Other than Tech: My love for aquariums!

Blue female betta under the surface

One of my female bettas taking a sip of air under the surface of the water.

I have mentioned it a few times in my former posts but I’ll say it again: I have been setting up a new 155 gallon (that’s almost 600 liters)  tank in my room. It has kept me busy and has made me more tired than I ever was in the past few months – not that I’m complaining. Haha! I don’t mind the maintenance routines of a huge aquarium anyway. It’s good exercise.

My love for aquariums go back to when I was a little kid. My parents got an old aquarium from a friend of theirs and we took care of koi. The tank was around 45 gallons and we took care of a few of about half a foot long. Nowadays I would never think of putting koi in a relatively small tank but back then I was an ignorant fool. We took care of the tank and fish for several years until we suddenly stopped taking care of them for reasons I don’t remember. The tank was then kept in storage for many years (or more like a decade and a few years). When I was in high school I took the tank in my room and started doing the hobby myself. I was fond of seeing shoaling fish so I bought fish like tetras and barbs alongside some huge angels (I’m glad they didn’t bother my neons). I despised plastic plants so I was fortunate to find several plants. The 45 gallon tank became my first planted tank. I took care of it for a few years and the plants (mostly sagittaria) grew like mad inside the aquarium. It was a wonderful tank that I have not been able to replicate again due to lack of live plants in local shops nowadays. Sadly, I didn’t have a camera back then.

A male betta in my 1/2 gallon betta tank.

My male betta in a 1/2 gallon betta tank. I placed him here temporarily just to see if he’ll make a bubble nest – and he did! I put him back in my 155 gallon while I prepare a breeding tank. I only placed the mirror there for a few minutes.

Eventually, I received more tanks (well, two to be exact) – smaller 25 gallons – from friends. I started maintaining three aquariums at once. It lasted for a year until I decided to just keep the larger one. My interests shifted to building computers – an even more expensive hobby – and most of my salary was ending up spent on a computer part or two. My declining interest on aquariums was affected even more when my brother put our lone terrapin in my tank. It destroyed and ate most of the plants. I lost the motivation to continue with the hobby so I just took care of the tank until all of the fish died. I then gave my tanks away and switched to computers and gaming as my full-time hobby only taking care of bettas every once in a while like the one up top.

16 gallon planted tank

A photo of my 16 gallon planted tank from around 5 years ago.

A few years later, a family friend of ours were moving and decided to give away their 16 gallon tank (the one you see above). It rekindled my love for the hobby and I made it into a planted tank like my first one albeit several scales smaller. This tank still survives to this day although it has now become a goldfish tank with fake plants. The setup above was destroyed by a drop in temperature. I didn’t have heaters although I was planning to get some on my next payday as I lacked the funds back then. I didn’t expect the winter to be so harsh and it killed my fish and plants during one evening. I was heartbroken and just like before, I decided to stop taking care of fish for a while.

Goldfish swimming in my 16 gallon tank

Goldfish swimming in my 16 gallon tank.

The aquarium was kept unfilled in my room for quite a while until my mom asked me to set it up in the living room. I complied using the stuff I already had. They bought the fish they wanted – some guppies, mollies and goldfish. Seeing the tank in spartan form kickstarted my love for aquariums once more and so I wanted to buy real plants. Alas, none were available at that time so I went for a variety of plastic plants to use for aquascaping. The photo above and the video below shows how it looked like last month:

I have recently rescaped that tank. If you’ve watched the video, you’ll notice that I titled it “My 16 gallon goldfish tank”. Why? Where are the guppies and mollies? The answer is below!

My 155 gallon tank with from less than a month ago.

My 155 gallon tank from less than a month ago.

My latest aquarium is a 155 gallon which was, again, given to me by a friend. It had a massive crack underneath and the silicone inside looked old and wrinkled. It was the first time I fixed an aquarium and I’ve never handled something so big and heavy before so it was a very difficult job especially since I was doing it alone. I had to do two attempts before being successful about keeping it from leaking. The first attempt failed a week after I filled it with water. Fortunately, I only filled it to a quarter of its capacity with no substrate or fish – it was a test after all. It did take a lot of brute effort to take out the water by myself in the middle of the night when I noticed my wet carpet. It wasn’t a major leak but it was an emergency nonetheless.

