Pretty obvious from a lot of my posts that I'm an animal lover. I have SO many pets. Cats are my favorite. Running a close second on my fave pets is also my fave hobby : FISH.
Yes, Fish are a hobby. If you don't already know this, then you've never successfully kept fish much. Doing so can be a challenge but its FUN and it can be addictive :D A lot of people in the fish keeping hobby will describe themselves as having MTS ( Multiple Tank Syndrome)
This happens for several reasons. You can't just put any fish together in a tank and expect them to get along. Some fish are very aggressive. Some have very different water requirements even among just the freshwater tropical varieties. Discus need taller tanks than platies. Cichlids need higher ph than most community fish such as live bearers. So you find yourself setting up a whole new tank just to put together a new community of fish or in some cases just A FISH. I kept a small ( 20g) saltwater tank for just one puffer fish for 8 years. I cried when Chucky died. Like a big baby.
The biggest mistake people make is thinking they are going to go out and get a tank and put fish in it that day. I work in a fish store ( lucky me right??) and I can't tell you how often people get downright angry when you try to explain to them the Nitrogen Cycle and that it takes 6-8 weeks to properly set up a tank before you go to spending $80 on fish. No matter how hard I try some people are determined to put a lot of fish in a brand new tank the first day. About a month later they wind up tearing the whole thing down and selling it for half what they paid for it all because they just couldn't believe they didn't know better than the person at the fish store.
Here's the low down.
Set up the tank. Put the water in it, put in the dechlorinator drops, turn on the filter, turn on the heater ( most community fish are good at about 76oF ) I don't recommend starting with anything less than 10g as its never really going to cycle and you cant keep much of anything in a space that small happily. Put in some cheap feeder fish, platies are the best, very HARDY. They aren't going to be much to look at but they will help cycle the tank and they wont cost a lot. The other option is to use one of the new products out there that have nitrifying bacteria in it to help start the cycle. Here's a great link to read up on the cycle process. http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/biologicalcycle/a/nitrogencycle.htm Usually in the first week of the cycle the tank gets cloudy and people spaz out and want to fix it. CHILL, its normal and HEALTHY it will go away :) Also don't worry about adjusting the PH up or down during the cycle. Its going to level out on its own when the cycle is done then you will know if it need adjusting or not.
After that I say change the filter in the back once a month. I change mine the first Sunday of each month. No matter how big the filter or tank I do this every month. Depending on the size of the tank I change the water accordingly. 10g I change once a week , 20g once every other week, 30g once every 3 weeks and so forth. I change anywhere from 1/3 to 1/4 . NO more no less. If you change ALL of the water in your tank you basically " reboot" the tank and it has to start the nitrogen cycle ALL over again. Here's another tip. In each filter there is either a bio wheel and/or a small sponge looking piece in front of the filter you replace each month. DON'T WASH THIS IN TAP WATER. If it ever gets really dirty take some water from the tank and clean it in that. THIS piece contains a lot of the good bacterial colony you need in your tank. Cleaning it with tap water KILLS that colony and guess what? REBOOTS the tank. So no need to take all the water out and the fish and the ornaments NONONO don't do all that extra work. Its bad for the tank AND IT SUCKS Lol! Too much work you don't have to do. I had a lady tell me how she didn't understand why her fish kept dying..she was cleaning the tank so well. Every week she took ALL the water out and the fish and the ornaments and then cleaned the tank and ornaments with bleach water! She said it would look so pretty and sparkly and then the fish just kept dying! It made no sense to her. I was aghast!
I guess I've rambled enough on the fish today. It will be an ongoing topic here :)
more to come from the Crazy Fish Lady!