View Full Version : The ongoing story of a budding aquarist

09-10-2009, 08:39 PM
This is a tale that has been going on for less than a year. It remains a long tale though and will continue on even longer.

It began when my girlfriend moved in. With her came a 1 gallon tank with three black mollies that were still pretty much fry. She got four as newborns, three somehow survived in a 1 gallon tank to near adulthood. A few nights after it arrived I commented on the tank being too small. I knew nothing of keeping fish then, but it is kind of obvious that a one gallon tank is too small for three one inch fish even without any experience.

The next day I came home to find a ten gallon Wal-Mart tank. I was annoyed that she spent the money on it right then and didn't hide it very well. She was excited and then hurt that I wasn't. I felt bad for being a buzzkill, and suggested a "Fish Day" since there were room for more. I budgeted twenty dollars for the trip. Twenty. How naive I was.

At the mall LFS, we bought three red glofish, three neon tetras, and a common sailfin pleco. We more than doubled my budget, but we were happy with it. I had absolutely no interest in fish and was just trying to appease. I am a curious person though and accordingly I googled our fish to learn a little trivia about them. Innocently enough, I learned about schooling and about how some fish should be kept in certain amounts. I watched our fish and felt a little guilty. We went back out and got two more glofish and three more neon tetras.

In the weeks after Fish Day 2, I learned about cycling. I knew nothing of stocking, ammonia, nitri/ates, but I was beginning to become attached to the fish. When I found out about cycling, I tested our tank for ammonia. The levels were through the roof. I didn't know what to do, but then I remembered that the girlfriend's mother had offered us a second ten gallon and we declined. She knew nothing of cycling, but the tank had been up for years and had a couple fish in it so we knew it must have been. We took it (the fish went in her other tank), tested it, and moved most of the bioload over to that tank, leaving only the original mollies to cycle our new one.

It didn't last.

I missed having the gang together. Plus, at that point, I had learned that our tiny little pleco was going to become HUGE. He was barely 2" back then. We splurged for a 29 gallon kit from Wal-Mart with both justifications in mind. I knew by then to use both filters (along with everything else from the old tank) for a while and shut down the cycled ten gallon tank to make sure the new tank got a kickstart cycle. The gang was back together and the pleco had more room until we needed to upgrade again. We were settled. Kind of.

Now the tank seemed empty to me though. Plus, we had a 10 gallon partly through cycling that just lost its ammonia manufacturing fish. Another trip to the Mall LFS netted three dalmation mollies and three peppered cories for the 29 gallon. It also brought four very young tiger barbs for the ten gallon tank. I was happy with everything.

It wouldn't last. We went away on vacation only to return five days later to find some very hungry fish and four dead Tiger Barb babies in some very cold water. Poor things. The heater had stopped working while we were gone. We went back to get more, but the LFS only had three. We bought them along with one of the red tailed sharks they were living with. After finding out the obvious logistical problems for three barbs and red tailed shark in a 10g tank, I vowed not to ever buy fish without research again.

This lasted until the next time I was around fish to buy. We went to a different Wal-Mart than the petless one here in the same town as the mall, and lo and behold there were beautiful dwarf gouramis in a tank. I remembered reading dwarfs were semi-aggressive, the girlfriend loved them, and they were the right size for the barb tank. Everybody wins.

Except, apparently, the gouramis. More on that in a bit. In the mean time, we got the new 10 gallon back up and running. We were doing a fishless cycle through all of this and then bought some emperor and x-ray tetras to put in it when that was finally over. Or at least that is all we intended to buy. We also happened to walk by a beautiful juvenile female betta being kept in a twenty gallon. I had always refused to buy bettas because I did not want to cause a new one to be subjected to those bowls, but this one was never in one so we took the opportunity. Five newborn (that day) guppy fry re-populated the 1 gallon tank. Four are still alive.

After 48 hours of observation and reading online it was clear that the gouramis fate would be a slow, annoyed death at the mouths of the little barbs if we left them in there. We were also too afraid to put something showy in with the betta. That left a 29g that was probably already at its stocking limit. Two dwarf gouramis are not small additions in an overstocked aquarium.

One of the original mollies, the male, decided he didn't like gouramis and started chasing them even more mercilessly than the young tigers had. He got booted to the ten gallon tetra and betta tank. Two more young tigers, the original plan, completed the barb/shark 10g finally.

We realized we had too many fish for our tanks and pledged to stop, but we also began looking for a cheap 55 gallon set up. One morning we found a craiglsist offering for a 75 gallon tank and stand for $100. We thought it was a typo, called to ask, and ended up borrowing a truck and immediately heading out to get it. We sat it up, cleaned it up, and in a few days had it up and running with every single resource we had that wasn't in the 10 gallon tank with the barbs and shark.

All the filters (a 20-40g he gave us that obviously was never used with this tank, our 20-40 from our 29, a 5 to 15 from one of the tens, and a 20 gallon sponge filter) along with three heaters and two lighting set ups. The 29g and the 10g tetra tank moved in. The molly occasionally chases the gouramis but now they have tons of room to hide and it doesn't last very long. We increased the neon and zebra danio schools to eight and bought three red platies and three otos. Two otos died overnight. We borrowed a currently unused filter and light from a family member and got the 29g back running. The barbs and red tail now live there. I thought I had rehomed the red tail, but that fell through and now I figure I'll just try to raise him. The 29g is fine for now.

The stockings are in my sig. I left out all the decorating, planting, and equipping in this report because it would be too overwhelming to remember and write up. We have the guppy fry (minus one that died) in a 10g now, nothing in the other. The guppies will keep that tank cycled, but it is a hospital tank. They'll have a short term move into the 75g whenever someone is sick or breeding.

I'm planning on buying three green tigers and an albino bristlenose pleco to top off that 29g eventually along with a non-annual killies pair to top off the 75g from liveaquaria eventually, along with a group of dario darios for the empty 10g. It will be our first species only tank and our first that we specifically floorscape to mimic a natural environment. They will also be our first relatively uncommon fish and a sterner test in fishkeeping.

Before any of that, though, I need to buy a proper 48" light. Right now two lights are doing that job. I also need a proper 300w heater. Right now two 100w and a 50w are doing that job. I'm buying an Emperor 400. That 10g filter needs to move back into the 10g tank before I can get the darios and I need to return the borrowed 20-40 in there. One 20-40 and the 20g sponge filter will continue to help the emperor 400 though. After all that, I need to research and aguascape the 10g for the darios. Finally, I need to get the 10g cycled. Then, and only then, I will place my order.

I project ordering around Christmas.