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Hi, my fish-loving friends,

I'm relatively new to the hobby but have always been an animal lover. I live on the edge of a reserve in California wine country, where I feed around 40-50 wild Californian quail and photograph all manner of wild birds and animals. I love all creatures but just never saw fish as potential pets.

I was born in England but lived in South Africa for most of my adult life before moving to SoCal in 2009.

My introduction to fish started with a desire to build a pond in my beautiful garden. I work from home, so I love spending time in the garden. And so, after doing a lot of research, I built my first pond. I considered getting Koi but eventually settled on five fancy-tailed goldfish. They were just so cute! Once again, I did my homework before introducing fish to the pond, and all went well until a freezing cold night. The next morning, my goldfish were alive but not moving much. Of course, I now know that they had entered a dormant state and were not in any actual danger. Convinced they were freezing, I rushed to the pet store to buy an aquarium to bring my poor fish in from the cold. I bought a 37-gallon and, after doing a lot of homework, I decided to use the "Father Fish method" (similar to the Walstad method). You start with 2" of mud, an inch of river sand, rocks, pebbles, and plenty of plants. I added aged water that I bought from the fish shop, an airstone, and a filtration system. This worked out fine, and I didn't lose any fish. I bought a pleco (yeah, I know) and five panda cory cats. Very soon, my five fancy-tail goldfish had outgrown the tank. While they were growing, I bought a 20-gallon tank for a Betta sorority. I added 2 gouramis and 5 bettas to this tank, along with a couple of yoyo loaches and some mystery snails. That tank is doing great, except for the ongoing competition between the two male gouramis, who are desperate to mate and have created bubble nests in the two floating logs I added to the tank. Then, I bought a male betta and put him in a 10-gallon tank on my desk. I added a bunch of neon tetras and a mystery snail to keep him company. As Summer arrived, I put my pleco into the pond because he could no longer fit in the cave in which he loved to hide. He is very happy in the pond. Somehow, I ended up with 8 regular goldfish and some Platys that now inhabit the pond. I had nowhere to place my now massive fancy goldfish, so I bought a 75-gallon and introduced them to their new home. They are growing even bigger in the 75-gallon (what the heck?!!!)

Now, here is the crazy part. On a whim, I bought a couple of live crayfish. One is a rare "white specter". He went into 75-gallon along with nine zebra danios. Remember that the fancy-tailed goldfish monsters live in this tank along with the crayfish. To my surprise, he is quite chill and has left the goldfish alone. However, he does snack on baby snails, and one of the Danios has since disappeared. Samson (that's his name) may be the culprit. He is very happy in the tank, and everyone is fine. My other cray is a dwarf electric blue. Initially, I placed her in the 75-gallon, but she wasn't happy, so I moved her into her own 10-gallon in my kitchen. She is cheeky as heck and challenges me with her little claws if I come near the tank. She seems happy but will have to move to a bigger tank when she is a little bigger.

At the end of this, I now have a beautiful pond, 1 x 75-gallon, 1 x 37-gallon, 1 x 20-gallon, and 2 x 10-gallon fish tanks. My mystery snails also decided to mate. I had no idea they'd laid eggs under the lid and now I have a gazillion baby snails. Truthfully, I haven't counted, but it's a lot! I have no idea what to do with all these critters. Six months later, I am somewhat of an expert, having read everything I could on the subject, joining forums, watching YouTube videos, and by experience. You may consider six months a short time, but my fiance, an experienced aquarist who has had freshwater and saltwater tanks for many years, is pretty amazed at all my newfound knowledge. I think it has to do with my personality. When I'm interested in something, I learn EVERYTHING I can about the subject. I'm here to learn from you guys! While I've been very lucky for the most part, I know that I've made many rookie mistakes. 

The photo was just taken from my desk. The 10-gallon in the foreground (you can only see the top part) is used as a nursery. The 75-gallon is in the background. 


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