I started with a little three gallon Marineland Eclipse system that I got for Christmas several years back. Beginner fish keepers, please note that a 3 gallon tank is NOT the one you want to start with. This was something I found to my sorrow. Initially I wanted a small tank, because I thought it would be the easiest to work with. It was small, easy to clean, pick up, rearrange, etc. However, it also means it gets dirty damned fast, the temperature fluctuations will kill your fish, and keeping all the pH, Alkaline, Ammonia (not something you want unless you're doing a start up tank from scratch. Which means no borrowed tank water from an established aquarium.) and nitrates stable is pretty much impossible. Unless you're on it every damned day. Do yourself a favor and start with at the least, 6 gallon tank. Marineland all in one set ups are a dream. The filtration system is VERY good as long as it doesn't die like mine did. Actually from what I've read, what happened to mine was rare. The higher the amount of water you've got in your tank, the more stable the temperature will be, and you may not even need to get a heater for the tank. For example, the 6 gallon tank doesn't need a heater, but the 3 gallon does.
Anyway, 7 months after the initial set up of the 3 gallon tank finds me with 3 aquariums. The 3 gallon it still up and working, because of my little Betta, Little Blue. Some of you will recall that he was attacked by a supposedly peaceful fish, namely a Sunset Wagtail Platy who we all now refer to as... The Evil One. Again.. if you're going to go out and get buddies to put in with your Betta, make sure you know the quirks of the fish you're getting. Platys are very placid.. unless you get two males and no females. They get persnickety about territory and will get very aggressive. Which is why Little Blue was banished to the 3 gallon Curse Tank. He's hardy. he can take it. He IS in there, I swear. The low light level is because Betta's aren't really big fans of lots of light, so I gave him plenty of shade in which to hide. So much shade that he just drifts in with the landscape. Ah well. He does come rushing out when I walk past because he thinks he's getting food. Generally, I stop to say hi. Little Blue's fin recovery has been a long long involved process. He got fin rot, and I ended up having to nuke his tank. Which means I boiled his silk plant, replaced his gravel, took away his bridge decoration which he LOVES, cleaned his tank, and replaced all the water. The pump in the back got scrubbed as well.
Despite his attempted suicide while I was cleaning his tank (he jumped out of his bowl onto the blue towels... so I couldn't FREAKING SEE HIM!! He's fine though. Bettas have a respiratory organ in their heads called a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath air. As long as they don't dry out they can live for quite a while by gulping air. Don't take your Betta out of his bowl to watch him do that, and I'm saying this because someone who reads this is immediately going to want to try it. It's still not good for him. There are other fish that have this. Gouramis for one) he has been steadily improving. Granted he managed to do yet MORE damage to his fins, but it's healing much faster. The split in his tail healed over night, and his tail is growing out much much faster than before. No sign of fin rot so far. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I got it all cleaned out. He'll get his bridge back when he's all done too! Incentive!
The 6 gallon is where I've got everybody else, and it's very crowded in there. They were all out in front when I went to take pictures, and they saw the camera, screamed and dove for cover. Ungrateful little wretches. I just cleaned their tank, gave them new water and fed them. You'd think they'd sit still and let me snap a few shots. Actually this should enlarge, and you might be able to see a few shifty smears that denote fish. I've probably got too many decorations in here for a 6 gallon tank too. The water is tinged yellow because of that big piece of drift wood there in the middle. It helps keep the pH out of the rafters. That green tube back there is the air pump hose connected to the air stone. An air stone is basically a diffuser for the air pumped into the tank. It allows the air to escape in small bubbles, rather than in one huge stream of air. For a beginners second attempt at an aquarium, I don't think I did half bad. Everyone is alive. I consider that a very good thing.
Now... Thursday I went down to the pet shop and got myself a 5 gallon Hex tank. Same brand name as the other two tanks. Marineland Eclipse system. Hex, stands for Hexagon, which means 6 sides, and it's just the right size for the top of my dresser. Actually I've got two dressers, but Little Blue is currently occupying the other one. This one you may notice doesn't have a lot of decorations in it, which is because the fish are going to need the space to swim.. and as I said before I think I've got too much in the other tank. In fact the stuff that's in here, is stuff I took out of the 6 gallon tank because it was so crowded in there. This tank will house Porky, my only Platy, once it runs for 24 hours. He's called Porky because he bloody well eats anything I put in the tank even if he's not equipped to freaking EAT it. This means he's got a little pot belly most of the time. Moron. Which is why I don't feed every day. Porky needs time to un-pork, or he's going to look like a Balloon Molly. Which is normal for the Molly, but not a Platy. Putting Porky in a different tank means I will have more control over what he puts in his mouth. I hope.
It will also allow me to get him some women. I mean girl Platys. Maybe Porky will run off some of his spare tire chasing the ladies. Given his eating addiction, I have suspicions that his obsessions may quickly shift gears to sex addict. Sad, but some things just have to have something to cling to. In this case, Porky needs a crutch. Hopefully within the week, I'll have Porky moved to the Hex tank, and gotten him some girlfriends. The tank is cycling more quickly because I used water from the 6 gallon to start it. This means beneficial bacteria is already present and embedding itself in the tank. It also means I can get fish more quickly than would normally be possible. So, in this tank there will be 4 Platys, 2 Corys, and I'm going to see about getting a Honey Gourami. ONE Honey Gourami, but that will be much further down the line after the Platy have established themselves. Maybe 3 weeks hence. I'm only getting one, because the tank is small, two Gourami will fight, and I'm not entirely sure how the Platy will react to the Gourami. If things go south, the Gourami will be going back to the pet shop... OR, I'll toss him in the 6 gallon with the Tetra Posse.
This is the plan. We shall see how this unfolds. I'll keep you posted. You can ask questions you know. I'll see if I can answer them, although I'm willing to bet the answer will be,"I don't know." a lot of the time. However I may be able to point you in the right direction.