This Christmas, Ariana and I received a “chi” fish tank. It was about 5 gallons and in the shape of a cube. It seemed more like a fountain than a fish tank- the filter was like a little waterfall with rocks. Still, we were delighted to get it. We’d only ever had a goldfish in the second grade, and it died after about one day! So, were determined to keep our new pets alive.
Throughout winter break, we began to condition the tank (we needed to establish a natural cycle to give the fish a better chance at survival). We filled the tank with a plastic log (it looked pretty real) and a hornwart plant. As it turned out, we got more than we bargained for when we bought the hornwart. We soon realized that the plant was filled with over a dozen snails!
At first, we didn’t think it would be a big deal. After all, the snails were barely visible at about 1 mm. What harm could they do? we thought. Mom seemed to think they would die anyway. Upon further research, however, we found that we had an infestation of pond snails.
Basically, pond snails reproduce really fast, so the dozen we had were going to become hundreds if we didn’t act quickly. This turned out to be a problem. Ariana and I didn’t want to kill innocent creatures, but if we didn’t somehow get rid of the snails, fish would be unable to live in the tank.
We were left with several options. First, we could completely trash the tank and leave the snails somewhere to die. Ariana wouldn’t here a word of it, though, so we moved on. Another option was to remove all the snails, hornwart, and the small shrimp we had found and release them in a local pond. That’s what we ended up doing.
After that, we had to completely restart the process of setting up the tank. We bought a kit to test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels in the water. When the ammonia and nitrite fell to zero and the nitrate spiked, we knew we were ready to buy some fish.
So, on January 29 (2017), we bought two new male guppies and a cleaning shrimp. Male guppies tend to be more colorful than the females, so we ended up with two very colorful guppies. They both had wide fins (sort of like a beta, but smaller), but they were different colors. One of them was mostly a blueish purple with hints of green. His tail was mostly blue but fringed in black. The other was lavender, blue, green, and even a little orange and yellow. His tail looked like a rainbow in the light. It was fringed in black but the black was less concentrated- it looked a lot like ink when you drop it into water. They were both about 1 1/2 inches long. The shrimp, meanwhile, was about one inch long and clear, It had spots on its side an long antennae. It was almost clear, so we thought we could make out its brain. The main purpose of the shrimp was not to look pretty, but mostly to clean the tank and eat the algae.
We had no trouble coming up with a name for the shrimp- we called it Sewey, after the electronic mop that our family dubbed “Doo-Hickey”, or Dewey. (The “s” was because he was a shrimp.) We had a bit more difficulty naming the guppies. We compiled a list of names. Here were some of the favorites:
- Miso (soup)
- Marsh mellow
- Peek and Boo
- Tic and Tack
- Splish and Splash
- One Fish Two Fish
- Raspberry (Raz)
- blueberry muffin (muffy)
- fro and yo
- ambrosia dumpling
- cherry and pie
- jello and jelly
We ended up going with Moby (as in Moby Dick) for the multicolored one, and Ishmael (Ish for short, after “Call me Ishmael”) for the blueish one. We also gave Ish the middle name of Peridot.
Moby and Ish have been getting along pretty well- they are following each other around the tank. Sewey has also done a good job cleaning. When he entered the tank, the heater was covered in algae. By the time we got home from school on the 30th, the filter was mostly clean!
As exciting as having the new fish is, it comes with a lot of responsibility. The fish are on a strict light and feeding schedule. Ariana and I have been saddled with the responsibility of cleaning the tank, too. Still, I have a feeling it will all be worth it.