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Newbie aquarist journal 🇨🇦


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Hi folks 👋🏻

I'm Julia, nice to join your CARE community!

This will be a journal of my fish-keeping journey in Canada. Having a weak memory I need a place to keep track of my mistakes (and hopefully successes in future) and forum seems to be a nicer, safer place than Facebook group.

Will start documenting my first *stressful* month into the hobby tomorrow and share my story 🐟

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So, making a back story short, this global lockdown separated me from my family by an ocean and I needed something alive to keep me company and help dealing with mental health issues. My grandma suggested getting a 🐟.

I am not impulsive type and prefer to do my research before diving into a hobby. I was probably 5 years old when my grandma kept a fish tank so I don't remember anything about it except for it being amazingly meditative to watch.

First, I watched a bunch of youtube videos about aquarium hobby in general, then googled easy hardy fish for small tank, equipment, substrate etc. Considering that I rent a room, my options were pretty limited: the smallest tank with one fish was all I could afford. Then, I checked how much it will cost me (Canadian dollars here and Canadian prices): 5 gallon tank $115, led light $30, HOB quiet filter $75, heater $20, gravel $5 with gravel vacuum $8, tap water conditioner - we're already surpassed my budget 🤑 - plus a fish $6, flakes $6, freeze-dried bloodworms $10, one anubias $10, some moss $5, few jungle val stems $5, couple snails $5, couple shrimp $6, summing up to above $300

At that point of my research I decided to abandon the idea 😅

In about a month someone in local FB fish-keeping group posted a deal: 5 gallon planted tank with fish and all equipment for $80. Well, at least it's already running, no need to cycle it for 6 month, how hard it can be?..

Oh, how wrong I was!

 

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On 4/1/2021 at 9:04 PM, Julls said:

Hi folks 👋🏻

I'm Julia, nice to join your CARE community!

This will be a journal of my fish-keeping journey in Canada. Having a weak memory I need a place to keep track of my mistakes (and hopefully successes in future) and forum seems to be a nicer, safer place than Facebook group.

Will start documenting my first *stressful* month into the hobby tomorrow and share my story 🐟

I can assure you, this forum is umpteen times friendlier than FB. Welcome to the forum! 🍁 The following video is to maintain my reputation with @JamesB🙃

 

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No way I am getting near one of those things. They are GRUMPY and HUGE! Never mind the grizzlies, watch out for the moose! Although I hear they do pair well with all that maple syrup you drink by the gallon up there. Haha! OK, I had better stop before our forum moderator bans me for making fun of our Great White Northern neighbors. See ya later, eh! 😝

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1 hour ago, Julls said:

In about a month someone in local FB fish-keeping group posted a deal: 5 gallon planted tank with fish and all equipment for $80. Well, at least it's already running, no need to cycle it for 6 month, how hard it can be?..

Oh, how wrong I was!

"Well, at least it's already running, no need to cycle it for 6 month, how hard it can be?"

Ah yes, I believe we have all fallen into that trap at some point or another. 🙄 Honestly, though your tank looks quite nice! I think you will find lots of helpful tips, including how to save money, at this forum. Better yet, you can always just ask by way of a post. 

I look forward to following your adventures. And if it makes you feel better, here's my less-than-ideal start as a fish wrangler,

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So, the journey started February 25 when I got "all inclusive" 6 months old aquarium.

The girl who sold me the aquarium, lives 30 minutes away by car, and considering the cold and shaky taxi ride and 90% water change my betta was pretty stressed 🤕 to say the least. I still don't know much about normal behavior of bettas but the way he moved I wouldn't say he's happy and moreover, he barely ate anything.

Before I could engage in stabilizing the environment for him, my landlord added up $50 on top of my rent 🤯 just because I have 6 watt light running during daytime. I could fight with them about this nonsense but I'm an introvert, I have chronic migraine and I avoid conflicts by all means, so I found another room to rent to keep living expenses the same and moved out 3 days later. Good for me, bad for my poor stressed fish.

Another cold long shaky taxi ride and water change on March 1. And I didn't have dechlorinator 🤭 The girl gave me few drops of water conditioner with the tank but I didn't expect to need a bottle so soon... On top of everything else, I work 9-5 and don't drive. There was Big Al's shop near my previous place but now the closest one is 2 hours away using 3 buses and closed for in-person shopping (so no way to ask questions, see the products, compare sizes and all those benefits of aquarium store).

