Characin's include Tetra's and are noted
for their extra fin between the dorsal and the caudal fins. This fin
is called the adipose fin. These are hardy and strong fish and for the
most part fairly cheap in price. One note though on what to watch out
for is painted fish. If you read the first page you will see that I
had purchased fish named Berry Tetra's. There is no such thing as Berry
Tetra's and they are white or albino Tetra's painted a pretty blue color.
These fish are expensive and I have heard that they do not live long
from being through a great deal by being painted. I have 6 still in
the tank and haven't notice any of them being bad off but the color
fades in time and then you're just left with a white Tetra! Good fish
that are cheap in my hometown are Black Tetra's. These fish have three
fat black vertical stripes running down the sides of them starting with
their eyes. I get them for 88 cents and they are very hardy and great
eaters. Piranha's are Tetra's and if you see these Black Tetra's eat
you will think they are Piranha's. Black Tetra's if kept in smaller
groups of less than six will setup territories among the males and although
no terrible fights will occur you will not see the fish shoaling as
they normally do. This takes away the natural look to the tank and you'll
see the constant bashing back and forth of the males. Black Tetra's
are very hardy fish and mine never even clamp a fin during the first
cycle of the nitrogen cycle. Actually all but a few Characins and Tetra's
are good starter fish. They are fairly cheap and are mostly strong hardy
fish. I will also note here that Tetra's are community fish. They should
be kept in-groups of 6 or more. Now this doesn't mean get 2 Black Tetra's
and 1 Lemon Tetra and 3 Penguin Tetra's so you have 6 Tetra's and a
rainbow of colors. This is the other big mistake of the newbie and I
thought and did the same thing. They need their same kind with them.
6 Black Tetra's or 6 Lemon Tetra's or 6 Penguin Tetra's. This way the
fish feel a part of the community. Also most Tetra's are middle strata
swimmers. Depending on how big your tank you should be aware of this.
But to start with 6 Tetra's for any size tank should be good.
Catfish are noted for the barbells that
start at their mouths and extend outward. Many varieties also display
the same Adipose Fin as do the Tetra's. Most Catfish as with the Tetra's
are hardy strong fish and also do one thing for you. They are natures
little garbage disposals! They wait patiently at the bottom for the
upper fish to make a mess and they clean it up. Also Pleco's which are
a good starter fish will help when the tank has cycled to clean up the
algae. A note on Pleco's though. These fish can get very big. They can
live for 10 to 15 years but also can get 10 to 15 even 20 inches long.
So be aware of that. Also a note on Pleco's. They are gentle and shy
fish. They can be left in a tank with tiny fry's with no fear of them
eating the fry. Although I have notice mine do like shrimp pellets they
are mainly vegetarians. Before your tank cycles algae wafers should
be bought and dropped in the tank every other day so they have a food
source. Algae doesn't grow till nitrate is in the tank and that means
the tank has to cycle. Cory cats are also very hardy and good fish to
have in the tank for cycling. Cory's will sift through the gravel looking
for scraps to eat and keep the bottom clean. Also Cory's can withstand
ammonia levels good and ammonia is higher at the bottom of the tank.
Pleco's can be kept by themselves and do not need others of their kind
to be happy. They do need a cave or rock ledge though to hide and will
defend the hiding spot very hard. Cory's are community fish and should
be kept in-groups of 2 or more. 2 or more of their own kind although
they will shoal with other kinds of Cory's they do prefer their own
to others. I love the little Cory's the best and they are bottom dwellers.
They are all cute. I have 2 julii's 2 Bronze 2 Peppered and 2 Black
Spotted Cory's in the tank at work. They all play together and they
are the easiest to tell male from females of all my fish. Females are
larger and fatter than the males and their eyes are farther apart. Males
are smaller with close set eyes and skinner than females. Also with
the exception of larger Pleco's all of these fish are cheap in price.
The two Bronzes I got from Wally World for $2.50 for the pair and they
were the only two Bronzes in the tank and ones female and one is male.
They definitely have a thing for one another. They court all over the
tank driving the others nuts. Small Pleco's are cheap at around 1 to
2 bucks medium Pleco's are around 4 to 6 dollars and large Pleco's are
up and above 10 dollars. I suggest a small one for price and size. And
also they will be big enough soon but they do grow slowly. In choosing
one try to see their bellies. Make sure they have puffy stomachs not
a caved in one. This will tell you if they are eating good and are feed
good. Also they have a tendency to have a large dung (Poop) trail behind
hanging from them. Not a pleasant thought but you will know that they
are eating good. Stay away from hardy but expensive Clown Loaches. They
are hardy fish but are very popular and expensive. They are not easily
breed in captivity and have to be imported in and the cost will show
it. When cycling a tank you want only cheap expendable (Although I hate
to think of them as expendable I love them all) fish. You want something
that if it does pass away it doesn't put a dent in the wallet.
