Fish and me
or the story of a certain icelandic female and her fish

As a complete newbie I started out with a 6 gallon (24 litre) tank with two goldfish. mr. Darcy and mr. Bingley.

I had done some reading and knew that it was a bad idea to get the tank and the fish at the same time.. actually to start at the beginning I have to go further back.

There has been a tradition of keeping goldfish in a bowl where I work, there are usually two goldfish, they are sort of the company mascot. The person who usually took care of them went on holiday and left the fish in my care. This was a large bowl around 4 gallons and its inhabitant was a single red and white comet.

One day while cleaning the bowl I accidentally broke it, in panic I managed to put the fish in a pitcher. This happened on a friday, I was certain that the fish would not survive a whole weekend in a pitcher less than 1/2 a gallon (1 litre) so I took it home with me. It survived the night (barely) so I went and got a tank for it the next day. That tank was my 6 gallon.

The fish didnt survive the night in the tank. Later when cleaning the tank I noticed a piece of paper with ink on wedged inside one of the ornaments. I am fairly certain that ink contaminated water didn't help the poor fish.

After cleaning the tank thoroughly and letting it run for a week I went back to the fishstore with the idea of getting two or three fish for it, I wanted a black moor and a redcap oranda. When I got there they only had 6 goldfish in the whole store, all of them around 2.5 inch shubunkins. One of them had an exceptionally long tail and I picked him immediately. It took a little longer to pick the other one but then one of the other shubunkins caught my eye, he had a fairly large orange patch on his head so in the bag with him too.

I named the long tailed fish mr. Darcy and the one with the red patch mr. Bingley.

A short while later I came across an online forum, Koko's goldfish message board, the people there have been very friendly and gave good advice. I quickly learnt that the people in the fishstore were wrong when they told me I could easily keep up to eight goldfish in my tank and that a 6 gallon tank was too small for a pair of goldfish.

While I was learning about how to care properly for goldfish I came across information about bettas (siamese fighting fish) and got facinated by these colourful fish and put -get a betta- on my to do list.

I started looking around for a tank and found another fishstore, a bit farther from where I live, that had a much better selection of fish. They didn't have any bettas then but said they would get some in a few weeks.

One day, while browsing in the fishstore, I noticed two bettas. One blue and one red. I immediately bought a 2 gallon bowl, a live plant (that I later learnt is a modified version of java fern), some gravel and the blue betta. I named him Ziggy because he seemed rather flamboyant.

Ziggy lived on my desk at work throughout the summer. When I got him he was suffering from ammonia poisioning and we have been through some hard times together. Had to battle finrot and slight fungus for a while. However all that is in the past now a great deal thanks to the excellent aquamaniacs forum which has an active betta section and is filled with helpful people. Ziggy is happy and healthy now.

When I was in the store deciding on the 20 gallon tank I would get I saw some tiny little bottom dweller fish in one of the display tanks. Those were two tiny little panda corycats. I fell in love and bought them intending to either keep them in with the goldfish in the larger tank, or let them live in the 6 gallon tank. I also got an apple snail that same day. The next day after having done some more research about corydoras catfish I went and got a third corycat, this time a fairly small bronze cory. I named the bronze one Vimes and the pandas Angua and Captain Carrot.

A few days later I walked home from the fishstore with a small betta Lady in my pocket. That little girl, Dama also known as Lady (Dama means Lady in icelandic) had been all alone in a tank full of tigerbarbs. Her fins had been eaten off and she was in bad shape, poor little thing. I kept her in a 1 gallon tupperware container, she had been an unexpected addition.

Finally, finally the day came when I bought my new tank. I also got some fake plants and a hydor 120gph internal power filter. I also got sand.

Yes sand. I kinda liked the look of sand and wanted to try something different. After what felt like hours of washing and cleaning the sand I arranged everything inside the tank and filled it with water, a day or two later I moved Darcy and Bingley over.

After around a minute of watching them spit out sand after trying to rummage through it I moved them back, emptied out the tank, removed the sand, cleaned the tank again and went to the fishstore to buy large gravel.

Seeing the fish in the sand just felt.. wrong. I have no better way to describe it. It just felt wrong.

After letting the tank settle for a day I moved the fish over again, they at first surprised but adjusted quickly and this tank has been their home since then. I also moved Lady from her 1 gallon tupperware bowl into the 6 gallon tank, I had intended to put Ziggy there but he was still residing in my cubicle at work.

Lady treated the cories well, gave them the occasional nudge if they went into her favourite spots but apart from that they played nice and were a quet little community.

