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I have an aquarium. I don't want fish in it. Help.

DenadaDenada Registered User regular
edited May 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Okay, I have a Marineland Eclipse Hex 5 aquarium, currently dry and empty. I would like to put something in it to keep me company at my desk, but I don't want fish. So I'm asking for suggestions on some kind of small pet that would be happy in a habitat that size. Here are my requirements:

-Cleaning needs to be minimal. I'm in an office and the only usable sink is on the next floor up on the opposite side of the building, so frequent scrubbing and washing and such is out of the question. Preferably, all I would need for cleaning is a trashcan.

-Whatever it is, the pet needs to be able to survive a weekend without anyone feeding it, cleaning up after it, turning on the lights for it, or even acknowledging its existence.

-I can't do live feeding. Or, at least not live crickets. Mealworms and such I can handle, but crickets and their ilk freak me out.

I've been interested in green tree frogs, long-tailed lizards, and hermit crabs (obviously not all three at once), but there are things about my situation that seem to preclude proper care of any of those creatures. So I'm looking to you for suggestions on something that could be happy in there.

I realize that the best option may be to avoid pets altogether and to turn the thing into a terrarium for some plants, and I'm open to that. If you have any ideas for that I'd love to read them.

TL/DR: I have a tall(ish) 5-gallon tank. I want a pet, but not fish. It should require very low maintenance. I can't handle live crickets. I need ideas.

Denada on

Posts

  • KochikensKochikens Lovely-Cuddle-Blanket-Stephen-Fry-Awesomer Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    There really isn't much you can do with a 5 gallon hex. Don't let anyone talk you into putting any sort of reptile in there. Your tank is simply too small for a lizard or any sort (and prettymuch fish anyways, so it's a good thing you decided against it). Maybe a frog? I'm not sure as I don't keep them, but frogs are fairly high maintenance because of misting, though they MIGHT be ok over a weekend.

    Hermit crabs would work. BUT, look into Shrimps.

    cherry_red_shrimp_5.jpg

    5 gallons is just fine. And you can have a beautiful water-plant tank.

    shrimpHut.jpg
    3594171868_e3b01e156c.jpg
    cube_04062008-3.jpg
    PL-MO11-08.jpg

  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited May 2011
    Sea monkeys? Newts?

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The big issue with not wanting fish (aside from the limited space in the tank) is that I don't want to be dealing with a lot of water. This is going on a desk in a cubicle a long way from the nearest sink. So really, any aquatic creature, not just fish, are not going to work.

    I can handle needing to bring down a cup or two of water once in a while or even daily, but lugging forty pounds of water up the stairs, across the building, and back is not something I'm interested in.

  • KochikensKochikens Lovely-Cuddle-Blanket-Stephen-Fry-Awesomer Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    No newts, Skoal cat. That is way too small of a tank for newts or most amphibians (I actually can't think of any that would suit, though, someone who knows frogs might know) because its a vertical 5 gallons.

    Just fill it up once, Denada.

    1230-Whale-Pail-Neapolitan-.jpg
    One gallon. Do this five times when you first start your tank. Then maybe once a week following.

    I don't know about hermit crabs so I can't be any help there. They need temperature control though, I know that. So. But really, 5 gallons is too small for most living things.

    I've actually had the exact same tank as you before and have filled it with nice mosses and some plants and just watered it once in a while and it did fine and was cool.

  • UsagiUsagi WOMP WOMPRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    How about turning it into a terrarium for carnivorous plants?

    Look into sundews and nepenthes and I'm a newbie but I'll point Dru in this general direction as he knows a whole lot more about them than I do

    Jormungandr? Damn near killed 'er!
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2011
    Carnivorous plants could be a good option for the tank. The thing is, you'll need a fluorescent light for the plant(s) to grow well as many carnivorous plants need a fair amount of light. You'll also want to pick your species carefully as some grow quite large (most nepenthes pitchers for instance) and some just don't do well in terrariums and either do much better outdoors (like venus flytraps or sarracenia pitchers). But there are some carnivorous plants that would do well in such an environment and would be small enough.

    Here is a good place to start.

    I'd recommend butterworts or sundews as a good option. Like I said earlier, most nepenthes will get too big for such a small tank. Nepenthes truncata when mature can produce pitchers over a foot tall and leaves the size of dinner plates. Not a good match! :)

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Tarantula?
    The OP gets squicked at handling crickets. Somehow, I think a giant spider is probably out as well.
    Also, I imagine the tank would be pretty small for a tarantula.

