Your Questions About How To Pick Stocks For Beginners

Sharon asks…

total beginner at the stock game, need help?

i want to begin investing in the stock market
not for big time money, but for pocket change, say about 300 to 400 a week would be good
how do i start investing money? how do i open up a portfolio? what are the essential things to do in order to invest in the right stocks? how do i know which stocks to pick? where do i read about which stocks are doing good and which are doing bad? i need some major help!

John answers:

Investing is a very rewarding activity if you know what your doing!!! Yes it has risks and rewards and you have to be clear on what your objectives are and strategies are. The first thing you need to do in order to get started is open a brokerage account, this will give you the ability to buy and sell shares on markets like the NYSE (New York Stock exchange) and the NASDAQ, there are many brokeage firms out there but if you want to spend as little on commison as possible stick to the discount brokers good ones are E*trade ( Firstrade ( As excited as you may be, dont make a single step until you are ready you have a lot to learn on stocks im 20 i have been trading since i was 17 and i still get trapped in pitfalls, YOU MUST!!!! And i Mean MUST!!! Read as much as you can on strategies and techniques a good place to start is (aslo have fantasy portfolio in order to practice your strategies) good begginer intermediate and expert tutorials, read books and on line articles books like the intelligent investor by Benjamin Graham are classics Amazon has abundance of them.
Your question about knowing which stock to pick well Thats a question that everyone asks when that opening bell rings, it really depends on your strategy of picking for example i am a value investor so i look for stocks that are under priced with strong fundamentals, while my friends are technical analysts and they base they’re buying based on a stock chart etc. You can read up on stocks on many many sources stock quotes and charts on or or newspapers like the financial times. Remember take your time and be very clear on your stratergy dont be afraid to get out there, fortune only favours the brave, eventually you’ll find something that works for you (at least most of the times ; ) ). Good Luck and Happy investing

Linda asks…

Stock-oriented guidebook for beginner?

I am trying to learn how to invest in stockmarket, looking at graphs, taxes, etc. I am looking for a book not something like “To Be Rich” or where rich investors write all these craps about endless repetition of “you must start now! read this book!” crap.
I am looking for a guidebook, not advisory book, some sort of a teaching book to learn to invest right away. I don’t need to know how to pick “good stocks“. I need to learn how to physically buy those stocks. Anyone know a good guidebook to stocks?

John answers:

To start buying/selling stocks, all you need is
— cash that is held by a broker,
— a broker,
— ability to contact your broker to place trades.

After that, you really do need to know what stocks to buy, when to buy them, and how to profits from them by knowing when and why to sell positions that you have previously bought.

Mandy asks…

Looking for the proper stock broker. What is the best online stock broker for a beginner?

Hello. I’m a college student that has never traded online before, though I have a pretty good understanding of the stock market in general and a decent idea of how trading works. I have studied the growth of a company over a couple of years and I am very determined to buy some shares. I do not intend to spend much (maybe up to $1,000) since I am very certain that the company will continue to grow excessively for at least 8-10 years. My question – how can I make sure that I will pick the appropriate online stock broker for my needs? I do not intend to be very active in trading (and I think this is especially safe for someone who is just starting out like me) – practically, all I need is the service of a good, simple online stock broker in order to buy the shares and maintain them for a good amount of time. I researched as much as I could and I am drawn between Scottrade and Tradeking. They seem to be more than enough for what I need… Any advice is very welcome. Thank you!

John answers:

I have scottrade and I have to say they are great. 7 dollar trades…they have offices you can go into if you live in a big city…they are pretty fast at depositing your money. (Its available next business day usually) and they are also very fast at sending you a check when you request money. Only one bad thing about scottrade is with options. Well probably a few things with options, but the one that got me was, i was trading some SIRI options once and they expired about 7 cents in the money. Turns out that I didnt get any of the money because they dont exercise them unless they are either told to, or they expire 25 cents in the money. I lost about 200 dollars because of this, but in all fairness they did try to call me on options experation day to see what i wanted to do, but they couldnt get ahold of me as i was in S.E. Asia at the time and my cell didnt work there.

Ruth asks…

OKAY. A LOT of beginner tank questions. Can you help me?

This is a REALLY long one. If you can answer everything, I will be SO grateful. ^_^ And it will really give you a chance to show off your fishie knowledge…so for those who are up for it…

Here’s the facts:
1. I have a 10 gallon tank. I intend it to be freshwater and tropical.
2. It’s not near a water source (sink/bathroom) or window.
3. I have a heater, filter, thermometer, net, gravel, and bucket.
4. The hood on the tank has the regular old bulb that came with the setup.

