Fishkeeping Exhaustion

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Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Jan 28, 2024
Fishkeeping is wonderful, joyful, and exciting.

But sometimes it's exhausting and unexpected.

Have you ever gotten a fish you weren't prepared for? An aquarium? Gotten in over your head (so to speak?)

I was always overly conscientious, researched extensively, and talked a lot with people who knew more than me before getting an aquarium, cycling, and eventually getting fish. I loved all my fishy friends, I knew what to do, had all the supplies I needed, and was ready for almost every problem.

And now my new classroom has an "established" aquarium that was lacking correct filtration or water testing, a guppy missing part of its fin, 28 platy fry in an uncycled aquarium requiring daily 100% water changes and regular removal of debris, two dead mama platies, and on top of all of that I have a new full-time job.

I'm exhauted, and though I feel responsible, this didn't begin with me. They're not even my fish! I have to keep reminding myself that it will all work out eventually, that the babies will grow and be able to be in the main aquarium. Until then I need to balance work, home, and fish care, and I need to also balance what I spend and what the school spends.

Does anyone else have a story of when fishkeeping became a burden? What helped? How did you cope? And if you stepped away, did something bring you back? I loved reading the stories about what got people into fishkeeping in the first place, and I wondered if there were any others who dealt with fishkeeping burn-out.
I found the key to keeping fish is consistent routines. This way, the surprises are kept to a minimum. The time it takes to get from first setting up to developing your routines can be a little harrowing but they are all doable.
The good news, as I posted in your other thread, is that your fish are not sick or being attacked ( as you thought). That makes things easier. If you are unsure of what fish you actually have in the tank, take pictures of them and post them here so we can help identify them. Once you know what you have, you can do a little research for yourself on the fish species so you know what to expect. is an excellent resource.

Understanding that since you are a teacher and the tank is at school so that the fish will not be cared for over the weekends ( which is not a big deal btw) , The best tank setups are ones where they need little external interaction past routine water changes and food supply. That means having the correct species together at the right water temperature in the right water parameters. Deviations from this is when you have issues. :whistle:

As for being exhausted from fish keeping, we all go through some periods where we wonder what the heck we got ourselves into? :eek::banghead::banghead: but in my case, fish keeping is in my blood. I've been doing it for close to 59 years. It's an addiction I have only some control over. :lol: I have maintained as many as 400 freshwater tanks in one of my hatcheries and a 25,000 gallon marine warehouse. In my last hatchery, which is currently closed after hurricane Irma, I was working 82 tanks and I have close to 150 " spare" tanks still sitting outside " just in case" I start the hatchery up again. LOL But I do have 1 tank running outside ( the up side of living in Florida ;) ) which all I do is feed the fish and add water IF there is a lack of rain for too long. I set it up to be self sufficient. In this last hatchery, I set 60 of the tanks up on an automatic watering system so I didn't have to work them so much. It took me just a few hours to work the other 24 tanks. It was all just a routine system.

So you can make fish keeping as hard or easy as you want. Truthfully, the old saying " The less you mess with it, the better the success with it." holds very true. You just have to get to that point. (y) Fish keeping should be fun. If it isn't, "you aren't doing it right." ;) ;) :brows:

Hope this helps. (y)
Well, perhaps someone can get you some cycled media for the new burdensome tank.

But yes. Life gets in the way. I just took a few minutes the other day to find a photo of something for a family friend who's family began the fish keeping journey again in December. Their initial journey stopped when a BN pleco they got from the fish store had an illness and killed their whole tank of fish. Didn't think they had it in them to try again at that point.

But in searching for that photo, I found so many happy memories of my tanks and adventures I also was re-energized to get busy planning my future shrimp projects a little sooner that I thought I would. My family / life challenges really prevented me from pursuing my passion to the degree I would like.

So, for me there have been a number of problems which caused a slowdown in things which I love doing. Mostly large losses of fish. A pH crash caused by a water conditioner which uses calcium to maybe bind with the things which are toxic to process them (Not Prime it works differently). It is loved and no problem for places with good amount of minerals and calcium in their water, but killed so many of my amazing beautiful fish. Depressed about that and the tank for a year. Still kept fish but didn't have the passion.

Later a huge loss of my breeding colony of PRL shrimp pretty much ceased my shrimp passion, caused because I didn't use RO water for them, as my water is ideal for Caridina shrimp parameters. The water company did some major clean up in their pipelines with some crazy strong chemicals and it poisoned my whole tank of 150 PRL shrimp. Devastating, crushing, heartbreaking and debilitated my spirit. I still had tanks.

Just as I was starting out again much later, with my shrimp, had family obligations and was not able to make the tanks a priority.

There are a couple more things similarly which caused ups and downs. The whole time I have worked with tanks and shared information with people, here online and around where I live, because I love keeping aquariums and creating beautiful tanks my fish love. But there have been bad times. And really great, and overall, very rewarding experiences, especially in sharing the journey with others!
@MooseMama I thought that I would loop back and see how things are going after a few weeks.

I have returned to fishkeeping after nearly 3 decades away. I thought that I did a lot of reading, and sought out quality products and stock. However, I had my shortcomings in the last 9-months and I still wonder as I watch one of my tanks, why I thought that dwarf gourams were a good idea. It was surely nostalgia, as I had them in my 20's. I don't recall them being such tyrrants.

I hope that you have found the right path. I can say "of course" Andy makes so much sense, in that it is key to find a regimen that works for you and the fish. I think I wanted to "over love" my fish, and that caused issues. I now have my rituals for taking care of now 3 tanks. Sunday and Wednesday are plant food days. Saturday is water testing and water change day.

I have also noticed it helps to identify tank #1, #2 and #3 to feed in the morning and night, as I found that after a busy day of work I would get home from work, start cooking dinner and then would feed a tank - then forget which one I had fed and which one I hadn't.

Now I can't think of not having the has also brought my siblings and I together (in our 50's ad 60's) we share photos and send each other cool plants and toys.

Hope that you are well.
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