    Personally, I'd suggest doing the plant thing mentioned earlier, then getting some fake poison dart frogs to add a bit of color to it. I mean, they're easy to take care of, no cleaning, no feeding, never going to die on you, and only have slightly less personality then real frogs.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • MetroidZoidMetroidZoid Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I think the carnivorous plant idea is spot on. I would pass on the venus fly traps myself, unless OP doesn't mind switching them out after a few months when / if they peter out, but yeah pitcher plants and sundews are great. He could even put an african violet in there for color too.

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  • LibrarianLibrarian Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The tank is actually rather big for tarantula, but I wouldn't advise to get one, as they need live food, preferably crickets or grasshoppers.
    If you feel uncomfortable about spiders don't even think about it, I raised some baby mexican red-knee spiders just to see if I could do it once, but once they got closer to their adult size I had to give them away as they were becoming a bit too scary for me.

    Insects might be your best bet though, in terms of maintenance and room required.
    I had different ant colonies and they are fun to watch, but most colonies will grow to a point where that tank is too small and you will have to take some extra precautions to keep them from coming out.
    And you need to find a queen of course, which is harder in the US than it is here in Europe, since your state laws are stricter and we can just oder one from the internet.

    For mantis and living sticks and all those it will probably be too small.

    friedegg wrote: »
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  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I also think keeping a tarantula in a cubical in an office is going to be problematic. Like, meeting with the boss problematic.

    Frankly, the plant idea is not only the best one here, but also seems like the only reasonable thing you can do with this tank.

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  • LibrarianLibrarian Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Sentry wrote: »
    I also think keeping a tarantula in a cubical in an office is going to be problematic. Like, meeting with the boss problematic.

    Frankly, the plant idea is not only the best one here, but also seems like the only reasonable thing you can do with this tank.

    I second that. For an office environment you don't want anything that could freak people out.

    friedegg wrote: »
    Lord of the Flies. Frightening. Especially if you are a fat kid with glasses.
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Okay, it's looking like a terrarium is the best option, which is what I was expecting. Carnivorous plants is something I didn't think of, but I really like that idea.

    This tank has a built-in fluorescent light in the hood, so that should work well for them, right? What about food and temperature? Do these carnivorous plants actually need to eat things to survive, or can they do with light, soil, and water like regular plants? And is an office that is typically in the 60 - 70 degrees F range okay for them?

    And how many plants do you think would fit comfortably in there? A couple butterworts and a sundew, or is that too many? Any advice on where to actually get these plants? It doesn't seem like your average Home Depot is going to have them, though I could be mistaken.

  • Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive Damn these electric sex pants! Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Will the light in the hood be able to stay on all weekend?

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  • NobodyNobody Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Denada wrote: »
    Okay, it's looking like a terrarium is the best option, which is what I was expecting. Carnivorous plants is something I didn't think of, but I really like that idea.

    This tank has a built-in fluorescent light in the hood, so that should work well for them, right? What about food and temperature? Do these carnivorous plants actually need to eat things to survive, or can they do with light, soil, and water like regular plants? And is an office that is typically in the 60 - 70 degrees F range okay for them?

    And how many plants do you think would fit comfortably in there? A couple butterworts and a sundew, or is that too many? Any advice on where to actually get these plants? It doesn't seem like your average Home Depot is going to have them, though I could be mistaken.

    Actually I see kits for carnivorous plants all the time in home improvement stores, nurseries, and even in the seasonal aisle of grocery stores. It doesn't hurt to look, but I can't speak to the quality that you'd get.

    Usually its a variety pack or just flytraps though.

  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Will the light in the hood be able to stay on all weekend?

    Yeah that shouldn't be a problem. It doesn't really get hot. I could probably get a timer for it too if that would be better. If I'm going to get some plants, I want to raise them right.

  • SiskaSiska Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Some homicidal plant care tips here ---> http://www.pitcherplant.com/terrarium.html
    That terrarium is of course bigger than yours, but you can probably scale down some of the stuff suggested to make it fit.

