Adventures in Fishkeeping or A Fish Tale

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Apr 2, 2002
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Ugh- one cannot edit a title- it shoud say "or A Fish Tale"

I figured I would start this thread simply because I wanted to and I have lots of time at home. Folks can enjoy or ignore it. I do not care. It is basically what I consider to be fun or odd things I have had happen in 20 years of keeping fish.

What I knew v.s. what I know now, or “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.”

I first went onto the internet in late Nov. 1998. I had been banking at Citibank in the days of dialup. Ypu phoned a site, a lot of noise and then you connected.To visit another site you hung up, redialed the new site.... But, Citi sent out notices that they were migrating onto the net and doing digital banking there. So I upgraded my PC to Windows 98 from 3.1 and I was on the net.

In Jan 2001 I set up my first tank, a 45 gal. I had done a bunch of research online to determine almost everything I planned to do. I had a list of things in my plans I was sure about without a doubt and I will start here by revealing the wisdom of a newbie:

1. I wanted plastic plants, they were easier. No live for me. More work.
2. I would never own one of those big filters that go under the tanks, aka a canister.
3. Since the tank was in my bedroom, I would never use an air pump due to the noise.
4. I could not care less if dish reproduced in my tank. However, I felt it was more natural to do so.
5. I had an undergravel filter and a canister.
6. I had no clue about cycling and did it with fish. Fortunately I learned fast and the store let me return some fish.
7. I tested my water out of the tap at 6.2. (Failing to outggas it, I had no clue it was really 7.6.)
8. I thought the best information for the hobby could be found using Google Scholar and fish sites.

Fast forward- over the past 20 years here is what happened.

1. I wanted plastic plants, they were easier. No live for me. More work.
I reached my max. number of planted tanks, 13 which included one with high light and pressurized co2. in about 7 or 8 years.
2. I would never own one of those big filters that go under the tanks, aka a canister.
Today I have 3 canisters running and 2 more on the shelf. I also run a few Hamburg Mattenfilters.
3. Since the tank was in my bedroom, I would never use an air pump due to the noise.
I have two airpumps and three sponge filters running on my bedroom on bedroom
4. I could not care less if fish reproduced in my tank. However, I felt it was more natural to do so.
Today I have 13 tanks dedicated to breeding and raising B&W Hypancistrus plecos. These pay for all my hobby costs. In addition, I have had more of my fish spawn on their own- 3 differendt danios; threadfin rainbow; DD black angelfish; LF rosy barbs; panda, sterbai, paleatus, and similis cory; Farlowella vitata; what I thought were Sturisomatichthys leightoni but proved to be Rineloricaria parva: Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi; assoreted tank strain bristlenose (brown, LF brown, albino, :F albino); discus (lots of infertile eggs only); red cherry shrimp;
5. I had an undergravel filter and a hang-on.
UGF became an RUGF and then was gone after I found panda cory and swordtail fry under the plate. That tank was my first leaker and gas been gone almost a decade. I also lost a 10m a 20L and a 75 to leaks. I do not reseal, I replace.
6. I had no clue about cycling and did it with fish. Fortunately I learned fast and the store let me return some fish.
Today I know as much or more about this subject than 95% of fish keepers. I have run my own bio-farm off and on over the past 12 years.
7. I tested my water out of the tap at 6.2. (Failing to outgas it, I had no clue it was really 7.6.)
Today I run a pH 6.0 stained altum angel tank with a three-way continuous monitor and have a couple of hand held TDS meters. My tap changed over the years. The pH is now neutral and the TDS went from about 120 ppm to between 53 and 83 depending upon how much rain or lack therof we are getting.
8. I thought the best information for the hobby could be found using Google Scholar and fish sites.
Today I rely on research paper found via Google Scholar, I know several Ph.D.s and true internationally renowned fish experts whom I can tap for info when I need really serious help.

looking back I am not sure how I made it from day one to here. But I can tell you I have enjoyed the journey the entire way. My greatest regret is that I set up thank #1 shortly before I turned 52. Now as I approach turning 73, I am implementing my plan to be out of the hobby within the next 3 years.

"So little time, so many tanks. Since you can't get more time, you may as well get more tanks."

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FreshyFresh

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Fixed that title for ya TTA.

I do love to chat or read about people's journey in the hobby. It almost makes my failures seem less catastrophic. Lol

Mine began about 1980, with an absence from about 1988-2012.

I've definitely gotten better at it. Good I dunno.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Firstly, I misspoke in my first post. On that 45 gal. I had an UGF and an Emperor 400, not a canister.