The second attempt took a significant amount of effort and time compared to the first one. My first mistake was that I didn’t peel off the old silicone. Instead, I just put the new silicone above it. My second mistake is that I didn’t give it enough time to cure. I let it cure for 24 hours initially. The next attempt was almost 3 days for each layer of silicone I applied. After around 2 weeks I filled it to 25% once more and left it with a running powerhead for a week. I was really glad to see no deterioration of the silicone even after that time so I proceeded to fill it up to its entirety and monitored it everyday until I was completely sure that it was leak free.

My angelfish pecking on a huge driftwood.

My angelfish pecking on a huge driftwood.

The first fish to inhabit my tank was three small angelfish and eight black tetras. I didn’t have plants originally so it was a really barren place other than having rocks and driftwood. The black tetras were initially shy but they started going out more often after putting plants in the tank.

Last week I added some new fish: a dozen tiger barbs, a couple of female bettas and a male. I put the male in the 155 gallon to see if he will act aggressively. He didn’t so I kept him in. Some may say that my tank may be too deep but actually he has claimed the top of the filter as his home so it’s pretty shallow for him. I’ll be moving him to a breeding tank once one is ready.

I did a rescape a few days ago after being able to acquire dried branches. Here’s the video of my tank right after introducing the new branches:

My tank is now much darker than that because of the tannins and my fish seem really happy about it. It’s not a good thing for my plants though so I plan to do a water change by the end of the week.

At the moment, my tank has the following inhabitants:

  • 2 angelfish
  • 7 black tetras
  • 12 tiger barbs
  • 6 guppies (3 pairs)
  • 2 sailfin mollies (a pair)
  • 3 bettas (1 male, 2 females)

Those had some tankmates that have gone to fish heaven already though. I used to have three angelfish but one of them died. I just saw it stuck into one of the powerheads which I already removed thinking it could be too strong. It was an unfortunate but unexpected problem. One black tetra disappeared. I’m not sure what happened to it and I wasn’t able to find it after I noticed it was missing. A male guppy also died recently but he was one of the old ones from the 16 gallon. I was saddened by it but not surprised. Not much mortality rate. The deaths are mostly accidental or old age. Things are still good.

The remaining angelfish are thriving well and have grown much larger now. The tetras and barbs love each other’s company and would sometimes shoal together. My guppies simply do their thing and are usually swimming on the surface. The mollies are rather timid and prefer to swim at the deeper parts near hiding spots. The female bettas usually swim at the surface but they would take a deep dive to search for food on the gravel every once in a while. The male betta simple stands guard of his territory only occasionally diving whenever he feels like it.

My plants seem to be thriving too and most of the sagittaria have started producing runners. I hope they start growing all over my substrate like they did many years ago on my 45 gallon. I want to see my tank full of plants in the future and I’ll be planting more whenever I find some – which, sadly, isn’t very easy here. Notice that I have put some dried acacia seed pods which have sunk to the bottom. I wanted a more natural, aged feel to the tank. Acacia seed pods were the ones I’ve been able to get so far. I plan to try adding dried leaves too.

Thanks for taking your time to read my rather long post. I tend to be talkative about the things I love and I’m glad you were able to bear with it. I’ll be posting updates about my aquarium every once in a while and I’ll be practicing on taking better aquarium pics and videos. If you’re interested please stay tuned! Thank you once again!

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3 thoughts on “Other than Tech: My love for aquariums!

  1. Nice read. But, Tiger barbs and bettas and angels together? Don’t the tigers bother bettas and the angels, they have a reputation of being fin nippers.

    • First of all, let me thank you for visiting my blog. 🙂

      Yes, they are fin nippers but, based on experience, they generally stop bullying other fish when they are in a large school. 6 or more seem to be the magic number. They can start nipping if stressed though so I’d recommend that they’d be watched over after introducing to a tank. My latest shoal of tiger barbs did start nipping at the fins of my male guppies at first but they have stopped now and instead nip at each other which is pretty normal. I still do check on each fish everyday just to watch out for nipping behavior and, luckily, I haven’t seen new victims. The guppy that had the worse fin nipped has also recovered already and is back swimming with the rest of the group. I’ll still stay vigilant and separate the victims if ever I see new ones.

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