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Kara's Hobby Rollercoaster

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Hello there. I’ve been lurking around for a while and finally decided to share my journey through this hobby. I am a bit of an introvert. My shell is safe and there are no judgmental stupid people there. You all have been such a blessing to find and follow and chat with time to time. A great community full of awesome people. I have only really been in the hobby for a few years. I kept bettas for about 10 years but I don’t count that time as really in the hobby. I came across a betta video by accident on you tube one day. After that I fell in head first and haven't come back up for air. Currently I am at 11 tanks, 2 year-round tub ponds and 1 temporary tub. I’ll quick summarize the beginning then post tank progression one tank at a time. 

My first fish was a rescue betta. When I was around 17 I went to hang out with a friend. She had a fish bowl on the bathroom counter that you couldn’t see in to the water was so gross. I had known her about 6 months and the bowl had always been there like that. One day while washing my hands something hit the top off the water. I called her in and her response was “Oh, Rupert’s alive? I haven’t fed him in months, thought he was dead.” With no cares to give that beautiful blue veil tail betta went home with me that day in a clean bowl. Based on what she said he was close to 4 years old and with me he lived another 4-ish. I fell in love with him and got a couple females. I kept them in gallon or more bowls and pickle jars, cleaned them out with hot water every week or so, and had good luck with their health and longevity. 

For Christmas about 6 years ago my husband upgraded my 1 betta from the bowl to a 3.5-gallon cylinder tank. We called it his condo. That’s what got me thinking and tinkering. Never thought to look online. I was from the old school teachings of you feed the fish regularly, maybe and clean the tank once in a while. If it dies it was a bad fish... Couple years later while scrolling through you tube there was a betta video by Rachel O'leary. So I clicked it. When she mentioned live plants the gardener part of my brain pushed my guilt aside. Mind blown- real plants AND tiny red freshwater shrimp! Down the rabbit hole I went. Discovering my local mom and pop fish store has been a big help too. I still have that tank and all of its parts. It has been through a lot of fish, shrimp and other projects since being replaced by a used 6-gallon semi hex. Pictures of Ruperts' days might still be found on Myspace... Yep, I said it.  After recently being used for quarantine, the cylinder currently sits around the garage looking sad with no life and old tannin-stained water slowly evaporating.  

Most of my old pictures are on an old laptop that I am too lazy to drag out or on a missing micro sd card. But I did manage to find one of the cylinder when it was new. Picture 1 with Moonstone is from January 1, 2016  Picture 2 with Gilligan is dated April 24, 2019  Picture 3 (Gilligan and shrimp friends are in there somewhere) is dated June 29, 2020. The upgrade to the used 6-gallon semi hex was on the 14th. It pretty much still looks the same. The java fern now takes up most of the tank, dwarf sag is alive but never took off, a floating betta log, one lucky bamboo sticking out the top and the inhabitants are 6 pygmy cories and a few cherry shrimp. 

Stay tuned for the train wreck that is the evolution of my used $20--20 gallon tall craigslist score. 




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Any of the following few posts, unless otherwise stated, happened within the past 3 years. Hence the rollercoaster in the title.  

Cruising craigslist I came across a 20-gallon tall full of extra goodies for $20. No lid, no light, but it did come with a ton of decorations and a couple of filters. Sooo many fake plants, a fake log and half of a ship. Gave my sister all the fake plants for her goldfish tank. Being a box store and Amazon regular I knew what the ship alone would cost so I jumped on it. I was on a small budget and wanted a planted community tank. I believe in upcycling, reusing, and recycling when possible. Especially when you’re on a budget but want or need things.  

Once everything was sorted and clean, I set it up to start cycling with what little bit of stuff I kept or had. For substrate I had a big bag of pool filter sand left over from upgrading the cylinder tank to the semi hex. I didn’t like the internal filters, got an aqueon hang on back instead. The tank was going in the center of the house behind the couch so needed a sleeker box. This fit the bill. The led never worked but that was not the feature I got it for. I didn’t trust the idea of it and didn’t plan to use the cartridge unless carbon was actually needed. I ordered an Aqueon planted led clip light online. Couldn’t get it in town at the time and it met my needs. Rounding up initial base set up cost me $91.  

Over the following weeks I visited my lfs probably 50 times for questions, plants, and to see fish. Fell in love with habrosus cories that were in quarantine. My store keeps all new fish in qt for a minimum of 2 weeks. They use to do 30 days, but they are a small store with no interest in growing so they don’t have the space to hold fish that long any more. Conveniently, the habrosus cories were done with their qt when my tank finished its’ initial cycling. I started with 6 of them, 6 or 8 neon tetras and a few cherry shrimp. Not all of the fish went in at the same time. For plants I chose dwarf chain sword, dwarf sag, bacopa caroliniana, java moss and hornwort. The hornwort and moss were free. When I buy shrimp and they come with a little piece of plant, I tend to throw it in the tank and see what happens.  

Needless to say, the beautiful little community tank that it became did not stay little for long. I wanted to upgrade them to a 40-breeder so they would have more room. For Valentine’s Day my husband gifted me a Marineland 75-gallon set that he caught on sale for half off. I’ll show that ordeal later in depth. That’s when my father-in-law started to worry. He’s a truck driver and it seemed to him that the tanks were multiplying while he was over the road... I was suppose to get rid of the 20-gallon, yet when he came home again it was set up with new fish. Dalmation lyretail mollies. They did not survive. Nothing I did would keep them box store mollies alive let alone well and happy. So gave up on them after many dollars and fish lives wasted. Next came flag fish and dwarf neon rainbows from the lfs. And all was well again. Until I decided to upgrade them too... Because with a bigger tank I could get more of them and add some cherry barbs.  

Dad came home to a crummy looking 10-gallon quarantine tank with more fish, random plants and floating sticks just thrown in sitting next to the 20-gallon... And a used 75-gallon in the driveway... More craigslist jackpot scores. That’s how it looked for a couple of months while waiting on the custom tank table/stand to be built. As I didn’t want to part with my cabinet. More on that 75-gallon upgrade endeavor later on too. When that project was complete the 20 went out to the garage for some black mollies I picked up earlier on at the lfs. Who miraculously survived. Okay, it wasn’t a miracle. They were locally bred in well water not brackish water. See I’m a little smarter at this point. No, they didn’t have the cool lyre tails, but they were friendly fish that everyone seems to love and they look great against a full planted background.  

Which brings us to the state that 20-gallon tall is in today. Once glorious jungle full of life, now a sad looking mess with happy friendly fish and cull shrimp. Have you ever noticed when moving and keeping cull shrimp sometimes they color up more in the new tank? That’s what happened with mine. So now I have a few small colonies of cherry shrimp. Nowhere near the numbers I had even a year ago though. That’s my own fault for slacking so bad for so long. I had a lot getting in the way for a while and am finding it hard to get back on my old maintenance schedule. Bare minimum has not been kind. The plants and shrimp were going nuts. Think I have magic water or something haha. When I get around to posting the 75-gallons then and now pictures you’ll see what I mean.  








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