Freshwater Fish Keeping AMA!

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Alska, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    I've been keeping small freshwater fish for about 4 years now, and would love to answer questions about it!

    Most of my knowledge is focused around invertabrates such as shrimp and snails and around betta fish, but I know a fair amount of general fishkeeping stuff as well. And if I don't have an answer, I'm happy to research for you!

    Things you could ask:
    What is required for a basic tropical aquarium?
    What is aquarium salt even for?
    Why do I have algae?
    What are these tiny things in my tank?
    What is your favorite type of betta?
    Where is a good place to buy fish?
    What is this fish?[pic]

    And honestly anything else you wanna ask me, including opinion questions. I promise to do my best to be thorough and can provide pictures if asked! If you have a specific question about your aquarium though, i do ask that you provide as much info as you can as far as size, temp, and water conditions, so I can accurately assess the situation
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  2. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    how do i not kill lobsters or crawfish
  3. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    Well, what is happening to them(do they just die? Do they get fuzzy growths on them?), and are they wild caught or fancy ones?
    The first thing that comes to mind is that your tank may not be cycled. Cycling is the process of good bacteria building up in your tank's substrate and filter media. These bacteria convert ammonia produced by your animals into nitrite, and then into nitrate, which is much less harmful even at somewhat higher concentrations.

    ... And it just occured to me that you might just be asking about their care at all!
    So before i answer that, I still need to know what type you're planning on keeping. Different types have very different requirements, in part because some species get much larger than others, or are more active.
  4. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    Oh no I just want to know because some day I want to try and raise such fine beasts.
  5. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    also please tell me about the wonders of kinds of clawboys

    clawboys are good
  6. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    well the main clawchildren you can find are labeled as dwarf crayfish, and they come in normal red/brown, but also can come in bright blue and orange! There are more than 100 species of crays, so do your research on ones you find for sale, but most require 10 gallons minimum, cool water, and a very clean tank. They get up to around 3-5 inches at the most, and are best kept alone or in larger aquariums with fast cool water fish such as white cloud minnows. While 10 gallons is a minimum, more is always better- for crayfish, longer rather than taller is ideal, so a 20 gallon long with a cray and a school of white clouds could work quite well!

    True dwarf crayfish max out at about 2-3 inches, and are more peaceful than the larger variants, meaning you have a wider variety of potential tankmates, and can keep some varieties in groups even smaller aquariums- just make sure there is at least one hiding space for each cray!

    You can even go out and find your own in the river- the North American crayfish gets about 6 inches long, and as such requires a larger aquarium- I would say 20 gallons at a minimum. They should also be kept on their own, and may eat any other inhabitants if they can catch them.

    All of these require supplemental oxygen from a bubbler or a powerhead filter tilted down above the water, a cycled aquarium(like most inverts they dont do well with nitrites or ammonia at all) and all are omnivorous- they'll pretty much eat anything you give them. I think a good staple diet would be aqueon's algae rounds, as they have lots of protien, sink to the bottom quickly, and are easily broken up into several smaller pieces, meaning you can prevent fighting if you have multiples.
    Additionally, make sure to clean well during weekly partial water changes, and to make sure the lid is very secure- they are messy eaters and escape artists!

    Some links!
    Dwarf Crayfish caresheet:
    Electric Blue Crayfish caresheet:
    North American Crayfish caresheet:
    • Like x 1
  7. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster


    thank you
    • Like x 1
  8. Deresto

    Deresto Foolish Mortal

    Do you know anything about cherry barbs? Id love to get some one day but other than petsmart i dunno where to get them or in general how they do together/with other fish or what a good sized tank would be. Especially the tank thing because ive researched this for a long time and i get so many different answers
  9. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    I had some cherry barbs for awhile actually!
    In general they're really not picky- they can thrive in pH levels of around 6.5-8, and can tolerate temperatures between 70-80F without stress. They are omnivores, so they will try and snack on any algae pellets you might put in as well as whatever you might feed for their staple diet, but unless you have baby shrimp in your aquarium, they're very unlikely to try and make a meal of their tankmates.
    Compared to most other barbs, they're probably the most peaceful and so can be kept with most other fish that have similar requirements. Other barbs can be nippy so i would avoid any with especially flowing fins as a precaution, but I never had issues. They mostly stick to the middle/bottom of the aquarium, so that's something to keep in mind when choosing tankmates so that one level doent become too crowded.
    Since they're schooling fish they should be kept in groups of 6-8 at the minimum, with twice as many females as males. While they only get about 2" long at maturity, the size of the school and their activity level means they should be kept in at least a 30 gallon tank- personal reccomendation would be a 40 gallon breeder tank, so you can have a good sized school and also have the option to keep some other interesting species with them.
    Here is a good compatability chart that you can check to see if another fish youre interested in would work well with your cherry barbs:

    As for where to get them, your best option is to look for a small fish store in your area who knows what they're doing. Cherry barbs are fairly popular, so while you might not be able to find them at the big chain stores, you're likely to find them here. You can ask and they may even be able to order them for you!
    If you cant find a place you can drive to, next option is to look online. Be aware that shipping can be expensive for live fish- expect to pay $12-13 dollars minimum just to have them shipped to you. Spring or fall is also the best time for shipping, given the typically moderate temperature. The site Liveaquaria can be pretty expensive, but they are a reputable and reliable place to get fish. Also check out aquabid, which is basically ebay just for fish. It's a bunch of different sellers, but you can check out their past feedback, and compare prices between sellers. Finally, you can just look straight up on ebay. Again, check out their feedback and check what any negative feedback was for, but in general it's actually an okay way to buy fish. I've gotten guppies and shrimp from enay before with no issue on the sellers end(the post office is another- be there to recieve your fish package when its due to arrive).
    • Like x 1
  10. artistformerlyknownasdave

    artistformerlyknownasdave revenge of ricky schrödinger

    i live here now

    do you have any experience for lowering pH? or i guess info on why mine would be spiking, it was 7.4 out the tap and now it's 8.2 :? it's lowering slowly (i think/hope) but i'm not sure what i coulda done to make it go up in the first place! all i put in was dechlorinator and bacterial supplement, and it was super high before i put the latter in

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  11. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    Heck yeah! So, i will just answer everything here, so we dont clog your thread haha ^^

    Well, what's in your tank right now? Like, what sort of decor? Are you getting consistently higher results or was it a one off? For lowering it in general though, driftwood is definitely your friend! You can order nice chunks of it from fosters and smith for like $5+ dollars depending on size, or get it from local fish stores. Dont bother with any like, chemicals to do it? Those can be expensive, and a relatively stable pH is generally considered to be as good or better than trying to alter it.

    Aquarium salt is mooostly a waste of money imo, -if- your fish are healthy. Saying this bc some things of aq salt will say to add it to all the aquariums ever. Adding aq salt does help them regulate the amount of fluid in their bodies more easily, and is good to add if you have a fish with damaged fins to help prevent infection, so basically unless you have injured or very stressed fish it isnt really necessary. Also, if you ever do add aq salt remember that it never evaporates so like, dont add a whole tank's worth every time you do a water change.