I was proud of myself because I thought I had done so much research on keeping fish. My first major fish site and chat was a small one but it also had mostly very advanced keepers. It was there I learned that if one kept live plants, they could have more fish in a tank. It was also about this time that I decided I should check under my undergravel plate for any build up of debris. Fortunately, the 45 was on a ,etal frame stand so I could look up from under the tank and see through the bottom glass.

I had already had converted the UGF to being an RUGF. That meant if took water from the tank expelled it down the uplift tube for the RUGF. The water would then come up through the plate and the gravel and back into the water column. Each week to clean the reverse powerhead sponged intake. I would put a net over the large pre-filter sponge and them lift the entire powerhead out of the tank. However, the top of the uplift tube was well below the surface of the water by about 4 inches or so to keep the powerhead submerged.

With trusty flashlight in hand I got down on my hands and knees inspect the space under the RUGF place. Two things struck. The first was it was pretty clean under the plate. The second was there were several baby swordtails and panda corys swimming around under the plate. And I am sure you all figured out what that meant.

The plan was to remove everything from the tank including the gravel and finally the RUGF plate and to liberate the trapped fish. This also provided the opportunity to switch from plastic to live plants. The pandas were the first fish to breed in the tank, I discount the swordtails because preventing from spawning is way harder than stopping when you run into a wall. It was also my first introduction to live bearer math.

Once I realized the the swordtails were spawning all the time. I knew I needed a growout tank for the offspring. So I bought a 15 gal. tank. I had replaced the RUGF with an AquaClear 200 and this began my love affair with these filters. I peaked at about 28 or so running ACs. Today I still have 19. I even have the very first 200 still in use. Back then the 100 gph were $9.99 and the 200 gph as in the low $20s. These days the 100 (aka 20) is about $26 and the 200 (aka 50) is around $38.

This was also around the time that I came up with what I thought was a really great idea. If the thing that got a tank cycled was ammonia, it should be possible to cycle a tank using ammonia and no fish. I thought I was a genius until I soon discovered somebody had beaten me to this bright idea by at least 6 years and most likely a lot more than that.

Originally published as:
koga, James S. Use Household Ammonia to Humanely Cycle a Tank1.
Freshwater and Marine Aquarium
, 19, no. 4 (December 1996):
USING HOUSEHOLD AMMONIA FOR HUMANE CYCLING OF A TANK updated!

Back then the method was to add a specific number of drops per gallon of ammonia for every 10 gals of water. Very inaccurate but it is how we did it back then :p And yes, I used regular ammonia with surfactants. I learned fast that they did not matter espcially since I would do a huge water change once a tank cycled and I also ran carbon for 24 hours after it before I added fish. never had an issue. I did a number of fishless cycles this way.

I also knew very little about aquatic plants, so in setting up the 15 gal. tank I moved in plants from my 45 and dosed ammonia into the tank as well. I did not know plants ate ammonia or that they used NH4 and the bacteria used NH3. In fac, I was not even aware of the two forms of ammonia in water. So every evening I was adding ammonia to the new 15. It had plants in the substrate, on wood and floating.

And then came one evening where I lifted the lid, eyedropper in hand, amd loojed down into the tank. And what did i see? There were two very small fry looking up at me through the floaters. That stopped me from dosing any more ammonia into the tank. It really did not need it anyhow. It turned out the zebra Danios in the 45 had been spawning (I never knew this) and when I moved the plants, I moved some eggs that hatched and lived.

Believe it or not i repeated this some 12 years later. While I no longer do so, I used to set up summer tanks out on our screened terrace. I used them for Q and for growing out baby fish. I had been Q'ing some Danio choprae and roseus in a 29 gal. planted tank. At the end of the season, when it was time to move the fish to permanent tanks, I decided I wanted to keep the plants and to hold the cycle on the 2 AquaClears from the tank. So I moved soem tank water, all the plants and 3 filters into a 16 gal. Rubbermaid container temporarily as the 29 was needed inside. I began adding ammonia to the Rubbermaid to help hold the cycle in the filters.

Some time later a fish friend came by for a visit and to "steal" some of my well water. I was showing her around the terrace tanks when she asked me what fish I had in the Rubbermaid. I told her no fish, only plants. But she insisted there were fish. And she was right. The danios had spawned and the eggs hitchhiked into the Rubbermaid. And once again I stopped dosing the ammonia in like of these miracle fry.

