Our fish have taken me much further into the throes of pet ownership than I could have expected—one minute we have a 10-gallon tank with four fish, the next minute I’m researching pet insurance. I find it interesting that animals do just fine without it in their natural habitat; it takes us humans to make raising pets complicated. It figures!
After a few uneventful months, life with our fish is getting interesting again. Not that our fish have become boring—we’ve just gotten into a groove. The same boy who requested an aquarium for Christmas has now requested an upgrade for his birthday, which was last week.
Apparently he’s serious, so his dad and I gifted him an IOU for a new 30-gallon tank. We saw several that caught our eye at the pet store last time we purchased new fish, so purchasing a tank seemed straightforward. Until, that is, I attempted to prepare for the upgrade.
The process of establishing our first tank—working our way through the nitrogen cycle—was a painful one, and resulted in the loss of three of our four fish. Maybe some folks could consider them a commodity, but my son felt their loss. I’d rather not repeat that experience, especially now that our fishy family is up to 11.
Our plan is to set up the new tank in another room, which allows us more time and flexibility in stabilizing a new, more voluminous habitat. From what I’ve read, a larger tank will be a bit easier to cycle because a small group of fish simply has a smaller bioload in three-times the water. We also can capitalize on the good bacteria in our old tank by moving some of the substrate and decorations into the new tank. I may even use the old filter on the new tank for 24 hours or so before we add fish.
I’ve read conflicting opinions regarding whether using water from the old tank will help establish bacteria colonies in the new tank, primarily because the bacteria are most concentrated in the filter and on the tanks surfaces (including decorations and substrate). But I’m still considering it—anything to help!
Then there’s the question of the best type of filter and heater. I’m hoping my local pet store can guide me, depending on the tank we choose.
And then there’s the tank itself. I forget that the weight of a 30-gallon tank is considerable, and we’d prefer not to relegate our fish to the basement. So there’s a matter of placing the new tank somewhere we’re sure our floor can support it safely. The aforementioned new spot for the tank is in a small room in the front of our house. Because we’re not looking at a truly huge tank (think more than 55 gallons), I’m not too worried. But I’m still going to look at our basement ceiling to be sure we’re placing the tank perpendicular to our floor joists, and that the span of the joists is relatively short. Because our home is newer, I can look at the blueprints and verify which walls are load-bearing—hoping the wall I have in mind is included. From a home decor point of view, I’d had my eye on a tank with a swirling iron stand. Weight is distributed better with a flat base, so I’ll take that into consideration, too.
When we finally make our way to our pet store, we’ll have lots of questions to thrust at the experts—not including the addition of new fish! But the excitement is palpable in our household. I think we’re ready to take this next step in pet ownership!