A few days later I brought Ziggy home from work. Next morning I melted, seeing two wiggledancing bettas greeting me. After that, things were uneventful for a while. I got a fluorecent light for the goldfish, added some more fake plants, did waterchanges and fed the fish. Mr. Applesnail died, he slipped from my hand and fell to the floor once when I was showing him to a friend. People be careful when handling your snails. I went through a peasoup phase in the goldfish tank. I could only see the fish if they were next to the glass, else they vanished into the murky green water. My solution to this was to get some live plants and feeding less. My stratigy worked and after a while my tank cleared and is clear now.

I had a big scare once though. While moving Ziggy into a temporary bowl, during a waterchange, he slipped from my hand and hit the desk. I paniced and tried to get him to put in his bowl. He was slippery and I was afraid of crushing him. I finally managed to get him into my hand but then he was terrified and wiggled powerfully. I watched in terror as he flew from my hand, hit the curtains behind the desk and fell down to the floor through the crack between the window and the desk. My panic before was nothing compared to how I felt now. I went on my knees and found him in the dust underneath the desk. He wasnt moving.

Afraid that I'd lost him I put him in his bowl and he was still with me, looking very shaken and traumatised but very much alive.

Then one day I noticed Lady wasn't being her active self. She had always been a fairly deep bodied betta but now she was thicker than ever and she swam around with clamped fins. She still ate but all in all didn't look healthy. I swapped her place with Ziggy. He went into the 6 gallon and she into the bowl, that way I could treat her in peace and quiet without wreaking the biofilter in the tank. She was the same for a while and I started searching for antibiotics. One of the bad things about living in Iceland surfaced. It's close to impossible to get good antibiotics for fish here.

Lady got worse and worse and got fuzzy patches. This gave an easy diagnosis: Flex. My search for antibiotics became frantic but it was too late. My beautiful little betta girl passed away.

While searching for the antibiotics I came across a pretty tiny little shubunkin goldfish in the same store I'd gotten Bingley and Darcy originally. She had a split tail and was tiny, the smallest goldfish Ive ever seen. I fell for her and against my better judgement got her.

She didnt stay with me long. After a week or two she stopped being active and started hiding away all the time. She got weaker and weaker and died. She never showed any outward signs of illness and Bingley and Darcy were always their bouncy and happy selves. I think she was just too small and fragile to be able to handle the stress of moving. Also I suspect that I had too high nitrates for her. The smaller the fish is the harder it is for it to cope with nitrate in the water.

Then while searching for a new nitrate tester I saw a betta in the fishstore. He was all beaten up, fins largely missing and his colour apart from the dorsal fin was muddy brown with dirty yellow fins. However the dorsal fin was a bright turquoise blue with black spots. I was told he came from a breeder and was supposed to be sold for 60$ but because he had been in a fight they'd let me have him for 5$. With an empty bowl sitting on my shelf was there any way I could have refused?

I named him Don Juan because I felt he'd be a total ladies-fish later on. His fins have grown in nicely in the month Ive had him and his colour improved. He is now coal black with blue rays and dorsal fin. I gave him an upgrade from the bowl and bought a small tank for him. I dont like keeping fish in bowls, they give a distorted view of the fish.

After getting the tank for Don Juan I ended up with another fish on my hands. This time it was a pretty little red and white oranda. I adopted her from a friend who had been keeping way too many goldfish in a way to small tank. Her first name was Wigglebum because that describes her swimming style very accurately. However I didn't feel that Wigglebum was a proper name for a fish so she was renamed to Isabella.

Isabella aka. wigglebum is doing well. Her almost non existent wen is growing daily and she manages to keep up with the faster shubunkins. She's a greedy little thing, munched up a big part of my javamoss.

She has been living with me for 2 weeks and shows every signs of adjusting well. She gets along with the misters and everybody is healthy and active. I know my tank is technically overstocked now but my fish are still small so I have time but I will have to get myself a larger tank later on.

There is also one other thing nagging at the back of my head. My cories are growing, especially Vimes, the bronze one. I think the 6 gallon will be too small for them in a while. They still act like happy cories, active bustling on the bottom. My original plan which was to put them in with the goldfish doesnt really work now. Not when the large tank has already too many fish in it. I can't get more or larger tanks, not for a year or maybe two. There is no way Im giving the fish up though. They are happy and healthy with me and I know more about fishkeeping than most people around me. Returning them to the fishstore would almost certainly put them into the hands of someone who knows nothing about fish.

©svg 2002