posted by : Jon Kroupa on 01/14/2011
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Related Comics: When Fish Retire, Pinchie The Crab

People are prone to find hobbies when there is nothing else to do and in the fall of 2006 I decided to get an aquarium. I bought a small ten gallon aquarium (This aquarium is about 4 times more expensive than the one I got at Walmart, although they appear to be the same). According to common fish tank lore, you should have no more than one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Being the expert aquarium man that I am, I started with twelve fish and a red clawed crab.

In the beginning I was very dedicated; I cleaned the tank once a week and I fed them every day. Most of them died within weeks (just long enough to surpass the 14 day dead fish return policy at Pet's Mart). There may be some truth to over population. Pinchie the Crab actually managed to restrain from killing himself for six months. (Pinchie the crab is named for Pinchie the Lobster from The Simpsons).

As fish died I replaced them, eventually I learned to keep the population around six fish. At one point my brother caught a baby crayfish from a local lake. I put him in the tank and Pinchie immediately grabbed him and tore one of his arms off. I managed to get the crayfish out again and it lived a couple of months in a 1 gallon fish bowl until Pinchie died. I put it in the large tank again, now free to live in peace. It died pretty soon after. Buying two red clawed crabs proved to be disastrous. Alone it took Pinchie six months to orchestrate his own death. Two of them working together were able to do it in a couple of months.

It was around this time that I received some fish for my birthday from two different sources. My brother Dave bought me a couple of tiger fish (and a couple of others), and my business associate Ted also got me two white fish with stripes and two orange fish.

Later in that same year (2008) the orange fish died, leaving me with four (any fish that existed when I got these new ones had also died). I decided I didn't want to expand the fish tank population anymore, so as soon as all the fish had gone I would stop using the aquarium. I starting feeding them only two or three times a week. While before when I would travel I would make some kind of arrangement to have them fed, I didn't bother anymore (I occasionally tried those 7 day feeders). I would sometimes return from 10 days of traveling to find all the fish had lost their stripes and had become translucent. After feeding them they would regain their stripes, color, and opacity. I had already stopped cleaning the tank, or buying new filters for the system (although it continues to run). Eventually the air pump that created bubbles stopped working so I unplugged it, and I stopped adding the stuff to de-chlorinate water when I refilled the tank.

When I was actively trying to maintain the tank and kept everything in what I percieved to be perfect condition, I lost fish in droves. Once I left it alone for awhile the aquarium seemed to find an equalibrium that the remaining fish could survive in. Clearly in the beginning I was massively overfeeding. Constant attempts to clean probably dramatically changed the ph level of the water too.

The tiger fish lasted almost two years under these new conditions, which is their expected lifespan. After they passed away Ted gave me a couple of Malaysian Trumpet snails. They were curly and orange and they promptly seemed to die in my tank within a few days. Weeks later I discovered my tank was suddenly home to about a half a dozen snails that did not really resemble the shape or color of the ones I had introduced. They have cone shells and are dark brown. Research online leads me to believe they are the same species as the ones Ted gave me (otherwise they spawned from thin air).

This was about nine months ago, which left me with 2 mystery fish (white with black stripes) and some undetermined number of snails in the tank. They seemed determined to live forever. When I went to Japan in the summer for a week I asked my neighbor Stephen to feed them once. He claims he did, when I came back only one fish was left.

I should mention that the bodies of fish have not been recovered for some time. Originally the crabs would drag them into one of the caves and devour them, and now I suspect the snails eat them. There was a period with no crabs and no snails in which fish would disappear, and their bodies were never found.

There are also now at least a dozen snails of varying size. They hide during the day and come out at night to suck on the glass and everything else. I originally got a couple of fish to eat algae, but they were a part of the original group and didn't last very long. For whatever reason my tank has never produced algae. It was early in 2008 when I decided I wouldn't bother even trying to clean the tank anymore. The glass has never become clouded or foggy, and the rocks and fake plants appear to be clean.

I am now down to one last fish, who doesn't have a name. If it did it would be Survivor. I suspect it will never die. It is still my intention that as soon as this lone fish is gone I'll take down the aqaurium and see if anyone wants it. If you are considering an aqaurium I highly recommend whatever type of fish I have left and tiger fish, they are quite hearty.

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I forgot to mention when I got the last two crabs at Pet's Mart that I asked the lady how to keep the crabs happy and she recommended I make the water brackish. Meaning it has a low level of salt in it. It has been brackish ever since.

Jon Kroupa : Jan 14th 2011, 16:08

At the beginning of another round of aquarium fun, we've gotten really into it this month with some fatalities. We set up a separate tank for my son's salamander (which he's managed, by a couple miracles, to keep alive since we captured it late last summ

Anna Gilmore : Jan 24th 2011, 15:18

When Anna and the other kids were younger we had a 10 gallon tank literally stuffed with goldfish sitting on top of the kitchen fridge. Why, you might ask? Well, we had to keep them to feed the full grown soft shell snapping turtle that resided in the mas

David Gilchrist : Feb 6th 2011, 21:52

Had a 20 gallon tank in which I kept a grown soft shell snapping turtle, and a 10 gallon full of gold fish to keep it fed.

David Gilchrist : Feb 6th 2011, 22:27

Aquarium update. In December 2011 the last fish died. I gave the aquarium equipment to my younger sister and her family.

Jon Kroupa : Jan 23rd 2012, 15:20

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