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Common beginner mistakes

Discussion in 'Freshwater Archives' started by NJ Devils Fan, Dec 8, 2002.

  1. NJ Devils Fan

    NJ Devils Fan #1 Devils fan

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    If you have made a common beginner mistake in your fish keeping time, post it here. Hopefully, if beginners and newbies read this first, they will not make some of the same mistakes we have made.

    The worst mistake I made was when I first got my 10g tank. I just put the decoraions in it, filled it with water, and the next day, added about 10 fish. This was bad because I did not cycle the tank(check out this article if you are not sure what cycling is. Cycling). I also added way to many fish at once. When doing this, certain levels in your tank, like ammonia and ph can rise, killing all the fish. The most you should add to a tank at once is about 2-3 fish, unless you are adding schooling fish, then 5-6 is ok. Needless to say, within 2 days, all the fish were dead.

    Here is my site, check out the Getting Started page if you need some help or don't know what to do.
     
    #1 NJ Devils Fan, Dec 8, 2002
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2003
  2. val

    val .

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    KISS -- Keep It Simple

    There's a lot to fishkeeping, if you want to do it right, which you do if you're here and reading this. The biggest difference, and hence the challenge of fishkeeping, is that we have to create the environment the fish live in. Heaven knows having a dog or a cat or a bird can be tricky, but we don't have to manufacture air for the pets or create gravity... But we have to maintain the watery world our fish live in. So, start out with relatively simple fish in a simple setup. I started out with fantail goldfish. Hardy, a little more unique than the standard fishbowl goldfish, easy to find and easy to keep in small numbers. 10 years later, I'm only now branching out to other fish. Other good beginner fishes are mollies and swordtails, which come in a pretty range of colors and can be easily found.

    Other ways to keep this simple, get as big a tank as you can afford. I would recommend a 29 or 30 gallon tank. The bigger the tank the more stable the environment, and yet the cost of heaters and filters is still pretty low for this size tank. I went with goldfish, so I didn't need a heater. Trying to grow plants is a challenge for me, and I almost got out of the hobby when I failed at this aspect. Fake plants are pretty darn good now, so I would use them for the beginning.

    Ask lots of questions and take all the advice you receive with a grain of salt. Everything has worked for somebody, so it will look like you get conflicting info all the time. Other than my telling you that I, at least, am always right :D , I can't help you distinguish between good and bad advice. When in doubt, go with what seems most plausible to you.

    HTH,

    Val
     
  3. Sum-X

    Sum-X La Dee Da Dee Do

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    The biggest mistake I made was to put a Black Ghost Knife in a 10 gallon... Luckily, it did fine for 2 weeks, then I realized that they got to big and took it to the store and sold it... I've been keeping fish for some time now, and do not consider myself a beginner anymore.

    NJDF This is a good thread and should be an all time sticky... As the title to this forum says: 'The only mistakes are the ones not asked.' Or something like that. :D

    Another thing to remember... To all of the beginners out there, if you ask a question, and someone says something you don't think is right, don't just say you'll do it anyways. Because then, there wasn't even a reason for that question... Take the advice, do some research, and you'll find that the answers will present themselves in time. :D

    I hope I make sense. ;)
     
  4. famman

    famman AC Members

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    I don't consider myself a newbie but I still make mistakes.

    such as;

    Number 1 Mistake - Lack of Patience

    Number 2 Miskake - Overfeeding

    Number 3 Mistake - Contaminating Water

    Number 4 Mistake - Spilling Water

    I'm still working on them!

    good luck
    :)
     
  5. Sum-X

    Sum-X La Dee Da Dee Do

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    Patience and Overfeeding should be the top on everyones list...
    Some people become aggravated and bored, so they think they need a new fish, but don't neccisarilly have enough tank space. That results in problems.

    And Overfeeding is bad too... It may cause Ammonia problems, or even Filter problems... I still make these mistakes as well, and I don't think anyone, newb to expert is prone to it...
     
  6. pinballqueen

    pinballqueen Roleplayer

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    I have been keeping fish since before I was in grade school, so I have made a TON of mistakes that were easily avoidable.

