At the 2011 San Gennaro Festival on Mulberry Street in New York City’s Little Italy, a family friend bought our five-year old twins a $5 basket of ping-pong balls at the goldfish game. As the children were getting started, I figured there was no way they were getting those ping-pong balls into those small glass jars, so I didn’t think much of it. Wrong! A few tosses into it and my son won a goldfish. After the whole basket was played, I had one happy son and one crying and very upset daughter. So it was another $5, 40 more chances and no luck.
A New Home For “Bathtub” & “Thomas”
Even though my daughter did not win, the kind man running the goldfish game reached down and handed her a plastic bag with a goldfish and everyone was happy. And I knew this meant I was getting started with the aquarium hobby after nearly a 25 year hiatus. My daughter named her goldfish “Bathtub” for some unexplained reason, and my son first named his goldfish ‘Jay’, and then ‘Sarah’, and finally “Thomas”. For me, I was just hoping the goldfish would survive the night. Getting the goldfish home was not going to be problem. The question was what to do when we get there. All we had available was a very large clear glass salad bowl. It would not be until the next morning that I would be able to get to the local fish store to buy a freshwater aquarium setup, so keeping the goldfish in the salad bowl had to work. Fortunately, I had some experience with freshwater fish keeping growing up, so I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to buy.
Aquarium Setup Kit From Local Fish Store
Like I said, I had some freshwater fish keeping experience so I knew how to set up an aquarium. Although my freshwater fish keeping experience was with tropical fish and aquarium shrimp, I figured a goldfish aquarium setup should not be much of a stretch.
I started thinking about things like aquarium size, aquarium dimensions, aquarium types, aquarium weight, aquarium placement, filtration, and the room that I had available. All things considered, I decided to purchase a 10 gallon aquarium setup from the local fish store and some additional aquarium accessories just to get things started. Given my time frame, a small aquarium setup was all that I had the room for. Yet, I really wanted to do the right thing and give “Bathtub” and “Thomas” a nice fish tank to live in…for the goldfish and for my kids…so I upgraded some of the accessories.
The freshwater aquarium setup kit came with a fish tank, and aquarium accessories including an air pump, a few feet of air hose, a small plastic in-tank filter, some cheap aquarium gravel, a small aquarium heater, some sample size containers of fish food, some water conditioner, aquarium dechlorinator, and a plastic aquarium hood with a socket for an incandescent light bulb. And of course the light bulb was extra. To that assortment of accessories I added an external power filter and I upgraded the aquarium hood to a unit that came with a 15 inch 8000k T8 fluorescent light bulb. With my aquarium setup kit in hand, I walked down the streets of New York and headed home to get our fish tank started.
As I already had two goldfish, fishless cycling was not in the cards. Cycling with fish is more complicated, but fortunately, I was able to get my hands on some mature biological filter media from a healthy established fish tank getting our aquarium cycling properly. Other than the two goldfish, I kept the bio-load otherwise low. These factors, combined with daily checks on the Ammonia and Nitrite levels, and with frequent partial aquarium water changes, the goldfish made it through the nitrogen cycle very well. And just about when the fish tank finally established, meaning getting through all the phases of New Tank Syndrome: the bacteria bloom, the brown diatoms, and the cloudy aquarium water…the goldfish outgrew their 10 gallon aquarium. So it was off to the local fish store again to buy a 29 gallon aquarium.
As it turned out, the aquarium setup for the 29 gallon aquarium was easier than the aquarium setup of the 10 gallon aquarium. First, I had more time to think it all through and make more room. Second, I had already purchased most of the accessories that I needed and my biological filter media was established. Finally and most importantly, I was “all warmed up”. Getting started again was really fun…and in the end, the most important thing about fish keeping is to always have fun with it.