Thursday, June 10, 2010

Our first fish tank

      Photo by Devanand Pillai  

Our first fish tank was my first and my husband's second. Dev had, during his  early school days, built a cement walled fish tank and kept some fish for some time and had some "experience" and reasonably good  textual knowledge of fish species. I was a complete novice
We had the idea of having a home aquarium, but the flat we lived in had a tiny living room that couldn't accommodate any more furniture than sofas and book shelves. The day we moved to to a bigger flat   we decided to "buy" an aquarium. We just walked  into  pet store a few blocks away, ordered the most beautiful looking one they had ready in stock,  bought some plants and fish  we liked and asked them to "set it"  at our home that evening. Well, Dev did mention  he  wanted a tank cycling  before fish are introduced. Hogwash, declared the  pet shop guy. He had been setting up tanks all his life and there is absolutely no harm in introducing fish from day one. We were  confused. I trusted the expert. Dev  compromised  by instructing the salesman to floor our tank with used gravel so that  ammonia fixing bacteria will be there from beginning.

That day we had a tank up and running at our home, with angelfish, gold fish,  Japanese kois, mollies and sucker catfish.  Water was on the white cloudy side, fish seemed to be happy. They  fed themselves readily.  In a few days we  found water was too cold, thanks to A/c, we fixed an immersible aquarium heater. Fish showed some signs of infection and we added a UV filter  and things seemed somewhat fine.

The mollies died in a few days.   All but one of the remaining fish are still fine. Not because we did a thing right,  it just happened that they were strong enough to  survive  seemingly impossible challenges. We weren't smart, but  the fish were lucky. They  thankfully ate  all the plants though. The tank is still up and running at our home  for one and half years and we do intend to keep it.  It could have been worse, all the fish could have died and we might have given up. That one made us buy books, do research, experiment and learn.

Looking back, I can identify at least a hundred mistakes we did.  Top twenty in terms of seriousness are listed below so that  readers of this blog (if any!)   can learn from our mistakes.

  1. did not have a plan. We did not have a picture of the aquarium to be made  in mind .
  2.  did not plan space and did not decide in advance what size it should be and what material the walls should be made of.
  3.  bought the fish we  liked, not the ones we know well.
  4.  did not cycle the tank, ammonia and nitrates could have killed them all.
  5.  did not decide on the community  of fish to keep and would up with a mixture of cold water and tropical fish.
  6.  had fish that are incompatible in terms of size and behaviour.
  7.  introduced fish on day one!
  8. did not test water quality- running water in Dubai is desalinated sea water, which is guaranteed to be high in PH.
  9.  did not know what kind of food to be given at what frequency. Nor did we knew what to do with fish during vacation.
  10. did not know what should be the water temperature.
  11. did not know  members of carp species will eat the vegetation in a single day.
  12.  did not have a lay out plan and fish  got hurt from the rock pieces we placed in tank.
  13. even placed seashells and conchs in  the tropical tank.
  14. did not know when to  change water and to what extent.
  15. did not know what disease mollies died of.
  16. did not know how to fix and repair equipment.
  17. did not know of pathogens in tank and assumed it is safe fresh water.
  18. did not know how to change water when water running  in from taps are  hot as hell-  pet store guy instructed us to "just fill it and throw some ice cubes into tank".
  19. did not know how long lights should be kept on.
  20. did not know how  to change filter cotton and would  dispose off all old ones and replace them completely, causing the tank to  mini-cycle often.
Good thing that happened to us was that in a week or so we realized  we didn't have a clue about whats going on in the tank. Build knowledge, we decided. This time we went to the book store instead of pet store. Bought a few books on  aquarium keeping. Read   tons of stuff available on fish keepers forums, spoke to people who are seriously into it and were able to identify most of our errors.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great post and loads of information. i personally like Fishing in Dubai very much


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