Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dead Guppies Aren't Much Fun

We got The Boy and aquarium for Christmas, or rather my in laws did and my dad got him some fish.

Most of them have died. We've returned to the fish store twice, baggies of dead fish in hand waiting to exchange them. And we brought new fish home.

They died too.

Well, not all of them. Just the fancy guppies and a beta fish. I think we're done with guppies for a while. I was pretty sad about our beta aka "mop" fish because Eric was really excited about that one.

But it's in the freezer. In a baggie. With 2 dead guppies I found clinging to the filter today. What will I find in there tomorrow?

Apparently there is a really great fish store out in Framingham, but I really don't want to schlepp out to Framingham to get fish. One trip out to Framingham equals about five trips to the new PetSmart at Freshpond, timewise that is. Until Eric starts being traumatized by his dead fish. But so far he's good.

I'm tired today. Working half time and being with the kids in the afternoon is infinitely more exhausting than working full time. Mornings are really intense and afternoons drag on forever as the kids get crankier on the days we are housebound by the weather. In the summer, we always go to the park after K's afternoon nap. We chill out there until dinner time. But no matter what I do, after 4:30 they are shrieky, cranky and generally impossible. In theory, I could feed them at five, but what would I do with them at six when I'm really desperate? And we'd give up family dinners during the week and I really couldn't bear that. Rich does get home in time for dinner two or three nights per week, and that's really important to us to eat as a family as much as possible.

I'll get into my groove with this soon. But it does take a while.


Blogger NatchiQ said...

Soap is the most common killer of fish in a new aquarium, so if you accidentally put anything in there that was washed with soap better take it out and rinse it off pretty thoroughly. And BTW, I've had good luck with fish from the new Fresh Pond Petsmart. Try a corydorus catfish, they are wicked hard to kill and clean up your tank too.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

note: new tanks take a while to "cycle" i.e. build up the right forms of bacteria that can break down fish waste into something that's not highly toxic to the fish. Consider starting with one realllly hearty fish, like a zebra danio, and after 3 or 4 weeks the tank should be stable enough to start getting prettier fish like a beta and guppies and whatnot

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom wouldn't let me have any of the "fancy" fish until I could prove that I couldn't kill something as simple and cheap as a goldfish. And there are some very funky-looking goldfish out there, so I stuck with them until we finally got rid of the tank. Got pretty good with them after a while (give or take the ones that went cannibal on me and actually ate one of their tankmates!!!), but never had the nerve (or the funds) to go for the more expensive, fancier fish.

If your water is chlorinated, don't use it in the tank unless you've let it sit for a couple of weeks to off-gas. Or get a really hefty water filter that takes out the chlorine, or just get gallon bottles of the cheapest bottled water you can find (NOT distilled!) and use that.

Have you talked to the folks at the fish store about your water and why it might be toxic? I found our local fish store folks were quite useful that way.

Good luck with the fish! Once things stabilize, they're incredibly relaxing to watch...

12:19 PM  
Blogger Christine G. said...

i will echo the above comments on cycling. every fish tank we've ever had went through about a month of just running itself with no fish inside, so the filter can season and get itself right. the two types of fish recommended above are good. make sure that you don't over crowd the tank either... i think the rule is one inch of fish for every gallon your tank has.

we have a 10 gallon little tank with 2 very large happy goldfish in it that my son runs and a 55 gallon tank with all kinds of insanity in it that my husband runs. it's a good time.

good luck. hang in there. don't get discouraged.

(i came to visit via Universal Hub, by the way. you can visit me at )


12:40 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Forman Orth said...

Here via Universal Hub...

I agree on the guppies not being a good starter fish, and shame on the store for selling them to you assuming they know you've got a brand new tank! A group of zebra danios is a very good suggestion, barbs are also good hardy fish but can be mean to other fish so maybe aren't the best for a community tank.

IMHO the biggest problem with starter tanks, at least here in New England, is that people don't realize that the standard aquarium fish are tropical and need water in the 70s. Not all stores are smart or insistent about selling the proper setup for this. Since you don't mention it in your post, make sure you've got a heater *and* a thermometer, and that you've got temps steady and in the mid 70s.

Also, speaking of New England, with our recent frigid temps, in general it is always risky to buy fish in winter, especially livebearers like guppies and swordtails. Water is resistant to temperature fluctuations but you still need to be careful to avoid exposing those little plastic bags to the cold air as you travel to and from your car!

Ooo...almost forgot one of the other top killers in new aquarium setups - people stocking their freshwater tropical tanks with coral and seashells that come from saltwater. That will totally mess up your pH (make sure you have a pH test kit too, by the way).

Tropic Isle in Framingham does totally rock, plan a trip there over the next week since temperatures will soon be in the 50's! They've got coupons on their website too.

Ok, I think I am done now ;-). Best of luck with your tank!

12:47 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

OH MAN! Thanks guys. I'm a little verklempt over this help. You're so cool!

We will give up on guppies for the time being. (No matter how much I love them!) And we'll wait a bit before introducing more new fish.

Thanks a million.


1:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, try some sort of danio, as their digestive tract produces beneficial bacteria and they're quite hardy. They're also a very nice schooling fish. Also make sure that the water temp is correct and that ammonia, Ph, nitrates and nitrite levels are at recommended levels, etc. You should buy test strips at the pet store, they have five-in-one strips which test the water conditions for a number of those. It's not as difficult as it sounds, but it will take a little bit of effort to learn how to cycle a healthy tank. Good luck!

4:23 PM  

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