Enjoy!  Fishkeeping is fun.  But get it right to start with, or you are just being cruel to the animals you are responsible for.

#6 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:24 PM

Tenar I was thinking 6 neon tetras in that size tank?

I agree that a larger tank would actually be easier to look after.

#7 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:26 PM

Everything tenar said.

20L isn’t much, you will need to stay on top of cleaning the tank. Get an extra filter and heater, good ones, not the ones that come in the kit.

I killed a few goldfish in a small tank a long time ago, I gave up, gave them to my parents for their pond, they’re so happy now they have babies occasionally.

#8 seayork2002

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:28 PM

Thanks everyone, I know we have not made the wisest choice but will go through this thread tomorrow properly

#9 tenar

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:32 PM

Sorry, PP.  I think maybe you didn't notice the tank size and I'd hate for the OP to think this applies to any tank or especially a tiny tank like the OP has.  So I'm adding some qualifiers.

View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

You have to decide what type of fish you want. Are you going down goldfish route ( so don't need a heater, however goldfish are the most poo creating fish), freshwater tropical ( so you will need a heater as well as an aerating pump) or saltwater tropical ( heater, pump, salt etc, which is not easy for a newbie).
The OP's tank is far too small for goldfish.

View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

Personally, I would do freshwater tropical.

So would I :)  More choices available for teeny fish in teeny tanks...


View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

Now you should get a mixture of real and plastic plants (although plastic plants can be fine,
There are some very nice plastic plants out there, though I have never tried them.  If using real plants make sure your tank will get enough light.

View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

just feed a few frozen green peas occasionally) as the fish will eat them.
This will work fine if keeping fish that mostly like veggies.  Many fish won't touch peas, eg bettas are mainly carnivores.  Read up on the species you are keeping.

View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

You also need to buy some sort of fish that cleans, like a clown loch, red tailed shark etc to help clean the tank.
No fish eats another fish's poo.  Some fish feed on the bottom, but it isn't poo they are eating.  Any additional fish adds to the bioload in the tank, making the water "dirtier".  It doesn't solve a poo problem to add more fish, though in larger tanks it's great to have species that hang out on various levels of the tank.

View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

Then buy some other types of fish, guppies, tetras, angelfish etc.
Make sure any species you buy are compatible and that you have enough space in the tank for them.  Angels and lots of tetra species need fairly large thanks, though.  I think 20l is pushing it for guppies, to be honest.  For any species you need to consider how much space they need, how many you need to have in a tank (most schooling species need at least 6 of them, ideally much more, to be comfortable in a tank)

View PostKiwi Bicycle, on 17 September 2019 - 05:40 PM, said:

You also need gravel for the tank bottom and stuff for fish to hide in. In regards to filling a tank, you to it and wait a few days for the chlorination to dissipate before adding your fish as well as letting the water to heat up. You put the plastic bag with the fish submerged in the tank to acclimatise the temperatures before dumping them in.
Do some reading online or books about fish care. They do requure a bit of upkeep and cleaning. The water also needs to be changed every 6 months or so as well.
Just filling the tank and waiting achieves not much.  You need to do a fishless cycle.

When acclimating fish read up on how to acclimate them to your water chemsitry, not just the temperature (you risk sending the animals into ozmotic shock if you don't do it).

Most tanks need water changes of around 25% weekly, though if you are curious read up on "El Natural" tanks, that barely need any water changes, as the plant growth uses up the waste produced by the fish, keeping the nitrogen (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate) level at 0.  That might be what the PP is referring to with her tank.  I've got one running at the moment: it's fun! :)


As before, enjoy! :)  Fishkeeping is great and I wish I had more time/space for it nowadays.

Edited by tenar, 17 September 2019 - 06:33 PM.


#10 spr_maiden

Posted 17 September 2019 - 06:47 PM

I don't really know much about fishkeeping, though we have had a few tanks years ago.  Most successful easy tank we had was about 60/80l containing a bunch of neon tetras, two small gouramis, and a small catfish or two.  We ended up with sea snails in there too.  Fresh plants, gravel, heater, and a bigger filter than whatever comes with the tank.

The most work was a 40l with three tiny goldfish.  It was crazy how filthy they would make the tank in such a small amount of time.  Goldfish are greasy.

For your tank go a siamese fighting fish.  They are so pretty, low maintenance and you can make a really cool looking tank with gravel etc.  I would never get goldfish again.

eta: We had a light over our tank also, it makes the fish look even prettier and is practical.

Edited by spr_maiden, 17 September 2019 - 06:49 PM.


#11 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 17 September 2019 - 07:24 PM

Thanks Tenar. No I didn't read the size/ compute in my head properly. It's been a while since I kept fish, which I did as a child, so best practice does change.
We always keep a bottom feeder fish to keep algae growth down, not to clean up poo. That was up to us!

#12 kadoodle

Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:08 PM

I’d go with a couple of guppies or half a dozen neon tetras, tbh.

#13 Mollycoddle

Posted 12 October 2019 - 07:56 AM

Re cleaning the tank, as long as the levels are fine, don't overdo it. Changing the water too often can upset the levels and this plus vacuuming causes stress to the fish. Sucker fish are great for keeping the algae down and as a PP mentioned, plants can help control the waste.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 12 October 2019 - 07:57 AM.





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