    And while you didnt ask about it, im gonna add about epsom salt! Epsom salts are best used as a dip, meaning a temp thing in something not the main aquarium, and are used to remove excess fluids- you're probably not going to use this for yours, and its really only a comfort thing- if your fish is noticably bloated with fluid, its kidneys are likely failing. :c

    List of meds to have on hand
    Paraguard- for external parasites like ich as well as external fungal(white fuzzies on your fish)and bacterial(finrot, other injuries that could be infected) issues. Super gentle stuff, can also be used as a dip for new fish before adding them to the main aquarium. Dips can be done in something like a 1 gallon container, even for a school, bc dips arent done for more than an hour ever.
    Tetra Parasite Guard tabs- similar but also treats internal parasites. Only for if the problem is already in your tank bc it comes in premeasured tablets that treat 10 gallons each.
    Kanaplex- for agressive bacterial and fungal issues such as dropsy and popeye. Less imperative to have on hand, but a good back up for if the gentler options do not work.
    PraziPro- kind of like the tabs, but in liquid form and also works as a preventative. Reason why im including both is bc the tabs are a mix of meds that includes praziquantel, while prazipro is just that. So it's kind of your choice if you want to have one or both in your arsenal. You're much likely to find the tabs at a normal store though, where as you might have to order the prazipro.

    Also boosting those should be fine! They'll appreciate more friends haha, and with group petstore fish i usually get at least one or two more than i need for a school anyway, just in case they dont all make it. I dont blame you with the shrimp, ghost shrimp especially are very fragile little guys and are used as feeders as often as theyre actually kept in aquariums.

    Btw is a really good way to check out your stock levels! It'll also point out compatability issues, like if one type chosen might be agressive to another, its pretty neat.
    • Like x 1
  12. artistformerlyknownasdave

    artistformerlyknownasdave revenge of ricky schrödinger

    i think 35lbs of standard pet store gravel, and then 8 or 9 plastic plants (all rinsed thoroughly in water but not soap), then 3 aquarium ornaments-- a fake coral and two little caves, i'm not sure what they're made of though--and lastly a soft plastic anemone. all those got rinsed in water w/o soap too

    and the result is consistently high! it maxed out API's regular pH test, so i busted out the high range and tested both the tap and my tank. it was initially at an 8.6 liiiiike maybe two weeks ago? and stayed that way until i did two 25% water changes, and then it went down to 8.4 and stayed there.

    thank you so much for this good, good fish info!! would it work to dose the tank with a little paraguard when i add new fish, or would that stress out the fish/kill the nitrifying bacteria?

    (also i checked out aquadvisor and i love it...what a good service??? tysm)
  13. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    Okay, i would start taking out those ornaments one at a time and doing tests for a few days in between removing each one. As an added check you could submerge each removed one in water and test that to see if theres any increase.

    If it's been that consistant though, and removing the ornaments doesnt do anything, I would guess it has to be the gravel? Is it coated? If it's that stable despite water changes i would guess thats the issue, and in that case there's not a lot you can do but counter balance with driftwood or leave it be. The first of which will make your water slightly tea colored btw, if you really dont want that(it looks fine unless you have like, stark white gravel though imo)

    Ahhhh youre welcome! <3 And paraguard can totally be used in the general aquarium, it wont hurt your fish or your filter c: heck ive used it in my shrimp tank for their cory cat buddies and had no issue.

    Right after adding the driftwood

    Peak driftwood tannins, several months after adding
    The tank is a little lighter than that on average now, but i have had the piece for almost 2 years now. I can get a pic of the tank as it is currently tomorrow if you'd like.
    • Like x 1
  14. artistformerlyknownasdave

    artistformerlyknownasdave revenge of ricky schrödinger

    ahh thank! i'll take out one of the ornaments today and see if that does anything, and after they're all checked out i guess i'll assume it's the gravel if none of them are The Culprit

    your tank is really pretty omg :0 the tea color doesn't look bad at all! i definitely wouldn't mind more pics but that's honestly just 'cause i like looking at fishtanks, haha
  15. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    Ooof, thanks. I always think it looks a mess haha
    I really need to take pictures more often but i never do bc that means scrubbing all the little stubborn bits of algae off the insides and then wiping off all the water spots on the outsides lol. But heres some more old pics since you just like tanks!
    The shrimp tank and the 20 before the cats murdered it. See that bag of algae wafers on the top of the 20? Dont be me, dont store unsealed fish food above/on top of your tanks. It will get thrown in the water when youre not around, and you will come back to a dead tank because of the resulting ammonia spike.
    The last split set up I had before Lu(the pink gal) passed away. She was right around 5 though, so she had a full life. I've still got the other girl, but she's bigger now and currently lumpy on one side for reasons not yet determined.
    The best the 5 gallon tank ever looked lol, that thing was a mess. The algae got really nuts. Little fishie is Honey, she passed shortly after Lu did at around 3 years old
    • Like x 1
  16. PotteryWalrus

