So... when I registered for this forum I got an email suggesting that I wander over here and introduce myself, so here I am.
Other than guppies we kept in a bowl as a child (decades before the invention of the internet, and no, I'm not saying how many!), my experience in fishkeeping began a couple of years ago when I decided I wanted to keep a small aquarium.
At the time, wanting a colorful and relatively easy to care for fish, I settled on a betta. I did a small amount of research before wandering into one of the nationally recognized pet store chains where I live, though looking back, I sure wish I'd done a lot more -- because a lot of the 'information' that the employee at the store told me turned out to be wrong.
One thing I had read in my all too little research, however, was that there was a difference between fish simply surviving and actually thriving, so I went beyond what the pet store employee told me I needed and settled on a 3.5 gallon filtered tank, with a heater and lid, instead of a bowl. Though thanks to the employee telling me that all I had to do was let the tank 'sit' for a couple/few days because of the 'nitrogen cycle', I never did get a real understanding of what the nitrogen cycle was until much more recently.
The betta lived in that tank, with me doing 50% water changes weekly with a gravel vacuum (something else I'd read), for two years until it passed -- though never once did I test the water paramaters, and on about two occasions when the tank got really dirty I removed the fish and cleaned the tank top to bottom, something else I now know I should never have done.
When the betta developed fin rot, I wandered back into the local store -- they recommended betta fix, and sent me on my way -- never suggesting that I test my water parameters.
Poor little guy.
During this, some months after aquiring the betta, I allowed my young daugter to try her hand at tossing a ping pong ball into a cup at our county fair -- and we came home with a young comet goldfish.
Another trip to the local pet store, and said goldfish had its new home -- a 1.5 gallon tank with a stature of Ariel, the Little Mermaid, in the middle -- getting the same 50% weekly water changes as the betta, until...
The betta passed when he was about two years old, so I moved the goldfish up to the 3.5 gallon tank, thinking that it'd be happy in a much larger home.
Then, I decided I'd like for said goldfish to have a tankmate, so I wandered into the local pet store.
"I'm looking for a goldfish."
"Do you have a tank?"
"Yes, 3.5 gallons, filtered, and I already have a comet goldfish."
"How big is it?"
"About an inch and a half" (For a comet I'd had well over a year, sigh)
"Well, the general rule is about a gallon per inch of fish, but goldfish are messy, so two gallons per inch is better. If you upgrade to a ten gallon, you might be able to add one or two of the really little ones."
And that's how I got my first fantail.
The two fish shared the 10 gallon until, at two gallons per inch, I still had room for one more (or so I thought), so about a week later, I got a second fantail.
It was after the second fantail was in the 10 gallon that I started doing significantly more research on the nitrogen cycle, fishkeeping, and goldfish in particular. Right away I realized that I needed a *much* bigger tank (finally understanding how big the fish I had could be expected to grow).
Not more than an month after purchasing the ten gallon, I purchased a 48 gallon bowfront and a canister filter. I moved the fish in right away because my ten gallon was in the midst of a pretty nasty nitrite spike. By this time, at least, I'd read enough to know that cycling fish-in would be better in the 48 gallon than in the 10.
I was still operating under the 2 gallons per inch of goldfish 'rule', however, and given that I didn't expect the comet to grow to nearly full-size given its severe stunting, I figured I had room for just one more goldfish in the 48 gallon (having figured out by that time that I should base stocking on full-grown adult size). No longer really trusting the pet shop employees, I drove a bit further to a local tropical fish store -- asked questions, and not adding a fish right away... but a couple of weeks later, ultimately deciding to add one more to the tank - a 1" long shubunkin.
The shubunkin is about 1.5" now, and has been in the aquarium about 4 weeks. The fantails are each growing nicely as well, and even the comet has grown a little (though not so fast as the others) in its new home. The tank is still young yet (perhaps six weeks old or so), but I am happy to say that this time, at least, the water parameters are being tested regularly, and the cycling has gone along very smoothly.
Doing more research along the way led
me to this forum (and the posting of my first question a couple of days ago), and I now know that down the road the shubunkin may well need to be rehomed. Something I don't want to do, but will do, if it becomes necessary for the well-being of the fish.
I certainly wish I'd begun actively participating in this forum long before now, but I am very glad to finally be here. I also hope that I can share the knowledge I've gained from my reading with a few others along the way -- and maybe help someone avoid some of the many mistakes I've made.
I know this has been a long story, so if you've read this far, I applaud your endurance, and look forward to learning with and from you on this forum.