Good morning everyone:
To properly introduce myself you need to know my fish-keeping history:
As kids my parents bought us (me and 2 younger sisters) each a goldfish. My Father, being fundamentally cheap, went with a 1 gallon bowl. It was high tech for the local KMart pet section in 1976, but not so good for the fish. Within weeks, my Dad had his hands on a 20 gallon tank and set it up in our living room with a filtration system of some sort. The three goldfish lived for the better part of the next decade. One tried to commit suicide. My Dad came down early one morning to find one of the goldfish on the carpet in front of the tank... its fins were getting crusty, but it was still gasping for air. He put it back in the tank and it lived for another 3 years. (He did construct a lid for the tank out of lexan... the attempted suicide rate went down after that). Later, one of the goldfish died and he put in a black moor. These fish eventually contracted every malaise known to man (and fish) except for maybe Legionnaire's Disease or Plantar's Warts. Sometime during Reagan's second Presidency, the last of them died.
Fast forward nearly 10 years to 1994 and I wanted a small tank for my bachelor's pad bedroom. My house-mate had a very nice and well-kept 55 gallon tank that I was envious of. So I picked up a small 3 gallon kit with a UGF
and stocked it with one dark blue Betta, affectionately named Baltar. Baltar lived for nearly 4 years and moved in with my wife and I in 1995. My wife was never on board with the "Aquarium thing." Apparently, she had a bf in college that had a saltwater setup. He spent more time with that, than with her. His loss... I got his girl and have been married to her for nearly 15 years. But I digress...
In 2007 I pulled this 3 gallon tank out of storage thinking I'd set it up for our kids and stock it with 2-3 guppies. I did EVERYTHING wrong. Here is a list of my transgressions: I cleaned the tank with anti-bacterial cleaner (and iirc, it had bleach in it). I filled it with tap water, gravel, 1 plastic plant and turned it on. Let it run for 24 hours then tossed in 3 guppies (I did try to acclimate them)... no heater and only using the UGF
. Mind you, this 3 gallon tank was approx. 9wx9dx18h (very chic but only had a 9x9 water surface for air exchange). I also threw in some pretty pieces of coral. The only time I changed the water was after all 3 fish were dead and I dumped out the tank. I tried adding another filter, adding ph down (because I did have Petsmart check the ph and it was off-scale high... probably due to all of the coral I'd stuck in there), and tap water dechlorinator. I did all of this with the fish in the tank after the first one died. I believe the only thing I could have done worse was a 50% pwc
and substituted gasoline for water... and then thrown in a match. Rest in peace Firefish, Captain and Mr. Blue... you never had a chance in our "Chic Tank of Liquid Death."
In April, my Son decided he wanted a fish for his 6th birthday. I went off half-cocked again and bought a Marineland Hex5. Set it up 5 days before his birthday and then started reading here about these concepts like "cycling," "bio-load" and the like. Soooo, I was committed to getting a fish in that tank for his birthday and I had to take some short-cuts that some here would frown upon. But I did hours of reading here to come up with a battle plan that would, hopefully result in no fish death. I also bought a decent heater, thermometer and the most necessary, an API Master Freshwater kit.
I used Seachem Stability only for the first 7 days. I also limited my Son's fish choices to a single, male Cherry Barb until the tank cycled. I did 20% pwc
's anytime the ammonia was higher than .25 ppm
(which only happened 3 times). I limited feeding as well. It's now been two weeks and my ammonia is 0, nitrites 0 and nitrates 0. During the first 10 days, ammonia was generally .25 with only 3 days where I got a .5 reading. Nitrites and Nitrates have never read more than 0. Ph has been a steady 7.4.
The Cherry Barb, named Sam (not Sammy or Samuel, mind you), seems quite content. I've been watching him closely for signs of stress and haven't noticed any. I know he needs some other Cherry Barbs, but I'm holding off for another couple of weeks and add 2 female Cherry Barbs. The only other thing I might put in there is a Ghost or Cherry Shrimp. Before any of that happens though, I want to be sure that the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are holding steady. I know that it's not an optimal setup... going with a bigger tank would have only been marginally more expensive. I live and I learn... usually the hard way.
In short, I owe a debt of gratitude to the wealth of knowledge here. Wish I had found this resource back in 2007.
Now if I can just get the wife unit on board with the idea of a larger tank... I'm truly enjoying this hobby.