Aquarium adventure 1

After months of thinking and dreaming of having a freshwater aquarium, in June 2020 I finally dared to say it aloud and in fact start to search a suitable tank. As it had been good 30 years since my first two attempts to create an underwater garden, I was keen to learn and ready to embrace whatever advice I was given. However, few facts remained in the undercurrents of my mind.

My first tank was really my brothers aquarium. A self made 120 litre electric blue monster, which had a distinquished smell that greeted everyone walking into the premises. It had some guppies that happily had multiplied into three figures, a couple of plants, and angelfish and some light bulbs that at times we remembered turn on. I do’t recall anyone ever changing the water, but thenagain the siphon was a rubber hose with no hand pump, so at the age of 5 I certainly was not going to suck and hope for a fishy delight.

Then my dad had a marvellous idea of getting me a lung fish as a present. Apparently the aquarium shop gave it away free, as they had not managed to feed it anything, and they thought it was about to die. He put it in, after explaining he had bought me a snake (!) As you would do to your daughter aged 5. The aquarium shop honestly had thought it was a freshwater snake, so they had kept it on its own tank and given it some bottom feeders pellets, which it had totally rejected.

A lungfish. Not the one that was in our murky tank, but very similar to the one.

So I hated that mean looking fish. It was scary, and once it had been put into the tank, I did not go anywhere near it. Over the next few years the guppy population went down, and one day my large angelfish had disappeared. It was about then we understood it had been feeding on my fish. So then we started giving it raw mince and some sausage, and the random flies we caught from the windows.

But nobody went to clean the tank with a meat eater snake in it. When we were moving out of the flat, the lungfish – and the smell – just had to go. In rural Finland, in early 90s, there was nobody to contact, no rescues for unwanted overgrown water snakes, and the legend tells the fish had by then grown into epic proportions. They say it had not fitted straight into the tank, but was doubled over. Good meter in size, powerfull, adult lungfish. Apparently the fight to capture the Loch Nessian beast was fierce. The removals people terrified. I was just happy to see it gone for good.

My next tank was a 64 litre kiddy tank. I had some guppies and one sword leaf, and a noisy filter with tubular coarse sponge. The guppies multiplied despite my care, and I never really understood what to do with the tank, but nonetheless it was nice to look at. I firmly believed that the filter sponge had to be cleaned well, so I was using fairy liquid and bleach to maintain it. It is a miracle what those fish could handle back then, because they appeared totally oblivious to my crazy actions.

But then passed 30 years, and now, it is different. This time I set myself to do it well. A proper aquarium, I was going to study it and understand it and make it nice. An adult hobby, with skills and interest and passion to make it super nice.

First to get a larger one so that it is more stable, and secondly to let it do a fishless cycle first, and monitor this process thoroughly. I wanted to get the proper high tech monitored controlled system, with all the trims, with all the tests. With a siphon that has a pump. The full monty of freshwater, boom!

This is a photo of the tank on the first day of setup, June 2020. I used regular 100% tap water with declorinator liquid. A dozen cup grown plants, all planted to a regular gravel. It sounded like a lovely idea. Thats how I did it in my childhood – no wonder that did not go so well…

Day 1 of aquarium setup

As you can see our tap water has huge quantities of dissolved calcium (limescale) that made all the water milky white. I had searched enough to already know that the filter that came with Juwel 450 vision was not going to cut the mustard with me, so I removed it and replaced it with Fx4, that I had boosted up with triple sponges, proper media and I was even running carbon which I thought would solve all the problems of the world. This time no bleech, proper cycling, proper stuff.

What could possibly go wrong?

I wanted a heavily planted tank, crystal clear water, beautiful fish multiplying and enjoying their well maintained home. No guppies, no snakey fish eaters. Just colours, plants of all rainbow, aguascape artist show. It was all crystal clear in my mind. 6 weeks into it, I would have the prettiest best maintained tank, ever.

Unfortunately my dreams did not quite convert into a reality.