I started out with two shrimps, then one seemed to mysteriously vanish, so I bought two more shrimps. But instead of having four shrimps now, or even three shrimps, I appear to still have just one. I peer intently into the wild depths of my tank, behind the ornaments and plants, looking for a flash of red and finding none. What is happening to my shrimps? (Is it my danios? It’s probably my danios, isn’t it.) It would seem the only thing I can keep successfully in my big 120L tank are my cloud mountain minnows. (I am fairly sure some of my minnows are at least a year old now!)

Meanwhile, my betta fish is alive and well in his 19L. He has started to flare at me when I get too close to his tank sometimes, which I am taking as a sign of sass and not stress (google searching seems to support my theory). He seems very big even without the extra beard (i.e. when he flares his gills at me) and I am contemplating buying him a new and larger tank at some point. Having just bought a car, I probably shouldn’t, but I worry about him in his on the verge of being too small tank. I don’t want him to feel confined or bored.

I was also looking at old photos of my marimo, and indeed, they look exactly the same then as now. I’m going to be an old, old lady before they become noticeably big. I’ll have to leave them to someone in my will, won’t I?

Pros and Cons

Pros of fishkeeping-

They are entertaining

Fish have surprising amounts of personality. My minnows are shy and indifferent, my danios are lively and a bit boisterous , my betta is curious and always has an air of royal annoyance. My danios and minnows swim around, investigating their environment, chasing each other, displaying, they nose at the gravel and around my marimo seeking fallen items of food. They start shoaling around the food hatch at feeding times, and when I put in crushed peas I put it in the water by dipping my fingers in and they’ll eat right off my fingers. My betta skulks around his kingdom all day, making sure it’s ok. He watches me when I’m in the room, and follows my movements. He has a special ‘dance’ he does when I come close to the tank, in order to beg for food. He’s always hungry that one. I catch him staring up at the place where food appears, quietly waiting. He builds bubble nests and i have caught him just once, curled up on his betta hammock. He won’t play with me, but occasionally he will follow my fingers if I slowly move them across the side of the tank, and it’s nice to know he knows I’m alive, that I am there. (Even if all he wants is food! 🙄)

They are beautiful and interesting

Basically.

They are relaxing

I could watch my fish swim around for hours. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I find there’s something very therapeutic about watching fish. It instantly makes me feel a bit calmer, a bit more in control of my racing thoughts.

They aren’t demanding

You can miss feeding periods, you can go on holiday, you don’t need to exercise them, groom them or play with them. They don’t care when you leave in the morning or when you come back.

They are cheap

Many fish are between £5-£10 for a small group. My betta was £6. Their food is under a tenner. I can feed my minnows and danios peas and spinach as a treat, which is something I have in the freezer anyway. I can catch little flies and throw them into my Bettas tank, which again, cheap and easy and makes him very happy. (I err…Have lots of plants, which is where the tiny flies come from. They are harmless to my plants so there’s not much I can or want to do (using pesticides indoors is bad) so yeah, they aren’t garbage flies and there’s not swarms of them!!)

Cons of fishkeeping –

They require expensive equipment

The fish and their food is cheap, but the initial set up is hellishly expensive. A proper sized tank, filter, air pump (optional), heater (optional), substrate , decorations, plants (real and/or fake), water testing equipment, tank cleaning equipment (gravel cleaners, siphons, buckets, algae scrapers, sponges), thermometers…It quickly adds up to a frightening amount of money. This leads nicely on to:

They don’t have great emotional needs, but they have intense environmental requirements

I read an article which said that keeping fish is not about learning to keep fish, but learning to keep water. Ain’t that the truth. Your fish will only be non demanding and cheap if you invest time and money into setting up a decent sized tank (tank size dependent on what fish and how many!) and then take the time to maintain it properly. I do water changes every one-two weeks dependent on the tank and circumstances (my betta tank is too small for two weekly changes, and my big tank needs weekly water changes for a bit after I go on holiday as algae can build up from the food blocks I use, and waste build up too probably) I test the water monthly. I keep my Bettas tank heated. I have appropriate hiding places and foliage in both tanks. I have a baffle on my Bettas filter to still the water as fast water flow stresses him out. In contrast, I have an air pump for the big tank as my danios and minnows really like it. My danios in particular like to swim through the bubbles.

