A spouse and multiple tanks - how to keep both? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Question A spouse and multiple tanks - how to keep both?

So my wife is not really into fish. She glances at my Spec V and says "yes it looks nice" and then goes back to do anything else. In order to get her to agree to a larger tank I basically did it by fiat. I just started planning for the larger tank and talking about how great the larger tank is going to be, eventually she realized I was serious about this and I talked so earnestly about it she reluctantly agreed. That's how the 120 gallon tank I am planning went from pipe dream to early development stages. This was a process of around 6 months.

Now I am also interested in my Spec V, the 120 I am planning, and a smaller (sub 20 gallon) Walstad tank with ricefish. I tried the same tactic as with the 120 but my wife got wise early on and made it clear that from her perspective there is only 1 tank at a time. I am upgrading to the 120 and that's it, no other tanks.

I think I can win her over but it's going to take some time. As in likely months. So while that is in process... how do other people solve this issue? I know I am not alone here, spouses seem to rarely fully support our hobby if we are not actively involved in it before we meet them. I have had tanks off and on my whole life but I was going through a dry spell (pun intended) when I met and dated my now wife.

I am not ever going to be one of those people with 20+ tanks because I am not interested in breeding and keeping rare fish as I am in setting up and maintaining nice aquascapes and watching aquatic animal behavior in those scapes. There is only so much time to maintain tanks like that so if I had my druthers I would likely top out at 4-5 tanks plus a quarantine tank. My wife would like to keep it at 1 tank plus a quarantine tank that is setup only as needed.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Really open to ideas on this one folks.
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 03:21 PM
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Marriage advice? That's way out of my realm!
What we do to make a marriage work is often so specific that I've never had too much faith in the process of somebody else talking me through my problems on this stuff. I would say that it takes me much more talking to the wife directly and being upfront and honest about what I want, as I'm not smart enough, tricky enough, to make it stick long term if I try to do it any other way.
If you were aware that you had been tricked, would you trust more or less, next time?
Wife and I have been at it for more than 50 years and the big thing I try to keep in mind is that we each need to have a bit of "personal" space and time as well as "married" time and space.
Nobody has sole "ownership" of any specific areas of house or yard ---unless it is agreed in advance. When I was growing my hobby, it was a shared room, she had her sewing/ glass section and I added a fish tank or two, but as she dropped her interest, mine expanded.
Got to be agreeable as well as flexible on both sides to make it work. But trust is a hard thing to maintain.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 03:40 PM
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Well, hmm, so much depends on why she only wants one tank. Is it space? Money? Maintenance? Does she have to clean up after it? Does it take too much of the budget? Do you have room in your place for multiple tanks? Does she have a hobby herself? If so you can say this is your interest and she has hers? You can consider including her into the purchase and set up of a tank. She can pick fish and decorations if you give her guidance. Just some food for thought. It is healthy for all of us to have some sort of hobby or extra activity. Try to include her as much as you can. Best of luck.


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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 04:07 PM
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Well. I have the same issues. Personally, I would rather have one large tank setup than many tanks. No time to maintain all of them. I have 3 tanks in my rotation right now, 40B, 58 and 55 gallon. They arent all setup. What I plan is to have one set up soon and just store the others away. We have limited space here in our mobile home and I had to have a battle for years to have a 55 setup since its so long. That battle was won by me though when I found a cheap stand and canopy for 50 bucks. The biggest issue for me tank wise with the wife is space. I have had many tanks setup since knowing her... 25 gallon, 56 column, 40B, 75, 55, 58 gallon. I have found the best thing to do to avoid issue is to pick a tank that is not too big and not too small. My best bet for that has been the 40B/50 gallon.
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Oh how I wish it were an issue of money or cleaning etc. I can save up or clean more often. No its none of those things. She is just anti-fish. When she was growing up her father had a fish tank and it was always "yucky" according to her. She is pre-disposed to not like fish tanks as a result. I keep the Spec V looking great. It doesn't cost much to keep up and she has zero responsibility towards it. She still doesn't like it much.

I definitely do not want to "trick" her either. It's more a matter of what strategy to employ to get her to agree. Having a designated room for the fish tank is a solution I have seen other people use but it doesn't work well for me. I discovered about myself that I need the tank to be in a very visible area of the house in order for me to properly maintain it. When I have put fish tanks basements or in rooms that are not often used I find myself not taking care of it the way I should. My Spec V is in the kitchen and I am the primary cook of our household so I see it constantly. This has really helped me to keep it looking good. Thus my 120 gallon will be going into the main living space, and I want the Walstad to go on window sill in that same space.
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 05:21 PM
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... My Spec V is in the kitchen and I am the primary cook of our household so I see it constantly. This has really helped me to keep it looking good. Thus my 120 gallon will be going into the main living space, and I want the Walstad to go on window sill in that same space.
I always put my main tank in the kitchen area. It's where it will be seen the most and appreciated. I've learned to never put a tank in an area that you don't frequent. It will eventually become neglected.

As far as the wife is concerned, I know mine does not like any equipment showing and it has to be an asset to the asethetics of the room. So if your just growing plants and have equipment here and there it's going to be a harder sell. If your doing an aquascape and making the equipment invisible with open-top, lily pipes, etc. it's an easier sell. It's got to look more like art then ecology.