This was also a lightbulb experience. Ammonia may not be as awful as was stated everywhere. It surely should have killed baby fish. This was also not long after I had begun reading research papers on Google Scholar. It all began with curiosity about cycling and the bacteria. Ammonia was an obvious tamgent in this respect.

back to the days of that 15 gal. second tank. I was becoming hooked on fish (bad pun I know). I was already planning for my first co2 added tank and canister. it also got a 15 grow tank under it. By then I had added a 10 to my room which was upgraded to my first 20L. At this time, every tank I had or new one I would put up for a while contained live plants. I was also expanding my species.

Long fin bn came in, so did threadfin rainbows and small clown loaches. I had to have more new species and this meant more tanks. The plan to gut a closet and create in-wall tanks was in the works. But first I had to get that 50 gal. high tech planted tank set up. and that adventure will be my next post: Don't Tell Kevorkian You Have CO2 or The Beer Barrel Polka.
 
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Rbishop

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Hmmm...not as many years as TTA...but...

I have run UGF/RUGF for years, but I will admit, from the start, sealing the plates to the bottom at set up.

Once I could afford canisters, I readily switched from HOB, but still ran UGF/RUGF. But from day one, I was always a champion for frequent WCs.

Even today, 40+ years later, all my tanks have RUGF and an assortment of canisters or sumps.
 

Wyomingite

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Pre-internet Wyoming was always a few years behind the curve when it came to what was the latest, best or most advanced when it came to just about anything. So when I got into the hobby in the early 1980s, UGFs were the bomb, the belief was you basically couldn't have a successful tank (including saltwater) if you didn't have one. At the time, HOBs and canisters were expensive and the average hobbyist here couldn't afford them, especially if you were a 15 year old kid who made your money from mowing lawns. They were pretty inefficient anyways. If you wanted supplementary filtration then it was one of those air-driven corner box filters that you had to alternate layers of floss and carbon in. The owner of the local LFS was a grumpy, unfriendly old gal named Hazel who was at least 150 years old. It wouldn't have surprised me to discover that she had fled Salem during the witchcraft trials. While TFH would be praising water changes, she was a firm believer in the "aged water" philosophy. A 20 gallon tank was often extolled as the minimum size for an oscar. My first foray into saltwater is an adventure in itself. Geez, how things have changed.

RBishop, UGFs have always been misunderstood, IMO. They can be very effective if used correctly. I got away from them when I started dealing with cichlids, because cichlids' propensity to dig pretty much destroys a UGF's effectiveness.

WYite
 
Apr 2, 2002
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There is a better filter today than an Ugf/RUGF. That is the Hamburg Mattenfilter. After a planted substrate, I consider it to be the best filter there is.

Now, a quick short detour before we pass the gas.

I rarely get new fish any more. All my tanks are pretty full and I only need replacement fish usually. I have a fish friend in CA who is an orthopedic nurse and who has bought some of my plecos. She has gotten so busy she could not care for all her fish. She asked if I knew anybody who could taje some from here who would give them good care. I volunteered. The box came today over night, Unfortunately it was a small not and it had a 73 hour heat pack. The heat pack was cold even though the fish cam in under 20 hours. Three fish were dos and one looked not good but was alive.

So I added to ,y tanks (not i did not Q). I have no space and I know she takes good care of here fish and shrimp. So I got today:

9 Danio margaritatus, aka celestial pearl danio they went into a 5.5 planted with a few I have had for years and red cherry shrimp.

5 Gold White Clouds, Tanchtys albonubes Gold. One looked to be a fm plump with eggs and one was skinny. My friend said it had been like that always and it eats. They went into a 15 gal planted tank which held 3 white clouds, assassin snails and a few amano shrimp.

15 Tiny blue shrimp: " Neocaridina davidi var. Blue, also known as the blue velvet shrimp, is a dwarf shrimp variation appreciated for its bright blue color. It was bred from the same wild form as the more popular red cherry shrimp and its care requirements are mostly the same. It's easy to keep, easy to breed, fun to watch and a perfect (breeding) project for beginners and more experienced shrimp keepers."
These also went into the 15 gal. with the white clouds et al.


I got 3 shiners (forgot which :confused: ) and 6 orange-finned danios, Brachydanio kyathit (but 3 were the DOAs). They went into the 75 in-wall tank with tetras and corys and enough plants for a 150. Oddly enough, these 6 new fish are out in the open more thant the tetras which have been there since Apr 2019.
 

Wyomingite

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Oct 16, 2008
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Wonderful Windy Wyoming
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Ivan
There is a better filter today than an Ugf/RUGF. That is the Hamburg Mattenfilter. After a planted substrate, I consider it to be the best filter there is.

Now, a quick short detour before we pass the gas.