    PotteryWalrus halfway hideous and halfway sweet


    I used to have a long line of petstore bettas, some shrimp and a small 15gal community tank with a dwarf gourami, a golden apple snail and some cherry barbs. Unfortunately I had to give the community tank away after the other mini tanks passed on, because my mental health and spoon levels began to seriously decline, and everyone involved was suffering for it D: I'm better than I was now but I no longer have room in my room for a tank ^^;;;

    If I did I'd probably plump for like a 30-40gal and get a couple goldfish or something, because I love shubunkins and I feel awful for how I kept them in the past when I was young and ignorant ^^;;;

    Basically hello yes I am here for this thread and am happy to offer my experience and advice :)
  17. Secret Squirrel

    Secret Squirrel certainly something

    Do you have any advice on aquarium stands? I don't currently have an aquarium but I would like one at some point, and I find the thought of like... the stand giving out and coming home to dead fish + tons of water on the floor horrifying. @~@
  18. PotteryWalrus

    PotteryWalrus halfway hideous and halfway sweet

    In my personal experience aquarium stands - and this is speaking as an aquarist who had an absolutely shoestring budget - are very much you get what you pay for. Unless you're willing to shell out some £60+ quid (ontop of the fancy-ass tank with an inbuilt light and filter if you're going that route) then you are likely to get the apocalypse scenario you mentioned above. Better to just put the tank ontop of a really solid, reliable table or bookshelf with a polystrene slab or two beneath it to make sure that the glass isn't stressed.

    Also I think I still have some pics of the guppy tank I started off with as well as my Evil Shrimp Jail (my little 2gal home for shrimp started because there were some that would really go after my fishies, so Gay Baby Jail for crustaceans was founded XDD)
    • Like x 1
  19. Alska

    Alska Well-Known Member

    Agreed! Actual aquarium stands scare me tbh, bc they're so fragile looking. I actually had no issue with the one real stand ive had, but they still make me nervous. It's much better to go with a solid wooden structure than to go out and buy some pretty looking stand. Bookshelves or very solid end tables are the way to go. You can actually find these at like, resale shops- just be sure to test them really well, make sure theyre strong.

    What ever you put a tank on make sure that its solid as fuck and locked down if it had any pieces you had to put together. I actually had the tank collapse scenario happen to me a few months ago, though tankfully without any fish in the aquarium. I was setting up my 13g tank on a television stand that had previously been holding a huge old box tv. But apparently i hadn't locked everything back into place perfectly after moving it upstairs, so at around the 6th gallon of water it gave way and smacked my tank against the wall. Whole thing shattered and there was glass and water everywhere. It took literal weeks to get everything completely dry and i still occaisionally find glass on the floor
    0/10 absolutely would not reccomend
  20. artistformerlyknownasdave

    artistformerlyknownasdave revenge of ricky schrödinger

    seconding tank stands thing--our 50gal is on an old entertainment stand. it voids the warranty but the thing is sturdy as fuck and stores all the equipment really nicely

    also, aqadvisor is so good???? i think i've got the final lineup for the tank now-it says it's only at 66% but i think my filter would weep if i added any more guys heheh


    (the skirt tetras are a stand-in for the glofish since i think those are the closest) german blue rams are super
    pretty, they'll definitely be worth liveaquaria's shipping fees! if any of the numbers look bad though i'll totally adjust them
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