Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Washington State
Getting Back to a lifelong hobby, or is it a sickness?
As a child of about 8 years old my parents acquired an aquarium from Fonks Dime Store in downtown Pullman. Fonks was an interesting store with a little of everything and alot of swimming jewels far back in the right corner of the store. I absolutely loved looking at the different fish there from all parts of the world. One of the species our family started with were Swordtails. I'd later learn the name of this fish was more accurately Xiphophorus hellerii. Nobody could have predicted at that time how the acquisition of that first aquarium would change my life.
As I write this blog at the age of 54 years old I'll be anchored in the present with continual updates of what we are doing in the aquarium hobby and I intend to ad seasoning of the many things that have transpired in the past - both professionally and personally. Probably the apex of my participation in this hobby was when the Page Family earned Reserve Grand Champion status in the International Betta Congress in 2001. While that accomplishment has me somewhat impressed now - that that time it was the beginning of the end of my fish keeping for a 12 year hiatus - burned out by the tremendous stress I'd put on myself to do what it took to achieve that level of accomplishment.
I never saw myself getting involved with the aquatic hobby again, until my youngest son, Danny, took and increased interest and success keeping his 15 gallon aquarium in his senior year of high school. His questions about the hobby aroused many memories in me and they were not so much about the work load of raising live food, preforming water changes, culling inferior stock, or shipping fish to all corners of the country. My memories were about the thrill of watching tiny specs of life grow into gorgeous and graceful swimming jewels. Memories of spending time with my parents as a child, and my children as an adult at the pet stores peering through the windows of the aquatic world and imagining...just imagining.
In early November 2014 - just a month ago I finally purchased a 36 gallon bow front aquarium from Pet Smart with the persuasion of my lovely wife, Camille. I had no idea what specias I would be putting into this aquarium - but I knew I wanted it in the bedroom where I could enjoy it while relaxing. We got a heck of a deal on the aquarium - it was only a bit over $100 and it came with a hang on the back (HOB) filter, a 200w heater, and a cover with a completely inadequate light fixture. I had misgivings about purchasing the aquarium because Danny was now a Freshman in college and has required many cash infusions to keep his endeavors progressing.
My $100 aquarium soon turned into a thousand dollar aquarium as my experience told me if I was going to do this thing - I was going to do it right.
The first issue that had to be addressed was adequate light. A 15 watt fluorescent would barely illuminate the fish, let alone grow plants. So I acquired a "Marineland Aquatic Plant LED Light with Timer" for $170. The MSRP on the light is $350 so I felt pretty good getting it for only $170. I modified the aquarium cover to accommodate this light and ran it through it's cycle every day from the day it was received. Of course the tank was empty - but it was enough to fire my imagination. Before water had even touched the aquarium I found I needed a second Marineland Aquatic Plant LED Light with Timer to provide enough light for the more difficult plants I intended to grow this time around. The lights throw 2200 lumens each - and while that's not as much as VHO it is highly directional which VHO is not. To accommodate the two LED lamps I needed to change to an all glass cover and so in addition to the $340 for lights I spent $70. So the lighting and lid had been disposed of and I'd spent $410 on the replacements. Yikes!
I really liked the filter that came with the aquarium, however it protruded a bit too far into the tank for the new glass lid to fit well, or for the lights to fit well. I needed to replace the filter. I started by purchasing a Marineland H.O.T (Hang on Tank) from Petco for $100. Not a good decision for two reasons. 1 was that it could be purchased for $60 with shipping on Amazon - but more importantly it was defective. Camille took it back to the store and we replaced it with a $170 Marineland 350 canister filter. Again, not a good decision because I could have gotten the same filter on Amazon.com for about one hundred dollars, but the deed was done.
Substrate. I wanted a planted tank, that was set from the start. We purchased two 20 lb bags of Caribsea Black sand from Petsmart for about $60. Another case where using Amazon would have saved money. Not enough research went into the purchase of the sand. I knew I wanted black sand, but I did not know the Seachem made a black sand version of their Fluorite substrate - which is superior for planting in. While visiting my oldest son and daughter for Thanksgiving we purchased 30 lbs of the fluorite black sand for an additional $70 or so. Now I have well over $100 just in sand.
Rocks: I also needed Rocks and could not find black Lava. Ultimately I purchased $100 in Black Lave on ebay from a seller named "Thirdplanettreasures" I really like the lava I received.
Then there was water test kits. I bought a master kit for $30 and a Hardness test kit for $16. Also a pH alert and Ammonia alert for another $12. This was from Foster and Smith
Miscellaneous stuff from Foster and Smith included: aquarium air pump, bio balls, Aquarium Salt, Replenish water treatment, and airline tubing for $52
The third order with Foster and Smith was for an inline heater and hose Clamps for $70.92.
Other items from Ebay "just in case" included two air pumps with a total of $16 Fish Net and thermometer for another $8.
A very fortuitous purchase was a nano CO2 Diffuser Suction cup 20mm- Aquarium water plants fish tank Atomizer from Ebay for $5 delivered. This is the most expensive part of my CO2 injecting system which is otherwise made of PET pop bottles.
Additional Ebay purchases included air valves and check valves for $27.
We also drove $400 miles round trip to Portland to pick up $60 in spider wood and $40 some red lava rock.
I'd long ago decided that this new aquarium was going to have purified water. Two 5 gallon carboys cost me $22 from Winco - and 45 gallons of water cost me $13.50
Additional Water cleaners and supplements cost $45.
Finally I spent $34 on filter material for the second tanks I'm setting up.
Wow -- I guess I'm back in the hobby... or is it a sickness?
Well, I just placed my first plant order. It came to $70 from Aquarium plants.com
Grand total before a single fish hits the water is $1440
The photos below are in order showing the progress to this point. I still need to work on the arrangement of the hardscape, but it's making progress. Almost time to plant.
Last edited by Scott Page; 12-10-2014 at 10:00 PM.
Reason: Changing my format