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Newbie aquarium story and request for future advice


AC Members
We wanted to do an aquarium for my daughter when she turned 5. I'd always had one growing up, and I thought it would be a good way to teach her responsibility as well as life and death. It's also alot of fun, as most of you know. First of all, let me preface this by stating that we've made alot of mistakes along the way. I'm acknowledging that here so that I can hold off on criticism and instead figure out advice of where to go in the future.

We went to our local fish store and bought one of the Aqueon 10g starter kits. I knew 10g was a little more difficult, but we didn't really have dedicated space in the house for much larger of a tank. We initially started with 4 White Clouds. We lost 2 during the initial cycling, but once it finished cycling we added 2 more back, and all 4 are thriving well over a year later. After that we added in 4 Glowlight Tetras, 1 Siamese Algae Eater, and 2 Panda Corys. Not long after this, I learned how big the SAE gets, so I knew that eventually I'd have to upgrade in size. The next steps we got were 2 German Golden Rams. Unfortunately, the rams were very aggressive one one of them killed the other after about 3 months and then died itself a month later. We were then advised to try Dwarf Gouramis and adding in a Clown Pleco, but the two gouramis died to Dwarf Gourami disease about 2-3 months later. We also lost our SAE. After all of this, we asked the fish store for advise on a larger, non-tetra that would be a little more hardy. He actually suggested getting a male and female Golden Panda Lyretail Molly. The female died 2 months in.

So, that's our gruesome story. Alot of it we thought was just bad luck with aggressive rams and the dwarf gourami disease. However, after the molly and two SAEs died, I did some research and came to the conclusion we had vastly overstocked are aquarium and overloaded our filtration. I had asked about this multiple times at the fish store and was told that we should still be ok as long as we do 25% water changes every two weeks. I'm realizing now that this was bad advice, especially if the female Molly had survived and started having babies.

So, currently, we have our little 10g tank with 4 White Clouds, 4 Glowlight Tetras, 2 Panda Corys, 1 Clown Pleco, and 1 Golden Panda Lyretail Molly. That's still overstocked, but I'm doing weekly water changes now and things seem to be more stable. I think I may be able to convince my wife to buy a stand and get a larger tank, but am looking for further advice. The site I was reading stated that I should at least have 5 White Clouds, 5 Glowlights, and 4 Panda Corys so that they'll be happier. I also wanted to get another SAE and make sure the tank was big enough for it and the Pleco we have. The site suggested I should go for at least a 30g, but more likely a 55g tank (if I can find the room for it). I'm also a little crazy and got intrigued by breeding the Mollies, but I know I'd have to try to get 2-3:1 female:male ratio for that. So, would filling out those schools and getting a larger tank be what you would do, or would you try something different? This has quickly gone from a fun little thing for my daughter to a more interesting hobby for both her and myself (my wife doesn't want to have to do anything for it).


No freelancing!
I think your plan sounds ok, though I'd discourage the livebearers unless you are ok with most of the fry being eaten--keep in mind that a large molly can drop 30 + fry at a time. Growing them out is usually done in a separate tank, since pretty much all fish will snack on fry--and then what? You need an outlet for offloading them, as well...meanwhile the females are all pregnant again.

What temp are you keeping it at? White clouds are temperate, while the others are tropical, so that will be a potential cause for issues. White clouds are pretty tough, so they'll do ok if kept a bit warmer than ideal, but it's something to consider. Great fish, one of my favorites.

I'd also think hard on the SAE...why do you want it? Algae eaters are not a requirement, as they produce large amounts of waste, and SAE specifically can be rather aggressive. Clown plecos stay small, in the 3-4 range, so will be fine.

And sadly, your experience with poor advice from the store is pretty common. Most stores just want to sell you more stuff, rather than give you the tools to succeed. Not sure where you are located, but you might want to look around for a local aquarium club/society. They can be a fantastic resource for information, supplies, stock, as well as potential market for fish you don't want to keep or fry.


AC Members
The original SAE was purchased because I had read they were on of the best algae eaters and our tank was having a bad algae problem at the time. The little guy cleaned up the whole tank really well with the help of an Olive Nerite Snail. It was one of our favorite fish as it was constantly active, and we never had problems with aggression. The current pleco does a good job but doesn’t get in the crevices of the rocks and into some of our plastic plant leaves, so having something to help it was desired, especially since it was one of our favorites.

