Four years ago this week we started our adventure with a saltwater reef tank. A friend of mine had passed away. At a fundraiser/silent auction to help her family pay off some of the remaining medical bills, we bought a 29-gallon saltwater tank. We had no idea where this would lead or the fun we would have. Or the money we would spend.
In for a penny in for a pound
That 29-gallon tank only lasted about a year before the fish we had started to get aggressive when they outgrew the tank. It is a myth that fish only grow as large as the aquarium. In fact, most fishes are indeterminate growers which mean they grow until they die.
On the other hand, poor water quality can limit a fishes ability to grow, and since most new freshwater aquarium hobbyists are not real good at cleaning their tanks, it is easy to see how this myth got started. Water quality in a saltwater tank it critical. The smaller the tank, the greater the fluctuations in the salt level, as well as essential minerals due to evaporation. Dirty or chemically out of balance saltwater can cause a tank to collapse and your entire investment in livestock is gone.
Our fish are our “kids.” They have names. They have characteristics that we transfer into personalities. When our tank was clearly too small, we could not just send our children back to the store. So to save our kids, we dove in and upgraded to a 70-gallon tank. And now four years later most of our fish are still with us. Over the years we have added a variety of soft corals too. (they don’t have names)
It has been a blast and not as complicated as we thought it might be. Yes, it is work, but the rewards are incredible. It is Zen-like to sit and watch the water move. It is fascinating to watch the corals and anemone eat. Bailey, our clown fish, lets Gary pet her when he has his hands in the tank cleaning. Sadly, we lost Barnum, her mate a couple of years ago – get it, Barnum & Bailey, “clown” fish (drums please… buh, dum dum!). Sharknado, our Shark-nosed Goby picks at your skin when you put your hand in the tank for any reason. And Pepé, our Scarlet Skunk Shrimp will do the same. With him, it’s more tickling, but hey, he loves us.
When Gary gets home from the hospital every day, he usually pours a glass of wine and sits and stares, and stares. Since the tank is in our home office, they keep me company all day.
Meet the Saltwater Kidz