Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Aquarium Journey: From Newbie to Addict to ?

Hello. My name is Anne, and I am a former aquarium addict. Oh my goodness, that sounds so terrible on paper. You're probably thinking of some kid's fish bowl with an upside-down lone goldfish dying in murky green waters. No no, what got me into aquariums was the vision of creating a living piece of artwork. Can you imagine having the top tank in your living room? O___O

ADA aquascape versus green algae tank
Jaw-dropping aquascape vs. algae-covered hot mess (Sources: Aquarium Info and Aquarium Care)

Here's the timeline of my descent into madness:

2015: The "My First Betta" Phase

My son was gifted a betta fish for his birthday, and I was determined to do all the right research and provide the best environment for my, er, his new pet. Unfortunately, that studying led me down the rabbit hole of all these other cool tankmates I could potentially keep with the betta... why have one fish when you could have 20?

My first aquarium for betta fish with gravel, silk plants, and Sponge Bob pineapple house
Checklist: tank, gravel, colorful decor, filter, heater, fish... we're ready for business!

2016: Full-Blown Obsession

When it was apparent our little starter tank would not be able to contain all the awesome, beautiful fish I wanted, it was time to get my own aquarium. I had spreadsheets full of data about fish sizes, food types, compatibility, etc. and I spent my free time perusing fish stores and hunting for the right species. And yet, I couldn't seem to keep them happy or healthy for long. The more I tinkered with my aquarium and its residents, the more problems and deaths I incurred. Why was my friend's algae-covered tank of GloFish doing so well, when I was extensively reading and doing everything right?

German blue ram in a community freshwater tank
My beautiful freshwater community tank with a German blue ram as the centerpiece

2017: Everything in Moderation

After the second time my tank crashed with disease, I decided to take a break from fish. I still have my original betta tank, now covered with live plants. But the community tank has been repurposed for my axolotl, a fully aquatic salamander that is super creepy cute. 2 years later, I'm still making mistakes and learning from them but that's ok. The difference now is that a) I'm no longer overly obsessive about fish and b) I've realized that the even most experienced fish keepers fail. I hope to cover some of the lessons I've learned thus far, but if you go into this hobby not expecting smooth sailing, that'll go a long way in saving your sanity. Good luck and keep on swimming!

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