A week flew by in no time with all the troubles of moving and unpacking, and my red friend didn't feel any better. Actually he got worse. First instinct was to go to one of facebook groups of Canadian betta keepers 🤐 Bad idea. As soon as you ask a question, trying to put as many details in it, you become a fish abuser criminal convicted for cruelty to animals and all group members turn into hawks and spam a ton of frustration in comments.

Logically, I went to youtube for education without feedback to keep sane. That was the time I discovered Cory and felt incredibly safe on his channel. Hopefully the care community on this forum is my last place to go for all things fish.

March 7 was when I diagnosed fin rot 😥

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1 hour ago, Julls said:

So, the journey started February 25 when I got "all inclusive" 6 months old aquarium.

The girl who sold me the aquarium, lives 30 minutes away by car, and considering the cold and shaky taxi ride and 90% water change my betta was pretty stressed 🤕 to say the least. I still don't know much about normal behavior of bettas but the way he moved I wouldn't say he's happy and moreover, he barely ate anything.

Before I could engage in stabilizing the environment for him, my landlord added up $50 on top of my rent 🤯 just because I have 6 watt light running during daytime. I could fight with them about this nonsense but I'm an introvert, I have chronic migraine and I avoid conflicts by all means, so I found another room to rent to keep living expenses the same and moved out 3 days later. Good for me, bad for my poor stressed fish.

Another cold long shaky taxi ride and water change on March 1. And I didn't have dechlorinator 🤭 The girl gave me few drops of water conditioner with the tank but I didn't expect to need a bottle so soon... On top of everything else, I work 9-5 and don't drive. There was Big Al's shop near my previous place but now the closest one is 2 hours away using 3 buses and closed for in-person shopping (so no way to ask questions, see the products, compare sizes and all those benefits of aquarium store).

A week flew by in no time with all the troubles of moving and unpacking, and my red friend didn't feel any better. Actually he got worse. First instinct was to go to one of facebook groups of Canadian betta keepers 🤐 Bad idea. As soon as you ask a question, trying to put as many details in it, you become a fish abuser criminal convicted for cruelty to animals and all group members turn into hawks and spam a ton of frustration in comments.

Logically, I went to youtube for education without feedback to keep sane. That was the time I discovered Cory and felt incredibly safe on his channel. Hopefully the care community on this forum is my last place to go for all things fish.

March 7 was when I diagnosed fin rot 😥

Whew!  What a ride you and your betta have had.  I love red bettas!  I hope you find James B’s thread about Hugo his betta with fin rot.  Hugo is recovering now.😊  What have you been doing for your betta since discovering the fin rot?

I see that logistics are hard with no car and all.  Hopefully we can walk with you through this and he will soon be recovering too!

By the way I am Canadian born, and still have many relatives in Canada—so my heart has a special place for youz guys!❤️😊

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⬇️ Continuing with my documentary ⬇️

I have so many questions that google can't answer, it's a challenge not to type a whole page of them with no punctuation, but I know it's easier for pros to answer and advise having the whole picture.

The setup & equipment:

- 5 gallon rimless glass tank 10x10x12 inches (no lid)

- Topfin if20 (I guess, because the girl didn't specify so I just searched by image on Amazon. It says in the product description that it does 90 gallons per hour and I've read that 5 gallon tank should have 25 GPH max: is it harmful?)

- Aquenon 50w preset heater (keeps the water temperature around 78-79 degrees stable)

- Basic 3-strips LED light with blue night light mode (no timer, I turn it on around 8-8:30 am when I leave the house and turn it off when I'm back from work, around 6:30-7 pm.)

Food:

- Tropical Supervit 8 mix flakes (half of 100g/500ml jar that the girl gave me with the whole set, and my betta doesn't really like it, spits it out 😛)

- Tetra Blood Worms Freeze Dried (my betta loves it better than flakes; I rent a room in a house with 8 other people and only 1 fridge so no live/frozen food)

Plants (need your help with confirming if I'm right, cause there are so many varieties and my guesses rely on pictures from internet)

- Java moss or some other moss (which has turned brown during it's life with me, so something is wrong, would appreciate your advice)

- Jungle Vallisneria or some other kind of Vallisneria (doesn't do well, someone is chewing on it and I often find chunks of it floating)

- Ludwigia repens or some other ludwigia (doing well, my boy likes to rest on its stems and shrimp often sits on its leaves, but it looks different that ones on the internet, mine has slim leaves and has a bit pink tint on top, not at all wide and deep red like people post)

