Member Spotlight on PoeticInjusticesOnline Aquarium Fish Magazine | Member Spotlight - PoeticInjustices
Hello everyone! I'm just completely tickled over being asked to do this, I can't even tell you. Looking through the other member profiles, I feel a little out of my league. I've been keeping fish tank(s) for about 3 months now. Prior to that, my only fish-keeping experience came from my youth. We had goldfish, bettas and a few guppies (that soon became a few too many guppies!). Not all in the same tank, of course! Back then, goldfish fell into the 1 inch per gallon rule and every week we moved the fish into a container, drained and cleaned the entire aquarium, essentially becoming the beneficial bacteria. Somehow, our fish lived fairly long lives, but I think that's more a testament to the hardiness of the species than my skill as a fish parent!
The decision to begin fishkeeping seriously was a long one. My boyfriend's grandmother had many mental health issues and I thought having a fish tank for her would give her something therapeutic to watch instead of spinning in her head. Unfortunately, she passed before I set it up. Last summer, I went to visit my family in California and my aunt had a 55 gallon goldfish tank. Included among its residents were a beautiful, all black, baby ranchu and a very large oranda with an extraordinary wen. Watching them, I remembered the special hold that goldfish have always had on my heart. I went back home to Pittsburgh and I sat on my plans, learning the basics of the nitrogen cycle (though I didn't think it'd be THAT hard to do a fish-in cycle... mistake #1) and waiting for my tax refund. I set a budget then immediately spent 3x that limit! I have many other interests - yoga, writing (poetry mostly, if that wasn't obvious!), disc golf, shooting (I have a penchant for Glocks) and, most of all, anything that has to do with my dog, an English Bull Terrier named Nugget. I'm also working in drug and alcohol counseling (I'm 28 and have done various types of counseling for 10 years- crisis counseling, rape counseling, behavior therapy and many more) and am back in school for nursing. With these last 2 commitments, it's hard to do anything just for the sake of enjoying it, especially if it requires making time outside of the home.
Fish-keeping has proven, despite my constant worrying, to be pure joy that I can do for home. The joy of rescuing fish, the joy of passing on all I have learned in such a short time and the joy of keeping fish that want to be as much a part of my life as my dog does. I also love the beach. It's the place where I am most a peace and therefore enjoy ALL beach related activities. Of course, for the first time in my life, I live in a city without a coast, so I plan to surround myself with fish tanks large enough to swim in!
So, my first tank is a 29g goldfish tank with 4 (eek!) very small fancy goldfish- 2 orandas, a lionhead and a ranchu. This tank has been fully cycled for about a month now. There's nothing much fancy in terms of equipment - 350gph biowheel filter (with my own, carbon-free, biomedia-heavy cartridge builds), 2 air features, a Cobalt Aquatics heater (love these!).
I used to have more decor in there but I had a lot of problems with torn fins. So now it's all live plants - swords, hygrophila corymbosa kompakt, water sprite, elodea and anubias nana. So, you're more than welcome to take a look at the photos in my profile but don't expect wonder, this is a temporary arrangement... but the fish are really cute! I do heavy maintenance biweekly and I feed my fish an enriched diet. They are starting to look really great! It's been so fulfilling to watch them grow and change colors.
My little, white oranda, Lola, she had the rattiest fins when I first got her. No fin rot, they were just weak and ragged. Using what I use, listed below, I have watched her fins become firmer, more open and flowing. Just many of the rewards of seeing my fish blossom after spending many weeks thinking everything I ever saw unusual was a fatal disease. I'm still struggling with brown diatom in the tank, I think there may be a high number of silicates in my tap water as I keep my nitrates below 10ppm. Soon, these guys are moving into a 75g. I already have all of the equipment (the most important of which being a Sun Sun 304B canister), we are just in the process of building the stand. I had hoped to have photos of the tank for you all by the time I submitted this, but the stand is taking longer than expected. I'm really excited for this upgrade! I've also got a 10g betta tank with a male, halfmoon, dumbo-eared betta. His tank is all glass decor with a marimo moss ball and lots of bamboo. Unfortunately, he's been struggling with fin rot since I brought him home and we are finally in the healing stages and praying each day it doesn't return. He's also had problems with bloating/constipation but, looking at him, you wouldn't know it. He's just so full of life.
