Former Cichlid Owner Syndrome

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Yesterday, despite being ill and feeling not too steady on my feet, I decided to go out and get a Betta fish. Here’s my little pal in a 10 litre nano tank, to which I added gravel and stones today. As soon as I came home and set him up, I finally felt able to relax and get the rest I needed.

This is what happens after caring for fish for so long: you just don’t feel right without them. I can’t relax in an apartment on my own without little fish eyes staring at me occasionally.

Since arriving to Spain, I’ve been looking for my new “local” fish shop and have been a little bit disappointed that the capital of spain- thus far- hasn’t got anything to rival the Oxford local fish shop in size, tank selections, species of fish, and decorations. Most have been tiny. I have two more on my list to visit though, so maybe there’ll be an update where I eat my words. The Mr points out that in a capital city, rental space is at a premium, and Oxford enjoyed lower rent prices so could have bigger shop.

Anyhow, in my searching I’d fallen in love with these little Puffa fish from the first shop I visited


and have been reading up on their care, but it’s not straightforward nor cheap. They start off as freshwater fish (which is how they are housed in the photo) but need to be moved into a brackish tank as quickly as possible, so, I need a saltwater tank and protein skimmer (I’m not a 100% precent sure what this is, but how hard can it be to set up?), so I asked about prices, did a tonne of reading on saltwater tank equipment, and felt like I understood about half of it. The prices where not cheap.

Secondly, the little darlings grow to about 6.5 inches, so the tank needs to be at least 130 liters for one puffa, which is apparently ok since they prefer to live alone or get very territorial, and from my own experience with Cichlids, there’s no point in putting territorial fish in an almost big enough tank. The tank needs to be massive or they’ll fight until one of them just can’t take the stress anymore and dies slowly, taking a chunk of your heart with him, even after repeated interventions and savings. Never, ever again. But still, 130 litres of saltwater tank costs double what the same setup for freshwater fish does, and I’d need an extra external filter on top of that setup, which I know costs at least £70 for a small freshwater one. This is not a hobby for an out of work person.

Thirdly, they don’t eat flakes, but need to eat shelled creatures, such as shrimp, clams, muscles, crayfish, etc. Frozen is fine, but this means if I wanted to go on holiday I’d need to find someone to come in every other day and feed him and then fish out the remains, instead of just setting a timer.

And to top if off, we’re not even sure how long we’ll be in this apartment: we could move neighbourhoods after the year is up to a more cosmopolitan area, maybe some place where we can have a car park, and we’re hoping to buy at some point in the future so there would be a move after that, too. A big, expensive tank setup would be a giant pain to dismantle and take down a narrow elevator twice and set up in a new place with the clock running on how long the fish can live without filtration.

I’d still like a puffa tank one day when we’re more settled and when I’m earning again, but for now I’m in love with my feisty little pal and his easy-to-care-for tank. I like the idea of turning his nano cube into a planted aquarium, once I find a place that sells the substrate for the plants and find some small driftwood pieces.

Small can be amazing. 🙂

One thought on “Former Cichlid Owner Syndrome

  1. He’s a cutie! I’m the same way with cats — my house is not a home without at least one or two KITTEHS. Enjoy your fish…and your new city

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