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My sister (15 years old) know basically nothing about fish except for the fact that they breath under water
ANYWAYS. She wants to get like a 20 Gallon or so, and wanted my advice. I suggested tropical fish instead of piranha's or cichlids for the fact that they are cheaper, and require less maitanence. I just do not know a lot of species or anything, and need some opinions on some great starters. No betta's!!! I suggested guppies, mollies, or something like that but she wanted something a little more interesting. Also they need to be colorful and easy to get. Any suggestions appreciated!

Thanks
Jon
 

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Maybe a mix with guppies and neons. If she wants 'interesting' you might have to go gouramis (the dwarfs are all nice) or even dwarf cichlids.

Just make sure she understands the importance of NOT overfeeding!!! By far the number one rookie mistake.
 

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Don't f*ck with the fairy.
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mollies do best in brackish water so i'd avoid them

guppies are easy, plentiful, have lots of movement, and very colorful. you can either do a proper tank of all one color and have her play around with generational culling, or just have a smattering of different colors however each successive generation may get more brown/mutty. they seem to generally live towards the top

tetras are also wonderful. two schools of two different kinds might be nice. my tetras inhabited the middle section

cory cats make wonderful bottom inhabitants and do best in groups of 3 or more. for a bottom feed they're quite active, and come in loads of varieites. i suggest peppered cories as i've had the most luck with them, and they only generally grow to about 1 1/2 inch max.

i noticed you said no bettas, but female bettas can make interesting community fish and tend to be top of the dominance ladder. groups of 3 are a must to reduce picking on each other and other inhabitants.
 

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I will bite your face!
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tetras kick much ass. If you want cool lookin little aggressivs silver tip tetras are cool. Just get at least 5 so they dont pick each other apart. you can chop up tiny peices of shrimp or whatever you feed your Ps and they will gobble it down.lots of cool barbs too. Hell male cherry barbs are cool. their little fat red fish they have some attitude.
a cool single fish would be a jewel cichlid. Very colorfull very active. semi inteligent. hearty cichlid and costs less then 10 bucks.
 

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I've always like good ol' fashion neon tetras. Although they tend to be kind of fragile when it comes to water quality. I have also had good luck with Serpae Tetras (they are red and black... they have a long fin variety too) , glowlight Tetras(look like orange neons), danios (zebra or giant... also make a long finned zebra), raspbora (yellow and black), mt. minnow? (dont remember the proper name but they are red and hang out at the top), Black neons (mainly black with a bright yellow line), Corydoras (i had better luck with bronze vs. the speckled... but it depends on the person... corys are interesting because they surface for air occasionally bc they are originally from low oxygen water)...

That is probably a pretty good selection. There are always platys too but I find them kind of boring and plain looking.

There are too many tropical fish combinations available... main thing to remember is to keep them in groups of at least 3 (shoals reduce aggression towards other species), don't overfeed, and keep up on maintenance... although they are not as messy as p's they also don't typically use the same amount of filtration that p's do. Weekly or bi-weekly water changes are still a must... although I have been known to push it longer, but I also understand why my fish die if they do.

edit: barbs were mentioned above... barbs are good easy fish that tend to be interesting bc they are semi aggressive. Many still have luck with them in community tanks. Which is another note... many times it depends on the fish and tank and not necessarily what the store says will work.

edit2: came to me while in class... white cloud mountain minnow i believe
 

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Cannonfruit!!!1!!1!11!
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I really like my female Con as a single fish...any Con would work, and they're generally fairly cheap. If you go to an LFS and see a feeder Con in with a larger fish, you might even be able to buy that one for little money at all. (Cracka' only cost me 99 cents...and she's been around for over three years now.)
 

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WWTCD?
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I would echo the recommendation of cherry barbs. They are quite hardy, being barbs, and are easy to take care of and colourful. I would probaly recommend going with a group of 6 or so - two females for every male. This way there's no big issues there. The males are easy to distinguish - they're more red.

To this I would add a dwarf gourami of some type. Depending on what colours your sister likes there can be quite a few different types that would do the trick.

I would also consider some type of bottom feeder like cories and some type of algae eater such as oto cats.

A couple of things to remember for the beginner is don't add all your fish at once - cycle the tank properly! If you want to help out you can donate some used filter media to kick start that cycle so it's less likely she'll encounter any problems. And remember to limit the amount of feeding she does. Especially in the beginning when the good bacteria is still establishing itself.

The reason why I would personally recommend steering clear of the livebearers is that with the overbreeding and inbreeding that is occurring these days it is very hard to find good, healthy stock. Most are so prone to disease that it's setting up the new fish keeper for failure which is a shame and horribly discouraging.

Let us know what she finally decides on!
 

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my sister who knows nothing about fish found zebra danios to be easy to keep, i gaver her an already established ac 500 for a 30 gal tank and although there was a lot of water movement no one got sucked up into the filter since there was a dead zone. they seem to be fairly tolerant of water conditions as long as you use conditioner and close temp water. they do seem to spook easily and can ram into the tank at top speed easily if you turn the lights on in the middle of the night etc. good luck.
 

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im sure she would think puffers are cool but you might need a 10 gal to breed snails in or somthing
 

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Cannonfruit!!!1!!1!11!
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Painted tetras are not really ideal fishes for anyone as they are dyed and therefore susceptible to all sorts of infections (as well as losing their colour...)

I would recommend against goldfish, parrots and oscars for beginners as well, especially for a 20 gallon tank as the OP stated...
 

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If I had to suggest a 20 gallon ensemble for a beginner, hm... I've worked in a pet store and helped kids set up their first tanks, so I'll be speaking from experience here as far as what worked for them and what was easiest. I'd probably go with a mixture of danios (that'll give you some color variation), some of the smaller loaches and "sharks", maybe dwarf gouramis, barbs or rasboras (in my experience they're a little harder to kill than tetras), kribensis would work well as long as there's nothing so shy and sensitive in the tank that they'd be a problem, cory cats maybe but they're a little sensitive to water quality so I'd wait until the tank is well-established before you even try adding those. Basically nothing sensitive or requiring any special care, nothing that'll outgrow the tank or cause problems with the other fish, so she can focus on learning how to maintain the tank instead of all the other problems that can happen. But you know all this; why am I rambling on about it!

Of course you can get a variety of colors and fin variations with livebearers, but there's the problem of breeding out of control so maybe they're not such a good idea for a beginner. My brother's girlfriend started out with a 10 gallon and a few baby mollies someone gave her. Within a few months the tank was so overcrowded she had to buy a 20 gallon just to hold them all, despite my telling her that STILL wasn't big enough. Now she's given away most of them, and she's still having constant problems with infection and disease and nothing seems to help. She's freaking out because she knows so little about fish and they're all sick and dying, and it's hard to explain to her how to deal with it because she's not as familiar with fishkeeping as I am. So yeah, not a situation I recommend for a beginner.

Or you could forget the "bread & butter" tropicals idea and go with a fantail goldfish or two instead.
 

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for a 20 gallon i would recomend convicts. 3 juvenilles. this might give you experience with aggression, breeding, and all sorts of fun. they are self sustaining enough with only minimal care. convicts generally get along great with one another. and they make for nice looking fish all their own in any case. firemouths are also a good begginer fish, but if your looking for something really small i cant help you there since i tend to snuff at betas and such.
 
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