How did you get involved in the aquarium hobby - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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How did you get involved in the aquarium hobby

This thread was inspired by another recent thread on the this forum. Be Mad At This

I thought it would be fun and interesting for us to share how we all joined the hobby and a little about our first experiences/disasters/successes.

For myself I was at a garage sale with my father in-law when I was in my early 20's. There was a kid around 16-17 yrs old that had a 50gal aquarium and stand out on the lawn with a paper on it that said free. I thought to myself "why not" so I told them I would take it. But there was a catch I had to take the fish he said. I didn't see any fish as the aquarium was empty and without any knowledge of how to keep fish or what type of fish I would be taking I said sure no problem. So he goes and gets a bucket and sure enough there were 6 Nimbochromis venustus (aka giraffe cichlid) in it. I had no clue what I was in for as at that point I didn't even know how or what the nitrogen cycle was. Long story short I killed 2 of my fish in first few weeks due to stress of water temp, and using untreated water and just dumping them into the tank with what I can only assume as more then 10 degree difference in temperature and nitrogen poisoning. I fed these guys probably 6 times a day and my tank was littered with old food that I did not realize was deadly. After the deaths I started to research about my new fish and aquariums, this led me to a forum similar to this one but was local. It was at that point after joining and receiving advice that I realized the amount of work I had just got for free at a garage sale. I have never looked back and love this hobby and all of its challenges and try to give back some of the things that were shared with me... knowledge and encouragement while still trying to expand my own.