    Rule #1: As almost everyone has mentioned, be patient. Don't go buy a tank today and stock it to the brim tomorrow. You'll just be wasting time and money. Lots and lots of money. (This is a lesson I am just now grasping and I've been doing this for a very long time...)

    Rule #2: Buy the biggest freakin' tank you can handle. Don't go buy a 10 gallon tank thinking "I'll get a bigger one once I learn a little more". Learn a little more now, and spring for the biggest thing you can fit into your budget (and your home). Granted, if you just have the budget and space for a ten gallon, then that is the tank for you, but go larger if you can. They're easier to keep clean and regulated, plus, you have more options fish-wise if you have at least 30 gallons to deal with.

    Rule #3: Do your homework and buy something you can take care of. If you walk into a fish store and buy something based on looks alone, you are most likely setting yourself up for disaster. There are tons of fish dealers that will give you the BS story about how fish only grow as large as their environment (which is true in a way, they'll die when they run out of room), or that the fish will only become aggressive when you start feeding it live food.... all the stories that are designed to talk you into buying something that will in all likelihood die within a short timeframe (and since you fell in love with the fish, you'll buy another just like it and start the cycle all over again). Be aware of any animal's habits, adult size, agressiveness, diet requirements, etc., so that you don't make this mistake when you walk in the door and get mowed over by a salesperson. (case in point, I purchased a redfin barracuda and took it home to my 55 gallon tank, at which point it proceeded to eat everything in my tank and then run into the walls because it didn't have room, eventually running itself into a heart attack....I didn't do my research until after the fish died and I was out $75. The silly fish needed at least six feet of running room and virtually no other tankmates....)

    Rule #4: Don't fill your tank with fish. Never follow that 1" to a gallon BS. There are very, very few fish species that can live in conditions that crowded. You wouldn't have 15 full-grown Rottweillers in your backyard just because someone told you they only need 5 square feet of area to live, right? Use common sense, and don't try to stuff as many fish in your home tank as the lfs has in his. Keep in mind, the fish dealer has the fish in there to get rid of them, not to keep them as pets....and chances are, his tanks are not as healthy as you would want your home tank to be.....(the exception to this is my lfs, the owner makes sure the fish are in very good living conditions and treats them like pets, not like stock to be sold....He does slightly overcrowd them a couple days a week when new shipments come in, however....)

    Rule #5: If you have a problem, don't be afraid to ask questions. This is a great forum for beginners, and we've all experienced some kind of tragic loss or another, so don't leave yourself in the dark, and don't give up, thinking that some people just aren't good with fish. It takes a lifetime to learn everything there is to know, and even the experts ask questions every now and again. You're not alone, so ask away, even if the question you have seems trivial. These folks are here to help.

    It is a truly great hobby to keep any kind of pet, and fish offer so many great things to someone who is willing to learn. Never give up, and great rewards await you once you've got the basics down.


    Pinball Queen, lenghty-posting knowitall....
     
  7. gcvt

    gcvt Functional Aquaholic

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    Great thread idea NJ Devils Fan!

    I think one of the big beginner mistakes is impulse buying. Researching livestock, before you make a purchase, is critical. You want to know exactly what you're getting into as far as fish size, requirements, preferences, potential problems, etc.
     
  8. christopher1260

    christopher1260 Expert Novice

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    i think the biggest mistake i made was not researching what i wanted before i got into it. the way to buy fish is to know everything about it before you buy it. for instance, if you see a cool fish at the lfs, come home and check out the species profile on this site. even if the fish is really cool, do not get it if you don't have the room or the type of tankmates that it needs.
     
  9. NJ Devils Fan

    NJ Devils Fan #1 Devils fan

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    Thanks gcvt. I asked Cindy about making this sticky like PG said. I think it should be.
     
  10. gcvt

    gcvt Functional Aquaholic

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    You're welcome...and I agree it should be a sticky. Heck, this is the kind of post this forum was made for! :D

    And, why there's no 'sticky' article on fishless cycling, I have no idea. Seems like a no-brainer.
     
