Getting Back Into The Hobby (suggestions And Discussion?)

laxdude

Okay, i’m gonna be rambling here and probably sharing more of my life story than any of y’all on here would care to hear, so i’ll start off with a kudos to anyone who has the interest and patience to actually read through all this. I’m not sure why I feel like sharing as much as I will be (especially when I know that I could condense all of this into a paragraph) but i’m hoping that maybe attaching a bit of personality to my post will dredge up some more meaningful replies, if that makes any sense.

I’m 17, and I’ve been keeping fish since I was about 9 years old. I’ve always loved the water, especially the fish which lived in it, so fishkeeping just seemed like an obvious hobby to get into.
After YEARS of begging my mom for a fish tank, I finally got a 10 gallon setup and some fish from petco (all of whom were completely inappropriate to keep in such a small tank) and giddily set up my tank. As the years went by, and I poured all of my money into this avaricious hobby, I learned a lot, and kept many types of fish and invertebrates. (with varying levels of success) I only had higher and higher aspirations for my hobby, but I soon hit a wall.
As i’m sure most of you on here would understand, some things came up in my life that caused me to neglect my hobby. I spent about a year with my tanks in a house I didn’t live in, only seeing them every other weekend (take a guess why), then when I finally got them back (sans many of my most cherished fish) I was never able to get back into it because of my ever-more demanding schedule.
Well, recently I have more time on my hands and I can afford to focus more time on my tanks. hopefully bringing them back from the sorry state they’re currently in.

So I have two tanks that are currently running: A 20L and a 40B with a sump setup.
-(oh, maybe now is a good time to clarify that I only keep freshwater because I have an irrational aversion to learning how to keep a salt water tank)-

Each of the tanks has one fish, who make keeping any other fish impossible.
-In the 20, I have a cichlid that I received from a friend who tore down his tank. It’s emaciated, and hyper-aggressive. no matter what I do, I can’t get him to bulk up. he also has killed several fish, some of whom were larger than himself. I really feel a need to give this guy away, as I haven’t been able to help him, and I never really got attached him to to begin with.
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-In the 40 I have a 6 in. pimelodus catfish who I absolutely adore. He has such personality and is loads of fun to watch. Unfortunately, he had a ravenous appetite to match his size. every fish that’s been in a tank with him has mysteriously disappeared at some point. I assume he eats them, but if he does, he leaves no evidence- not even a swollen belly the morning after the disappearance. whether he’s cursed or just hungry, i’ve lost far too much money trying to give him friends.
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So for the sake of finally getting to the point of this extremely (and needlessly) long post, I want to get a tank that I can actually stock to keep my hobby alive. I have the money, and I have the time. I to indulge my inner child and get a tank no smaller than 100g, and I want to do another sump setup. I want it fully planted, but I don’t want it to be too much of a chore. if I learned anything in my years of fishkeeping, it’s that I will enjoy something much more if it requires less tedious maintenance.

with all this in mind, I wanted to consult the experienced, brilliant, creative, and wise minds of this forum for advice on getting back into the hobby, and some ideas on where to go with this tank. Whether you all want to suggest fish, plants, tanks, substrates, pumps, setups, lights, or anything else under the moon- please do! Also, feel free to share how any of y’all got back into the hobby after a rut. I know most of you guys on here are much older, and have dealt with more, potentially longer an harder struggles, and i’d love to hear and talk about them!

[Edit: tried to restructure the post so it would make more sense]
—p.s.—
Here’s a pic of Luis the catfish, who was watching me type out this whole post!
 

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Sarah73

Welcome back to fishkeeping! Yes, it does take a lot of time and money. If you can't get your cichlid to bulk up, likely it has a parasite. You got two very aggressive fish. Both of them eat smaller fish than them because they can fit in their mouths. What exactly is your question?
 

laxdude

What exactly is your question?
Yeah , I realize that most of this is rambling, and it doesn’t make much sense. Essentially i’m just throwing out a call for suggestions. I’ve used this forum, and I know that people here have great ideas- so I wanted to get suggestions for pretty much everything. How I stock the tank, what plants to put in, decor, setup, you name it. Basically if someone wants to chime in, I want them to!
I also thought that maybe anyone with a story of their own return to the hobby could share.
Thank you for the reply!
 

Sarah73

The reason I started this hobby was that one of my friends, when I was younger, had a terrible stocking. That is how I started getting fish haha. It depends on how big your tank is. That is how you determine what to stock and what plants to get.
 

BottomDweller

I think for plants java fern and anubias would be good. They are both incredibly hardy and grow slowly so very little maintenance is required.

As for stocking I recommend understocking so water changes are not as bad. What kind of fish would you like?

For substrate most fish prefer sand but I find gravel easier to clean. Up to you really. There are certain substrates that are good for plants but I have no experience with them.
 

laxdude

I did take a break from fishkeeping at one point. Only for about 6 months but my tanks became neglected and I lost a few fish. It started after a disease outbreak in my main tank and I then lost my favourite fish who was in a separate tank. I found my tanks depressing and didn't even want to look at them. I unplugged the lights and stopped doing routine maintenance. I couldn't face the tanks and even ended up avoiding the room with them in whenever possible.

Anyway I knew what I was doing wasn't fair on the fish and I felt terribly guilty about it.

That’s almost exactly what happened to me. i’ve always loved planted tanks, so I always tried to have them in my tanks. Frankly, in some of my tanks I cared more about my plants than my fish.
But my interest in both fish and plants really suffered when I kept getting CONSTANT algae blooms from countless different types of algaes. I fought blue-green, hair, brown, green- you name it. I think I eventually just gave up and turned off the lights, partially to rid the algae but, as you said, partly to hide them from sight. this paired with the fact that I never really go into the room I had to put them in made for horrible neglect that I still feel awful for.

So far as fish go, i’ve heavily romanticized the idea of a single species, maybe even single fish tank. Jack Dempsey’s have always been an intrigue of mine that I was never able to house, and I think they’d be an excellent, engaging, low-maintenance fish for me. Only drawback for me is that they’ll rip up any plants. I’ve enjoyed keeping gouramis, catfish, angelfish, and have dabbled only slightly in cichlids (but they really interest me)

I’m glad you were able to overcome your rut, and I really want to thank you for the reply. It’s great to know that someone with such a similar situation to my own was able to recover so well.
 

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