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20 gallon native tank

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#1 Guest_jl38295_*

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:32 AM

I am thinking of setting up a 20 or 29 gallon native fish aquarium. This would be my first aquarium, so I was wondering if native fish would be a good place to start in fishkeeping. If so, what species of fish would be good for a beginner? I have done my research and have read about cycling the tank and such.

Thank you in advance.

#2 Guest_Newt_*

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:08 AM

Hello and welcome to the forum!

Native fish are a great place to start in fishkeeping. Many of them are hardy and easy to care for, and require a pretty minimal tank setup. There are quite a few species that can live happily in a 20 or 29 gallon tank. If you put your location in your user profile, we will be better able to suggest species that you can find locally. In broad strokes:
  • Minnows (Cyprinidae) are virtually bulletproof, for the most part. They are active and quickly (often instantly) learn to eat flake food.
  • Sunfishes (Centrarchidae) are another group of hardy, adaptable fishes. Many species are too large for a 20 or 29 gallon tank, but several species would do just fine in such a tank. They do tend to eat smaller fishes, so you must plan stock selection carefully if you want sunfish in a community tank.
  • Pygmy sunfishes (Elassomatidae) are tiny invertivores that are great for small, planted tanks.
  • Livebearers (Poeciliidae) and topminnows (Fundulidae) include many attractive, active species that do fine in tanks.
  • Darters (Percidae, in part) are among the most attractive of our fishes. They are not too difficult to keep, but need a little more care than some of the other groups. I suggest you wait until you have a little more fishkeeping experience to keep them.
  • Catfishes (Ictaluridae) include a number of small, handsome species, the madtoms (genus Noturus) that are great for intermediate keepers.
There are a number of other groups of fishes, but these include the species most commonly kept in tanks in your size range. In general, bigger tanks are better, for a few different reasons:
  • You can keep larger or more active species
  • You can keep a greater variety of species in a single tank
  • Water temperature and chemistry is more stable
So, get the biggest tank you have room and money for. Tanks with lots of floor space are better than tall, narrow tanks. The warmwater natives listed above don't need a heater, and most aren't very picky about water pH, hardness, and so on, as long as it's not too extreme or unstable. Proper oxygenation is important, so be sure your filter agitates the water surface well, or add an airstone.

#3 Guest_EricaWieser_*

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:01 PM

The species of native fish that I currently keep is the gulf coast pygmy sunfish, Elassoma gilberti. I wouldn't recommend my Elassoma gilberti to a beginner because they don't eat flake food. Not that breeding grindal worms is hard. Or buying cubes of frozen bloodworms. Hmm. Okay, I might recommend Elassoma gilberti to beginners, but they have to know that special non-flake food are required.

Here's what my Elassoma gilberti look like:

Here's what my grindal worm culture looks like:

Full tank shot taken yesterday of the 55 gallon Elassoma gilberti tank:

They'd do well in a 20 gallon tank.

Edited by EricaWieser, 04 April 2012 - 01:02 PM.

#4 Guest_jl38295_*

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 05:21 PM

Thanks for the replies! I think that I will probably end up going with a 29 gallon complete setup. Would it be good to start out with something easier like minnows and then try something like madtom catfish or darters?

#5 Guest_Newt_*

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 06:03 PM

Yes, that's a good plan. Before you go any further, check your state fish and game department's regulations. I skimmed over Utah's fishing regulations, and learned that it is illegal to take live non-game fish away from the water where they are caught. However, you can probably still purchase fish from online vendors (like the ones in our vendor section, as well as Sach's Aquaculture). Just be sure not to purchase any species that are prohibited in your state!

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