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
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
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.