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.
- did not have a plan. We did not have a picture of the aquarium to be made in mind .
- did not plan space and did not decide in advance what size it should be and what material the walls should be made of.
- bought the fish we liked, not the ones we know well.
- did not cycle the tank, ammonia and nitrates could have killed them all.
- did not decide on the community of fish to keep and would up with a mixture of cold water and tropical fish.
- had fish that are incompatible in terms of size and behaviour.
- introduced fish on day one!
- did not test water quality- running water in Dubai is desalinated sea water, which is guaranteed to be high in PH.
- did not know what kind of food to be given at what frequency. Nor did we knew what to do with fish during vacation.
- did not know what should be the water temperature.
- did not know members of carp species will eat the vegetation in a single day.
- did not have a lay out plan and fish got hurt from the rock pieces we placed in tank.
- even placed seashells and conchs in the tropical tank.
- did not know when to change water and to what extent.