The not-so-pretty side of aquariums

Every day I learn something new about some aspect of fish keeping so I’m constantly changing my mind about how I want to set up my tank.  I think that’s the fun part about this hobby.  The planning and possibilities.

The one aspect that I didn’t consider (until now) is how terrible it is to keep fish.  They’re shipped from all over the world.  They’re captured from the wild and many die in the process of getting to your home.  Or they’re raised in a farm and fed a diet of other fish that are captured from the wild or raised in a farm.  They’re kept in tight quarters.  They’re loaded up with antibiotics and antifungals due to the overcrowding.  Then if they’re “lucky” they might end up in a somewhat comfortable tank that will never be big enough because whatever your tank size is will never match the Amazon River.  Not to mention the amount of electricity and water to run the show. All in all, it’s not a great thing for the planet or for the fish.  Any pets really aren’t good in general.  I’ve made my peace with this though because I really enjoy having pets and I want to do something selfish.  Still, I’ll do my best to minimize the impacts and resources and just be cognizant of these factors.

With that in mind, I researched which fish are farm raised and I think I’d rather stick to those fish.  I know it’s not as simple as farm>wild but I think I’m more comfortable with the idea.

Current plan:

  • 29 gallons
  • Substrate – Pool filter sand
  • Hang on back power filter with fishless cycling
  • Plants: Anything easy to grow.  I’ll need to add plant tablets for fertilizer since I’m not using flourite.
  • Possible fish –
    • Acara cichlid
    • Angelfish pair or Dwarf ram cichlid pair
    • Corydoras (4 to 6) – panda, aeneus, adolfoi
    • Gold algae eater

Maybe obsession is an understatement

Maybe what I have is a case of crazy.  It is 3:30 AM and since dinner I have rearranged the furniture for the gajillionth time to try to find a suitable place for an aquarium and then spent the next 7 or so hours reading aquarium forums.

I have been taking photos of our entire place in the hopes of finding that perfect corner.  Literally trying to picture it.  Last night before falling asleep, I figured it all out in my head.  I even managed to find a spot that’s hopefully big enough for the 29 gallon tank.  Originally, I thought I only had space for a 10 gallon which would make it a nano (supersmall) tank that can barely hold anything.  And by anything I mean cory cats.  I want cory cats because they’re cute.  Like little mice in the tank.

So after getting second and third opinions and even trying to poll an unsuspecting coworker who has no idea what my place even looks like, I have finally got it all figured out.  It involved moving a bookcase, a nightstand, a coffee table, two lamps, the couch, some plants, the dining table and chairs, a large mirror, and an end table, to get the 29 gallon tank in here, but it fits and I plan on picking up my tank and equipment this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to figure out the substrate situation.  I want about a 2″ foundation where I can grow aquatic plants and that will provide a nice visual effect. Originally I was planning to use Seachem’s Flourite Black Sand.  But after reading Planted Tank’s forums, I’ve learned that blasting sand that you can get at hardware stores or pool filter sand is much cheaper and just as good.  But then I considered the cleaning issue – it’s hard to vacuum sand (as opposed to gravel) and the sand could clog our drains, so now I’m back to gravel.  Supposedly, cory cats like sand.  I’ve read that sharp gravel can cut their barbels and I’ve also read that it’s not true.  There’s non-sharp gravel, and I’m leaning towards that.

I’m also browsing around for aquatic plants.  I have no idea what to avoid or what’s easy to grow.  But one thing I don’t like is the ubiquitous presence of snails and other cling-ons that come with the plants.  The last time I tried to bathe my anacharis to get rid of the cling-ons, I killed it.  I don’t know why anyone would bleach their plants.  That’s a death sentence.  I learned today that a saltwater bath would do the trick.  I’ll try that next time.  There are also aquatic plants that are cultured meaning they’re raised in air in a gel medium and they don’t have any buggies on them.

I’m so tired right now I can hardly think straight.  This is a sickness.