Okay, this is my second version of this thread, because I realized after I typed the first ones that things weren't quite as terrible as they seem. Sometimes you just need to type something, not have others read it--but I need to have some others read something, because my family doesn't really understand my fish distress.
My little sister has been taking care of my fish for me over the last 4 weeks, as I've been on vacation. We'd talked a few times on the phone about stuff, so I knew my sorority had been pretty much destroyed (3 of 8 remained, separated into their own tanks), my plants were doing poorly, etc. But when I got to my room after a very stressful morning that involved getting the wrong bag from the airport and not realizing until I got home, I just started crying over my fish. The reason for the sorority problems wasn't that one of them had gone Hannibal on me; it was either that all my plants were almost completely melted away because the light wasn't on and the filter wasn't running, or that there was massive corrosion built up on the heater. My beautiful, wonderful Sparky (see the avatar) had bitten off almost his entire tail, which he's never had a problem with before. Everyone else just looked shoddy.
I've since finished complete scrub-downs of 2 of my big tanks and one of the small ones, and plan on finishing out there rest today. The sorority has been re-instated with 3 new girls and all is going well. Also, 2 of my 3 favorites--and probably actually my favorite two--survived, so that's good. All the plants from the sorority have been cleaned up and moved into a lit 3-gallon, and do look slightly better. The guys and gals whose tanks I've done full cleans on look much better already, though I'm quite worried about Sparky's tail ever growing back, and how it will if it does. I can't really blame my sister; she did the best she could, and did me such a huge favor by taking care of that many tanks for that long. She was also genuinely distressed about the problems with the sorority, and was the one who took me to pick up new girls.
So, yes, apologies for the mini-rant, but I can't complain to my sister because she already feels guilty enough, and my mother has never quite gotten my love for my fish. Somebody had to know, lol! But, though I feel kind of guilty for saying this, the vacation was worth 5 dead fish and tank problems. I got to go to Japan on my own for 2 weeks and Hawaii, where my sister lives, for 2 weeks. It was the first real vacation I've ever had, as all my previous ones were for family events or for school stuff, and never to anywhere exciting (Georgia? Kansas?).
I've been browsing through the picture threads, and it seems like everyone's doing pretty well... I missed getting to read everyone's updates about their fishes! Guess I have a lot of catching up to do. :P