Sunday, October 05, 2008

Aquarium Experiment: Early Beginnings

I still think of it as an experiment, since it started quite casually and rather unexpectedly, to me at least. When we released our turtle in August (see post), I ended up with a tank and pump, and a whim to pick up some 99 cent pond goldfish at the nearby garden centre. Less than 2 months later, I have collected 12 fish, 2 snail, 4 varieties of plants, visiting pet stores (I can always talk the kids into that), and boiling a large pot of driftwood on the stove. I think I'm just a little hooked.

If you're like I was less than 6 months ago, you'll want to click away, since I was not in the least bit interested in captive fish or aquariums. Fish tanks were something that you expected in the dentist's office, and that's about it.

[Fish always seemed so oblivious, so remote... I had never even imagined that within days the fish would be poking their little faces against the glass when they see me pass by, hoping that I will stop to feed them.]

Anyhow, at the start we already had the tank and pump, in which I had left a little of the "turtle water", so the pump would be already primed with some beneficial bacteria. I bought a bag of epoxy-coated gravel from WalMart, and added tap water which had been allowed to sit for a few days, to allow the chlorine to evaporate. In mid-September, the kids and I went to pick out our 99 cent goldfish, but found that they were all sold out, so ended up picking 2 fancy fantail $2.99 goldfish. I added some floating plants from a local ditch, which the fish promptly devoured. Here was the tank then:
Aquarium humble beginnings
...with the two fantail goldfish. The silver one is "Bubbles", picked by my daughter. The orange one is "Autumn", picked by my son:
Two fantail goldfish
Here is the tank today (I apologize for the poor quality photos, but click any for a larger view):
Aquarium with fish and plants
We have a total of 12 fish today, despite the common advice to "cycle" the tank for 4 to 6 weeks before adding more fish. I guess the 60+ gallon tank, and live plants, helps a lot. Especially since I haven't done any special testing or conditioning or anything of the water. I use only tap water, set out for a few days, and I've been replacing only a small portion once or twice a week.

After the 2 fantail goldfish, I stumbled across 39 cent goldfish in a pet store. They looked pretty much like the other $2.99+ fish, but they were referred to as "feeder" fish (i.e. bought to feed to other fish!). I was told half of them may not survive past one week, so instead of buying 3, I bought 5, and we resisted naming them, just in case. But a couple of weeks later, we probably should put some names to them, now.

One of my favourites is this dark black / orange one:
Black / orange goldfish
There's also this one, white with reddish back:
Red / white goldfish
One with three bars of orange on a white body:
Goldfish white with orange bars
One almost completely white on one side:
Goldfish white one side
...with just a spot and fin marking of orange on the other side:
Goldfish white (other side)
And finally this one which appeared black when I picked him, but looks a lot more silver / chocolate:
Chocolate silver goldfish
Here's the 7 goldfish together:
7 Goldfish
Then there's two algae-eating Bumblebee snails, which I had bought for my son while we had the turtle (although we kept them in a smaller container, they would have disappeared in the turtle's murky water). The smaller one is "Stripe":
Bumblebee snail 'Stripe'
The larger one is "Buzz":
Bumblebee snail 'Buzz'
Today we added to the mix 5 neon tetras (since they were on a 5 for $5 sale). I don't know if the goldfish will eat them. There seemed to be a few times today they chased them, but the tetras are pretty quick. So we'll see.

I've bought 4 different clumps of plants, and added a rock (possibly petrified wood) I found a while back on the beach, but boiled before adding it. I am really keen on buying some more plants. I am told I need better lighting for many of the plants. We'll see. It's just an experiment at this point, I tell myself. ;-)

ASIDE: The practical side of me does a quick reality check, on how much I am spending, in the $5-at-a-time increments. So far, here's how it adds up:

$40 Tank (which would have been over $200 new)
$40 Filter
$15 gravel
$5 net
$100 tank set up

$6 Fancy goldfish x 2
$2 Feeder goldfish x 5
$5 Neon tetras x 5
$18 4 clumps of plants (many turned out to be multiple plants)
$6 Bumblebee snails x 2

So still under $150 for the experiment to date. Which is still under the price of the tank, if we had bought a new one. So I think I can still call it "casual". ;-)


aquarium said...

You have taken some remarkably clear photos of your fish they look incredible.

Garden Lily said...

Thank you so much for the encouragement, aquarium. I hope to have much better ones next time you visit, especially if I use natural daylight, instead of taking photos in the evening.

Anonymous said...

hey, i think those look awesome you can see everything in the photos ! what nice pictures of fish..... I just do not know what to say. I love your well........ everything!


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