Now for the questions…
1. What’s the best/fastest/neatest/most tried and true way to change the water if the tank is nowhere near a sink or window?
2. I want to have real plants. Do I need to have some kind of special substrate other than gravel? Or in addition to the gravel?
3. What kind of light bulb do I need since I want to have plants?
4. What are some good plants for beginners?Which ones would be good in the background/midground/foreground?
5. I was thinking of stocking my tank with the following combination:
-sparkling gourami
-female betta
-male blue platys
-cherry or amano shrimp (which is a better cleaner? which is hardier?)
-male guppies
-male endler’s livebearers
Does this sound like an OK combination? Will all these fish get along? Is this too many fish? How many of each should I have? Do any of these need to have another fish of their own kind? Can they all live within the same temperature/pH/hardness range? Are there any other fish (not interested in suckers/corys/otos) that you would recommend? Please give me a list of fish/critters (and the numbers of each) that I can have in my tank. Including most of the ones I listed, if possible.

PS: I already know how to cycle a tank.
PPS: I promise to pick a best answer.

THANKS!!!!! 😀

John answers:

1) I used to lug buckets back and forth from the sink and use a siphon to transfer the water but I just picked up this great product which attaches directly to your tap and comes with 25 ft of hose. (i think you can get different lengths too.) The only thing is you have to put the conditioner directly into your tank, so you sometimes have to use more than you would if you were only treating the water you were putting in. (but, with a ten gallon tank…we’re not talking much!)

2)These are a couple options on what substrates can benefit a planted tank:
* Flourite:
A great substrate. High CEC, inert, very nice looking. Nutrient rich, but the nutrients are only available to plant roots. They will not leak into the water column. Contains iron and other trace elements. Doesn’t get soft in water. $15-$20 per 15LB bag.

* Profile:
A good filler. Inert. Doesn’t get soft in water. High CEC, tan/light brown in color. Contains no nutrients. Lighter in weight than Flourite or regular gravel. I had some problems in an experimental tank that used 100% profile, even with 3″ of profile, the substrate was unable to hold some plants down. Sold as “Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil”, or “Schultz Clay Soil Conditioner”. $10 for a 40LB bag at Home Depot.

* Vermiculite:
Inert. This is a soil additive that has an extremely high CEC, and contains some trace elements. It’s very lightweight and needs to be covered with a layer of heavier material to prevent it from floating. Very messy to work with. I had some in a test (plant only) tank and even after two months, a bunch would float up whenever I added/removed a plant from the substrate.

* Sand:
Inert. No purpose other than to hold plants (and lower layers of other substrate) down. Low/no CEC.

* Gravel:
Any gravel made for aquariums should be inert. If you are buying bulk, you can drop some into a cup of vinegar. If it fizzes, it isn’t inert, and will harden your water. Even if you have soft water, that isn’t a good thing, as you won’t be able to control how much it hardens it. Most gravels have a low CEC, and contain no nutrients.

* Topsoil:
Lots of organic material. This creates a very rich substrate, too rich in my opinion and experience. Leads to lots of algae growth, from the endless supply of organic nutrients into the water. Also, leads to areas in the substrate that will rot, killing off the plants in that area. I avoid using any organic material for my substrate.

* Peat:
Again, organic. Will alter water chemistry, softening water and lowering pH. If used (if you want softer water), it should be under a layer of some non-organic substrate (sand/gravel/etc)

* Laterite:
Purely a substrate additive. It’s a rich red clay. Inorganic, and inert. It’s very rich in iron and some other trace elements. Must be mixed with a regular substrate, and buried under a layer of some regular substrate. Otherwise, the iron and nutrients will enter the water column, clouding the tank, and resulting in extremely high iron levels, which will lead to algae problems.

(taken from

3)lighting: For a small tank, the watts per gal rule don’t work. You need more wpg to get to an equivalent light level compared to a large tank. It also depends on how densely you want to plant your tank.

1 wpg over a 10 gal will not be too great for plants. Depending on the light (some are more efficient than others), 2-3 wpg is what you should be aiming for (A high light tank will have 5-6 wpg).

A glass top will definitely give you the most options. You can hang fixtures from the ceiling, or attach them to the rim with legs. And you are not tied to any aquarium fixture, as an ordinary fixture (with the right spectrum bulb) will work as well.