- Anubias (doing fine on a rock, shoots some roots and grown 2 new leaves during its life with me, which is roughly a month)

Wildlife:

- Few snails with bright yellow shell (the girl told me it's golden apple snail type, not sure but I adore them, don't know how many)

- Few grey snails much smaller size and triangular shape shell (no idea what kind, they stay in the gravel only, very tiny)

- Few transparent or greyish colour shrimp (will try to do a macro photo some time for identification but Cory said in one of the livestreams that there are tons of shrimp like that: go shrimp, whisker shrimp etc; I saw a baby or juvenile one, don't know if was there before or was born this month)

- Few shrimp redish/orangy colour (the girl told me she has only cherry shrimp but then where/when those transparent ones got there? I think there is only one adult red one and junior orange one; love to watch how they swim and jump and eat, adorable, help me keep them alive - do they need specific food besides what I already have or more plants of some kind?)

Water parameters (API liquid test kit):

1. Tap water: pH 7.6 / high range pH (what is this and which one do I need to know and how are they different?) 7.4 / ammonia 0 / nitrite 0 / nitrate 0 (I do 1 gallon water change usually, treat tap water with Nutrafin Aqua Plus conditioner and Nutrafin Cycle supplement according to instructions on the bottles and a teaspoon of aquarium salt)

2. Usual aquarium water: pH ranging a lot 6.6 - 6.8 - 7.6  / high range pH 7.4 - 7.8 / ammonia 0 / nitrite 0 / nitrate 10-20ppm (will post more step-by-step later with description of my struggles with fin rot, but would appreciate an advice on pH vs high range pH and which other test strips do I need for parameters that API liquid test kit doesn't cover?)

Enough for today:)


P.S. 🤔 Could anyone please help a millenial with navigating around the forum? How to I find someone's topic? If I click on a person's name it takes me to their activity feed which is mostly reactions and replies to posts all around the forum, but how do I find their journal or however it's called 😅

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If you go to the Introductions and Greetings section there are some basic instructions as to how to use the forum and understand how certain options work.  If you “click” on a person’s name or icon, you will go to their personal profile.  But if you click on the question or topic they post, it brings you to the thread.😊

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  • 2 weeks later...

Help!

Got some floating plants (water lettuce and frogbit) and my betta feels safe and enjoys swimming between the roots, but something kills the plants!

in 10 days almost everything died off or rotted... I googled and people say the leaves become yellow because of too much light but even with no light (only natural sun light) they are not doing any better.

Any advice?

Thank you!

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33 minutes ago, Julls said:

Help!

Got some floating plants (water lettuce and frogbit) and my betta feels safe and enjoys swimming between the roots, but something kills the plants!

in 10 days almost everything died off or rotted... I googled and people say the leaves become yellow because of too much light but even with no light (only natural sun light) they are not doing any better.

Any advice?

Thank you!

Hey, I am about to log off for the evening but I wanted to suggest that soft-leafed floating plants, like water lettuce, are highly susceptible to melting. They really do not like being shipped. Looking at your photo (thanks for posting it, btw), it appears that only the outer, older leaves have died. If you look at the centers of the plants, all the tiny new leaves are coming in a nice and healthy green. So I suggest being patient. It looks to me like your plants are already on the road to recovery. One thing you might do is trim off and scoop up all the yellow leaves to avoid creating an ammonia spike from the decaying plant matter.

Hope that helps and I'll be back again to see how things are going for you! 🥰

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Well said @Anita, great advice! 
 

As for finding someones topic, I use my phone so I will show you that way since I have never done it through my computer.

Click on the username, then click on the button I circled in red below. 723DA705-EFF8-42C1-ADC5-45252DAFB339.jpeg.9392c36718caefae578a4ce2a0ff13ac.jpeg

 

The click on the “Content type” button. 

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Then click on “Topics”

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Then you should be able to see all the topics that person has started. 
 

I hope that helps @Julls

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Thanks, @Isaac M my interface looks completely different (different buttons) All that I could see was activity/reactions/replies, but with  your help I finally figured out where to find Topics 😅 

 

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Thank you @Anita I didn't ship those, they are from a local hobbyist (less than 30 min in a bag). I was very careful not to wet the leaves and there is almost no water agitation on the surface so they should have been pretty happy. And I dose Seachem Flourish Advance fertilizer since I got those floating plants. Still, they shouldn't have died off in a week 😔

I think the roots look horrible: when I first put them into the aquarium, my betta was so happy swimming between them, like in a forest, and showed no interest in eating them. But now the roots look rotten almost to the surface. And I noticed two snails grown in size in the last week, could they have eaten all my lettuce??...

