Hi! I am Ritu P. Dutta, a newbie stumbling and falling repeatedly as I take baby steps towards becoming a committed fishkeeping hobbyist. I will be honest. Until last year, aquariums to me were little more than part of the decor in homes, hotels and offices. A visit to a friend's house and almost an hour of watching him talk to his half-moon betta Nero — yes, he spoke to the fish and he responded — changed all that. I asked him what it would take for someone like me to set up an aquarium and maintain it myself. He gave a one-sentence answer: "A lot of love and a lot of work."
It must have been that half-moon betta's moony look. I fell for the challenge hook, line and sinker (bad pun to use in a fishkeeping forum, I know!)
To cut a long story short, I bought a Fluval Spec V aquarium around May last year and requested a person recommended by this friend to set it up for me — substrate, plants et al. In my amateur eyes, he did a swell job of it and advised me to read up as much as I could while the tank "cycled". What I hadn't bargained for were the limitations of a nano aquarium. I was hugely disappointed to learn that about the only fish I could keep in my 5-gallon tank were five or six tropical fish or a lone betta. I was also told that I should be prepared for some fish loss at first. The thought of my fish dying prevented me from getting a betta as my first aquarium pet. Based on confusing advice found across websites, I got myself four Danios and as many neon tetras around five weeks after my aquarium foliage had grown to reasonable length. I had little clue about water quality but I followed the advice of a weekly water change of around 1/3rd of the tank’s capacity. The neons perished within a month but I am glad to say that all but one of the Danios continue to live an apparently happy life in my little aquaspace. The one that didn’t survive had his own hyperactive personality to blame — he jumped out of the tank one day when nobody was looking.
Last week, I visited Galiff Street only for the second time in my two decades in Kolkata and procrastinated for a long time before buying a veiltail betta for Rs 50 to put in my second planted nano aquarium, again a Fluval. He looks beautiful with his flaming red tail and blue-and-black body. He’s been eating well and blowing bubbles, which I presume is a good sign. I am getting by somehow, not knowing what fishkeeping challenge tomorrow might bring. I am here to see, observe, read and learn from your expertise and I am sure you will be generous with your advice. More power to this wonderful forum!