I've been lurking for a little while and decided it would be polite to finally introduce myself. :wave:
I got my first tank at the age of 4. My mom took me to a department store which had a bunch of comet goldfish in a display at the front of the store. I plopped myself down in front of the tank and refused to budge. For whatever reason, my mother decided to indulge me; a few days later I came home to find a 10 gallon tank with a handful of comets sitting in the corner of our florida room. :cheer2: I was blown away. I had assumed that fish tanks were in the category of fun things that ordinary people simply don't have at home, like ferris wheels and giraffes. But now I had my very own. I kept the tank going for my entire childhood, with credit due more to the innate hardiness of goldfish than my own skills or compassion as a fish keeper. Poor fish!
When I was 10 or so I branched into tropical fish, motivated by a teacher who appointed me to foster the classroom guppies for the summer. I had a succession of guppies, cory cats, tetras, rasboras, and even african frogs with varying degrees of success. Again, poor fish. There's a limit to the focus and common sense of a preteen.
I stopped keeping fish for a while in college. By that time I had enough maturity to realize that dorm rooms simply aren't a great environment for fish; leaving the fish to their own devices over vacations is cruel, and stripping the tank down to take it home is a PITA. This hiatus ended when one of my friends presented me with a battered betta, rescued from a tank of aggressive fish that had removed large portions of its fins.
I was pretty ticked off at being stuck with this rescue project, and I truly didn't think the fish would survive, so I did the bare minimum for it. I put the fish in a five gallon tank, threw in some elodea to provide a hiding place and water conditioning, and used incandescent bulbs to provide a combination heat source and elodea lighting. I didn't bother with any sort of filtration due to the cost and low fish load. To my surprise both the betta and the elodea thrived. The betta's fins grew back, and the elodea formed an almost impenetrable mat across the entire surface of the tank. I had that fish for another 18 months.
By the time the betta expired I was out of college, and I figured my life was stable enough to set up a tropical community tank. I found the experience rather discouraging. Despite my better knowledge and care, the fish never did as well as either the betta or the tropical fish I'd kept as a teenager. After the last of the tropicals died, I replaced them with three feeder goldfish. I figured there was no point in buying pricey fish if they were just going to keel over immediately. One of the feeders died within a couple of days. The other two kept growing, and growing, and growing. :roll: I moved them up to a 20, then a 40, then a 75 gallon. They then spawned, got ich, and died. :Cry:
I'd gotten pretty attached to the goldfish. They were big enough that I'd been able to interact with them and get to know their personalities. I stowed my tanks in the cellar and stopped keeping fish for the next 12 years. I just didn't want the heartbreak of losing another fragile pet.
Alas, the long dormant fish keeping bug has recently reemerged. Rats, I can't get to my tanks. The cellar bulkhead is frozen shut under two feet of snow. Spouse has informed me that I am absolutely not allowed to buy another tank when we already have some. Spouse has also informed me that I'm not allowed to set up the 75 gallon until I have a successful trial run with one of the smaller ones. Sigh. I'm biding my time until spring and contenting myself with reading about all the changes since I mothballed my tanks. Wow. Injected CO2. Wow. Shrimp in home tanks. Wow. Endlers. Wow. El Natural. Wow. Aquabid. Wow.