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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 03:58 PM
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I think this is a fun idea. So I'll add my story. We had a lot of pets growing up including fish, but I was always more interested in snakes and lizards than the fish. They just didn't seem that exciting to me. Fast forward quite a few years. I got married and had a couple of kids. My wife is not a big animal person and definitely doesn't want lizards and snakes. I had broached the conversation of fish before because I thought my kids would enjoy some type of pet, but it never really went anywhere. Then one day my kids both bring home goldfish from school in a cup. Thanks teacher! I'm not sure what the teacher was thinking with that, but it did give me an opportunity. Unfortunately before I could do anything my wife went out and bought a cheap 2.5 gallon all-in-one setup. When I saw it, I immediately knew it was going to be a problem. I didn't know anything about cycling at the time, since my mom had always taken care of our fish, but I did know a small tank was much harder. The fish died shortly after. The kids were sad and wanted to get new fish. Still not knowing hardly anything about fish keeping I went out and bought them a few guppies. At least I knew they would be a better option than goldfish. But the tank was still not cycled and they started dying as well. That's when I got online and started researching fish, which lead to cycling, and lead me to this site. I saw all the pictures of amazing planted tanks on this site and my mind was suddenly opened to all of the interesting possibilities an aquarium could bring. I quickly ditched the 2.5 and got a 10. I got some Prime to condition the water and bind the ammonia and nitrites. I got some Stability to jump start the cycle. I bought some plants online and started learning the basics of aquascaping. After the tank cycled I started researching new and interesting fish to add. And everything just spiraled out of control from there. I talked my wife into an upgrade to a 36G bowfront. I bought more plants and more fish. I found out about shrimp. I setup the old 10 as a shrimp tank. I bought a new LED light and upgraded filtration. I started buying pieces for a pressurized CO2 setup. It has officially become an obsession. I even started donating plasma as a way to fund my addiction. And it all started because of two goldfish sent home by a teacher. She had no idea what a revolution that would cause.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 04:12 PM
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Last November I was going to have family visit for the first time in many years. I was trying to get the house in order and had an empty 1.5 gallon apothecary bowl sitting on my kitchen island/bar for the longest time. A thought popped into my head that one of the colorful Betta fish would "look" great in it. Off to my local Petco I go, pick out a fish, accessories and the food and water conditioner they recommended. It had the affect I wanted and my relatives enjoyed interacting with the little guy. Shortly after they left the Betta's fins started to look a little shredded so I thought maybe he needed a filter and heater. I ordered a Fluval Spec 2.5 gallon all-in-one, I got him set up in there but he wasn't improving. So then I started researching more and came to the conclusion that he needed to be treated for fin rot and he also needed at least 10 gallons to thrive. That sent me on an extensive search to find a larger tank that would still fit on this bar/island and since the back of the tank would be visible, I needed something where the equipment could be hidden. During my research I ran across the art of aquascaping and decided to head in that direction as well, but of course that created even more challenges to find a system that would meet the previous criteria but now also I would need a pressurized co2 system! After many hours of research, shopping (and a couple thousand bucks!) I finally got my tank set up. Things are just now calming down and stabilizing, the Betta has yet to grow his fins back completely but he acts healthy and made it through a 6 day treatment of Kanaplex. My initial plant purchases are thriving but plan to actually do a real aquascape once I know everything is running smooth. So if someone had told me back in November that the little 'decorative' fish I was purchasing for $14.99 would end up costing me a couple thousand bucks and many hours of work/research; would I have done it? Yeah... I think so, I love the little guy and he has provided me with many hours of entertainment (I never realized that a fish could have such personality!), plus it has introduced me to a hobby that I never knew existed but am throughly enjoying! Shout out to SIMON, my betta bud!
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 04:58 PM
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I wanted a small tank packed with glowlight tetras and fake neon plants under a black light. Ended up researching things like I always do before making a purchase and ended up down this route instead. A couple years later and I'm working on a 125g tank build. Things have escalated quickly! There is a lot of DIY possible in this hobby and used deals really can 'pay for themselves'.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 05:16 PM
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I was lucky to grow up with a fish tank in the house. My earliest memories are of my Mom's tank w/ neons, albino cories, otto cats, and fancy guppies. The setup had an incandescent light bulb, a heater clipped on the trim, and a corner filter which was an acrylic box with carbon under some filter floss powered by an air pump. My folks (mostly Mom, my Dad just went along with it...) always had some sort of tank that I got to share in the maintenance and feeding. Around high school age I started setting up my own tanks and got really into Tanganikan cichlids. Then saltwater fish and corals. I'm now back into smaller, lower maintenance tanks with plants and tiny fish and inverts. It's been my favorite of many hobbies, and hopefully my kids will enjoy it with me as they grow up
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Already I'm getting some good laughs from similar experiences. I went from 1 tank to over 25 and more than several thousand invested. Its funny how much of an addiction it can become but at the end of the day there is just something that is so rewarding about this hobby that its hard to control at times.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 05:20 PM
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Growing up we always had a large aquarium. My dad was really into the hobby and would take us to the fish store constantly when we were kids. I remember it was always an exciting trip to the fish store lol. The place had a huge dark room filled with hundreds of tanks with a blue tinge to them. They were really pretty. Guess I just picked it up watching my dad take care of his tanks over the years. He still has a tank now, but instead of a 75 he's down graded to a 20 planted.
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Current tanks: heavily planted, low tech 75
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 05:27 PM
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When I was around 10 I ended up getting what I believe was a 5g tank. I always had a max of 5 african dwarf frogs in it at all times. I believed I tried out some fish too (and a shrimp!), might have been a molly, platy, and (now that I think about it) quite possibly a pleco. As you can imagine the frogs and shrimp were really the only ones left still standing after several months. I had that tank for about a year and after that I don't really remember what happened to it. I probably didn't want to go through more heartache of losing some frogs. It wasn't until about August of last year that I decided, Hey! It wasn't that hard to take care of my frog tank when I was little, let's try it again! This time with fish! And so I did. Once again I made a mistake of not doing research and got a 5g with 4 tetras and a shrimp (I just love the little guys!) It wasn't until after that I had realised how I should have gone with more tetras and of course a bigger tank (and how there's a whole lot more to fish keeping then just sticking them in a little tank and feeding them everyday). And now here I am at the moment, trying to set up a 20g long for my little guys to enjoy the space as well as some more friends to swim around with To be honest, I haven't even finished setting the tank up and I'm already planning on a 10g shrimp only tank!
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 05:57 PM
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When I was 5 or 6, I had a 1.5 gallon tank with an airstone that I kept a betta in. I never did a water change and fed that thing 4 times a day. It lasted 2 years. I got a 10g tank when I was 7, and I got 2 goldfish that lived for 6 years. Again, never did water changes and my parents were not good role models for fish keeping. Even now, my sister has the 10g with 3 comet goldfish in it, and my parents don't care because they have been alive with no water changes for 4 years, AND they lived through a full cycle of the tank when the filter broke.
Now I have my 55g that I got on Craigslist for $60, and I (kind of) know what I am doing. I still struggle with staying on schedule for dosing, but the plants are alive, and my fish are doing well.
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A 16-year old that faces parental opposition in this hobby  54398
55g High Tech, Dutch (Sort of)
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 12:08 AM
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I got a job at Petsmart and they through me into aquatics with no experience whatsoever. I found out that I really liked it though. I still work there haha.

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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by skipcharlie View Post
I got a job at Petsmart and they through me into aquatics with no experience whatsoever. I found out that I really liked it though. I still work there haha.

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Haha Truly awesome story.

