Fishy tales… organising the tank…

A few weeks ago, shortly after Mothering Sunday my children bought me a fish tank, realising I was in need of fish. It wasn’t quite as easy as that… because I know nothing about fish we had to have a look at lots of different tanks before deciding on the right one which… we did. That was only the first of many choices… I never realised it would e quite so complicated! I knew actually choosing the fish wouldn’t be easy, but everything else I thought would be fairly straight forward.

  • various things I never realised you have to have – bio-boost and water-conditioner for example
  • sand… or substrate as it is actually known… There are so many varieties – not just between natural colours, but weird dyed ones – who wants pink or purple sand – I mean substrate? Then there is the size of the grains or granules – going from as fine as castor sugar to seaside sand to gravelly to chunky stuff – some looking rather like breakfast cereal. I choose an off white medium grain sand and a small quantity of gravel pieces just to scatter randomly for effect
  • plants… fish have to have plants, don’t they? I asked advice and for the size of my tank four plants were considered the right quantity… but then do I choose grassy ones, ones that look like shamrocks, tall ones, very leafy ones, and colours – every shade of green and some lovely oranges and purples and pinks too. I watched some of the fish in the tanks, and they definitely liked the grassy ones, so I got a grass-like plant, one with tiny round bright green leaves, one which looks a little like a fern, and a rather elegant one with magenta leaves. They are only quite small at the moment… who knows how they will grow…  I don’t have a label for the grass-like one but the tiny cress-like one is micranthemum Monte Carlo, the fern like one is echinodorus bleheri, and the magenta one is alternanthera cardinalis variegata… I guess before long they will just trip off my tongue!
  • rocks – fish like to hide so I got a  double arch made from some rocky material, and some chunky pebbles of various colours, and I also got a Buddha statue, which I hope will remind me to practice!

I had everything ready but do I put water in first or sand? I put my substrate in first, then the water (sixty litres of it and I only have a two litre jug…) and added the correct amount of water conditioner. I put in my arch and Buddha, scattered the gravel, placed the pebbles and then put in my four plants.

The plants had a root ball and they were in a little plastic basket… should I keep them in the basket? Should I take it off? it sounds a silly question I know, but I wasn’t sure and in the end rang the garden centre where we had bought them from. Take them out, obviously! Doh! Luckily I decided to wait before doing that, although I put them in the tank. I didn’t plant them.

This morning I decided to rearrange everything including the plants. It was really difficult to plant them – outside you dig a hole, pop in the plant, fill round, tamp round and that’s it. Digging a hole under water in sand isn’t so easy – even though I’ve seen underwater archaeologists excavating! The sand keeps trickling back in, and of course looking through water makes everything look different – is it refraction? I think it is!

Eventually everything was done, and I’m pleased with the appearance… now I have to wait a week before I get the fish… now should I have the filter on yet or not… do I have to wait for the fish before the water needs filtering… heck… the difficulties of keeping fish when you’ve never done it before!

My featured image by the way is the logo for an amazing local band called The Lemon Sharks! You can find them on Amazon and Spotify, and here is a link:

…and here they are on Amazon:

and this takes you to Spotify:



  1. buyingseafood

    Have your pump running Lois, get yourself a water testing kit (API makes a good one) and before getting fish look up “fishless cycling” for your aquarium. Once the nitrogen cycle is established, you can add your fish. There are lots of good YouTube channels to help you as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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