    Here are some plants you can buy at amazon.com. Make sure you check size they grow and what kind of care that specific plant needs before you buy. Light and heat needs vary.
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=me%3DA2M3UEMSNZKK5L&field-keywords=carnivorous&x=0&y=0

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  • Alien QueenAlien Queen Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I kept one of these in a fish tank with no problems:

    http://chicshowcase.blogspot.com/2009/02/i-bought-hamster.html

    They certainly don't need baby sitting 24 hours a day, and as long as you clean the cage about once a week or so, they don't really smell imo.

    Edit: Whoops, Koch, didn't read the type/size of the tank, so ignore me :p

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  • KochikensKochikens Lovely-Cuddle-Blanket-Stephen-Fry-Awesomer Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I kept one of these in a fish tank with no problems:

    http://chicshowcase.blogspot.com/2009/02/i-bought-hamster.html

    They certainly don't need baby sitting 24 hours a day, and as long as you clean the cage about once a week or so, they don't really smell imo.

    He has a 5 gallon hex, not really appropriate for a hamster at all. You couldn't even fit a wheel in it.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2011
    I would strongly recommend you not buy carnivorous plants from a hardware store, Amazon.com, or really any place that's not a nursery that specializes in carnivorous plants or you're all too likely to get a plant that's not potted in a proper medium or are just unhealthy plants that haven't been cared for properly. The place I linked to (Sarracenia Northwest) is a nursery in norther Oregon I've been very happy with, but you certainly don't need to use them. I'd just recommend that you go through a reputable nursery that actually grows their own carnivorous plants and know what the fuck they're doing. Many carnivorous plants are pretty easy to raise if you know how, but there's also plenty of ways to kill them out of ignorance. Also keep in mind that carnivorous plants are not all in the same family of plants. They're grouped only by their habit of trapping prey, but are actually a diverse group of plants that are not that closely related to each other. Sarracenia have quite different requirements from nepenthes, and drosera require very different soil conditions. A little research into what would best meet your needs and how to care for them (if you go the carnivorous plant route) will greatly reduce the likelihood of you having dead plants a year or two later.

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  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I think there are at least a few local nurseries around here, though I'll have to find out whether they deal with carnivorous plants or not. If I have to order online, I think that site should work fine. I'm in California, so shipping from Oregon shouldn't be too bad.

    Now, should I go for a variety of plants, or is the tank too small for that? I was initially thinking I would get a couple of pinguicula 'tehuacan' and a drosera spatulata. Would those live well together? Do you think there's enough room in the tank?

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2011
    Yeah, those two would do fine together and what you see in the photos is basically what you get with a mature plant. They really don't get any bigger than that aside from it cloning new plants. I'd recommend just start with a couple of plants at first and see how much room if any you have left to add more if you want. Your tank is pretty small. Carnivorous plants do benefit from trapping insects (it's how they supplement their supply of nitrates and phosphates because they grow in nutrient poor soil), they'll do absolutely fine with a small bug like a fruit fly or an ant once or twice a month. And going back to the nutrient poor soil, it's very important that you a proper potting medium when you repot them (you'll want to do this about once a year, preferably in spring) because they actually cannot tolerate normal soil that's rich in nutrients. Their roots will die.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    California is a pretty easy place to find reputable carnivorous plant nurseries, actually. One particularly famous one is located somewhere in Sebastopol, whose owner wrote one of the most thorough books on how to successfully grow the major genera: The Savage Garden.

    Some beginner friendly and small plants I can recommend:

    Sundews/Drosera:
    Spoiler:

    Butterworts/Pinguicula:
    Spoiler:

    Bladderworts/Utricularia:
    Spoiler:

    Tropical Pitcher Plants/Nepenthes:
    Spoiler:

    Feeding: some pet stores have dried insects meant for reptiles or fish (such as dried blood worms [mosquito larvae!]). These will work just fine for all of the plants above, as long as they are not fed to excess (a small pinch of blood worms on a few sundew leaves works just fine). Avoid feeding plants 'human' food (hamburger), with the possible exception of Tropical Pitcher Plants; I've dropped a torn up shrimp that fell into the grill into a pitcher before, and it proceeded to have a month-long growth spurt.

    Water: Distilled or De-Ionized water only (read the label to make sure nothing has been added back into the water). A gallon should last your terrarium a few months (IF the pots are not drained/have no holes in the bottom).

    EDIT:

    Venus Flytraps/Dionaea muscipula:
    Spoiler:

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