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Mathas - Member Spotlight

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | Member Spotlight - Mathas


Hello! My name is Matt, and I live in Missouri. I can't even remember how old I was when I was first exposed to aquariums, but I do remember my dad having a variety of aquariums as I grew up. This would have been in the late 80s or early 90s, before the internet was anywhere near as widespread as it is now, so our only source of information was the local fish shops. We knew nothing about the nitrogen cycle, or what types of conditions the fish would do best in, but when you don't know how fish should behave, you don't realize when things aren't right. In retrospect, my first few years of fishkeeping was a study in what not to do.

The first tank I remember clearly was a 55g that was stocked horribly: 5-6 angelfish, a common pleco, a single bala shark, and some black-skirt tetras.

Around the time I was 11 or 12 I had a few dollars lying around from mowing yards for neighbors, so I bought myself a 10g starter kit for my bedroom. And when a pre-teen boy with a very limited knowledge of fish gets to choose, guess what sounds cool? That's right, piranha. Three of them, in fact, for a 10g tank. Needless to say, that didn't work out all that well, but one did survive somehow. He was upgraded to a 29g a year or so later, where he grew to around 6" and lived for a couple more years. The now-empty 10g tank became a betta breeding tank, and I somehow managed to successfully breed a pair of betta on my first try. The surviving fry were traded in at our favorite fish shop for store credit.

Back to the family tank, we eventually decided that maybe we kept losing fish because it was overcrowded, so my dad upgraded the 55g to a 120g, and added a second plecostomus and another angelfish or two. This upgrade left us with an unused 55g, which I promptly claimed, and added a pair of oscars.

I obviously didn't learn my lesson from shoving too many piranha in too small of a tank, since I repeated it with the oscars. After a few months of being bullied and out-competed for food, the smaller oscar passed away. The surviving one lasted until my senior year of high school, and had hit the 8" mark. It likely finally died from ammonia or nitrite poisoning, as my only notion of water chemistry at the time was to keep the PH around 7.0 and to do a water change/gravel vacuum every few weeks. I also knew nothing about oscar care, and had only a small HOB filter to cope with way too much waste. The oscar's dietary staple was store-bought feeder fish, so I guess disease is another likely culprit in it's death.

After I moved away to college in the late 90s, I kind of lost track of the hobby, and nothing happened for several years. Fast-forward to July 2008, and I found myself in a house with plenty of room. Remembering how much I enjoyed the aquariums when I was a kid, I decided to purchase one. This time around, though, the internet is here and information is easy to find, which is what led me to FishLore.


I only have one tank at the moment, but the details are as follows:

Size - 90 US gallons
Dimensions - 48"L x 18"W x 24"H
Lighting - 4x55W AHSupply bright light kit
Filtration - Rena FilStar xP4 and Hagen AquaClear AC110


  • 7 angelfish (for now... once a pair forms that spawns more than one time together, the others will be traded in)
  • 5 bolivian rams
  • 14 brilliant rasboras
  • 3 black mollies
  • 4 corydoras
  • 2 bristlenose plecostomus
  • dozens of malaysian trumpet snails


  • Blyxa japonica
  • Alternanthera reineckii 'roseafolia'
  • Nymphaea lotus 'red'
  • Echinodorus cordifolius
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii 'bronze'
  • Rotala macrondra
Aquarium and Fish Pictures

Mathas Fish Tank
Bolivian Ram Angelfish Spawn

Future Plans
No immediate future plans, though I would love to get a saltwater setup at some point in the distant future.


Thanks go out to any one who has posted useful information here on,,, and

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