As a university student and someone who works from home, I had been considering investing in an aquarium to place within my home office for quite some time. I envisioned the sound of flowing water and fish swimming peacefully in their aquatic home to be very relaxing.
Finally, about a week ago, I finally stepped into a local aquarium store and purchased my first tank. Unfortunately, the salesman (and I call him that because it would be insulting to call him a fish enthusiast or hobbyist) convinced me that the ~3.5 gallon model that I was interested in would be more than sufficient for housing 5-6 fish. After a bitter experience (I'll get to that) and extensive reading online, I realize that the salesman was either extremely ignorant or lacked ethics altogether - or perhaps both.
Based on his advice, I purchased the aquarium (which came equipped with a fiber sponge-based filter), an air pump, air stone, undergravel filter, and an adhesive thermometer. I also selected some accessories and decorations for aesthetic purposes.
The charlatan convinced me that if I set my aquarium up with water from my reverse osmosis filter, waited a day, and then stocked the tank my fish would be happy as can be. I did. And they weren't. At all.
A day or two after setting up my tank I went to the store and bought two fancy goldfish. My family and I placed them into their new home and were delighted at their seeming excitement with the new environment. Sadly, the excitement was short-lived. Within days, they both began experiencing fin rot, swim bladder issues, and something that seemed to look like cotton mouth. Please see the "before" and "after" photos attached. Long story short, they both eventually died.
I informed the lame-excuse-for-an-aquarist and he convinced me that it was MY fault. Which, in a sense, I suppose it was. I had trusted the expertise I thought he'd have to help me set up my aquarium. I now realize that my trust was misplaced.
- Do your own research - always. The guys at pet stores tend to be ingorant, some knowinly others unknowingly.
- Always, always, always (did I say always?) cycle a new tank.
- Get an aquarium that's appropriately sized for the fish you intend on stocking it with.
As you can see, my venture into this hobby wasn't the most encouraging, however, I'm eager to give it another chance. I just hope I won't be faced with another situation where my two-year-old daughter asks why her newest friends, Orange and Nemo (she picked the names), have gone on an indefinite trip "home." -_-
I have read many good things about this website online so I thought I'd register and try to benefit from the knowledge and experience of seasoned aquarists. I'd appreciate any and all help that can be provided.
A couple questions:
- Due to finances and space limitations, it's currently not viable for me to invest in another tank and accessories at the moment. Is there anything I could do with this tank? Perhaps this can serve as a home for a sole betta fish?
- Is it necessary to cycle this tank from scratch? I read online that there are beneficial bacteria thriving on the ornaments and substrate within the tank. I didn't want to get rid of these. I have already done a complete water change twice, attempted to remove as much fecal matter as possible, and washed the sponge filter. The water was very cloudy after the first water change, but it has become mostly clear after the second change. Again, please see attached photo.
Of course, any other insight that you could provide would be greatly appreciated.