My name is Lisa. I live in New Orleans, LA, USA.
I stumbled on this site thanks to Google. I had joined a different fish forum but the people there are really nasty. They did not give advice as much as throw insults at you.
I had given up on fish forums until I read a few posts here. Seems like there are some really nice, knowledgeable people here.
I have a 20 gallon high tank. It started with a single male Betta (Wallie) in a little glass bowl that my boyfriend gave me for Valentines Day. Wallie needed a little bigger tank so I went and got him a 1 gallon bowl.
Wallie was happy in that for about a month and 1/2, then I noticed his top fin was looking funny. It was because he liked to lay on top of his plant and in doing so his top fin grazed the top of the water. He also seemed cramped since he was growing and so I went back to Petco.
Wallie got a 5 gallon tank with a light, filter and air pump! Wallie was very happy. He swam all around and loved his room, he also started swimming into the currents created by the pump / filter and chasing his freezedried blood worms all over. He hunted them! LOL.
My boyfriend thought Wallie was lonely and since Wallie could not have another Betta friend my boyfriend brought home 5 itty bitty neon tetras.
I was not thrilled, but thanked him. I figured he bought Wallie a very fancy treat! *sobs* I named them Earls. Each one was a letter, but since I could not tell them apart it was just the Earls.
It was great though! Wallie, at first was stand off-ish but soon they all made, well, not friends, but they became mates. The neons would follow the big pretty Betta all around and he would let them until they tried to come into his plant cave then he chased them for a little. He never bit them or even tried. If he got close he would make a sharp turn. It was almost a game. Everyone was happy in the 5 gallon planted wonderland.
My boyfriend is a really sweet guy, he knows nothing about fish and is a sucker for a salesman, which is why he is forbidden to go to pet stores alone anymore.
The 5 gallon wonderland was in a bright room and had a light. On occasion I would have to wipe algae off of the sides. My boyfriend asked what it was, why it happened and if it was dangerous. I explained it was safe and some fish even ate it.
He came home the next day with (not 1 but) 2 bulldog plecos. The nice salesman at Petco said they eat algae.... Grrrr.
I knew I needed a new tank, but funds were tight so I was going to give it a month. Wonderland was crowded with the 2 new plecos (Hatter and Chester) but I only needed a month. I got 2 weeks.
I woke up one morning and one of the Earls, (I guess "S") was dead. I looked at him to try to see why and I saw a mark on the side of his head and his eye was gone... Sucked out.
Time for a new tank.
Off to Petco we go.
I got a 20 Gallon high. I figured that gave Wallie the top, the Earls the middle and Chester and Hatter the floor. Lots of room for all.
It also gave me a heater. I know everyone thinks NOLA is always hot, but that is not true. It can get cold as heck in these old houses. The heater was a great plus.
(I also know now (after getting yelled at) that the pleco, tetras, betta and rasboras (getting to them) should not go together. All I can say is that they are together, they all get along for the most part and I did not buy my mis matched tank buddies, but I do love them all and I am not going to just give up because I have to work harder and pay more attention to detail for them all to be happy and healthy.)
Ok, back to our happy tank wonderland.
Everyone went into the 20 gallon and after a few days all had there 'spots'. All the old plants were transfered and the new driftwood was put in. New seed pods
planted and all was great.
Then Hatter decided he was the floor / glass king and he began to chase poor little (r) Chester around. I went and bought more hidies for Chester and kept an eye on Hatter.
The boyfriend thought that the little neons were too small and that the tank was sparse", but rather than ask me he went to Petco to ask the experts who sold him 5 Harlequin Rasboras. Pretty little guys, but. LOL>
They became my Mardi Gras fishies. M A R D and I
They kind of upset the tank for a few days. They kept going into Wallie's garden (He sleeps in the vines that droop down an rests on the leaves since being a fish is such a hard job.) The neons were like little kids following the rasboras all around.
Wallie was busy chasing them out of his spots.
The plecos were not at all interested in all these fancy looking fish, but Hatter still wanted to be the king and poor Chester was getting beat up.
Also around this time I noticed a new being in my tank. Snails!
I went on line and joined a few forums. I wanted to know what I could do for Chester and where the snails came from.
Instead I got told that bettas can not be in tanks with plecos, that bettas should not be in tanks with pumps and filters (!?) and that I had too many fish and I was lectured about using strip tests and not liquid ones. I was also told that plecos are not aggressive, but my tank was too small. I said that eventually I plane on upgrading but right now they were all still pretty small.
So, I bought a different test kit and still had no clue what to do about the other issues since I did not want to put Wallie in a tank by himself with nothing to do since he loves to swim down the bubbles and chase the others out of his gardens.
I tested my water and it was fine. I found out the snails came from the driftwood and that I was pretty much stuck with them (More later on them) since I did not want to take EVERYTHING out of my tank, sterilize it, re start the cycle and chance losing fish as I start it all over again.
As far as Chester went I knew I had to get him out. I pulled out the old 5 gallon and filled it, got new filters, new gravel, all of it. I was going to let it run for 24 hours then put him in since he was starting to look a bit beat up. I moved to slow and in the morning I woke up and he was dead. He had been pushed into the gravel and plant roots in the corner. He was missing scales on top of his head, oddly in the same shape as Hatter's mouth.
Since Chester's demise Hatter has been happy. He is the Gravel King and only has to watch out for the annoying Betta who occasionally floats down to wack him with his fins then swim away. (Haha)
The snails got crazy. I was scooping 5-10 out of the tank everyday. They were taking over. I did not want to just kill the poor snails, they were after all just being snails, so I put them into the 5 gallon tank. Everyday i would scoop out snails and put them in the 5 gal
. The strange thing was that while they were crazy in my 20 gallon the 5 gallon was a stable community.
Finally I took the driftwood back out. I had washed it really well when I brought it home, but I left the little plant growing in the middle of it. This time I pulled it out and the base of the plant was basically a snail nest. It was millions of snail eggs clumped into the roots in the hole in the driftwood.
Plant went down the toilet. driftwood was washed in almost boiling water.
I now have a few big snails in my 20 gallon. They just crawl around. If I see egg sacks I break them up, any babies go to the snail tank, and it is all leveling out now. (Even though the planted snail tank creeps some people out. LOL. They just crawl around and eat the pants and whatever food I drop in every few days.)
Wallie is the Master of the tank. He actually points to snails when I come to the tank, he helps me hunt. The Rasboras and the Neons have become some strange integrated school. Anytime I change or add / take away something in the tank they investigate together. They school as 1 group and seem to race around together.
I am not an expert on fish by any means, but they are all growing. I overfeed them and I know that. That keeps the snails happy (they are gold and black and actually pretty) and I compensate for the overfeeding by vacuuming the gravel (and stones) once a week, changing the water 5-7 gallons and keeping ALL the plants healthy.
The liquid test kit did not last long so I use the strips and my friend who has 2 turtle tanks, 2 freshwater and 1 salt water tank, tests my water once a month with his kits.
Somehow I manage to keep pretty good levels, nitrates vary, but never get into the scary zone. Nitrites stay low and ammonia has never been a problem. I do have hard water and the ph runs high, but safe and steady so the fish are accustomed to it.
I always love ideas and I welcome help. I can take criticism, but I do not like being yelled (even cyber version).
Most of all, I love my fish, just like I love my dogs.
I have told all the people Petco not to sell anything live to my boyfriend ever again.
Hi everyone. That is my fish life story.