Hello Everybody. I Am New Here.

MamaLlama76

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Hello Everyone,

I am new here to FishLore, but not new to fish keeping. I am a 43 year old homeschooling mother of 3 (ages 8, 13 and 15) who are all interested in various aspects of the aquarium hobby. We are on a farm (raising sheep, horses and poultry and growing a big garden) and are blessed with non-chlorinated well water. (back to my water issues in a bit).

I bought my first fish tank at the tender age of 10 with the money I earned babysitting my baby brother all summer (my parents worked nights and we had a "real babysitter" at night) but I watched all 3 brothers while they slept. This was back in the 1980's. And I was blessed as a youngster to have a very knowledgeable "fish lady" who mentored me way back when. My local fish store at that time was this little shop in Hermiston, OR...no idea if it's still there 33 years later... run by this tiny old oriental lady. She had amazingly beautiful fish...goldfish and guppies and many others of every sort you could imagine. My first tank was a couple feeder goldfish in a 10 gallon and then it soon morphed into a community tank and the goldfish were moved to a 20 and so on.

We moved to Missouri when I was 12 and I had quite the culture shock when the only "fish store" was ye olde Walmart and I had to start over with new tanks. The 1 or 2 gallon hex kit...which you couldn't heat back then (there weren't heaters that small yet ) and everything you put in it got sick. More babysitting and saving later I was back to 10-20 gallons and the hex was given to a younger brother to keep a hermit crab. By high school I was breeding guppies and angels and selling babies to a fish store that had gotten started in between...happy to have locally bred fish.

Continued fishkeeping in my dorm during college and got a job at PetSmart in my college years. Back then they really focused on employee education (about 20 years ago when they were a new concept)… my last visit to one (3 weeks ago in Sioux Falls, SD)… I was less than impressed that I was having to "school" the fish employee I encountered while picking out betta food/heater for my daughter's betta and plants for my son's goldfish and that the awesome tank system the company used to have in stores for their aquarium plants was no longer in existence apparently.

My children and I restarted a stored 10 gallon back in February after not having a tank running for around 8 years, as part of our science curriculum. They are all in 4-H and want to do a small aquaculture project. One wants to raise and breed goldfish (had to tell the 13 year old no on koi, until he grows up and moves somewhere warmer, only space big enough for them here in winter would be our basement and it's not warm enough, my electric bill is already crazy enough just keeping our horses and sheep's stock tanks thawed in -20 or colder winter weather outdoors.) Oldest wants to raise plecos (trying to find small semi-rare/interesting type the closest pet store might want to buy). My youngest, 8 year old daughter tried a betta (house isn't warm enough in the winter and the heater was too inconsistent it got sick in a 3 gallon and passed away. She now has 2 mystery snails and 3 mixed platies ("rescues" from the local Walmart which is taking out their live fish section nationwide apparently) and they are temporarily housed in our 10 gallon established tank with 2 feeder goldfish, 2 small fantails and 3 very young corydoras. All are happy for now, but we will be getting another larger tank in a week or two to move the fancy goldfish and 2 of the cory cats to (and add another of the same kind...the goldish are heated with a submersible heater, since we heat the house itself with wood and it's 50-60 degrees in winter (The 2 feeders will be moved to the horses' 100 gallon stock tank this summer until it gets too cold for them. Might get a couple more of them for the sheep's water tank...all to keep algae in check...scrubbing them isn't fun.) At that point, we will probably have just the snails, 3 cories and livebearers in the 10 gallon. Besides the trio of platies, not sure what to get for livebearers… leaning toward guppies, but the last one we had (albino half-red male) died. Who knows where to get freshwater adapted guppies that can survive TOTALLY INSANE HARDWATER????