Both tanks were cycling with TSS and, in my tanks, I use SeaChem Prime as my water conditioner and I add Kordon's Fish Protector. Virabhadra's fin rot came with him from the cup, but none of the goldies have fallen ill to date (not tempting fate here, seriously!). I also dose each morning meal with VitaChem and each evening meal with Garlic Guard. I keep on hand a variety of foods- staple pellets, frozen bloodworms, daphnia, Emerald Entree, peas and Repashy food and, soon, live food as well. I have an extensive medication reserve and, after the fin rot, Kanaplex, other antibiotics, Paraguard and Methylene Blue are meds I will forever keep on hand. I figure if they expire before I use them, then I'm doing something right! I keep aquarium salt on hand, I have 1g fish bowls for medicated baths and I have a 20g long quarantine tank. I think the most important lesson I have had to learn is not to freak out about every little thing. A single white spot could be a hundred other, innocuous things besides Columnaris! It was the input of the members here that taught me this lesson but I would be lying if I didn't say that having every medication under the sun doesn't help a lot.
Plans for the Future:
In the immediate future is the up-grade to the 75g, that's priority one. I'll eventually be stocking 2 more goldfish in this tank. Once the transfer is complete, I'm going to continue maintaining the biowheels on the 29g. This tank is destined to become a tank for shell-dweller cichlids, likely birchardis, as I just adore the elegant lyre tail. It's a more advanced aquarium that I am taking my time deciding on how I want to setup.
It's nice not to feel rushed to need more help and knowledge and problem solving because I'm not just jumping in blindly. I have time to get it right, and I will. The next step is switching the betta and hospital tank. The idea would be to divide up my 20 long, giving the betta about 12 gallons and using the remaining 8 gallons for a colony of dwarf shrmp, though I am undecided on which ones exactly. I'm am lucky enough to have many choices. Once I have finished playing musical tanks, the next setup will likely be my most advanced to date. You see, I've been offered another 75g+stand, for free, and I plan to attempt the crown jewel of freshwater fish - a discus tank (dun dun duuuuun). By the time I am able to do this, I hope to have enough knowledge and experience to avoid killing them. And after that, I will one day attempt a saltwater setup. This is important to me, it's the closest I can get to the beach around here, but it's time and much more money, so I'm waiting until I can really do it right and in a very large tank.
When it comes down to it, I love feature fish with lots of personality. Goldfish will absolutely always have my heart and, maybe one day, a pond as well :p I would love to see them make a comeback and more people realizing what wonderful, special pets they make. They are truly some of the most charming fish out there, in my opinion. Bettas too, though there's no shortage of betta lovers on FishLore. Not even I had realized quite how special they were until I found V, because bettas I kept as a child were not kept in happy-betta conditions (I don't even recall a heater, sadly). But getting to know V has been something extraordinary, sometimes I could swear he's moments from actually speaking to me in complete sentences. I've never been one to underestimate the power of pets, it is my belief they are single handedly responsible for carrying me through a rough youth unscathed. So it is really a privilege and an hour to be around people who share that sentiment.
Thank you again for the time and opportunity to share my story, however newly written it may be. If I'm to thank anyone, it's the many experienced members of FishLore, several in particular who came to mind- Mamajin (for saving V), Rivieraneo (for goldie knowledge), TJBender, Adam55, jdhef for carrying me through the cycling process and several others whose usernames escape me right now, but know you are all appreciated. Of course, the people in my home who have tolerated my newfound passion with grace and minimal eye-rolling (I've packed the living room we share with tanks)! Lastly, I'd like to thank my wallet, who hung on just long enough to equip my 75g tank, which is something that needed to be done, considering how over-stocked my 29g will soon be. May you rest in peace, wallet.
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