Saturday, August 9, 2008

Things I Learned the Hard Way #2

Before I move on to the second thing I learned the hard way, I wanted to throw in a sub-lesson that goes with the last post dealing with the germy mess that is "fish poo water."


Nuff said? I don't really need to go into details there, do I? Ok, good. Didn't really want to relive that one anyway. So, moving on.......

2. Do your research BEFORE you go to the local fish store (LFS).

This is so important, I just can't stress it enough. Impulse buying in the aquarium hobby is almost always a disaster waiting to happen. Whether you're purchasing livestock, plants, tanks or filters, it's always best to know exactly what you're shopping for before parking your car and stick to that list (and that list only) while you're shopping. A good strategy for me when I'm just browsing at the LFS is to leave my wallet in the car.

Pre-shopping with a notebook and pen is a good idea - be sure to write down as much information as possible so you can compare it to what you find elsewhere. Most LFS don't list scientific names for their livestock, but if they do - THAT'S the name you want to work with. Take your list home and do a few internet searches. I guarantee the first time you do this, you'll be amazed at the discrepancies from source to source.

Here are some important things to consider when you're researching your future purchase:

1. Compare the internet pictures with what you remember seeing at the store.

  • *Is this the same fish?
  • *Does the store fish look as healthy as the pictured fish? (within reason)

2. Compare prices, if available.

3. What is the fish's temperament?

  • *Are they peaceful little Ghandi-fish or are they Rambo-fish that will rip into anything that crosses their path?

  • *Are they active or do they tend to spend most of their time hiding? (another aspect to consider here is whether or not they are nocturnal)

  • *Do they have any particular habits that might make them incompatible with other tankmates? For instance, many barbs have a reputation for being fin-nippers. Not a good idea to put them in with a slow swimming fish with long, flowing fins - like a betta. That's like waving a red cape in front of a raging bull. Trust me, I know these things!

4. What does the fish eat? Is it a carnivore or an herbivore? Whenever possible you want to house fish together that have same basic diet.

5. Along the lines of #4, What will the fish's ultimate size be?

  • *How is this related to fish diet, you ask? Well, here's the general rule of thumb with fish keeping: If a fish CAN fit into another's mouth, it WILL. So yeah, size matters.

  • *Remember that most fish you see in the store are either babies or juveniles.

  • *Another consideration is whether or not you can responsibly house a fish of that size. Be sure to consider not only the bioload that fish will create for the volume of water but also the amount of swimming room the tank will provide. This sort of goes back to temperament. Some fish are like husbands - basically sedentary until mealtimes. Others are like toddlers on speed - never stop zipping around and driving everyone else around them crazy.

  • *This is one area where you're likely to NEVER get accurate information from the store. Do your own research, check several sites, and split the difference. When in doubt, ask someone who's kept this fish - there are lots of forums out there with people willing to help, like Fishgeeks.

6. Here's a new one to make the list - What is its track record for breeding in captivity? And also, how sure can I be that I have males (or females). LOL Just guess how THAT one came be on the list!
  • *If your goal is to breed your fish, you want to be reasonably sure you have at least one male and one female (duh, huh?) and that you have the appropriate set up for breeding and raising the fry. Think, honeymoon suite and nursery. Don't forget the baby food.

  • *If you don't want them to breed, try just getting one male. Not just one female - some species (like guppies and platies) can carry fertilized eggs from the store's tank and drop them after you bring them home - sometimes weeks later. And not more than one, even if you think they're both male... TRUST ME! Don't believe me? Check out the photobucket slideshow on the right... there's a pic of some of the babies being raised in a tank that supposedly only housed males. HA!

I'm not going to give you the run-down for each and every incident that has led to the making of this list. Let me just say that I started out with a single 10G tank, not so long ago. At one point I had 15 tanks up and running, of various sizes. I've since stabilized at about 7 (soon to be 6, I think). THAT'S the power of researching before buying.

Until next time................................ Just keep swimming!

Got a lesson you learned the hard way to share? Just want to comment on my stupidity? Post a comment and let us know!


Leanne said...

Um, yeah. Early on when we were newbies at the salt water tank thing, we wanted a cleaner shrimp but were worried that are hawkfish would eat it. Oh no..of course he won't said the fish store doofus. That sucker didn't last 10 seconds with the evil hawkfish. Lesson learned. lol

Nikabee said...

Sounds like the $3/piece "snacks" we provided for our betta who, the store dweeb assured me, would NOT bother eating cherry shrimp. HA! I acclimated the tasty morsels, dropped one in and before I had netted the second, the first was already lunch.

Then there was the frog. The seller told me it was an African Dwarf frog... nope. It was a baby clawed frog. WAY different! Fortunately we identified the little killer while he was still in quarantine, so he wasn't able to do much damage. Just broke my son's heart when we had to return him.

Ahh, I could go on and on! lol

Leanne said...

So when you gonna do another new blog post? I'm having Swimming with the Fishies withdrawls.

By the way, my puter is screwed up. It won't power up for some reason. ugh. So I can only use Rick's laptop until I figure out how to fix the other one. So feel free to do some Pogo for me if you feel like it :) Thanks.

Love ya!