My Water Issues:

We have an artesian well (water pH is about 7.6-7.8) and I can't even get my GH solution to work properly. Tried both tap and aquarium water. Put up to 100 drops in both and ran the test multiple times... it WILL NOT TURN GREEN! Am I correct to assume my well water is just insanely hard? (You leave the water running on the garden, then it evaporates and there is a white mineral crust left behind, if that tells you anything.) My GH test solution is somewhere between 13 and 20 years old...found it in an end table we had stored in the basement when the kids came upstairs screaming Friday that the basement was flooded 3" deep with snow melt water. Everything else in that old master test kit seems almost identical to the API kit I bought in Feb, but it came in a 2 part cardboard box from some company Canada...which is partly destroyed by the water damage, except that my API kit didn't come with GH or KH and the old test is missing the KH (may have given it away or something, since I used to keep angels in much softer water in TX, KS and MO.) Both pH, high pH, and the nitro cycle ones in both kits tested the same. I just either can't get a reading on GH because it's to crazy hard to even test...or I have bad solution that is not working right anymore????

Feel free to give advice on my water hardness problem!
 
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MamaLlama76

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Honestly, if it's 20 years old, you may just want to buy a new one. You can get an API one akin to the other test kits specific for GH and KH.


I plan to get a second one as soon as I can afford to (house payment electric and so on first, ya know. Somedays I wish I was still a kid, without all those worries.)

I am just really wondering if it's even possible to have well water that is up over 100 degrees GH? (Almost untestable) Seems crazy. In college, I lived in Branson, MO and water hardness there was around 25 to 30 (and people called it liquid rock...if that is so, what I have now is liquid concrete) and I was buying R.O. or distilled water for water changes on my breeding pairs of soft, acidic water loving angelfish, which did spawn for me nicely (you know they are happy if they are making babies.)

Put in a gallon of distilled water before we turned the platies lose in our tank, since Walmart uses city water that is treated to be softer than our well and a tsp of salt total in 10 gallons (they put salt in their tanks there too and I want to slowly wean the fish off it, as salt is hard on plants.) All the fish we have now seem happy.

I've been away from the aquarium hobby for a good 7 or 8 years (daughter was a baby) and the last couple tanks have been "kids" community type tanks with assorted fish. Recently got back in when my 13 yr old son decided he wanted koi (which I finally convinced him was a bad idea, after he spent $18 of allowance money on a single black butterfly koi and it was dead a week later in the 10 gallon we had set up again, tail all tore up by the filter.) He decided then that some baby fancy goldfish (added 2 the two feeders we cycled the tank with) would be okay. Tank is heated, as our house is 55-60 degrees in the winter, with woodstove for human/household heat. They got 3 corydoras and 2 mystery snails to help with the tank clean up once a little algae got going.

Planning on getting another tank (20-29 gal, most likely...unless I find a bigger one second hand very reasonable) to move the boys' fish to and let my daughter have the 10 gallon. For the moment her new platy trio seems happy enough with the goldfish until their friends move out to their new home. She wants to do a livebearer tank, have baby fish and so on. Leaning toward guppies, but our most LFS (Walmart) was out, (so I coached her into 3 mixed platies, because we didn't have room for swordtails)...due to closing out their live fish dept nation wide. Last guppy she tried was albino half red and he didn't do well for us (probably imported from brackish water breeder.) I am looking for some hardy guppies grown in the U.S. in pretty hard freshwater, that would do well for her, if you can recommend anyone? Nothing super fancy or expensive until she learns what she's doing (talking about an 8 year old girl here.)

Will be getting some more/different plants for both tanks pretty soon. What remains of our previous plants have been moved into a 1 gallon betta tank with jiffy seed starting mix, then gravel and filled with water from the last water change and some aquarium plant fertilizer with a bubbler filter box to keep the water moving. It's lit with a LED desk lamp. The goldfish tore the plants up pretty good and ate most of them, so I am trying to help them recover, get new roots and start growing again.

Recommended plants for goldfish (2 fantails about 2 to 2.5 inches right now and a couple of feeder goldfish...the later will be moved to my horses' water tank for the summer to keep algae down.)? Water trough is regularly "water changed" by horses drinking and us refilling it (redneck version of auto-water change system, HAHA!) Goldfish, I know are hard on more delicate plant species.
 
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