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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 08:21 AM
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When I was younger I had a goldfish that lived a decade with me. He was almost a foot in length and it just amazed me how big of a fish he had grown to be. Sadly a filter malfunctioned, caused the tank to rapidly heat somehow, and we came home to 97 degree water and a steamed fantail (screw aqueon and their dumb isolated incident). But it got me hooked. I then went on to work at a pet store and that helped fund my obsession and led me to want to pursue a career in limnology.

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 12:39 PM
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Grew up chasing mud bug's (crayfish),creek chub's for bait, and thing's just kinda took off.
Down to two tank's these day's from a dozen a few year's ago.
Maintenance became too much like a job for me to enjoy the hobby like I wanted.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 02:55 PM
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I fell in love with this hobby when I was 8 years old after a visit to the Miami Seaquarium.When I was a child,I read everything I could get my hands on about tropical fish.I spent many summer days reading old issues of Tropical Fish Hobbyist at the local library.So,50 years later,I still have tanks,and have always had.the most I had was 40 when I was breeding angelfish about 25 years ago.

Just in last 2 years I've gotten into the planted aspect,So I'm relatively new with plants.
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MTS? no,I just need one more tank...
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 05:28 PM
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We had goldfish in a bowl as kids (one at a time) I think my little sister got the first one for her birthday. Later I had a friend whose mom kept goldfish and koi- I was amazed when I walked into her front living room and there were several huge tanks with a foot-long fish in it (her koi were in a backyard pond. She told me the fishes would freeze in winter and thaw out in spring, start swimming around. I thought that was awesome). At some point my parents got me a ten-gallon w/an undergravel filter. I had feeder goldfish for a while, but I think at that point I was more interested in rescaping with pebbles and crappy decorations than the fish themselves.

Then in high school I helped some friends of the family move to a new house. It was quite a drive, and I recall the buckets in the back of the van w/their fish in it. I "helped" get the tanks set up again in the new house. They had a large community tank and also raised angelfish- I remember a bare tank with young angels in the back room. I'm sure I was more in the way than helpful, but I was so fascinated with the angelfish. I came home with a pair of half-dollar-sized angels and got a heater for my tank. I think must have upgraded to a 20gal, because I kept that pair of angels with a few swordtails and a panda cory cat for many years. My parents took care of the tank when I went to college. One of the angelfish survived long enough that when my first daughter went to visit her grandparents for the summer, she met that fish. It must have been 16 or 17 years old.

Few years later my daughter came home with a goldfish and a bowl, from a carnival she'd been to. When the fish died, I thought a betta would be a better choice for a fishbowl (of course I found plenty of info online telling me this would be okay!) For over a year we had two bettas, each in a gallon bowl. I kept java moss in their bowls and did 90% water changes once a week. They didn't have heaters but I would put the bowls on top of my fridge where there was a heat vent in the ceiling just above, and they survived ok.

Learned that wasn't the best way for bettas to live. I bought my daughter a three-gallon tank for christmas, but couldn't get the tank to cycle and she decided pretty quick it was "boring" to keep a pet you can't touch or play with- so I got rid of that tank (she got a hamster instead). Meanwhile kept the anubias barteri that had been in that tank, and finally got a ten-gallon for my betta. (I still have that plant).

Another few years later my mom gave me some birthday money and told me to spend it on something special for myself- I really wanted to get an aquarium again. Found a used 20L on craigslist, that was a frustrating start because I had to replace most of the equipment soon after I got it. It was a mess- just gravel and plastic plants at first. Had a near disaster when filter leaked and got into the power strip that everything was plugged into- and several gallons water on the carpet in my rented apartment (I've told that story elsewhere).

Then I thought to try live plants- found a guy nearby who sold some out of his basement- his fish room amazed me again. I love growing houseplants and gardening, so I wonder why it took me so long to figure out I'd love having a planted tank, too. Just sitting looking at the tank makes me so happy, and I spend way too much time thinking up what I will do next with it. Eventually I'm going to keep angelfish again, when i can get a bigger tank... The cherry barbs I have now are the ones that were in that first 20L- they've sure been through a lot as I went thru many mistakes... I had a really steep learning curve with keeping planted tanks- it took an entire year for me to get my current 38gal into a good condition and I would have given up many times if it weren't for the help I've gotten on this site.

Yeah there's more to tell but this got long enough, I think. My kids think I'm "crazy about fish" I guess it's true. But I don't know which I love more, the fish or the planted aspect of it all.
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10 gal planted- male plakat betta, horned nerite snail, malaysian trumpet snails
38 gal planted- cherry barbs, kuhli loaches, serpae tetra, amano shrimps, oto catfish, nerites, mts
20H "Window Tank"- pair of swordtails, some mts
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