Becoming a fish hobbyist

My journey

IMG_0598-watermarkIt all started as I was stuck in bed, bored. I had just taken out all four of my wisdom teeth and had nothing to do but watch TV all day while applying ice and heat packs on my newly developed chipmunk face stuffed with gauze. I needed a distraction and I was looking for something more productive than staring at a TV screen all day.

And then I had the idea of becoming a fish hobbyist and with school on halt, I yolo’d it out and told myself I could manage taking on this new responsibility.

As a beginner with a tight budget, I went freshwater instead of saltwater (because freshwater requires less work and less equipment). I found a 30 gallon acrylic tank on Craigslist with a heater, filter, light and stand for $150.

To provide the best conditions for my future fish, I bought easy to care for plants (such as anubias) to provide oxygen for my fish, driftwood to lower the pH and soften the water and eco complete substrate to nurture the plants and improve freshwater life.

I visited a fish store called Reef Topical Fish in Anaheim and learned a lot about maintaining a healthy environment for my fish. The store owner told me to use reverse osmosis water for my tank. I also learned that it is best to have a filter built for a larger tank. One of the best filters is AquaClear, and I got mine set for a 70 gallon.

Once a week, plants need to be fed “plant food”, carbon and comprehensive supplement in liquid form. The tropical freshwater fish should typically be fed tropical flakes. Once a week, they can be given “treats” in the form of frozen bloodworms. Before adding fish, water conditioner must be added to the tank to instill healthy bacteria. Every month, waters should to be tested to determine pH, ammnoia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

After running the filter and setting the heater to the required temperatures (76  to 80 degrees), I was ready to buy my fish. Using a fish compatibility chart I found online, I made a list of fish I was interested to buy.

I added four serpae tetras, and the following day I added my sister’s two guppies. Because everything was running smooth, I decided it was time to take it one step further: I made a trip to CK Fish World for more fish shopping with my mom, sister and relatives — who all got on board my fish mania train and wanted to help me pick out more tank decorations and fish. I ended up getting two tank accessories, a plant and three fish (a gourami, bolivian ram and a balloon ram).

The benefits

Getting an aquarium was one decision I will never regret. Through this experience, I learned that there are health benefits to having a fish tank at home.

The books “More Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies and “People, Preferences and Prices: Sequencing the Economic Genome of the Consumer Mind” both mention University of Pennsylvania research findings that suggest watching fish lowers blood pressure, promotes relaxation and counters stress.

Purdue University has found that exposure to aquariums curtail disruptive behaviors and improve eating habits of people with Alzheimer’s. The study even found a decrease in the number and duration of behaviors like as wandering, pacing, yelling and physical aggression.

Nursing Professor Nancy Edwards monitored 60 individuals in specialized Alzheimer’s units in three Indiana nursing homes and found that patients who were exposed to the fish tanks appeared to be more relaxed and alert, and they ate up to 21 percent more food than they had before the introduction of the fish tanks.

I think the combination of movement, color and sound provides a stimulating experience for the patients.

“Often long-term care environments do not offer a lot of stimulation, but fish move around in various patterns, so there’s enough variability to keep patients’ interest,” said Edwards to Purdue News.

These effects that fish have on humans explains why they’re displayed in places like dentist offices nursing homes, restaurants and doctor offices.

Alongside the beautiful fish, another soothing ingredient I find in aquariums is the sound of running water which is mesmerizing and makes you contemplate the beauty of nature.

Owning and caring for an aquarium gave me the chance to bring the calming effects of nature right into my home, where I could relax watching the colors of the aquarium fish, plants and background.

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