Starting my first aquarium! :D (need advice though)
I have always loved fish, though I've had good experiences with them in the past so it's been hard to form a negative image of them. I've gotten over $500 this Xmas and birthday and I've been thinking about it for a long time now and I've decided to start a tank. I'll be starting with a 10 gallon tank that will rest nicely in my dorm with with my roommate (and though I will be moving into an apartment this summer vacation it is not out of the city, I just go from downtown to a bit out of the main city so the drive won't be extremely stressful on the fish and they'd be the last things moved as I don't want to over-stimulate/stress them with all the buzzing around that comes with moving into a new place).
I will be getting my fish from Petsmart (the only place in the town that even has fish besides Walmart... I never buy any fish from Walmart because I don't trust them enough to have cared for their animals there are two LFS here but they are too far out of town and my only means of transportation is a taxi... i don't want to spend $50 just to drive to a pet store) and I have it planned out so far of how it's going to go down (which I understand is good) and I have a word document with the basic information and requirements of the fish I would like to have (information gathered from Petsmart website only, not sure what other TRUSTED websites to go to for info) and have made sure that they are compatible.
Since 10g tanks (the ones I've seen) are 20" in length a lot may question the fact of "Well does she have enough space?" The answer is yes, my desk where the tank I PLANNED to go is at LEAST 2 feet in length with a 2 tiered shelf roughly the same length (as the half inch planks on the sides hang off the edge of the desk) but, if by some weird chance it doesn't fit, there is a roll out tower drawer that I can set it beside the desk. There is a large window in the dorm that covers 90% of the back wall so during sunny days the room is well lit (but I will have a light with the lid so no worries) and my desk is far enough away from the window that it won't get cold during chilly fall and winter months and the hall way is kept very warm and it seeps into the room under the door, its not a lot but it keeps the room at a perfect temp unless we open the window to air out the room. In spring and summer months (though this won't be an issue as I'll be out of the dorms and into an apartment by the time June rolls around which in Montana is fine) the room can be kept cool by opening the window, turning my tower fan on, and opening the door.
The only issue i'm worried about is music, as of course my laptop also sits on my desk and though the speakers suck on it, the tank will be, pretty much, right by it. No I don't blast my music, but I'm curious as if normal sound levels for music with bother the fish, or if my roomate plays music? (her desk is by the window, mine is by the door theres about...mmm 10 feet of space between the desks?) but she doesn't blast it either. Any thoughts on this?
So with that in mind, below is the list of fish I want to put in my tank. I am aware that it is recommended 1g of water per inch of fish but one of my fish only gets about 3-4" long that I've seen and had in the past for years and PetSmart recommends a 29+gallon tank for it... ridiculous.
To start off I have my Pictus Catfish which is what my old catfish, Snuffy, was back in Pheonix when I was... 8 or so. He(?) lived happily in the 10g or so tank we had for years until we moved, my father didn't care enough to take precautions during the moving and I was 8... not like I could do anything, so he died in the car ride. I want to get 2 of them but I understand a 10g tank is small and if it's highly recommended to only have 1, that is all I'll get. This is the MUST-HAVE fish, this is what my whole tank will be focused around (they are one of my favorite, and of course Snuffy was one. Welcome Snuffy Jr.) and the fish I have chosen I have took care to make sure they will work, but PetSmart has limited information and I am unsure of other sites that have RELIABLE info.
Next I want to get a few Hi Fin Platy (males only, I'd rather not have a breeding tank but again, my catfish could eat the offspring too but thats iffy to much to rely on but I know male and female fish are hard to tell apart) I plan to get 1 and eventually get more if the tank ecosystem can handle it.
I want to get a few snails (two maybe) these snails are about 1.5-2" big so I'm hoping the fish will leave them be. This is mainly to help keep the tank clean since living in a dorm, doing more than cleaning the glass and objects is difficult (I will do water changes, don't worry but it will be a pain to do them more than once a week but I will if I have to).
Lastly, Fancy Guppies (I'd prefer only males so I don't have a tank full of fish fry though my catfish might eat them but again, iffy, can't rely on them, also again, I know the differences between male and female is difficult though what I understand the males(?) are more colorful that the females for the guppies) I plan to get 3 at first just to liven up the tank and provide some middle-top dwellers. I'm aware that they are only about 1.5" big and risk them getting eaten by my catfish, but I'm hoping to buy the smaller catfish so the guppies have a chance to get big and fat to stand a better chance. Thoughts though on this? Should I not get guppies?
I wanted to get some Dwarf Gourami but I've been told they tend to fin-nip? Is this true all the time? Or do they do well with fish equal in size? Also, tank capacity, would getting a Gourami be too much for a 10g with the previous fish I already have picked out? Thoughts...
Thats all the fish, but I'm welcomed to suggestions, but again, the Pictus Cats are a MUST STAY, I will not sacrifice having at LEAST 1 in my tank. Also will this be too much fish? Like I said I don't want to overburden my filter and the ecosystem growing in the tank with too much at first. I want life in the tank, color, but again, I don't want my fishies to die. (yes... I said fishies)
Though I'd like to use live plants instead of fake ones... I feel it will be too much on me too fast. I've also had no experience with live plants before so I figure best wait till I'm in my new apartment and have the time to invest in them fully.
As far as equipment for the tank... I will be getting a lid with a light source. I know a filter is a must but curious as to which filter is the best for a 10g tank. I don't want to spend 50$ on a filter for a 10g tank that is only going to cost me 15$ max though I'm understanding that its better to buy a filter that can deal with more than the actual tank size so instead of 10g filter or lower I'd probably want to get one that can handle 10g or more to whatever number. I will be getting a water testing package as well, but I'm told the drops (or whatever they're called) are more accurate than the strips. I am also going to get Tap Water conditioner. I won't even drink the water that comes from the drinking fountain in our dorm, no way do I want to let my fish swim in it without making sure its as clean as it can get from all that icky stuff. Food of course, mixture of flakes and frozen blood worms probably that i'll most likely only give once a week. I'll also get some algae pallets(flakes, w/e petstores call them now) for my catfish (not sure if snails with need them I'll look into it) as I'm sure the tank won't have enough when I get the fish. Will I need an Air Pump? I understand that if the filter breaks the water surface they aren't needed (but I might get an air stone or two just in case unless it'll be too much). Thermometer of course for water temp. I know the temp that I'll need to keep my tank at already) Anything I'm forgetting? I probably am but nothing is coming to mind at the moment.
Will a water heater be necessary?