Thursday, January 22, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole... of Fishkeeping

The fake plants actually look pretty good
Linnaeus has always been interested in animals, but lately he's been talking about fish a lot & asking to get a goldfish. I thought it might be a good idea, so I started doing a little research on keeping goldfish. It didn't take long to realize that despite their reputation as a simple pet--most people are probably envisioning a fishbowl, some rocks, a plastic plant & a little shaker of fish flakes, right?--they're actually not the easiest kind of fish to keep.

Goldfish don't need a heated tank, but they require twice as much space as tropical fish & produce a lot of waste, which can cause water quality issues & algae problems.

I switched gears to looking up which types of fish were easiest to take care of & came up with a list of some tropicals, many of which I have had in the past during the few years I kept aquariums in my teens & early 20s. Researching fishkeeping is a bit of a rabbit hole--sorry, mixed metaphors here--& I soon found myself reading about nitrogen cycles, live plants, LED vs. fluorescent lights, the pitfalls of misidentifying algae eaters, & so on.

Aquarium decor options are endless
Having an aquarium is a bit like having a sailboat, in that you get a smaller version of "two foot-itis". Have you heard of this malady? You're always wanting a slightly larger boat than what you've got. When I had a ten gallon tank in high school, I dreamed of getting a bigger one. Then a few years later I got myself a thirty gallon tank. Now that I'm in the market again, though I started off thinking of beginning small, since it's really intended to be Linnaeus' first pet, but over the course of a week, started wondering if even a thirty gallon would be adequate.

After a whole lot of researching, visiting fish stores online as well as in person, & weighing my options, we got a 36 gallon bowfront aquarium with light hood & stand on sale--not a kit--so I was able to choose the filter & heater I wanted. We brought the aquarium & stand home in a Modo car Saturday, then picked up the other stuff by cargo bike with the kids on Sunday. Two kids, a power filter, heater, bottle of water conditioner, plus 50 pounds of gravel: no problem on our Yuba Mundo!

There are still a few more things to buy & do before we actually get fish in our aquarium. We need to fill the tank, make sure everything works, then start the process to cycle it (set up our colony of beneficial bacteria). Then we'll start to add in fish gradually over the next few months. I'm looking forward to planting the tank with some live plants too.

What about you? Do you have an aquarium? Got any advice for us?

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