I rarely get new fish any more. All my tanks are pretty full and I only need replacement fish usually. I have a fish friend in CA who is an orthopedic nurse and who has bought some of my plecos. She has gotten so busy she could not care for all her fish. She asked if I knew anybody who could taje some from here who would give them good care. I volunteered. The box came today over night, Unfortunately it was a small not and it had a 73 hour heat pack. The heat pack was cold even though the fish cam in under 20 hours. Three fish were dos and one looked not good but was alive.

So I added to ,y tanks (not i did not Q). I have no space and I know she takes good care of here fish and shrimp. So I got today:

9 Danio margaritatus, aka celestial pearl danio they went into a 5.5 planted with a few I have had for years and red cherry shrimp.

5 Gold White Clouds, Tanchtys albonubes Gold. One looked to be a fm plump with eggs and one was skinny. My friend said it had been like that always and it eats. They went into a 15 gal planted tank which held 3 white clouds, assassin snails and a few amano shrimp.

15 Tiny blue shrimp: " Neocaridina davidi var. Blue, also known as the blue velvet shrimp, is a dwarf shrimp variation appreciated for its bright blue color. It was bred from the same wild form as the more popular red cherry shrimp and its care requirements are mostly the same. It's easy to keep, easy to breed, fun to watch and a perfect (breeding) project for beginners and more experienced shrimp keepers."
These also went into the 15 gal. with the white clouds et al.


I got 3 shiners (forgot which :confused: ) and 6 orange-finned danios, Brachydanio kyathit (but 3 were the DOAs). They went into the 75 in-wall tank with tetras and corys and enough plants for a 150. Oddly enough, these 6 new fish are out in the open more thant the tetras which have been there since Apr 2019.
Do you have pictures of the shiners? Somebody here may be able to help clear that up. There's a lot of experience here.

WYite
 
Apr 2, 2002
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I did not get pics. And even when I do they are usually lousy. It was just my OBS and CRS acting up. She told me which and I forgot. But I just went back and dug out her original email from Feb. 7 and they are metalic shiners aka Pteronotropis metallicus.

Here is the thing. When I was in high school we were required to study Latin. Amo amas amat, vini vidi vici - I used to be able to recite the Lord's Prayer in Latin. I hated having to learn latin and have had a mental block on Latin names ever since. Of course when it comes to fish identification, one often needs to use Latin.... But how the heck do you pronounce wendtii?
Te audire non possum est. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.

When I was keeping Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi, I just called them nickel fish.
Him

Her having let out a few fry into the moss
 
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FreshyFresh

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...The owner of the local LFS was a grumpy, unfriendly old gal named Hazel who was at least 150 years old. It wouldn't have surprised me to discover that she had fled Salem during the witchcraft trials. While TFH would be praising water changes, she was a firm believer in the "aged water" philosophy. A 20 gallon tank was often extolled as the minimum size for an oscar. My first foray into saltwater is an adventure in itself. Geez, how things have changed.
My beginnings sound much the same as yours except my grumpy LFS owner was as older gent with a German accent. Same aged water philosophy with a little "they'll only grow to the size of the tank" thrown in. The rows of tanks and variety of stock seemed to go on forever in his store. I can still see it in my mind. We had a bunch of really nice LFSs in the Buffalo NY area back them.

It was so long ago when I had my first 10gal, first with just UGF, then UGF and Dynaflo 150 hang-on-back, that I don't recall all that I tried to keep in it. I do remember platys, mollies, neons, angels (yikes), khuli loaches, zebra danios and such. Not necessarily all together. I do recall finding baby black mollies in the HOB and buying a mesh breeder box to put them in.

When I finally got a "big" tank that I had been saving up for, which was my first 20gal long that I bought from a LFS w/ fluorescent hood and metal stand. I first had some type of "assorted" african cichlids in it "that would do fine in a 20L" and of course that ended badly. I actually kept some type of piranha in it at one point that a certain LFS supposedly 'wasn't supposed to have'. Ended badly... Then finally to sum up my trifecta of fish keeping atrocity, I stocked my 20gal long with 2 or 3 oscars. It was more than one, but I don't recall more than 3. They lived long enough with me to be re-homed to a friend who was slightly better equipped. By then I was a senior in HS, it was 1988 and called it wrap for fishkeeping for the time being. I got the itch again around 2012 and did a bunch of reading before jumping back into it.

Do you remember the blue granular dechlorinator? It was probably blue dyed table salt that the LFS was selling me for all I know.

Or the clamp on heaters? Probably why I still keep them vertical w/ the dial ends out of the water.
 
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