4) good beginner plants: first of all, don’t bother putting any plants in your tank until the ammonias and nitrites are holding steady at 0ppm. Even low levels can damage the plant roots and cause them to rot under the surface. I’ll give you a link for this one… B/c it’s quite a detailed list and also includes “blacklisted” plants that are not suitable for you tank, but still sold as aquatic plants. Http://

5) ~sparkling gourami (gorgeous itty bitty fish) but you may want to wait until your tank has established itself (a few months at least) as they are quite sensitive and delicate. Also remember to leave an air space at the top of your tank as they are a labyrinth breather and need fresh air. This fish is also quite shy and may be harrassed by your female betta, or any other semi aggressive fish. Make sure there are ample hiding places.
~ the female betta is a simple fish, but I would skip her as she may harrass your gourami who is a much more visually striking fish. She may also pick on your cherry shrimp. She is also a labyrinth breather so same rules apply as above.
~I quite like cherry shrimp, they’re tiny and very diligent cleaners. It’s also nice to have that pop of colour. Make sure you have sponges or a clean nylon covering your filter intakes to make sure noone gets sucked up. It’s alos a good idea to provide good hiding places for these guys (either variety of shrimp) as they do molt and need to hide for protection.
~the next few fish… Endlers, platies, guppies… I would chose one. And get at least 3 to 5 I’m afraid your tank is too small to house all of them in proper numbers. If you’re looking for variety go with guppies as they come in some amazing colours and you can even get split tails that look like endlers.
~hatchet fish. These guys are actually a schooling fish and are most happy when kept in schools of at least 5. I would recommend maybe forgoing these until you have a bigger tank. They are lovely fish… Especially the marbled ones… But your tank isn’t quite right for them.

Instead, I would be tempted to stick with one or two sparkling gouramis, 5 or 6 cherry shrimp and 4-6 male guppies in a well planted tank. That would be VERY striking and amazing…
Get yourself some riccia, wisteria, and a few anubia with some manzanita root to do up the aquascape.

I hope I helped!

George asks…

Need scuba gear advice!! (Scubabob, where are you?)?

I’m a new diver and looking to purchase my own gear. I know how everyone has different things to look for, but seriously need to hear a couple of brand names or models.

I am completely landlocked working for six months at a time in the oilfield in the Canadian north, so local dive shops don’t exist for me. I will be in Toronto for 24hrs this winter on my way down to Cozumel and would like to buy some gear. I plan on doing recreational open water diving down to 130 feet max, and possibly trying some basic, beginner caves. About 50% of my diving will be done in fresh water lakes all well above freezing temperatures.

I have tried Scubapro Twin Jet Max fins, and Atomic Aquatics Smoke on the water and find they are both very comfortable. I would get the Atomics because they feel a tiny bit better, but am told that all split fins stink in a current. (Cozumel). Any advice?

Masks, snorkels, wetsuit, boots and computer I am comfortable choosing myself.

I see an overwhelming amount of people on scuba forums say that they have switched to the backplate/wing style BC after a little experience and have decided just to start with it. I am considering the Scubapro Knighthawk, what do you think?

What would be one of the best regs/octos for recreational diving? Am looking at the Atomic Aquatics and Scubapro pages. I’m not concerned about cost, but don’t want something I don’t need. Just looking for the best gear that a purely recreational diver could use, and possibly do an easy beginner’s cave dive in.

How about good high quality gauges?

There is enough cut and dry data in Scubalab to pick the correct computer for myself. Reg/octo, gauges and fins are my biggest concerns.

BTW: I am not going to buy my gear online, will support my ‘local’ dive shop 1500km away in Toronto, my home away from home, but have found talking to them that they only advise me to buy whatever brands the happen to stock. Just want some straight talk from some experienced dive folk.

Thanks very much to everyone who has read this!

Also, can anyone recommend a good scuba magazine besides Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine? I already subscribe.

Go Maple Leafs!

