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Hi from the great state of Meeeechigan


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Hi everyone,

Here's my fishkeeping story from Michigan. It's a long one...so I get it, if you don't want to read it all. 

I began this hobby in 2005. I found a great mom and pop fish store near the house that I bought as a bachelor that helped me tremendously get going in this hobby that I was always intrigued by. I was told that my Dad tried to keep fish when he was younger, but fish kept dying. Knowing what we know now...in this age. I can only imagine trying to keep even a freshwater aquarium in the 60s/70s - with no internet....probably little to no fish stores. So, part of my interest in this hobby is because my Dad was interested in it. And who doesn't enjoy watching a healthy aquarium...even if you're not in the hobby? It's relaxing and enjoyable. 

I digress.

It was also pretty beneficial that this fish store was 2.5 miles from my house 🙂 Many, many trips were made to this place. They also had a really cool set up. One of the owners always went to a distributor to hand pick the fish that they sold at their store. So, they always had many unique fish that you wouldn't find at the big box stores. I'd always go on Thursdays when they'd add the fish to their tanks to see what they got in stock. Went there to get my water tested throughout the cycling process, they gave me many, many tips and tricks - ALWAYS willing to help me out, answer my questions, etc.. It was quick and easy to get to...and I enjoyed going. The owners were great. Anyhoo, I ended up buying a 60 gallon tank from them, and got going from there. It ended up being a community tank with fake gravel and fake decor. It worked...and I didn't know much better anyways. I enjoyed it though.

From there, I found my wife, and the 60g tank in the family room had to go. I sold everything I had for a really good price in a city classified newspaper magazine at the time, got some gift cards for Christmas for the mom and pop fish store, and turned that into a 29g Biocube reef tank. That lasted for a bit and then we moved across the state. It was fun, as the fish store down the street sold me pre-made saltwater and RODI water. So, all that I really had to do was buy the RODI and pre-mixed salt, and do weekly water changes. So, I kinda got into the saltwater side pretty easily while still being able to enjoy it without having to do much extra work.

We found an apartment, and I turned the Biocube into a planted tank. That was fun for a while. Had a baby...and he loved it. Would put him in his highchair after dinner right in front of the tank, and he would love watching and talking blibber blabber to it. Fast forward, bought a house, sold the Biocube, and bought a used 75 gallon reef ready tank from Craigslist for a future reef tank. Since I had the reef tank Biocube experience, I wanted to make my own salt and do everything first hand with a bigger tank. This was always my ultimate dream. Fast forward eight years - the 75 gallon was never used. Throughout the eight years, I was slowly buying brand new parts for it: RODI unit, mixing barrels, skimmer, refractometer, return pump, etc. But the tank just continued to collect dust - didn't know when I'd ever use it due to the amount of equipment that I still needed to get for it, and the price of each piece of equipment. 

Meanwhile, I found out that PetCo does their $1 per gallon sales during the year. So, one sale I bought a 20 gallon long a couple of years ago. I wanted to try a pressurized CO2 planted system since I had never done one, and didn't have a tank going in my house. Every house or place that I've lived in since being an adult, had a running tank at some point. It was time to get a tank up and running. Figured a small one wouldn't be much work. Set that up on top of a counter in my basement, with the canister filter in the cupboards underneath. Could never keep the CO2 going consistently. It would go for a while, and then suddenly stop. Was so frustrating. I asked questions on forums, and nothing. Called multiple LFSs for help. Nothing. I even had a local LFS come help me with it at my house. It was running for a bit....and then stop again. It ended up being an algae nightmare. There were days that I'd go downstairs to feed the fish...but in horror, knowing that the algae problem was out of control...and I couldn't stand to look at it. No matter what actions I took to try to fight it, it would be back in a day or two. I was scared of going down to my basement because I didn't want to even look at the tank. Was really sad....I was hopeless. On top of it, it didn't help that our children became busier. So, I had less time to try to maintain it. And as a fish tank enthusiast...it really got me down big time. I knew I wasn't out of the hobby for good...but wasn't sure when I'd ever get back into it. Was definitely the lowest point I've ever been in this hobby. And also knowing that I still had a ton more things I needed to buy for my reef tank (was my only fish tank hope at that time), and the equipment is that much more expensive than freshwater....I just didn't have any time table of when I'd have a tank up and running again. I also didn't know at the time that there were so many plants that didn't require pressurized CO2. I knew there were some...but not nearly as many as there are. Another thing that got me down, because I really wanted a planted tank. I didn't think it would be as hard as this was really being for me. Tore that tank down.

Here comes COVID. I knew I needed something to keep me busy during quarantine lockdown. I knew that I had a stand and a 10 gallon tank that I honestly didn't know I had from something / somewhere in the storage area of my basement. I still don't know honestly.  But, knew that if I set it up on the main first floor of my house, I would be more in tune to enjoy it, and stay on top of all the maintenance. So, found a good spot to do it. After doing some more research, found out that YES - there are TONS of plants that you can keep without pressurized CO2!! And came across a ton of quality YouTube channels including Aquarium Co-op of course! And it's currently the tank I have up and running. I have all the details of it, in my profile section if you're interested. I'm really enjoying it, and so are my boys - they're in turn learning a lot, and helping with feeding the fish and plants.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally was tired of seeing my 75 gallon tank just collect dust that I decided enough was enough. I cleaned everything up, and listed it on eBay, and Craigslist. I had a watcher on eBay...but nothing really came of that. So, I sold it to a pet store about an hour away from me that I really like, for a good amount. I had a lot of brand new items that I had collected to go with it. They gave me a heck of a deal in store credit. And because I've always been wanting to keep Discus, used the store credit for a 90g tank - to set up eventually for Discus.

And this is where I stand. Will I ever set up another reef tank? I honestly don't know. I've gotten more interested in freshwater now than I have ever been. As we all know, a freshwater tank is MUCH less to worry about when you go on vacation, or even an extended weekend than a reef tank. Even with automation now in the reef keeping hobby...there are still things you have to worry about. And if you don't know anyone in your area who has a clue about saltwater....you could run into some major problems while you're away. But who knows. Maybe when our kids have moved out of the house, and I have more time to invest and research, etc. Maybe. I still don't know if I want to get that involved with a reef tank. The benefits are gargantuan, obviously. But, they're a lot of work is what it comes down to for me. Never say never...so who knows?

But, for now...just enjoying my 10 gallon planted tank and continuing to research for my 90 gallon future Discus tank.

That's all folks!

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Hello fellow Michigander! Covid definitely had a lot of influence on me getting back into the hobby. When I think about my previous two tanks I cringe. The internet and access to so much information and so many other hobbyists has made this go around much more enjoyable. I currently have one 15 gallon planted tank. I am not sure I'm into setting up a discus tank (maybe some day who knows), but I definitely have plans for a rainbow fish tank and some more killifish at some point.

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On 9/20/2020 at 10:25 AM, igot2gats said:

Cool! I look forward to seeing pics of your tank. I'll get some of mine up soon.

I had some Rainbow fish in my 60g. They're some of my favorite freshwater fish.

I love having a planted tank. I also love being able to take plants and trimmings to my lfs for credit. Its almost time for me to take another load in.



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