    #10 gcvt, Dec 8, 2002
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2002
  11. TnCgal

    TnCgal Guest

    AWESOME !

    NJ Devils Fan,

    You just blew me away with this thread ! This was a GREAT idea ! Of COURSE I'll make it a sticky ! :)

    Let's see. My biggest mistake came down to just not being educated. I would say READ READ READ. Read about the nitrogen cycle. Read about the fish you are thinking of buying. Read about different filters and peices of equipment. Come here and post questions. Read everyone else's questions and answers !

    Being an educated fish-keeper can make ALL the difference in being successful or not. :)
     
  12. djlen

    djlen Fish?.......What Fish?

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    Water Changes

    I may have missed it but I didn't see anything in the above regarding water changes so, IMHO water quality is *everything* and the best way to maintain water quality is through water changes, at least weekly.
    And I will reiterate.....you will learn more on this forum than you ever dreamed regarding fishkeeping, so read, read, read, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
    Len
     
  13. Archer

    Archer happy new year!

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    TOP 10 beginner mistakes for me,
    and some helpful links I wish I knew back then ...

    1. Not knowing the basics of fish keeping.
    helpful link: http://faq.thekrib.com/begin.html

    2. Not learning about the nitrogen CYCLE.
    general cycling info: http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-cycling.html
    fishless cycling: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/cycling.shtml
    http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/cycle2.shtml

    3. Keeping incompatible fishes.
    Not reading about fishes' profiles before buying.
    http://www.aquahobby.com/gallery.html
    http://www.aquariacentral.com/species/fresh.shtml

    4. Overstocking, overcrowding.
    fish stocking guide:
    http://www.icesoftware.com/kdodds/fish/beginners.htm

    5. Not knowing about fish diseases and treatments:
    http://animalatlas.com/encyclo/information/freshwater_fish/Diseases.htm

    6. Overfeeding.

    7. Not doing enough water changes.

    8. Buying fish that are not the healthiest, and not acclimating them well.

    9. Not reading enough additional fishkeeping information.
    http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquasource/catlist.shtml
    http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/

    10. Not knowing about this forum soon enough. :D
     
    #13 Archer, Dec 9, 2002
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2002
  14. fishlips

    fishlips Quality Takes Time

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    My very first mistake, buying a two gallon hex and two fantails the same day. It was a present one year ago to my niece and all is well thanks to this board. The store clerk said, "yeap, fill it up and throw them in.

    After setting up that hex and reading this board for a year I don't think I made a mistake worth mentioning. Thanks to all of you!
     
  15. rockhead44

    rockhead44 AC Members

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    What about jumping on the medication bus when you thought a fish was sick.I am I the only one who made this mistake?In the beginning I would miss diagnose a illness and overload the meds,Back then I did not know better.I use to get a sick fish panic and run out an buy some meds and end up messing up (or killing)the rest of the fish in the tank cause I thought more meds would work faster.I did a lot more harm the good.I use to go into a pet store and tell them my fish had this that or the other thing and they would say you need this and that and I would buy it.Now I am a lot wiser and I know what when to act quickly or not . For the beginner buy yourself a few books and do some searching on the web.Before you dump in the meds cause they can kill fish faster then the illness.I am sure I am not the only one who has done this.You live and learn.It takes time, work and sometimes heartache To take care of your fish but it is definitely worth it .Great post n.j. devil man
     
    #15 rockhead44, Dec 12, 2002
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2002
  16. Hammerman

    Hammerman I was here!

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    This is one great thread:D

    Mine were:

    1.) Not going with the fishless cycle route. Now that I know how to do this, I'll never go back to cycling with Fish. My time is so much shorter and I can rest at night and not worry about what I am doing to my poor fish.

    2.) It's already been stated, but it should be a Golden Rule, have patience with everything you do. For me I learn this lesson with Meds, Adding fish, Freaking-Out on any changes in the appearance of my fish or the tank.

