I very much enjoy keeping aquariums. It’s a hobby that has fascinated me for 17 years, and one that I’ll pursue for a long, long time to come. In the past I’ve kept various sizes of freshwater and saltwater reef aquariums. I’ve even kept a brackish fish tank with a mudskipper and mangrove trees that grew from a miniature island in the middle.
Although I’ve had to move around quite frequently in the past, I’m now settled and am able to keep my aquariums for longer than three or four years at a time. Below, I’ve included pictures and information on my two freshwater tanks: two aquariums that exemplify my method for creating cost effective, low maintenance, healthy, beautiful aquatic habitats.
Home to three Discus Fish and nine Cardinal Tetras, I set this aquarium up with a low maintenance routine in mind. Indeed, it has turned out to be an extremely low maintenance tank. It actually surpassed my expectations. I’m still amazed at how little work I have to do to keep it looking in tip top shape. This thing basically takes care of itself!
I hardly get any algae growth. I do partial water changes on a regular basis, but these go by smoothly and quickly.
Also, when I travel, the aquarium goes for one or two months without a single water change. And, all remains well! Since the aquarium lights are turned on and off by an automatic timer (you can find one of these inexpensive timers at any hardware store), I just have a friend feed my beauties while I’m away. That’s all there is to it.
I was able to create this low maintenance masterpiece simply by changing the way I did a few things. I learned that a simple setup, and one that relies primarily on biological filtration, provides the most stable and healthy environment for my fish.
I’ve been teaching this way of doing things for over four years, and I talk about it in detail in The Kick-Ass Aquarium.
I’m very enthusiastic (if you didn’t already notice) about creating simple, stable, and balanced aquariums! Still, self-restraint is sometimes needed, so let me move on to the next topic: my freshwater fish.
I think my Discus Fish are the most beautiful fish I have. Saltwater fish arguably look nicer, but that doesn’t mean that they’re more beautiful. Indeed, beauty is a complex concept that encompasses far more than appearance alone. I’ve handled countless species of fish both at work and at home, and I noticed that freshwater fish have more personality. Most saltwater fish, in comparison, seem like clueless idiots! In many ways, freshwater fish are more interesting.
Discus Fish, in particular, exhibit a variety of behaviors that change in response to environmental and social conditions. Yes; these fish do have their mini-societies. They form complex social hierarchies amongst themselves which are regulated by a multitude of visual cues, by body language (if we can call it that).
I’ve witnessed this amazing behavior in my own aquarium. Joe, a red-turquoise Discus, is the leader of the fish (I usually never name my fish, but my very dear friend named him Joe and the name just stuck). Joe is no tyrant though. In fact, I often see him gently resolving disputes between the other two Discus.
Joe’s very effective at doing so, because he is the largest of the three Discus. When squabbles arise, Joe slowly drifts in between the other two fish and displays his large fins. The two quarrelling Discus take notice, and the problem is resolved.
There are many more reasons why I love my Discus Fish, but I’ll stop myself from rambling on. I will say, though, that Joe is far more than just another part of my hobby. He’s become my pet.
This is a new project I’m working on. As with my 55 gallon tank, I’m relying solely on beneficial bacteria for filtration, and on lush plant growth for the removal of nitrate (the end product of bio filtration) from the aquarium. Yet again, I’m creating a super low maintenance tank
I aim to make this aquarium primarily a planted tank (more so than my 55 gallon) and am illuminating the aquarium with two powerful yet efficient T5 fluorescent bulbs. I’ve also included heating cables for the substrate and a layer of Fluorite fertilizer beneath the sand. The results are phenomenal! I had to prune back the plants twice within the first month. In the near future, I’ll be attaching a CO2 injection system to provide for the needs of extra plants… I’m thinking of growing a low lying carpet of Baby Tears or Dwarf Hairgrass across the bottom.
The tank currently houses nine Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish and one German Blue Ram. I keep them well nourished with Spirulina Algae Flakes, Enriched Brine Shrimp, and an occasional feeding of Cyclop Eeze. Sensible feeding practice coupled with a healthy aquarium environment has brought out fantastic coloration in my fish. That said, below are some pictures of my tank.