In 2003 I started learning how to keep tropical fish. Starting my hobby as I believe many have, not reading about the fish or the processes you need to do keep them alive. I purchased my first tank a small 1ft by 1ft corner tank, filled it with a layer of gravel and added a heater a small filter and a few fish.

After day one I started to learn about fish. That night must have been very painful for the neons and fighter fish I had in the tank. Not only had I not conditioned the water I had also not allowed the tank to mature meaning that there was nothing to break down the fish waste. Basically meaning the fish were slowing turning their tank into a toilet.

As a result that morning I was using the net and scooping out some of the fish that were not to happy about their water quality. First lesson learnt when the pet shop say have you got a mature tank that does not mean is it old, it means has it completed a cycle where you have the correct bacteria present to break down Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite.

After a few weeks my tank started to become more fish friendly, they happily danced around the tank and I didn't need to use the net anymore. After getting my first water test kit after lesson one I decided to do a few checks. My PH was at 8 this I now know is a alkaline level, by fish like 6.5 so I needed to lower the PH. Lesson number two, in the shops there are loads of PH adjustors and they all seem to have their own ways of working. I purchased a few different types to adjust PH up and down and then began to adjust my tanks water. I added the chemicals to the tank and to my shock the water went cloudy, I then wished I had read the packaging more carefully. I had now adjusted my tank well above the previous level of 8. Unsure what to do I decided I would leave the tank alone and see what happens thinking that the tank would drop back down to 8.

The next morning I had to use the net again. Not only did I have dead fish I had burnt fish, some of them had totally lost their fins others only partially. Straight away I did a water change and did for the next few days. Slowly the water become clear and I was back to my original problem of a PH of 8. This time reading and re-reading the instructions I created a test bucket of water and adjusted its PH, this time is was not cloudy and the PH had dropped. I then applied this test water once conditioned to the tank during a water change. Although the PH didn't drop to the required level it did drop and no more fish had died. I repeated this adjusting until my tank was at the correct level.

Now that I had owned fish for a few months I decided that it was time to add more fish, I replace the neon tetra's I had lost and add a few larger fish. My next lesson, was about over stocking fish tanks and what happeneds when you do. Within a few days I totally lost control of the level of toxins in the tank. Ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite where all very high. No matter how often I did water changes or how much water I changed within a day or so the problem was back. After speaking to a local aquarium shop dealer, they explained to me that a tank can only cope with so many fish and that they all had their live stock levels. I had clearly breached this level and could do a few things to sort the problem out. I decided to buy a larger tank, with my new tank I got new problems all providing their own little learning experiences.