So, I have set up my first "proper" tank yesterday and I gotta tell you, it was a pretty stressful experience.
Do any of you remember setting up your first tank? Did you find it enjoyable, exciting, a bit stressful, or a mixture of both? What went right, and what (if anything) went a bit wrong, and how did you fix it?
Oh my word, My first tank was over 48 years ago. I was 9 at the time. I had won a gold fish at a carnival ( the ping pong ball game )So I got him home and my mother said we needed to get him a proper tank and talked to our neighbor who kept fish, he had a 5.5 gallon he was not using and also gave us some other supplies he had extra. (I mowed his lawn for years after that to pay for that tank setup. It was worth it.) The experience I got from him was invaluable. (The gold fish lasted 3 days.) He became my mentor and led into quite a few years of hobby and fish keeping. It took me from a hobby for many years to being a keeper (a love of aquatics and all that go with it. ) A passion if you will.
There were many times I had failures but I learned from them and started again and again. 48 years later I still have my failures but not as many as the successes I now enjoy. You see we didn't have the internet or most of our equipment (heaters and filters and the chemicals that help us set up tanks) We learned from the old guys and the experience of how fish really lived in captivity. Most fish back then were wild caught, and most were expensive. So when you lost a fish you lost quite a bit of money.
My first and last experience with salt water fish lasted 3 months. The cost of fish was around $3,000.00 I had about 10 small fish in a 75 gallon tank and I had built that tank up from scratch over a two month period adding fish when the water Parameters would allow Testing was daily and adding the right amount of salt was critical when the water was changed. Finally I was going to add a very coveted Butterfly fish into the tank. He was beautiful and healthy (I thought) I added him very carefully and it took almost a day of drip introduction and floating to get it right. I introduced him into the tank and he was doing really well. later that night I turned the light out and went to bed. The next morning I woke and turned the light on and found everything in that tank was dead. I tested the water and couldn't find anything I had done wrong. Every fish was dead all the coral was dead and my prize butterfly fish was dead. I failed for what reason I don't know why but those fish were $3,000.00 dollars and I would never again have a salt tank.
I cleaned that 75 gallon for hours and finally started an African cichlid tank that lasted over 30 years. (Until a 4 year old grand daughter happened along) I'm working on another 75 and quite a few more so my passion goes on and on.
I did months of research for my first fish tank and still ended up with.... this:
I got it set up in 2011 for my first betta, Jude, and I did add a few silk plants before putting him in there but not nearly enough (and the plastic ones also stayed). Somehow I managed to get the tank cycled and stable, even when I added neon tetras and dismantled it to bring the fish home from college for breaks.
I filled it up and did all my water changes using a cleaned-out jug from apple juice that held about half a gallon, I attempted to keep a sprig of water sprite alive (and failed), battled ich, and somehow kept Jude alive for two years despite all my missteps.
Happy to say that I've learned a lot and no longer find setting up new tanks stressful- for me, or for the fish. :)
Well, the first tank that I set up after I got back into fish keeping wasn't too stressful to set up. Mainly because I stuck with gravel and easy to use equipment and decoration. Then I decided to venture into plants and sand substrate. I didn't do enough research on using sand and ended up with water that looked like it came from the Mississippi River, it took a good two weeks to clear up, clogged up one of my filters beyond fixing, and after that I'd have sediment covering everything within 2 days of vacuuming the tank. Fun times LOL
I do still use sand but have learned to wash it, and now setting up tanks is usually enjoyable, it's taking one down that I hate.