You don’t need to play with them or groom them, but you must watch over their environment carefully. I have thankfully not really witnessed the side effects of poor water quality or inappropriate environment (apart from my betta before I put the baffle on his filter), but I’m always aware of what stresses my fish and how to create and maintain the best environment for their needs.

I am not allowed to move, ever

I am not sure how I would go about moving a 120L tank… They are also impossible to catch. 😐 this is slightly problematic when you are living in a rental and are in the early stages of your career.

They have limited lifespans, and are prone to suddenly dying

You a) can’t get too attached because b) they are going to die, sooner rather than later and c) you are likely going to have to deal with the remains, if they don’t just mysteriously disappear. Dead fish aren’t any easier to catch than live fish. And without a garden to bury them I have no choice but to chuck them in the bin, which feels terribly heartless. :(

They are hard to keep track of

I don’t know how many fish I have. They swim too fast for a headcount, and they hide. My minnows especially love to tuck themselves behind ornaments or within the plants. I think I have 16 fish in my big tank…Maybe?

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Taking pictures of fish doesn’t get any easier the more fish you have

I got new fish today! My big tank is extremely stable. I was worried about my tanks when I went on holiday, but it turned out to be needless. The ammonia in my little tank spiked briefly, and I got some algae in my big tank, otherwise everyone was alive and well. Regular water changes (and for the big tank, gravel cleans) since and everything is back to normal.

My big tank had zero ammonia and zero nitrites and low nitrates even after going away, so I figured it was time to add more fish. As it was, my danios were being a little too boisterous as well, and I thought a larger community may make them calmer. I went to the pet shop and I talked to the guy there who said with my size of tank, I could get 50 small fish in there. That can’t be right, can it? He also said I could add 10 more fish today, as long as I kept a close eye on things in the coming weeks. I was wary, I had come there with the intention of getting 5 or 6 fish, but I let myself be persuaded. After all, they have discounts the more fish you buy. Thus I bought- 3 leopard/snow danios, 2 hi-fin zebra danios, and 5 silver white cloud mountain minnows. I tucked their bags into an insulated cooler bag, in the hope they wouldn’t freeze before I got them home, although thankfully I managed to get the bus quickly, and a limited stop bus at that, so it was ok. I got them home, cleaned the tank, changed the water, then put them in. Everyone is now shoaling beautifully. My new minnows are absolutely tiny, barely a centimetre long (so so tiny!!) and I hope the danios don’t bully them, but thus far everyone looks happy. It’s kind of amazing to watch them swimming around. There’s just so many of them! There’s 19 fish in the tank now…

I also picked up a new fake plant whilst at the store. The nymph episode has put me off real plants for life. I want to build up a more dense ‘forest’ in my tank though, as I’m hoping to eventually get some cherry shrimp. As shrimp are essentially fish food, I want to give them place to hide/escape. My minnows probably won’t care about them, they are extremely lethargic and indifferent fish, but my danios are very inquisitive and active and I am not sure how they will be around shrimp. I’m very pleased with this plant – its the huge bamboo one in the center. Yes, it’s nice and large and dramatic. Plus, it fits my Japanese theme nicely. I’m hoping to get some more medium sized plants to line up in front if it. This plant is unfortunately not silk like I wanted, but it’s a nice soft, gentle plastic. I’m hoping to get some silk plants for those medium ones. They have a softer, more realistic look. My Betta tank is silk only and it looks too pretty .

As for my betta, the only addition to his tank is a cut up coke bottle. Wait, it’s actually a thing called a baffle that you use to reduce the flow of the filter. My Betta was getting blown about by the outtake of the filter, and he seemed to be cowering in one part of the tank. So I googled about, found about the “water bottle hack” and did it. His water is a lot stiller now and he can explore his kingdom quite happily now without all those pesky bubbles. :) I’m not putting more fish in there, as he seems very content to lord over his kingdom all alone…

Rinne

I lost one of my fish yesterday .

That morning I was feeding my fish when I noticed a strange creature in my tank. At first I thought it was a piece of plant, but then it started to move. Much panicking and frantic googling later, I thought it may be a nymph. How one of those got in there I don’t know but now I was scared. This creature was not harmless like the snails, and could attack fish of its size. Which is all my fish. I summoned my courage to fish it out with the net. Then threw it down the sink. Then ran the tap for ages to make sure it really went away. Then poured some bleach down. Just in case.

