The Beginning

So here is a shot of how my tank looked at day 1. As you can see there are quite a few plastic plants in there. I had originally decided I didn’t want to deal with the expense of fully stocking a tank with live plants, so I got a couple multipacks of fake ones. But I ended up changing my mind and buying a handful of live plants anyways.

In my impulsive plant purchase I ended up with several “Semi-Aquatic” plants from Petsmart, however once I got home and researched them I quickly learned that every single one of them labeled like that are not aquatic at all. If used in an aquarium they will die in about a month or so and begin to rot … great. Thankfully I did this before opening the plastic tubes they come in so there was no issue returning them. I did however end up with a Java Fern, three Amazon Swords, and six Wisteria plants. All of which are true aquatic plants. In this picture the swords are bunched up together in the back left and the Wisteria are all bunched in the middle right. The Java Fern is free-floating because in my researched I learned they should not be buried, but instead attached to rocks or driftwood.

For fish I started with three Red Minor Tetras (Serpae Tetra) and three Emerald Cory Cats, they were going to be my cyclers to get the nitrogen cycle started.

Full Tank Shot

Original Full Tank Shot

Starting an Aquarium Log

So I’ve seen a lot of people who create a log, or journal, on the progress of their aquariums and I thought I would do the same. I figured I would do this more for myself than anything else as it will allow me to look back and remember how it use to be in the beginning and see the changes as the tank evolves. This will likely be one of my longest posts as I’ll explain the history of how I got started in the hobby.

My adventures in fish keeping started in my college years, and the idea didn’t pop into my head until suggested by my then girlfriend (who is now my wife). I started with the basic 10 gallon tank, and had no clue at all what I was doing. I basically fumbled through the whole thing completely ignorant of what the nitrogen cycle was or how to care for fish (you just put food in every day right? Oh boy…).

Somehow most, but not all, of the fish survived however I’m betting they were not at all happy. I had neon tetras, an angel fish, gourami, couple swordtails, and I think a pleco (hard to remember that far back. If not here, than in my next tank for sure). Pretty much that’s the worst combinatin of fish you can pick in such a small tank.

I thought it was fun, and wanted more variety so I ended up also getting a 29 gallon and tried my hand at angels again, this time three. I also moved everything over to the 29 gallon and put an eel (forget the exact species) in the 10.

When I graduated with my master’s it was time to move and I had to leave the tanks behind. Now that I’m settled into my new home and things have calmed down I decided I really wanted to get back into the hobby, and this time I performed extensive research and learned all the horrible mistakes I was making to those poor fish.

Since I own a house and do not forsee myself moving any time in the near future I decided I wanted to go big, real big. The largest tanks I could find in the area from the large chain stores (Petsmart/Petco) is a 125 gallon. This is a 5 foot tank that is otherwise similar in size to a regular old 4 foot 55 gallon. Ultimatly though I decided I wanted the 120 gallon because it keeps the 4 foot length, but is wider and deeper and it fits in the only space I have in the house. Why the only space? Because fish tanks are heavy, very heavy, so consideration needs to be taken on where you place it. Your standard 55 gallon can go pretty much anywhere and be fine, but a 120 is more than twice as heavy and fits in the same 4 foot length. Larger tanks can be custom ordered from Petco or any local store, but the cost is astronomical.

Petsmart’s 120 gallon tank when on sale is around the $300 mark. Petco is nearly double, and local stores are even worse. Why so cheap at Petsmart? Because they realize the tank is only one small purchase … everything else you need more than doubles that cost so if they can get you to buy the tank there is a really good chance you’ll also buy all the other stuff you need (or think you need) at the same time.

For this size tank it really needs to be placed perpendicular to the floor joists so the weight is distributed amongst more than one joist, and it needs to be placed next to a load bearing wall. Luckily my basement is wide open and unfinished so this was easy to determine. Unfortunately there is only one 4 foot spot in my house that I can put it (bedrooms excluded, I want people to be able to see it). If you are lucky enough to have your ground floor be a concrete slab (as in, no basement) you can put nearly any size tank anywhere you want.

There is a bit of a hitch to my plan though, and that’s the flooring. My house has carpet in every room except the kitchen and bathroom. Even the dinning room, which is where the tank will go, is carpeted. Who in their right mind decided carpet is a good idea in a dinning room I’ll never know. Anyways, the carpet is old, stained, and stretched. In other words, it needs to go, bad. Since you have to clear the room out to change the floors…. bad idea to set up a two ton fish tank! Underneath the carpets are hardwood floors … painted hardwood floors. I have no idea on the condition of the hardwoods, but the plan is to rip up the carpet in the dinning room, take paint stripper to the floors, then hire a flooring contractor to sand and refinish the floors. Hopefully they are in good enough condition for that. If not … well I will cross that bridge when it comes.

To scratch my aquarium itch we got a small 20 gallon tank. For this tank I wanted to experiment with live plants instead of plastic as I really want to do a fully planted tank for the 120 gallon. Live plants offer so many benefits to the fish that it would be stupid of me to do otherwise. So that’s where I am now. I hope you enjoy my journey if you happen to stumble across this page =)

(A minor note. I started this log on January 17 2012, but I back dated a few of these posts and am trying to fill in the details as I remember them near the dates they actually occurred.)