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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 05:49 PM
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Does your wife have any hobbies? Be as supportive of hers as you expect her to be of yours. And rotate any large expensive purchases back and forth between you. You buy a 120 gallon tank. She gets to buy something nice that interests her. I would say try to get her engaged in the hobby so you can share it but if she isn't into it she isn't into it. I would be annoyed if someone tried to force their interests on me so it might just be that you both have your separate hobbies and I think that is OK. But money wise you have to compromise and reach an agreement that works with both of you. Do you have a separate room that your tanks can go so she doesn't have to see them all the time?

ETA: just saw your posts about the living spaces. I think this might be where you have to compromise. If you have the space for it where it could be not in the main living space that might be where it should go. Adapt your behavior so that you maintain your tank even if it isn't in the main living area. Don't expect her to put up with sharing the space because of your own behaviors.
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 06:11 PM
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I just try to make my tanks look good so they make our home look better. Every guest we have starts by watching my tanks. This way my fiancé sees merits too - our living room looks better. He actually became quite interested in my fish, sometimes feeds them and observes them in his free time.

BUT right now I wouldn't get another tank, it's just not plausible with the space we have. I have 5 permanent tanks and one going on and off (quarantine, fry tank, most of the time it's running to be truthful). Maybe showing your spouse what makes it fun for you will help too. For example my fiancé watches every live food feeding, I've explained to him how breeding some of the fish I have works and he got interested and now feeds my fry sometimes.

Of course you need to compromise too. If there is no space for a new tank... Well there is no space for a new tank. If you really want to you can try arranging them so they stand one over another. Remember you both need hobbies, so if you want your spouse to accept yours you need to accept theirs. Money-wise it all depends on how you share your finances. If they're completely shared maybe try to create some pocket money for both of you? This way it will be more "fair" for you to spend money on your tanks.


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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 06:46 PM
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All of my tanks are in a finished basement with central air.
No one uses it ever, now the first 2 months many years ago when it was completed it seemed like a battle to be in the basement.
The newness wore off very quick.

Now I have 3 tanks all 4' long and no one cares.
Worked out easy for me.
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 07:08 PM
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I identify.

My husband has no interest in fish/aquariums in general and every tank I set up requires much heated negotiation. Its exhausting.
No answers or suggestions. I wish I did-- Id use it in my own situation.


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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 09:19 PM
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Fish don't snore, forget to put the cap back on the toothpaste, or leave the toilet seat up.

Just sayin'....
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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 09:23 PM
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Fish don't snore, forget to put the cap back on the toothpaste, or leave the toilet seat up.

Just sayin'....


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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 10:12 PM
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My wife is not a hobbyist. She is very conscientious with money though and I'm lucky (?) enough to have a whole failed fish store worth of aquariums, filters, lighting and so forth. And I tend to trade fish, plants and shrimp to support my hobby, so not a lot of money is spent. I do make some purchases of course but try to sell something to fund them when I can. So no arguments over the spending part; time and space are bigger issues. Our home is just under 1,500 sq ft and I have 5 aquariums (and a pond) here at the moment and another 4 at work. And naturally I want more.

I suppose having aquariums when you met would have made a difference. When we started dating, I had a lot of fish and breeding projects (as well as a lot of reptiles) and the hobbies did take up a lot of my time. She knew what she was getting into, and in our case it's gotten "better." As I get more out of fish and into shrimp, the biggest change has been how much less time the aquariums take. I water change less, feed and fertilize less, there aren't jars of brine shrimp all over and I now probably put fewer than 3 hours a week into them, not counting just observing or rescaping for fun.

She likes the shrimp well enough and has a betta of her own in a 40 gallon tank. The betta was left at the door of my store when I came to open one morning and she wanted to keep him. She didn't know if it was a male or female (it's a male) so named it Carold which amuses me to no end. She loves seeing baby shrimp appear in our tanks, and to that end I've tried to encourage her to set up a tank that I'll maintain for her. I have a 10 gallon Dennerle shrimp tank still in the box for her to set up at some point and she can pick any plants from my other tanks and stock it with whatever shrimp she chooses -as long as it isn't stock from my current tanks. I'm hoping it's some sort of Taiwan bee, but will be happy as long as it isn't Neos since I've bought Aqua Soil. I've mentioned setting this tank up many times and the question is always "where?". If I were a single guy, I'd put it right beside the other one in my office but her sense of decor is more practical than that. So not sure when it will ever be filled, but it will be a big step in the right direction to give her creative control over one. I have no illusions that she will ever become an aquarium addict but if she can just have some pride in a pretty tank that she set up herself I think it would help her understand my own sickness.
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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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I wish she did have some hobbies, it would totally make my life easier. I agree it would make a lot of sense to support her and she could support me, everyone would win. Unfortunately she really doesn't have any hobbies. She used to have hobbies but dropped them for school and then work. Now we tend to spend 95% of our communal free time together. I like her being around but she doesn't want to participate in my hobbies. This means I only engage in my hobbies when she is occupied elsewhere.

The money isn't an issue here nor is it space, she just doesn't want another tank.

I like the idea of marketing the tanks to her as a home decor piece. I think that might resonate with her. Especially the Walstad tank since there won't be any equipment associated with it beyond a light which will likely be a desk lamp of some kind. That means I can get a bit artsy with it.
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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 11:08 PM
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How about new living room furniture as a trade, or bedding, women love bedding for some reason.
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