John answers:

Hehe…Go LEAFS:)
Okies, for starters how “new” a diver are you? You’ll want your advanced for what you plan on doing in Coz for some of the walls but most of your dives there will be much shallower and in the 40-70 foot range.
Current you won’t be fighting. You’ll lose. It’s all drift diving down there. Plan to be where you have to be to see what you want, well in advance. That current is a ripper. The cenotes are an awesome dive. Carwash and Grand being the popular ones. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a decent dive shop that will provide a DM to give you an intro into cavern diving but you’ll have to take the ferry from Coz as the cenotes are in and around the Mayan Riviera. It’s a day trip there and back with two dives and a little jungle gear humping at Car wash cenote and a lot of it at Grand cenote. Watch your step on the stairway. Gravity can hurt.
Now, on to equipment.
There are three dive shops worth their salt in the greater Toronto area. AquaSub in Richmond Hill, Colt Creek Diving in Newmarket ( my fav) and also in Newmarket, The Dive Shop. Also in the area is Scuba 2000, Richmond Hill. They can be pricey to cover their advertising costs and in my opinion, they are also the diver version of a puppy mill for training but…just my opinion and their bad luck for having a higher fatality ratio than the others to my knowledge. Karma?
Fins: The jury is out on to go split or traditional blade. It’s a personal thing. You’ll just have to try both. For example, I have a kick style that when used with splits…gets me no place fast. With my Blades…I leave the split guys in my wake and I find my manoeuvrability is better in tight spots or frogging. You’ll just have to figure out which fins work better for you by asking to borrow a set of both and using them in the same conditions.
BCs: The Knighthawk is an excellent back inflation and will last you a long time. Pretty user friendly, has the D rings in the right places and more than enough lift and decent pockets. The ability to trim it out is a bonus on the surface. If you don’t plan on going tech, this BC is a good choice.
Regs: All the major manufacturers make good regs. I’m surprised that I didn’t see Apeks in your list though.
You’ll need to do a little pre planning in this department though. Will you go Nitrox? Not all regs come factory ready for Nitrox. Some can’t even be used for Nitrox at all. The one thing you need to make sure of, given on where you plan to dive (here) is that you’ll want an environmentally sealed first stage in whatever reg set you decide on. Costs more but after you’ve had your first freeze and free flow in a non environmental, you’ll wish you’d spent the money. The water you’re in may not be freezing, but the air at the surface sometimes is, or nearly so on a November or March dive in the Great Lakes area. As for “toys” like second stage adjustments. Up to you. I find no need of them and actually see divers getting into trouble with them. An added distraction and I can’t count how many times that pre dive / dive selector has messed up someones dive. Lots. How many free flows have I ever had? None on old Sherwoods, Mares or my newer Apeks. My Mares second makes the rounds between all of these first stages. No toys, no problem and in some pretty demanding conditions. Having said that I’ll probably have one up in Muskoka next week end (touch wood, bet I jinxed myself now and the cracking valve shoots my buddy in the butt)
Ports…make sure your first has enough ports. Want to add a sending unit later for a fancy integrated computer or a whip for a dry suit? Need ports. Dedicated lift bag inflater? Ports and more ports.
If you’re getting into wreck diving later, you’ll want a low profile first stage or one that you can invert mount. Less to snag on a interior rail ( dunnit…not good and you can be hooked for a scary minute).
Gauges? OMS all the way. I’ve had others fail but never an OMS.

Magazines: Rodales is the most comprehensive in subject matter. It also tends to be one sided depending on that month’s advertisers. Sometimes you have to shake your head and wonder why they bothered to write an article when the condensed version is in the back in the form of an ad. If you have a peek in a Chapters store, you’ll find they have Sport Diver ( PADI’s attempt at not being biased) and one from the UK I get on occasion simply called Diver. When you hit a Toronto area dive shop, look around for a newsprint quality mag called Northern Diver I believe. Only seen one or two issues but the articles were geared toward our kind of diving and Canadian sport diving industry news.
And finally…high five!!!! Buying from a dive shop is just so much better than rolling the dice on internet sales. It’ll fit, you can easily get service for the gear and it can actually cost less in the long run. I get a 15% discount automatically for any purchase and never need to pay for air because of customer loyalty. Besides…who are you going to hoist a beer with on a Friday night planning your Saturday dives after a dive shop visit ? Your computer? Nahhh.
One last note that ties in both buying at a dive shop and your choice of gear. You get to put it all together before you pay for it. Handy if you find that your first stage’s orientation interferes with maybe the grab handle on the BC for example or the often heard “darn it…I thought that clip would be easier to operate, should have thought about my gloves” before the old Pay Pal investment. Then there’s also the ” crap…the pic on the web site looked like that BC knife sheath would fit on my shoulder strap”. Nice to find out these things in the shop and not in your living room if it arrived by courier a piece at a time. Granted, there can be some deals to be found on decent stuff that’s not life support, but it’s tough slogging.


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