 

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1 hour ago, Julls said:

Thank you @Anita I didn't ship those, they are from a local hobbyist (less than 30 min in a bag). I was very careful not to wet the leaves and there is almost no water agitation on the surface so they should have been pretty happy. And I dose Seachem Flourish Advance fertilizer since I got those floating plants. Still, they shouldn't have died off in a week 😔

I think the roots look horrible: when I first put them into the aquarium, my betta was so happy swimming between them, like in a forest, and showed no interest in eating them. But now the roots look rotten almost to the surface. And I noticed two snails grown in size in the last week, could they have eaten all my lettuce??...

Sorry, my bad. 🙄 I should have written that water lettuce hates any kind of change (with shipping causing the most extreme trauma). In fact, the outer leaves and roots that "died off in a week" is exactly what I would expect them to do. Most likely the plants reacted to being placed into a new tank with new water, regardless of agitation.

Hang in there, those leaves are already coming back and the roots will come back too. FWIW, the roots do not look rotten to me. Rotten roots are mushy, brown, and falling apart. Most of the roots in the photo look like victims of an exceedingly bad haircut—the root tips and fuzzy root hairs are missing. The snails are eating dead plant matter, which actually helps stop the decay from spreading. (It's like how cleaning a wound in animals/people helps prevent an infected wound from getting worse.)  😁 BTW, you now have less plant mass, so I would suggest cutting back on fertilizer until the plants recover.😎

Edited by Anita
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I agree with @Anita about the water lettuce. It looks like it will recover! I would make sure you’re giving it some light—it’s true that too much light can yellow the leaves, but too little light can cause the leaves to fungus as well.

Your other plants seem to be doing well!

As for the brown Java moss, that’s pretty normal. Mine’s only really green at the tips where it’s growing new growth. It seems to be because the moss collects a lot of dirt/mulm, so the older parts always look brown. 😄 If you take some out and rinse it, you should be able to tell what’s truly alive. Green is living, light brown is dead, and dark brown could be some kind of root like area.

As for the pH vs high range pH test—you usually only have to use one once you know the typical pH of your tank. The normal test can only show lower pH, and the high range one can only show higher pH. So if you had pH of 6.6 and you used the high range pH test, it would just look like 7.4 because that’s as low as the test goes. Unfortunately, you’re one of the lucky fish keepers whose pH is right in between the normal and high range tests, so you kind of have to use both. My main tank is that way, too!

I’m glad you found the forum! You are definitely not a fish abuser criminal 😝 and I’m glad you got a little buddy to keep you company.

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  • 2 months later...

Okay, time to ask for help again 😩

I tried to stop being a mother hen thinking I just imagine problems and my tank simply needs some time to season etc. But it’s time to face the facts: water lettuce recovered and started to grow tiny new leaves but then situation got worse and worse. First the moss rotted and disappeared, then valisneria rotted and disappeared, then leaf by leaf ludwigia rotted and disappeared, now only anuabias left but it too started to rot. 😭

Maybe I’m just not made to keep things alive🤔 because my house plants don’t look good too…

I lost all shrimp, all apple snails except one, all plants and my poor betta boy doesn’t look like he is enjoying this life. Pest snails took over the entire tank though. 

Finally restrictions lifted and I can go to Big Al’s and buy some plants but if I can’t figure out what kills them, it’s a total waste 🤷🏻‍♀️.

Water parameters are stable, light is on 12h a day, liquid fertilizer by the book, but if missing macroelements are causing this disaster, I’ll order all-in-one easy green, if it helps.

Anyone please help me stay in the hobby 🙏🏻 I need some troubleshooting here.

Stats:

Ph 7.6
High range ph 7.4
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5-10

30-50% water change once every 2 months, weekly top-off (can’t find a lid still so water evaporates a little), gravel vac every season, temperature is stable 80’F (heater is preset)

Any thoughts?

 

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Seachem Flourish Advance

Fish is okay, swimming around, reacting to me, or if I put something near the tank, resting on stuff or under, eating okay, not much but eating nevertheless. Fins are as ragged as they were when I got him, I thought he has fin rot but most probably he is just untidy by nature, new tissue grows on the ends once in a while. He was happier with a bushy ludwigia to swim in between the stems and now he’s bored in almost empty tank, but the problem is with plants, not with fish.

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