29 November 2010

My Other Hobby

Exactly HOW does one work an aquarium into a decor scheme, aside from spending a ka-frillion dollars on a professional service and a room-sized setup that costs more to maintain than the house itself?

Yeah.  I have no idea.

But I love them. :)  I've always considered aquariums to be a sort of combination between pets, houseplants, and TV, lol.  (You've never sat and watched "Fish TV"? Hee).  I've always tried to put them on nice furniture, and create pretty little landscapes inside them to look at, but aside from that, I don't "decorate" with or around tanks - I wouldn't dress my dogs to match my furniture, either, you know what I mean?

Until this year, I'd kept aquariums full of fish, "eels" (sirens), newts, and salamanders for over fifteen years.  I've kept tanks full of live food that I cultured to feed to my swimming pets, and even put together a couple of plant terrariums with no mobile inhabitants.  Until, that is, a couple of months ago when my last aging newt finally kicked the bucket.  After a "burial at sea"  (all drains lead to the ocean, Nemo), I finally tore down my last aquarium.  There's just something about that little box of light and life and energy - I really felt it when it wasn't there anymore.

But then, the day before Thanksgiving a coworker brought me a pair of Bettas (pronounced "bet-uh", not "bay-tah").  She'd bought them for her son, who ended up abandoning them to her care, and she didn't want them - but she was happy to have found them a new home, and I was happy to BE their new home!

 Luckily, after 15+ years of an aquarium habit hobby, I had PLENTY of supplies - including empty tanks - sitting in my garage.  All I had to do was gather a giant armload of stuff and wash it off and put it together. (The putting-together actually took a couple of days, and a trip to the pet store for some water conditioner).

10g with screen lid and light hood

It ain't much, but it'll do for now.  Considering that these little gals (they're both females) lived in plastic cups for a few days, these tanks, though bare, are quite the step up.  It's like living in your car, I guess, and then finally getting HUGE apartment...with no furniture in it.  Yet.

she looks pinkish - because she's actually clear!

My coworker'd kept the girls in a tank together, which is a HUGE Betta no-no:  they're incredibly territorial, and when kept in too close a proximity, will fight incessantly - yes, even the females.  Evidence?  Just look at her fins! The other one had been chasing and biting at this one.  Unfortunately, my coworker thought they were "just playing."  Sigh.

5.5 gallon with homemade cat-proof screen, lol
 The smaller tank, a five-and-a-half gallon (the other is a ten gallon) is about as small as I'd go for a Betta.  They DO live in shallow waters in their native habitat (seasonal ponds and rice paddies in Thailand and thereabouts), but not in small amounts of water (think shallow, but wide ponds) - these people who say you can keep them in tiny jars and cubes have NO clue what they're talking about, just so you know.  Not to get on a soapbox, but, 90% of the information you get from pet stores is written and developed by people who want to sell fish, NOT by people who (a) know much about them or (b) care about their well-being...after all, they're "only" fish, right?  Grrrrr.

navy blue with clear-gold fins;  I'm calling her "Louise"
While these tanks obviously need a substrate of some kind and maybe some decorations (including little dark places for the Bettas to hide - they love hiding in caves and peeking out), foremost on my mind is planting the tanks with live plants.  It's prettier, better for the miniature ecosystem in a tank, and Bettas, IME, love playing and hiding amongst densely planted mini-forests.  (And no, Bettas do NOT eat plants or roots, in case you've heard that crock of sh* from the people trying to sell you "betta vases").

For the time being - for the fishes' sense of privacy and need to hide sometimes, the tanks each have a snippet of plastic vine-y thing in them - but also a large cutting each of Pothos Ivy.  Yup - the houseplant.  It does GREAT floating in an aquarium, and will help establish the beginnings of a healthy, natural bacterial colony in these fresh tanks. 


So...yay, fish! You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but both tanks are sitting on the bar between my kitchen and the "office" end of my football field of a living room.  Safest place in the house, cat-wise. Both fish are doing really, really well;  the clear one's fins are growing back really quickly already - she got herself stuck behind her filter yesterday, but didn't hurt herself.

More on the tank-decor as the situation develops!  :)



  1. had no idea about the pothos thing---we lost "splashy" sometime in april--have to get a new pet for my kid. maybe this christams.........

  2. Aww! Splashy is such a cute name! Poor Splashy :(


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