Barbs and Danios:
Barbs and Danios are for the most part
strong and hardy fish. Cherry Barbs, Tiger Barbs, Rosy Barbs, etc are
all great starter fish. Strong and well adapted to put up with harsh
conditions. But one note here. Tiger Barbs are noted for fin nipping.
They are the yellow jacket pesky little guys that are very curious and
have to bit and nip at everything. Hungry little guys as well. They
are always hungry and will eat 24 hours a day like they haven't had
a meal in years. They should be kept in no less than 6 Tigers Barbs
per tank. More if possible and never with fish with long fins such as
Angel fish or Siamese Fighting fish or any fish that is slow such as
Discus fish. They will pick on them without mercy. Also why you must
keep them in-groups of 6 or preferably more is to keep them busy with
each other as to not bother the other fish. Cherry Barbs and Rosy Barbs
are fairly peaceable fish and don't display the same problems as Tigers.
All at small sizes are fairly cheap and are mid to bottom dwellers.
Rosy barbs have a note as well as they prefer cooler water temps. Depending
on the type of fish you care to keep this should be noted and water
temps kept at 68 to 75 degrees. Zebra Danios are a good and cheap tank
starting fish. They are top to middle swimmers but will on occasion
visit the bottom to play or get food. They are extremely active and
I wouldn't suggest keeping them with Cherry Barbs, which prefer to have
calmer fish. Zebra Danios are always in motion and never ever rest.
They are a very busy fish and fun to watch but should not be kept with
fish that don't prefer a busy tank. White Clouds are another cheap and
busy fish. My tank at home has 8 white clouds and 11 Zebra Danios and
they shoot in and out of each other constantly. Zebra Danios are around
70 cents to $1.25 and White Clouds are roughly the same price. Also
both will spawn easily and require little maintenance. Most Barbs and
Danios are good fish for beginners and could easily cycle a tank but
these are the most common and cheapest around my home. You may choose
others if the price is right. Also one other note about Tiger Barbs.
They require an well-oxygenated tank. They will not tolerate low oxygen
levels and they will suffer if not kept that way.
There are many other first fish that
can be used that I haven't mentioned because of price and or requirements
of care. Platy's and Mollies being one of these. These fish are cheap
and are very hardy. They are also very good at removing algae from the
tank. But Mollies and Platy's require brackish water. Brackish water
means that they require a small amount of salt in their water. This
small amount of salt may cause other fish to not like the water and
this is not good. If you like Mollies and Platy's and just want to keep
these kinds of fish then I would say that they are great and cheap starter
fish. Also keep in mind that fish swim in stratas. Most Tetra's prefer
middle stratas and Cory cats and Pleco's bottom dwellers. Zebra Danios
are top swimmers. Also another note to keep in mind is that some fish
do not tolerate others. Zebra Danios and Tiger Barbs are great together.
But put in some angelfish later on and the Angels will hate both of
them. Tigers will nip at their long fins and the Zebra's are always
moving and will drive them crazy. Same with Discus fish. I will suggest
the two books that I have got that I feel are great for beginners and
I read them often. The first book is: "The Aquarium Fish Survival Manual"
by Barron's and "Aquarium Fish" also by Barron's and no I get no money
for any of these books. Unfortunately!!! I feel that both of these books
are geared towards the beginner and have great photos in color of fish.
They give loads of great hint on breading fish and sicknesses and also
have a small section on plants. I wasn't even aware of the fact that
they were from the same company until someone E-mailed me, and I suggested
the books to them. I guess they have similar lay outs and I like the
format that they use. Fish I will suggest not to get until your tank
is established are Bala Sharks or Silver Sharks if you go to Wally World!!!
Haha! I'm sure Wally World will be sending me nasty grams soon! But
Bala Sharks are definitely for established tanks and also they get very
large around 14 inches in length. Also stay away from Oscars. These
are also fish that become very large and will be snacking on your smaller
fish in no time. Also they have nasty tempers. Goldfish should never
be used as a starter fish. First Goldfish are mainly cold water fish.
They are cheap but are also mass-produced and kept in poor condition.
They may introduce decease into your tank that will kill other fish
and most fish with ammonia levels on the rise don't need any help in
the make me feel worse category. There are many fish to not use for
many reasons but mainly stay with cheap fish (besides Goldfish) that
are hardy and do not have high requirements. Most Tetra's and Barbs
fit this bill. Well I almost forgot to mention since they are very popular.
Neon Tetras should NOT be used as starter fish. They are cheap but since
they are so popular they are mass-produced and are very weak in many
cases. Also they do not tolerate high levels of ammonia well. They are
nice fish to have and get along although small well with other Tetra's
but should be bought after the tank has cycled. Next we will discuss
types of filters and uses for them. Also I would like to touch on media's
gallons per hour needed.