Getting Back to a lifelong hobby, or is it a sickness? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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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 09:00 PM. Reason: Changing my format
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:03 PM
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I right with you. I'm 50 and have been doing this all of my life. I have learned so much. Forums like this help me to learn even more. Aquarists have different methods of keeping fish and that's OK, but, I will say that the more I learn, the more questions that I have. Money? I have spent thousands over the years in this hobby.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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November 16 - 36 gallon Bowfront, spider wood, reddish lava

Well, I'm getting started at this point. We bought the tank November 1 along with 40 lbs of Caribsea Super Naturals Black sand for $170.

Then we went to the Wet Spot in Portland for this Spider Wood and these two pieces of Lava which ran right to $100.

Bump: Finding Black porus Lava is a pretty tough task. I finally found a source from an Ebay seller named thirdplanettreasures. Three boxes of rocks came to exactly $100 including shipping. This photo was taken on December 6 with the rock, one piece of spider wood and the substrate we've acquired from PetSmart and a store in Sandy Utah (while on vacation).
Here the materials are laid out on a sheet of plastic to protect the bed as I prepared to lay the hardscape
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:15 PM
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What plants did you order? Did you get the low light starter kit?


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:16 PM
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Welcome back brother,my limit was 600$, right now it's almost 2000$. I feel you


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Dwarf Baby Tears Hemianthus callitrichoides
Vallisneria, Corkscrew (Vallisneria americana var. biwaensis
Tissue Cultured Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis Parvula)
Nesaea Red
Madagascar Lace Aponogeton madagascariensis
Echinorodus bleheri 'Compacta'
Sword, Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

This is the tank as of this morning. The water is clearing.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:26 PM
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That should look SWEET. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Ok?


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcutl002 View Post
That should look SWEET. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Ok?


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Absolutely plan to use this as a picture log. Not sure about the management and how many pictures are allowed. I'm starting a parallel blog on blogger as well and if I find myself overly limited in posting photos here (which I suspect is going to be an issue) I'll close this up and go to blogger. I WISH I had pictures of what I've done in the past. I had a 4' x 6' x 12" deep paladarium with 1000w metal halide for about ten years. Also was the IBC Reserve Grand Champion in 2001 - but don't have any pictures of those gorgeous Bettas - just have the hardware (medals and trophys). At my peak in the late '90's -2001 I had 400 aquaria not including the individual betta jars. But I made money from my fish in those times. I'm not going down that road again. Money takes the fun out of and activity - or worrying about making money anyway. Nope, If I get a spawn of fish or shrimp now they are going to be given away - maybe swapped -- but not for cash. Never again.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 12:56 AM
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Welcome back to the hobby!

I don't know what to tell you. Hobbies always walk the fine line between sickness and fun. I occasionally try to do a reality check to make sure I am still enjoying my tanks. I am toying with tearing down a couple of the smaller tanks because I've always struggled with them and my life would be happier without the maintenance. I haven't taken the step to do it yet (is it a sickness when you talk yourself into keeping tanks you don't need?

Not to enable you or anything, but you should get one Betta. They make great pets, lol!
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