When our family decided to take on the responsibility of a pet (or more accurately, multiple pets), we agreed we wouldn’t do it unless we could do it “right.”
Turns out “right” is more elusive to the beginner than I thought. Although my son initially wanted a betta, we steered him in the direction of a tropical fish tank because a betta in a little bowl is a sad betta.
We thought we waited for our tank’s nitrogen cycle to complete, but we lost three of four fish. We thought we were feeding our fish appropriately, but we were feeding them too much. We wanted happy fish, but began with one male and one stressed-out female platy, and four neon tetras that needed more buddies to form a shoal. We were overwhelmed by advice online.
Believe it or not, I’m not here to focus on what we’ve gotten wrong. I’m actually celebrating what we’ve learned along the way. Because as I type, 11 fish swim placidly behind me: our two platys have a new female friend to divide the, um, affection of the male; and our four tetras are now eight.
We understand the nitrogen cycle, and have gotten pretty good at regular partial water changes. We are now feeding our fish much less than we had been—the substrate and water are cleaner for it, and our fish are healthier (yay!). We also hope we’ve achieved a happy environment for all of the inhabitants of our tank.
As a fabulous bonus, we’re happy, too. So happy, in fact, that while at the pet store purchasing our new fish, we priced out larger tanks! Our son would like one for his birthday—which gives us a few months to work on our skills, and consult sources we’re coming to trust—and we’ve picked out a spot for a 30-gallon tank.
Our fish are as perfect a fit for our family as we could have hoped. My son and I handle the maintenance, my husband is mastering feedings. The kids like to check in on their tropical friends, know each by name (as far as they can tell)—my daughter even tells her preschool friends about our platys and tetras. We must be doing something right.
Tags: Fish & Ponds