Wednesday, January 07, 2009

OCD + Goldfish = Crazy Fishlady

Steve is awesome and surprised me with a lovely fish tank for Christmas and on Sunday we went on the Great Fish Accoutrement Hunt.

We started at Petco and after determining that yes, this was indeed the best tank, I read several pamphlets on fish care, bought a net and thermometer and left*. Next we hit up a Petsmart where we bought NOTHING because nothing met my stringent standards for fish d├ęcor. Finally we went to The Fish Store on Roosevelt where I found gravel (disco style), and a color coordinating castle (every fish needs a castle), and a fake plant (that matches both the castle and plant, because why the hell not if you’re buying a fake plant anyway).

Then I got home and read the book that came with the aquarium and realized I needed 2 buckets, maybe a timer for the light, the tank did not come with tap water purifier (though the box said it did), the plant is probably too tall, and I may or may not have enough gravel.

So I went to Petsmart and bought a new plant and a bottle of tap water purifier. Then went to Lowe’s for buckets.

Yesterday my roommate went to The Fish Store and picked up more rocks for me because he is awesome. After dinner I started setting up the aquarium and realized I needed an additional plant to make the whole thing look less sparse.

So we went to go to Petco again but got sidetracked at Pier 1 where the roommate bought a lamp, which almost did not fit in my car and necessitated that I’m-driving-a-car-with-a-lamp-shoved-through-it-at-a-jaunty-angle sort of driving. Then went to a different Pier 1 for additional lamps and ended up at the Petco in Everett, where I bought a new plant and checked out all of their accouterments (and fish, which BTW looked really healthy and clean- more than at any store I have been in before). At home Jim and I rearranged the furniture and set up the aquarium in the best possible location as noted in the now numerous sources I had researched. After rearranging the contents of the tank a few times while it was full of water, it is finally ready for fish.

Next I researched fish and determined that I can probably fit between 3 and 5 fish in there or a whole bunch of little guys. I also looked at very expensive bettas on the internet, but I shouldn’t pay 30 for a single fish that will kill any other fish I put with it leaving only smooshy fish bits.**

So now all I have to do is find a reputable dealer to assist me in finding 3-5 roughly equally sized, aggression compatible fish that eat the same food, and can live in water roughly between 64-68 degrees. And I should buy an extra filter (JIC), a water testing kit to balance ammonia and nitrites, and food. Fish probably would like food most of all.

This is why people with OCD should not own aquariums. Or perhaps the reverse is exactly the case as I assume that my obsessing will greatly increase the joy and lifespan of my finned friends.

Although, when I was 5 or so I pitched a quarter into a glass at the fair and won a tiny goldfish that grew to 4 inches and lived nearly 6 years, in a glass bowl with nothing but neon pink rocks. I cannot testify to this but I assume that 5 year Quiana was not terribly diligent at feeding him and cleaning the bowl, so perhaps fish keeping is not rocket science.

* I should mention at this juncture that Steve and I found a koi that looks as much like Hitler as a fish could possibly look. A dark black patch on his head and a perfect little mustache. I am terribly disappointed to find out that my tank isn’t large enough to even keep a baby koi. So no Fishler for me.

**Every resource I have checked suggests getting a fragile cheap fish and placing it in the tank to make sure that the tank is ok for the other fish. Does this seem unethical to anyone else? While I eat meat, and happily wear leather, I can’t in good conscience kill any animal unless I have good reason. (Except spiders. Spiders can kiss it.) So maybe I should just get one fish to start with. But a keeper fish. Not some disposable fish. And just keep my fingers crossed?


Ferretnick said...

For what it's worth, I used to work in an aquarium store (not a "pet" store) for about 4 years.
I'm familiar with filters, "disposable fish", compatability, etc...

Feel free to email me if you want to ask any questions. Not to mention I still have quite a few books on the subject if you'd like to read more.
I'd be happy to be an enabler for your OCD.

Steve said...

Now I feel guilty for my gift. "Here, have a present that will necessitate 5 trips to the store, multiple extra expenditures, and countless hours of worry" It's the gift that keeps on taking!!!

qtilla said...

Ferretnick- Thanks for the offer of help. I will definitely be consulting your expertise. The folks at the Fish Store were not very forthcoming.

Steve- There is something deeply satisfying about obsessing about things that are not my student loans.

erin said...

There had better be pictures of this aquarium forthcoming!

During the PNW Snowstorm of Death
'08, I was the girl who went outside and knocked heavy snow and ice off of little trees because I "felt bad for them". So that should clear up how I feel about the "disposable fish" idea. I like your idea better, get one [not expensive] fish to start with and see how it fares in the tank... then go from there. It would totally suck to spend $$ on fishies and have them all die.

Dude. I never understood aquarium love, but now you've kind of made me want one.

qtilla said...

There will be pictures. I can't wait to tell you all my awesome fish stories! Stay on the edge of your seats, people!

My goal is to make EVERYONE get an aquarium! (Bwahahaha!)

Steve said...

I know that Drew got an aquarium and it instantly merged with his accounting classes to make him an officially licensed "Boring Person."

qtilla said...

Wait until you see this evening's post. Then you will know the true meaning of Boring.

Drew said...

Hey Q. If you need fish help, call me. Steve's got my number. I suppose I could email it to you, but I only have access to my address book on my phone, and it's a pain to type on that. :P

Ah, what the hell.

You've got an email!

Drew said...

Oh yea. Heh, what Steve didn't say is, now I've got 5 aquariums. The 20 gallon is kicking ass in terms of growing plants. 30 Gallon is getting there. My giant purple snails are breeding, and my betta's are fixing to breed as well.

Q, Bettas will only attack other fish that have big fins. I had a betta in with several varieties of corries, dojo loaches, african dwarf frogs and Pearl Galaxy Danios, and they got along ok. If you stick them in with something with big, show fins, or fish of similiar size and bright colors (like Grommies or Angel fish), then they go into attack mode.

Koi, from my understanding, are essentially gold fish, and they make tons of Amonia. When dealing with most fish, the general rule of thumb is an inch of fish per gallon of water, but you gotta be a little generous with gold fish, cause they'll amonia up the water and die fast.

You don't nessessarily want an expendable, disposable fish to cycle your tank. You want something nice and hardy and that will live, so it starts your nitrate cycle. Cories do well for this. Betta also do well for this, because they're not so much affected by water quality. They're labyrinth fish, which means they breath primarily through their lungs. As a side note, that's primarily how they kill other betta's if you do something as barbaric as fight them. They rip off the other's fins, after which they sink to the bottom of the tank and drown. :(

If you're going to use plants, you need to make sure you're using the right bulb, and try and get some fluorite in your substrate. It makes plants grow good. They'll also negate your need to change the water as often, as they tend to use the things for food that poison the fish.

qtilla said...

Oh yea, Steve mentioned that you've become boring. (Zing!)

Thanks for that advice, but I fear I will never be the fishkeeping badass that you are!