Note: Technical Talk being moved to:

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Ups and Downs of Fish Keeping

I've kept tropical fish ever since I was a teenager. I wasn't very good at it until a friend gave me a colony of Convict cichlids back in 1992. He was using them as feeder fish for his Oscars. With a whole colony of hardy convicts to look after, I was able to hone my skills and within a short period of time they were breeding like rabbits. I ended up selling them a few years later when I moved to the US.

Upon my return to Oz, I decided to try my hand again at keeping fish. I got myself a 4ft tank and started slowly. However, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get water chemistry and balance of it all sorted. Fortunately a friend of mine with vastly more experience lent me a hand and got me over this hurdle. In 2 short years, I once again had a vibrant tank full of breeding pairs of bristlenose catfish and a range of colourful cichlids.

Unfortunately, in 2005, during renovations to my home, we had a thunderstorm whilst a section of the roof was off. This caused water to seep into the wiring and tripped the circuit, cutting off the air supply to my fishtank. Overnight it wiped out my entire population of cichlids. The bristlenose survived as they probably were able to swim to the surface and take a breath.

I decided to press on with the hobby and replenished with some maingano cichlids and also got myself a small ghost knife fish. Another 3 years passed and by this time the mainganos were breeding as much as the bristlenose were and my pride and joy, the ghost knife fish had grown immensely. I had the perfect setup when lightening struck again. This time an appliance malfunctioned during the night and tripped the circuits. By the morning all except the bristlenose and a handful of maingano fry (babies) died.

At this point it would have been easy to give up. However, I decided to mull it over and whilst browsing at a local petshop, I came across 4 Tropheus Duboisis. These fish, from Lake Tanganyika, are quite unlike the Lake Malawi cichlids and South American Cichlids I have been accustomed to. They are supposedly quite difficult to look after; Finicky with diet (herbivores) and water conditions and tend to be quite expensive. On the spur of the moment I decided to ask the petshop owner if he would trade the duboisis for a bunch of my bristlenose catfish and later on I even managed to get the details of the breeder he bought them from, so I could acquire some more. They do better as a larger colony.

So I'm once again dusting myself off and getting on the saddle. I'll still miss the fantastic ghost knife fish I lost this year, but these marvellous new fish take some of the sting away. Maybe this time I'll invest in some battery powered air pumps or something!

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