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Member Spotlight on Sirdarksol

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I got into the hobby a little over a year ago. A friend's girlfriend had a mis-stocked tank that she needed to get rid of. I picked the tank up and immediately made my first mistake; I cleaned and sanitized the entire tank before setting it up.

After losing a gourami to ammonia poisoning, I began scanning books and the Web for information on what I had been doing wrong and how I could do it right. I eventually found Fishlore and began asking questions. After a few months, I found a really cheap tank setup with which I could separate the temperate fish out of the tropical tank, and Multi-Tank-Syndrome set in.

I now have four tanks operating at my house.

The Collective:

This is the original community tank, named for the fact that any schooling fish added to it gets assimilated into the school.

Unfortunately, the Collective has suffered a few losses, and is waiting to be rebuilt in its new home, an 80 gallon tank that makes the original 20 gallon seem like a betta bowl. Currently living in the tank are two gold barbs and two glassfish. They will, however, soon be joined by enough of their kin to make a solid school.

This tank is also my biggest experiment with planted tanks so far. A base of Eco-Complete has a "river" of natural gravel "flowing" through it. The river is edged by a wall of slate. Eventually there will be some extra decoration, probably a piece of driftwood and some pagoda stone.

There is currently some anacharis in the tank as a place for the fish to hide. Eventually there will be a wide range of plants that will be determined by the lighting I get. I also plan to set up a freshwater refugium to help filter the water with a "copse" of lucky bamboo.

The Continuum:

Continuing the Star Trek references, the Continuum is a community of platinum lyretail mollies living in a brackish setup. In addition to the mollies, a growing community of Amano shrimp help keep the tank clean. The tank is a 35 gallon tall hex.

Three pieces of Mopali driftwood are coated with java fern and java moss. A strand of anacharis is growing in one corner, and I'm trying to convince a piece of chain sword to grow in the tank.

The Betta Tank:

Currently a 10 gallon inhabited by a white, red, and blue male (Sun Ce, named after a hero from the legendary Three Kingdoms Era of China), though this may be increased to a split 20 gallon to add a female to the setup. A piece of driftwood supports a dwarf anubias, and a water wysteria plant helps mimic the bettas' natural, vegetation-choked waters.

Miyamoto's Abode:

Right now an overstocked 30 gallon tank with a very common goldfish named "He Who Eats Snails" and a beautiful platinum butterfly koi named Miyamoto, due to his fighting spirit. In the very near future, the two will be moved to a 200 gallon tank where they will live until I can afford to build a proper pond.

A piece of driftwood is covered with a number of pieces of java fern, and some red myrmio provides snacking material for the fish. In theory, there is a pair of Amano shrimp hiding in the plants and the driftwood. They are seen periodically, though have remained hidden for over a month.

Filters, Fish Foods

For my tanks that have a lot of rooted plants, I have found that a 50/50 mix of fluorite and standard substrate is excellent. I am experimenting with Eco-Complete, though, in the 80 gallon tank, as I've heard great things about this substrate.

For filtration, I use Whisper filters (either the "i" series or the HOB types), and have forsworn UGFs unless I can run them with a power head (as I have in the Collective).

I feed my fish a variety of high-quality foods (I'm in the process of phasing out anything that has fish meal as the primary ingredient), including a home-made food made from spirulina, nori (the seaweed wrap used in sushi), freeze-dried blood worms, Vita-Chem, and held together with gelatin. In addition, I feed them fresh veggies periodically, and am always switching their food around in order to provide a varied diet.

Other Hobbies

In addition to keeping fish, I am a chronic college student, a practitioner of Shorin Ryu Karate and Matayoshi Kobudo, and an otaku (translation: fanboy, one who is overly obsessed with something) of Japanese and Okinawan culture, both past and present. I'm also a huge gaming nerd (computer, console, and pen-and-paper), anime fan, and Renaissance Festival attendee.


Mike, for providing an excellent forum in which we can discuss our hobby. COBettaCouple, Chickadee, and Butterfly, among others, I'm sure, who helped get me through a few early crises that were caused entirely by my lack of knowledge.

My late Grandpa, whose fish tank originally sparked my interest in fish.

David E. Boruchowitz and his book, The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums.

Amano Takeshi, whose zen aquarium landscapes have inspired me.

And, most importantly, my wife, who has put up with (and even enjoyed) the proliferation of tanks and fish in the house.

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