    3.) Have a quarantine tank and use it!. This was the hardest lesson for me. Always having to treat the whole tank(s) just because I didn't seprate the new arrival, or didin't take out the infected one.

    4.) The best lesson I learned was to have fun with this hobby, it should not be so tedious, I learn this lesson by just stepping back from time to time and looking and the wondrous cycle of life in front of me in my tanks, and I just have to ;)

    Ok.. that's my 2 cents...
    :cool:
     
    #16 Hammerman, Dec 12, 2002
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2002
  17. morleyz

    morleyz This space for rent

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    Whilst I think Patience it the most important beginner trait, something happened to me last night I thought I should share.

    I have a 150G african tank that I swear wasn't keeping warm. My thermometer read 80 degrees, which should have been fine. Next thing I know, I notice 1 fish rubbing a lot, so suspecting some parasite, I wanted to raise the temp up a bit and add some salt. I cranked up the heater a couple of degrees, the next morning themometer read 81. I give the heater a little more juice and I get home from work last night, maybe 82 degrees if I let my eyes go fuzzy. Lucky for me, my massive Big Al's shipment arrives which had 2 new thermometers in it and I stuck both of them in. Want to guess what they read? 76 degrees. I borrowed the themometer from my 29G tank just to double check...yep 76 degrees. Wonder what the temp was before I cranked the heater.

    Needless to day, don't always trust your tests/equipment. If you think something might be wrong, verify it with a different testing method (new themometer, tank water sample to LFS, etc.). Even beginners notice warning sign, but sometimes just discount them because this test or that test says it something else.

    Oh yeah...and if you're buying fish from questionable quality sources, Q-tank them. Then you don't have to worry about importing diseases...I'm learning the hard way.
     
    #17 morleyz, Dec 13, 2002
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2002
  18. Mystroe_TheMyst

    Mystroe_TheMyst AC Members

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    super idea

    I hope the newbies take time to read this, i know that one problem with being a beginner fish keeper was patience, ohh you need so much in the begining, i ain't no newbie i just created a new user with AC cause something happened to my old one,

    a mistake i made was first of all not cycling my tank, and overstocking it....my first tank was a 8gallon (round about that) and i stuffed it full of nice expensive fish (expensive to a little boy) you know how it is you save up little amounts of money, anyway i packed it with about four $4 fish that was my whole savings (i was about 10-12yrs old) and then put fish i had caught from a stream mosquitoe eaters and platy swordtails, so i had about 8-10 fish in a little tank and all sorts of mayhem started

    first mistake: didn't cycle it

    second mistake: over crowed

    third mistake: didn't know the habbits of the fish and found it hard to feed them

    result of being stoopid: all fish died (was very distressed) but these fish were my cycling fish, i then started visisting web sites and i found this one! Reading heaps on fish before buying them, getting opinions from forums and forever expanding my knowledge on fish!

    Please people new to the fish game, READ UP ON YOUR FISH BEFORE YOU BUY THEM AND KNOW HOW TO SET UP A SUCESSFUL TANK BEFORE DIVING IN THE DEEP END............just ask these guyz here, the more experienced fish keepers, i'm still learning also....

    Enjoy the vast world of fish keeping!:)
     
  19. net_shark512

    net_shark512 Useless Chit Chat Posts 999,999

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    Re: KISS -- Keep It Simple

    I have made all the same mistakes but I don't agree that mollies are good beginner fish. I started with them in a cycled tank and they never lived very long. Mollies like the water more on the salty side.With out the right salt the get sick and die. Thats why I don't recomend them for the beginner.
     
  20. OrionGirl

    OrionGirl No freelancing!

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    One thing that I learned from having a SW tank that applies to the FW side--spend time watching your fish. Learn what they normally do, at different times of the day. This goes hand in hand with researching your fish before buying them--read what their activity level is like, and some common displays, ect.

    It's surprising the number of posts I see from people who are worried their fish are freaking out, when it's really a common activity, just not one they've seen before. Sometimes it's a breeding display, or sparring for dominance, but it seems like sometimes it's just normal things that fish do, but aren't seen when you feed or do a water change.
     

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