by: Jonathan Wangsa
If you are seriously considering keeping fish as pets or are just starting out, I would like to stress again the importance of having some basic knowledge about aquariums and fish keeping in order to enjoy the hobby for a significant length of time and to avoid frustrations and disappointments.
In the first article I illustrated this by sharing my own childhood experience with bettas, and now I shall share my experience with goldfish.
While I still had my bettas I also wanted to keep some goldfish since I also found them attractive and interesting. My mom was reluctant to buy me some since I already had the bettas but she finally gave in and bought me a pair of "telescope" goldfish.
At the time I didn't have a real aquarium yet so we put the goldfish in a large jar (about 1 gallon). One of our neighbors told us that goldfish wouldn't tolerate chlorine and therefore, we should not use tap water. They happened to have a well and offered to let us use the water for my goldfish.
I soon noticed that the fish were constantly gasping for air at the surface. They also refused to eat. After a couple of days the water started to become cloudy, so I changed it totally. However, the fish still refused to eat and continued to gasp for air. Not long after that they became lethargic and eventually died.
My mom said probably "telescope" goldfish just weren't hardy enough and not easy to keep. However, I had not given up on goldfish yet, so I asked if I could try to keep other kinds and hopefully would have better luck. My parents eventually consented but my dad suggested that I get a real aquarium instead of putting the fish in a jar. You can imagine how elated I was that finally I was going to have a real aquarium.
So we went out and bought a 10 gallon aquarium and a few goldfish at the same time. I believe we bought 4 fish: a couple of medium sized "comets" and a pair of "pearl scales." We didn't buy them at a store, though. It was more like a wholesale type of place where there were plenty of different sellers selling their aquariums and fish. Again, at the time neither my mom nor I knew much about fish keeping. So we didn't buy any supplies for the aquarium. Just the tank and fish. That was it!
When we got home I filled up the aquarium with untreated tap water and immediately put the fish in. I was so excited to see the goldfish swim around in the tank, but that didn't last long. In a few hours the fish were no longer lively. They sort of stayed at the bottom and didn't move very much.
When my dad saw them he said they probably lacked oxygen and suggested that we go out and buy an air pump to aerate the tank. I had only seen aerated aquariums in places like public aquariums and fancy restaurants and thought that an air pump had to be very expensive, but my dad said it would be OK.
So my mom and I went to a fish store to look for an air pump. Besides the pump we also needed something to hook the plastic tube on to and hold it in place. We chose to get a frog ornament for that purpose (the air would come out of the frog's mouth). All the stuff didn't really cost too much.
As soon as we got home we hooked everything up and air started flowing into the aquarium. Like magic, within a couple of minutes the fish started to "wake up" and finally became lively again. My dad said, "I told you so!"
The air pump was about the only supply we bought for the aquarium. Having beautiful and lively goldfish in my very own aquarium was good enough for me. I loved them so much that I also fed them too much. I was happy to watch them eat. As you can imagine though, the water got dirty very quickly that I had to change it every day.
One day a friend of ours told us that we shouldn't be changing the water daily since it wouldn't be good for the fish. Also, in the mean time I had read somewhere that if you wanted to use tap water you should set it aside for a few days to get rid of the chlorine. Therefore, I set aside a bucket of water and changed 3/4 of the water about every 3 days.
I was able to enjoy the goldfish for a few months before one of them got sick and died and the others followed soon after. I was extremely sad and because of that my dad told me I couldn't buy any more fish. So, after all my fish died my hobby came to a sad end. Well, at least for a while.
Again, there is a take-home lesson here: if you're serious about having your own aquarium, there's some basic knowledge you need to possess before you even buy the aquarium and fish. You don't have to know everything there is to know about the hobby, but at least for the sake of the fish, you should understand a few things (such as how many fish you can have in a tank, how much to feed them, what kinds of aquarium supplies to have, and what kinds of maintenance you need to perform, just to name a few) that are crucial to their well being.
If you're an expert you most likely picked up on the things I did wrong in the story I shared above. If you're a beginner or just thinking about getting started with this hobby, I invite you to visit my web site (see below) to learn more.
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