It’s a small, small world

It’s a small, small world

Or so the song goes, but for my fish tank, it’s gonna be a small world.   “How small?”, you might ask.

This small

A 2 gallon fish bowl.  Maybe 2.5 if I fill it all the way to the top.

This is the bowl that was at the house. Remember, I don’t have an aquarium, stand, test chemicals, etc.  So I’m looking to do an entire setup on very little money.  This fish bowl was generously(?) donated to the cause.  Well okay, I was told I could use it when I asked if I could have it.  That’s pretty close, right?

What do you keep in a drop of water?

Crushed dreams mainly.  On a serious note, I started to think of all what I could do with it.  The majority of what I would normally keep pretty much went out the window.  Not daunted by the task, I started giving it some serious thought.

If you’re new to the hobby, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.  Well, when it comes to fish tanks, smaller is not better, bigger is.  Often people want to start out small, see how they like it first and then take the plunge.  That’s a great theory, and works for a lot of things, but not fish.

A bigger tank takes less work and is more forgiving of errors.  Think of it this way: if you put two drops of food coloring in a typical mug of water (about 12 ounces) and two drops of the same food coloring in a 5 gallon bucket of water, which one would you notice the color change in?

The mug of course.

For contaminates, or adding too much of a chemical, or temperature change (like in winter when you may lose heat), the small tanks will be affected first, while the larger tanks are buffered against the changes for an extended period of time (in a temperature change) or a much smaller, less costly loss of fish (with contaminates or chemicals).

Yes, bigger tanks are much more costly to set up and sometimes maintain (depending on what you have in them), but compared to the amount of money you could lose to a mistake, carelessness, or ignorance, the extra buffering power is well worth it.

That being said, nano reefs (very small reef setups) are fairly popular.  I had one in a 10 gallon tank for a while.  But really, unless you are experienced, you’re better off going as big as you can (within reason of course).

Not quite what I meant by a ‘nano reef’

It looks bigger than it is.

So one of the first things I thought of was, Sea Moneys.  Seriously.  If you’ve never heard of them they are a hybrid brine shrimp that can still be found in some stores with fanciful creatures drawn on the packages that look nothing like brine shrimp, hybrid or not.

Sparing you the math, for a two gallon aquarium it would take 21.3333 packets of water conditioner (included in the kit).  That’s a whole lot of money for brine shrimp.  They supposedly are larger and live longer than plain old brine shrimp, however….

In my next post, I’ll see if I can finish catching you up to where I’m actually at in my thoughts.

 

– Jeffery

Setting Up Your Aquarium ~ Tank Selection

There’s only so many ways to set up an aquarium. Some ways are very hard, if not life threatening, for the fish and other ways are much more gentle with greater chances of success.

One of the first things that must be decided is how big of fish tank someone is going to have. Many people want to start with a small tank and see if they can learn how to do it right before purchasing a large tank.

Though this sounds reasonable, it is actually a bad idea. A smaller tank has less water volume than a larger tank does and though that may seem obvious, a person often is not thinking about how a large volume of water is a good thing.

If a person set up a glass of water and a bucket of water and added three drops of food coloring to each, the water in the cup will change colors, but you won’t notice any difference in the bucket of water. It’s the same way for the fish tanks. Any kind of change will be very noticeable in a small tank but may not show up at all in a large tank.

A change in temperature affects a small tank very quickly whereas a larger tank will barely notice. Adding the necessary chemicals to adjust the pH of the water in a small tank can be disastrous if a mistake is made, but a larger tank will lessen the damage.

A person needs to get the largest aquarium they can comfortably fit. Another thing that needs to be considered as part of that fit is making sure you have enough room on the sides and back of the tank for the cords and accessories. There needs to be enough room to get in and clean it as well.

The choice of stands is not quite as critical and the style is more open to a person’s taste and budget. The stand needs to be made for that sized aquarium, but whether it comes as a cabinet with doors to hide the supplies and equipment, or is in the classic frame style is up to the purchaser.

How I Got Started In The Fish Keeping Hobby

How I got started in the fish keeping hobby isn’t quite the way a lot of people might expect. You see, I had no interest in keeping fish. Nope, not at all.

I grew up with animals. We always had a cat and a dog. At one point I had a hamster and later a tarantula. We had a cockatiel and a canary (at different times) and a fish tank.

The cat and dog were a constant, the other things were around for brief periods of time. The fish tank was 15 gallon and on a metal stand. After I moved out of the house, I lived in an apartment where pets were not allowed.

This was a problem because I was used to having animals around. Finally one day in sheer desperation I asked if fish were okay. They said yes because they weren’t considered pets. So I got the fish tank and stand from my parents (it had been out of commission for a long time at this point) and went about setting it up. Thankfully, it still held water and the stand was a bit rusty, but still sturdy.

Now I knew only a couple of things about fish at this point because I really hadn’t paid a lot of attention when my parents had them. I knew that I had to put stuff in the water to get rid of the chlorine. I knew I had to float the fish in it’s bag for a half hour or so to let the temperature adjust. I knew that to feed them, I put in a pinch of food a day, just like Mr. Rogers did on ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood’.

Yessir, I was practically an expert (ahem).

I bought some Neons because they were colorful, around 10 or so and dumped them unceremoniously into the tank and that was that. And after adjusting to the shock…they sat there. Smack dab in the middle of the tank, and keeping fish instead of a cat or dog was exactly like I thought it’d be…really dull.

Eventually it began to dawn on me that I was overfeeding them. I couldn’t resist giving them a big pinch of food because those little pinches seemed too skimpy and I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t change my ways.

Off to the pet store I went. I walked in, looked at the algae eaters and said to myself, “I don’t have an algae problem”. So I asked the guy working there about bottom feeders and he took me straight to…you guessed it, the algae eaters.

After patiently explaining that the problem was NOT algae and I need a bottom feeder to eat up the excess food so it wouldn’t foul the tank, a bright light went on and he took me to the perfect fish…the Corydoris.

I had never heard of this little catfish before and it looked pretty weird. It was flat on the bottom and kind of a round elongated top, the kind of shape you see when a 3rd grader is drawing a whale. The guy at the pet store assured me that it was docile towards other fish and would happily eat the food that fell to the gravel.

So I adjusted him to the tank using my highly sophisticated methods (it’s a miracle any of the fish survived) and sooner or later there he was with his little nose twitching as he used his whiskers to find all that food I dropped. It was great, I didn’t even have to change the amount I was feeding them…actually I probably should have gotten two corydoris…..

But this is what turned me into an enthusiast: One day I was looking into the fish tank watching the neons cluster with the corydoris sitting motionless on the bottom and then the most amazing thing happened.

That cory cat came straight up off the bottom of the tank just like a helicopter. He went zooming, and I mean zooming, all over the tank right through the middle of those neons sending them scattering everywhere.

Then he came to a dead stop a few inches above the bottom, floated down and lay there still as stone. Eventually the neons regrouped in the middle of the tank and all was as if it never happened.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed and I was beginning to think I had imagined it. About twenty minutes later that cory cat once again came straight up off the bottom of the tank and went zooming all over the tank again, going right through the middle of those neons sending them scattering everywhere, came to a dead stop a few inches above the bottom, floated down and lay there still as stone.

It was at this point I learned that some fish have a personality. From that point on, I was hooked (every pun intended).  I had a few more episodes with keeping a freshwater tank, maybe next time I’ll tell you how I got into the saltwater end.

– Jeffery

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