The White Clouds haven’t had any issue with temperature, and I’ve done a lot of reading about them and have been reassured that they can do fine with the other tropical fish. We don’t have control of the heater, as the Quietflow 10 only has one setting (something I’ll be addressing in the future).

As for the mollies, we were gonna just let nature takes its course. I was going to provide lots of hiding places for the fry. If we became overstocked by them, the store will accept fish from us.

The biggest obstacle is going to be convincing my wife that a 55g would be better. She only reluctantly let us do the 10g since it was small, but now that we have too many fish, I think the best thing for them would be to upgrade. A 20g long tank would fit in the same spot, but from what I’ve read, it sounds like we should go no smaller than 30g. That would require a stand and a dedicated space... so if we’re doing that, I’d rather just do a 55g to make everyone as happy as possible. Again, I know we’ve made mistakes, but I’m just looking for the best past forward from here.


AC Members
SAE get 5 or 6 inches & eat less algae as grow, they love fish food more! I wouldn't keep 1 in less than a 4ft tank...& like they friends, although 1 is ok...ish.

How long do you keep your lights on? Less light means less algae. Since you don't have live plants (yet, lol), 5 or 6 hours is plenty. You might plan them to go off shortly be for your child's bedtime (goodnight fish, it's time for bath, story, whatever her nightly rituals are...I'm not a parent).

I'm not a fan of livebearers since our newbie guppies. & mollies get pretty big.

I think you should focus on more whiteclouds, panda corys & glowlights, 5 of each is the very minimum, more of each is always better. Those & a clown pleco would work ok in a 20g long or 30g tank in a fully stocked or more way. But, if you can get a larger tank, pearl gouramis are beautiful, peaceful & less apt to have "the dwarf gourami disease". They're big & have "feeler fins", like all gourami.

A very good habit to get into is a 30-50%+ water change every week. This very important in heavily stocked tanks!

If $$ are an issue for your wife (& that's fair), you might look at Craig's List or garage sales. $1 or 2/per gallon should get you a tank, stand, light (of iffy quality), a filter of a lesser type & a bunch of crappy colorful gravel, decor & old foods & meds. It depends on where you live & your bargaining skills...& the high hopes of sellers...shop around!


AC Members
Great advice, so thanks. We haven't had algae issues lately after we got a timer for our lights. My wife and I work long hours and the lights we being left on for over 12 hours a day. We now have it set to run for 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening, giving them 8 hours during the time when we're home and able to enjoy them. I also have been doing 25% water changes every 2 weeks, although with the increased load and loss of the 2nd molly, I'm going to be doing it weekly. Since then, we haven't had algae issues. As I said above, the SAE was a necessity at first but was picked a 2nd time because we liked it.

We originally had no intention of dealing with fry, but the idea grew on us when we got the mollies. The idea of having a generational population just seemed cool. I don't think any of the other species we have would lay eggs, even if we upgraded to a 55g with live plants. We were more attracted to a hands off breeding program that the mollies brought. The guy at the pet store said that if you don't separate the fry, most will get eaten, so they shouldn't overrun the tank. However, that was with a smaller tank where there is less room to hide. While it may seem cruel, it's also a nice snack for the other fish. With a 55g tank, there'd be more room and I'm not sure the tetras or White Clouds are big fry eaters. If we do end up going with the live breeders, we can offload them to the fish store if needed.

One final thought. To add variety, I was thinking about some cherry shrimp. They don't add alot to the load to the tank, clean a little bit, and they satisfy the baby animal issue too.

the loach

AC Members
Aquariums are a declining hobby.... you can get second hand tanks very cheap. Yes many sellers start out high but find out the hard way hardly anybody is interested, the tank is taking up a lot of space and off it goes...

There are a lot of different species you can keep but your current mix is just waiting for problems.

White clouds are subtropical and shouldn't be in a heated tank.
Mollies come from a completely different biotope as tetras and cories and shouldn't be in the same tank.
Get some live plants instead of an SAE or other algae eater. Read this topic..

Decide on a biotope first and foremost, then select fish from that biotope that are compatible with each other.
Ask here... and it will be easier to keep the fish.


AC Members
Thanks loach. I realize on hindsight that we could have chosen better based on biotopes. However, while it is not ideal, it's what we have and they do just fine together. I'm just trying to figure out how to best make my current fish happy.