A Beginners guide to buying your first fish

For anyone new to fishkeeping, you are facing a minefield of potential problems when buying your first fish...  But don't worry help is at hand, and the fact that you're reading this forum means that you've taken an important step to becoming an enlightened and responsible owner... well done you!   :)

Cycling
What on earth is cycling?

Well its probably the single most important thing that you need to learn, and preferably before you put any fish anywhere near your tank.  
This is the process of starting your own mini eco system to process the fishy waste products, after all they are living in the same water that they poop in! – It takes a bit of effort to get started, but once its up and running it should reach a nice balance and look after itself.
'Fishless cycling' is by far the best way to get started, take a look here for all you need to know: The Nitrogen Cycle


How many fish can I get?
Most people buy their fish from the local fish shop where you will see lots of tanks, each with lots of fish in them.  This is NOT how your tank at home should look!

The fish in the shop are usually very young, and capable of growing much larger than their current size – Always check on the maximum adult size before you buy that cute little fish…  Get this wrong and in 12 months it could have grown too big and you’ll have to take them back which is not fun.

The ‘one inch per gallon rule’ is a good general guide, this is one inch of (fully grown/adult size) fish length not including the tail per gallon of water in your aquarium.  There are exceptions to the rule, but follow it and you’ll have much better results.
   
 Only one inch per gallon?!   Well it might look a little empty to begin with but you’ll be amazed how quickly your fish can grow, and they’ll all be much happier and healthier.
   
   
  What type of fish?
 There are so many to choose from, if you are planning to use tap water then that’s a good starting point – For example my tap water is on the hard side, so I don’t keep any fish that prefer softwater.
   
 It’s a good idea to research all of your fish before you buy them, and check that they will be suitable tankmates for your existing fish… Impulse buys can be disastrous!
   
  Some fish are more hardy than others, and can be a bit more forgiving of less than perfect water conditions – These make good beginner fish, while you are finding your feet.
   

    First fish:
    There are so many fish to choose from, but here are some that are maybe a bit more suited to beginners
*Please note: Corys and algae eaters shouldn't be your very first fish as they require a mature tank


Fish to avoid:
Here are a few fish that are commonly sold to beginners, which are not  suitable and should be avoided
I hope this was of some help, and good luck – You’ve chosen an exciting and hugely rewarding hobby, and I guarantee it won’t be long before MTS sets in  :p


**  Thanks to everyone for their help in creating this thread, especially to Hayley for your help with the 'bad' fish

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