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I am a TERRIBLE fish owner- A lesson learned

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Jan Cavalieri

Fish Addict
Pet of the Month 🎖️
Jun 2, 2019
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Topeka, KS
I have an Aqualear filter for my 29 gallon tank. I recently lost a number of fish when (I think) my assistant forgot to treat one if the large buckets of water - a number of them just dropped dead at the same time. Only the Pleco's survived. I ordered online (for a fortune) a number of replacement fish - including some hard to find Glass fish and some rare Gourami. They all looked beautiful and super healthy. The only mistake made by this vendor (Arizona Gardens) is that they sent me 2 Betta fish by mistake - when I only had one 5 gallon tank. I had to quickly purchase a second 5 gallon tank, and heater (it came with a horrible filter - so we'll see. I poured in 1/2 bottle of bacteria since I couldn't cycle the tank (and the instructions go on and on about fish care and NEVER mention cycling the tank - pathetic) I digress,,,

I have (had) a floating plant that produced these horrible round disc things that perpetually clogged the intake tube to my filter so I've been trying to get rid of it (I gave up on just trying to get rid of only the round disks). One day the 2nd part of the filter tube fell off. I couldn't find it anywhere - I left it with one tube which had an extra wide opening at the bottom due to wear and tear and too vigorous cleaning. BIG MISTAKE. BIG. I knew I had some extras around from old dead filters I use for parts but I didn't stop right then and take the time to fix the problem.

The impeller was making a terrible noise - I stuck my finger in there and pulled out a dead pleco that got sucked into the wide opening on the intake valve. I love my pleco and was devastated. When my assistant cleaned the tank he asked me about the 5 glass fish and why he could only locate 3 in a tight group - I knew then something was wrong but we couldn't locate any dead bodies UNTIL he cleaned the filter. I had delayed in getting that second piece of tubing on the filter (I needed to dig through the parts I have to find one and got busy and didn't get it done). Well of course - he found 5 dead fish that had been sucked into the filter - including the 2 missing glass fish. This was 100% my fault. I feel awful and such a life-costly error cause by nothing but because I was lazy.

Lesson learned at a horrible cost to the lives of animals I was responsible for protecting. I feel so terrible, not to mention upset about losing some of my most valuable new fish. NEVER put off needed maintenance to your filter! Do NOT be a lazy bum like me.
Ah, that’s a shame those things happened.

Seems was primarily down to the filters having issues with lost parts and suchlike.

Also cycling the tanks is a good point.

All those things happens to the best of us, lord knows I made mistakes with my first couple of tanks and lost a couple of fish which I felt bad about.

However the lessons learned from my mistakes was invaluable as I did not make the same mistakes again, so the best thing one can do is to learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them again if can be helped.

Passing on learned knowledge and experience surely helps a lot of the forum readers to be at leat aware these things can happen and hopefully know how to avoid the same mistakes.

Thanks for sharing your experience even though you feel badly about the mistakes, it happens.
Look...quit beating yourself up so much.

None of us are perfect, we have ALL made whopping great mistakes (even if some deny it).

Fishkeeping is a time consuming, (sometimes) expensive, (usually) mindblowingly complicated, (often) devastating and emotionally draining pastime.

Many people get lulled into that false sense of security of putting that job off til later.....done it myself and always a bad end result leading me to kick myself relentlessly. Does the kicking do any good? NO, does it bring the fish back to life? NO

Chalk it up to experience, try not to repeat it...but do not beat yourself up over it cos you truly are not the first and definitely will not be the last to screw everything up at least once.
View every mistake as a learning experience and, by sharing your errors, no matter how gross or catastrophic, you then share that learning experience.
Who knows how many fish you will save by posting this?
It’s experience that counts for a lot.

Mistakes are often made when one does not know exactly how to do something and going with gut instinct is when things may start to go wrong.

So even when the information is around and at the time one may think “oh must remember that!” but easily forgotten so the opportunity to realise that at the time when needed is easily missed.

And even then do consider that not everyone’s tank will have the same effect on certain things, every tank is unique and different issues may occur even when one does the right thing that worked on some folks tank but due to too many variables to count it may not work on their tank.

I have been a fishkeeper for a number of years and yet I still make silly little mistakes and still learning new things every day and to be honest it’s one of the most interesting faucet of this hobby, one never stops learning, no such thing as an expert in all things fishkeeping imho.
Shame on you. However, as much or more knowledge is gained from failure than success. The oversight on the filter inlet tube was pretty bad - but it seems you've beaten yourself up enough not to do something like that again.
As to the conditioner in a bucket...now I have untreated well water so I only use conditioner (Seachem Safe) in the unlikely event of an ammonia spike or transporting fish. However, since conditioners these days act instantly, many hobbyists add the appropriate amount of conditioner during the water change following removal directly in the tank (rather than buckets), then refill the tank either from buckets or faucet. By the way, check out Partial Water Changes - Fast and Easy as well as a host of other good tropical fish related articles.
Poor you ☹ you're not alone in this type of thing though, I'm sure we've all slipped up and done something of a similar nature. We're only human and unfortunately imperfect, draw a line under it and move on my dear ❤
It's not complicated.
It means that, in spite of having access to information, it's not always applied and big mistakes are made.
And you've been here since June 2nd, 2019.
So very sad. :(

By the way...how come you get to have an 'Assistant'?

It's not complicated.
It means that, in spite of having access to information, it's not always applied and big mistakes are made.

Even very experienced and knowledgeable people make mistakes sometimes. Human error applies in every field. In fact, the more someone knows and the longer they've been doing something, the higher the chance that complacency creeps in. None of us are immune, even if some would never admit it.

When someone admits their mistake and is already being hard on themselves over it, it's not particularly helpful to make them feel worse. That's only going to discourage others from sharing any mistakes they have made for fear of judgement, then no one gets to learn from each other's mistakes.

Not to get all biblical, but "he who is without sin, cast the first stone" and all that.
Just because someone has an account for a while doesn’t mean they are fish savvy. Mistakes are made, but the good thing about them is severe ones like this won’t be repeated.

Agreed! I've made plenty. Some out of ignorance, others I should have known better, and I've shared them here before. I seriously doubt there's a fishkeeper in the hobby who has a perfect track record and has never made an error that killed a fish.

@Jan Cavalieri I'm sorry for the losses you've had :( You're not the first nor the last to make a fatal misjudgement, and it sucks. But try not to be too hard on yourself. It's good to share these things as a reminder to all of us not to get too complacent, and like others said, we learn from the bad times as well as the good.
One fix to the filter is to use sponges or matten filters. Only negative with the matten filter is when the pleco climbs into the jet stream tube (which mine does a lot); it makes a lot of noise. On the bright side they never get chewed up by the missing impeller. Only thing hta tcan break is the tubing and air pump. Anyway I think i will get an assistant soon so that whenever anything goes wrong it will be their fault.
more serously sponges are really the way to go. If you keep an extra one i your tank when you run out to get a new tank all you have to do is plop it into the new tank and instant cycle.
Now if i can just get this one clown loach to eat all my fishes would be happy.

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