(Warning: this may be a bit of a sadder and more technical post than what I normally write. I am being very honest in my experiences so that anyone who reads this may not make the same mistakes with their animals.)
So it may or may not be obvious that I am a liiiiittle bit of an animal fan…just a bit…So it wouldn’t surprise anyone very much to know that I also have some fish! Unfortunately for my fish, however, my care of them has been anything but adequate until the last year or two.
When I was very young, my family kept goldfish in small aquariums and were convinced that they only had lifespans of two years. Goldfish can get huge and live for decades. Since then, I took up an interest in fish and went into keeping tropical freshwater fish. Guppies, zebra danios, a variety of algae eaters, an angelfish, platties and neon tetras have all passed through my tanks. I have been guilty of chucking fish into uncycled tanks, not quarantining fish, not testing my water quality, not checking for compatibility of fishes, keeping fish in tanks too small for them, not researching fish needs, not checking for full sizes of fishes or adequate schooling numbers, and providing my beloved angel with the opportunity to scrape herself up so badly on a little tunnel that was just too small for her that she died of blood loss. Due to my treatment of them, a lot of fish died from things that would have never happened if I had treated them the way I treat my fish now.
So from this bad record I am attempting to atone for my poor fishes. Starting from about a year ago, my standard of fish care improved. I have brought an API Master Test kit to test the water, I brought a second hand 75L tank and cycled it, I have researched extensively on the fish species I already have, and the ones that I could potentially get. I have added real plants to the aquarium for the very first time. I follow a strict cleaning and feeding regimen to attempt to keep the tank pristine. I have joined fish keeping forums far and wide all over the web, as well as building up some fishy contacts closer to home. Needless to say, I intend to do this properly from now on!
Here is my tank setups–
Tank 1= 75 L Aqua One AR510, with filter, and a 100 watt heater which I am currently not using yet (waiting to get a thermometre).
Substrate= smooth, small black river pebbles.
Ornaments= large volcanic rocks, some silk plants
Plants= a large amount of ambulia, some Christmas moss
Fish= 3 Zebra Danios, 1 male Guppy, 1 Albino Rainbow shark and 5 neon tetra. Also there are some ramshorn and malaysian trumpet snails.
Tank 2= 40 L glass aquarium with Tankmaid filter
Substrate= smooth, small black river pebbles
Ornaments= smaller volcanic rock, some silk plants, some driftwood
Plants= 1 Java Fern, some ambulia, some christmas moss, some duckweed
Fish= 1 adult female Guppy, ~20 juvenile guppy (1 month old), ramshorn and malaysian trumpet snails
Current problems with my setups–
a) My albino rainbow shark is a species of fish that likes way more horizontal tank space than what I have, as he will grow to 15cms eventually. So the minimum tank size that he should be in is a 100L, and that is really pushing it. Another problem with the shark is that he has water bladder issues stemming from some sort of sickness he got a while ago when the ammonia levels in the tank went up to 2 whilst I was away on holiday. He’s been sitting at the bottom of the tank now, which is preferable to being stuck at the top, and seems somewhat miserable about it. I brought him from a store where the person there said he would be fine in a 60 L… it wasn’t until I did my research that I realized how wrong that was.
b) My school of danios should be at least 6, as they love to be in bigger schools. No other problems with these guys, a very hardy character-filled fish.
c) My water quality has been a bit out of shape of late (ammonia= 1, nitrates=40 at the moment) so i have been doing a bit of work to try and get that back into line– mostly just frequent water changes, tests and not feeding the fish more than they eat. I suspect the water quality issues stem from when I went away– the person looking after my tank overfeeds them, and the rotting food causes an ammonia spike!
a) Water quality is a bit off in this tank– had quite high nitrates, so I added the duckweed.
b) Potential for my guppy fry to be eaten by their mother… is lessening but still a concern. She still chases them around a bit.
Good things about my tanks:
The general health and happiness of my fish has seemed to improve. I’ve definitely gotten more attached to them of late, and my danios and guppies seem to insist on breeding prolifically. The tanks look cleaner, and far more gorgeous than they used to be.
So, lessons I have learnt so far
1) ALWAYS research the fish you are buying; which combinations are compatible, their maximum size, their preferred tank size, their preferred water conditions, what they eat, how prone to disease they are. Some pet shops are going to hoodwink you into thinking a fish is fine where it’s not just to get sales.
2) Buy a water tester kit and use it! I’ve got one that tests for pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites; thinking about getting the ones that measure phosphate and hardness levels.
3) Never feed the fish more than they can eat in a few minutes— if you end up with excess food floating round, this can turn into trouble
4) Good tank management— (a) always cycle a tank before putting in a fish and (b) always quarantine new fish when adding to an established tank
5) Don’t overstock a tank. Putting too many fish into a tank– it’s not worth it. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
I feel quite guilty about my treatment of fish as I was growing up. I hope by writing this that it makes you think about your fish, and if you have healthy fish that you have treated better than I have, then you are awesome!
Where am I going from here? I am either going to rehome my shark or buy a bigger tank for him, I will increase the sizes of my schools of danios and tetras, keep a handle on my water quality and upsize my guppies to a 60L when they get bigger. I am also contemplating some sunset white cloud mountain minnows for an outdoor pot pond I have (currently only has plants). Most importantly I will enjoy my water babies, and how much happier they seem now that I am caring for them properly.
I’ll leave you with some pictures from my aquariums, and a few of the many internet websites I have used to expand my knowledge of fishkeeping; I sincerely hope everyone has a good day!
Any comments are much appreciated 🙂
A good website for looking at the requirements of different species of tropical fish
A good New Zealand Forum where you can search for relevant topics to your problem from past posts
A good guide to how you can stock your aquarium
Somewhere to read up about the Nitrogen Cycle in aquariums
I’ve also just found a load of answers to my problems by googling them 🙂
My 75 L, as viewed from the side 🙂
My 40 L guppy tank 🙂
Duckweed on surface of the guppy tank looks pretty cool 🙂 can be a pain when cleaning though
My wee danios asking where the food is 🙂
My albino rainbow shark hiding from all the ruckus in his log 🙂
The neon tetras chilling at the back of the tank