I don’t think I’ve been that freaked out by something since that time I discovered cockroaches could fly…as one was flying at me.

I thought it was all over but then that evening I spotted it: a fish, stuck in one of the plants, staring vacantly out of the tank, not moving. I tapped the tank and it didn’t react. With an ominous feeling, I phoned my dad , who advised me to poke it. I put in a long stick and pushed it gently. It was stiff and unreactive.

It was dead.

Worse, as it came free of the plant and turned about in the water, I could see it had been partially eaten.

The nymph must have attacked it, I theorised. Perhaps the nymph ate it’s way out the fish, my dad suggested.

I thought I was going to throw up. I had to catch this half dead, mauled fish, and throw it out. I had to deal with my failure to look after it. My guilt. It had only been three weeks. This was one of my newer fish, at least, and then I felt even more guilty for my relief at that. Poor little fish. I cried a little. I panicked- what if this was just the start of it? My father listened patiently to my freaking out, then turned me over to my mom to deal with. My mom tried, but even after we talked, I didn’t stop freaking out all evening, and I lay awake for ages as every time I closed my eyes all I could see was the hollow stare and gnawed gut of my dead fish.

This morning, my fish were scared. They wouldn’t come into the open water , even for food. They were hiding amongst the plants and ornaments. They were shoaling together, not daring to separate . I felt awful. And even more panicked- is this because they’ve realised they are down a number and they think there’s something in the water picking them off, or is there actually something in the water picking them off? Was there another, bigger nymph? It was hard to leave the house this morning.

I’m suddenly scared for my fish. Nature is so very brutal. I knew my fish weren’t going to live long and were not likely to die of old age. I read those warnings when I was researching. But I didn’t expect such a grizzly scene.

Thankfully, when I came home tonight my fish seemed more relaxed, were less tightly shoaled and swimming about in the open more. And everyone was accounted for.

I hope it’s over now.

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I got new fish!

I went home this weekend to see the cat and spend some time with the family too. (In that order ;) ) Then on Sunday my dad drove me back and drove me to the pet shop to get my new pets.

I bought 5 five danios- two zebra, three leopard. And I bought a betta fish! (Otherwise known as a Siamese Fighting Fish.)

My dad helped me get them into the tank. My danios were going into my 120L with my minnows, but my Betta was going into my old 19L, recently refurbished with new gravel, a heater, thermometer and new ornaments. I also got a plant on Sunday to finish it off!

My minnows were very curious about the new inhabitants, and not nervous or shy at all! As soon as my danios were out the bag they were happily swimming together. My Betta was a surprise. He is a restless and curious little fish- he loves to swim into odd places- the space between the glass and heater, between glass and filter, curled around the heater. I was worried by this at first, scared he didn’t like his tank, but he doesn’t seem scared. He just seems to like to explore and I suppose watch over his territory. He’s a little playful and he notices a lot more than my minnows- come too close to the tank and he retreats away, when my other fish swim about near his tank , he follows them and almost tries to chase them- but it’s more like a cat following a flicking string. Head to one side, then to the other. Its too adorable. Its been a delight getting to know him- I never knew fish could be so expressive! (I swear he gives me the saddest look when I stop feeding him.) And have such a feisty personality. Then again, my danios are fairly feisty compared to my minnows…well, a lot bolder. My minnows like to hide amongst the plants in the back, but my danios love being at the top of the tank, in open water and even swimming amongst the bubbles from my air stone. When I changed the water they were happily darting in and out of the waterfall of water.

This makes feeding a problem- as they tend to get to the food first and nom it all before my minnows can get any! I’m putting more food in and sprinkling it in different areas which is helping. My Betta is a fussy fish who would not eat the others food but I bought some new food for him that the pet shop recommended and he eventually started eating. He comes right to the top of the tank so you just sprinkle the food in front of him and he gobbles it up! He’s just too cute. And so very pretty (and I think he knows it!)

I’m so happy with all my fish. They make me happy. :) And I tested the water and both tanks are stable, as well as well filtrated, aerated and planted, so hopefully the fish are happy too!