Hello there. My family and I have recently gotten interested in aquariums. It started a few months ago with our crowntail betta, Tricksy Fish (hence my name) who lives in a 1 gallon filtered tank on the kitchen counter.
Everyone fell in love with it so I told my husband I wanted a larger aquarium. He bought a 10 gallon aquarium kit for tropical fish from petsmart and the next day we bought several guppies, two snails, a black moor, and a calico fantail from wal-mart to stock it (thank you petsmart for the wait 24 hours advice).
We, of course didn't realize that we needed to cycle the tank before adding fish, or that goldfish and tropical fish shouldn't be kept together or that the tank was too small for them (goldfish) when we bought them and, of course by the time I realized this it was too late to return them.
And it gets even worse. We also acquired a 5 gallon tank set from my sister when she heard we were interested in an aquarium which she delivered as a surprise for my kids complete with decor and a bag containing four platys, a chinese algae eater (I think thats what he was), two zebra danios, and an albino cory. Of course this got set up, too since we didn't know any better at the time. And worse still, a while back my husband put a small pond in the back yard with 5 goldfish in it. Very sweet of my husband to put in the pond but bad because the kid at home depot said that he could get away with putting in a pump with a fountain instead of a filter and that fish could go in it immediately (at least we had enough sense to use dechlorinator first).
Needless to say, it's been an uphill battle.
Currently, the 10 gallon houses the 4 platys, the cory, and 2 guppies. The 5 gallon houses 2 guppies and 1 zebra danio. Tricksy is still in her 1 gallon and the calico moved to the pond in the back yard with the other 5 goldfish. Our other fishy friends perished due one very unfriendly algae eater or to our ignorance regarding cycling.
I felt terrible when we started having casualties and began hunting for clues. That's how I found this site which has been very helpful in getting me on the right track. I have made many, many mistakes with this, but I am doing the best I can to fix it using the information I have found here so I can try to save the rest of our little friends.
As my solution, I am pretty much doing constant water changes (50 % +) on everything (pond too) to keep levels safe for the fish and testing everything daily with the api master test kit I bought after discovering the strips I bought based on petsmart's recommendation are useless. Now, hopefully I can get all of this to cycle soon.
I can honestly say that this has been extremely stressful and time consuming (if I wasn't a stay at home mom with time to spare I don't know how I would manage this) but I am sticking with it. I haven't let myself get discouraged and I am determined to make this work in spite of my mistakes.
In addition to four kids, my husband and I also have four cats and will soon be getting a baby ball python for our 8 year old (that one is his problem - snakes creep me out).
This seems like great community and I'm looking forward to interacting with everyone on here. Everyone is so helpful to each other and, lord knows, I definitely have a lot to learn.