We started with a 1 gallon tank and 3 Glo Fish.
I thought I knew all about fish keeping because I had kept a Betta alive through college. It turns out that Bettas have an extra organ that basically help them survive in the most terrible conditions. Like naive-college-student owner ones. Who knew.
The first Glo Fish died within 12 hours. The other two were gasping for air at the surface the next day. I knew they wouldn't last much longer. My son's birthday gift was veering into disaster territory. I did what every good momma would do.
I consulted Dr. Google.
Holy. Cow. I read thread after thread about fish keeping, and I left feeling like I was the scum of the earth. This is what I found over and over again: "Who would keep THREE fish in a one gallon tank?!? That is inhumane and oh-so cruel! What EVIL person buys Glo Fish? Do you know how they are created? How COULD YOU add fish before you allowed your tank to go through the nitrogen cycle!?" (nitrogen what?) Why weren't these experts of Dr. Google working at my local Petsmart? The 19 year old who sold me these fish didn't mention anything like this. She smiled, reassured me they were a great fit for our tank, and sent me on my way. I had been fooled.
Operation Save the Glo Fish began. Over the next few days I educated myself on true fish-keeping by reading those message boards. The best one I found was: www.myaquariumclub.com and my favorite poster was Mr. John Arthur. I upgraded our tank to a 3 gallon one, started following all the "rules," and low and behold.....I saved those two fish. (High five! Psh!)
A few months later a family member called. She had a 35 gallon hexagon tank she was looking to get rid of. Would we want it?
Heck yes, we would!
I graduated to the big leagues, baby. And this time I went in with a game plan. I cycled the tank before adding any fish. I tested the levels of ammonia and nitrates. I added those fish to the aquarium the humane way. Mr. John Arthur would be so proud.
Yes, we have lost a few fish along the way. Each time I logged back into the aquarium club and found out why. I over fed a Sunburst Platy and lost him to Swim Bladder. (Swim Bladder?? Seriously? That's a thing?)
Ichthyology. My new degree acquired from Dr. Google.