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I think, therefore I harm

A Miniature Aquarium

Went out to get a cactus. Went home with an aquarium.

While this may sound quite impulsive, note that the project cost less than $20.

I really went out in the hope to buy a cactus. I know a few stores which were susceptible to have some, but I wasn’t lucky. All of these stores only have exterior plants and flowers, and cacti aren’t outside plants in this part of the world. I had decided to get a cactus or two for the new apartment, and Spiders’ yesterday’s post inspired me to get these today. Plus, the hot sunny day that we had today kind of makes one think of cacti. Spiders has green fingers, I don’t, thus I really need something that doesn’t require much maintenance. I’m good with cacti, I’ve got a few before.

Insect Cage and SubstrateThen, while visiting Dollarama (a Canadian chain of dollar stores), I saw something nice. I was really there for stuff that might be good for the future aquarium I am planning to build and set up, which I can only begin working on in a month, after I’ve moved. There is no point starting an aquarium just before moving, when I am still unsure of how I will move the existing one. But I need to plan ahead, because I want to build that aquarium in a short time, ideally within a few days, as I need it ready and cycled a month later. When you have aquariums in head, everything in a dollar store is inspiring. Like many other enthusiasts who like building their stuff or save bucks, many odd items may be suitable to design many aquarium accessories.

Then I saw that insect cage. Really a small plastic container with a cover which clips on the top and let the air vent in. It really looked like a miniature aquarium even after I read the label to see what it was really sold for. The size is 15x8x10 cm (6x3x4 inches), thus the volume is 1.2 liter (0.3 gallon). The next logical move was to visit a store to buy some plants and fish.

Plants aren’t a problem, because you can always trim them when they grow too large for the aquarium. Whatever the plant you pick and the size of your tank, plants will always eventually outgrow the space, so they need to be trimmed. For fish, I had to pick something that was really small and would remain so. I spotted these small fish which where labeled as feeders. Obviously, that isn’t their real name, but you can’t expect much knowledge from the staff in such a petshop. They are about 2 cm (three quarters of an inch) in length and I don’t expect them to grow much larger than that. I got six of them.

Miniature Aquarium

Here is the total cost of the project. Prices are in Canadian currency, about the same as US dollars. One CND is about 0.75 Euro.

  • Tank: $1.25
  • Substrate: $2.47
  • Plants: $7.98
  • Fish: $1.50
  • Taxes: $1.98
  • Total: $15.18

Before anyone comes in with negative comments, know that I am not a newbie. I am not an expert neither, but I have had a saltwater aquarium for a year now, and was planning to start a freshwater aquarium as soon as I am moved, in a month from now. These fish won’t stay in there for very long. If anything, I saved them from being eaten by larger fish — their actual purpose.


9 comments on “A Miniature Aquarium

  1. heretherebespiders
    June 2, 2013

    I think your fish are guppies. I once acquired some because the pet shop next to the store I was shopping at threw a bucket of water out into the parking lot, and there were beautiful little fish dying on the asphalt. Rainbow guppies, they were – with lovely spotted colourful tails. I scooped them up into a glass of water from a nearby gas station as I was horrified. They didn’t live long as I had no proper aquarium but at least they didn’t die on hot Tarmac.

    And you know, you DID get plants after all!

    • Tom Duhamel
      June 2, 2013

      Hi Spiders,

      I am quite familiar with guppies, but didn’t think they might be. But wow, I think you might be right. They lack the colors and the large tail, but they sure got the body and face shape. I’ll see as they grow larger, but I think you might be just right!

      Hum, stupid petshop. Throwing out live fish as it was regular, expired merchandise.

      Edit: Well now that I’m looking at them, they even eat and swim like guppies. Why are small guppies sold as feeders?

      • heretherebespiders
        June 2, 2013

        Because they breed like rats and aren’t pretty, usually. Poor things, no excuse to discard a life because you can’t be bothered to use the fish net to save them! It was sad.

        • Tom Duhamel
          June 2, 2013

          Hum, funny. I discarded a paragraph from my comment before posting, which said almost exactly that. I was saying that I initially never planned to get guppies, because they breed like rodents. Whatever happens with the freshwater project (which is in excess of the saltwater project in the other comment), I will try to slow them down or give them away completely. I’m not comfortable dealing with population control as part of this hobby though. But I have a lot to deal with before I decide what to do with this one situation. Feeding live isn’t a solution I will consider.

    • Tom Duhamel
      June 2, 2013

      LOL Yes I got plants! An aquarium ought to have plants. I can’t imagine myself putting in some plastic plants or those decorative pirate boats. My saltwater aquarium originally had some, but since they were taken right from the sea and I didn’t know these plants, they all died. I apparently picked none that was suitable for an aquarium, that or I was just really bad with them. Well one of them survived, a red one, which I will try to get again this summer, but it eventually died because my aquarium really crashed, invaded by some green algae I never managed to control despite trying all the usual tricks. That dam thing survived a 3-day night (all lights off for 3 days), an increase in temperature of 7 degrees and a radical change in salinity. I just decided to give up on it and let it grow, it will die after I’m moved because I will just flush the entire content of the tank. The stickleback doesn’t seem to care about the algae, and the snails seem to love it, so they can keep it for now.

      • heretherebespiders
        June 2, 2013

        I never got into salt-water tanks. I wanted to, but lived in apartments with a challenge of how much weight the floor could bear, and as yourself the threat of having to move. No fish here, electricity is too expensive. Ireland isn’t really a good country for reptiles or salt-water fish, it is always so cold. I tried newts and all but they died or leapt out for freedom and I found the poor desiccated corpse under my fridge.

        • Tom Duhamel
          June 2, 2013

          Huh! I live on the third floor. There is obviously a weight limit, but it’s not so bad as to prevent you from doing anything. You are totally safe up to about 500 pounds (that’s 60 gallons) — unless the building is over 50 years, as the rules back then might have been different. More than that, it’s also quite possible, but you need to check a few things.

          What I have right now is only 30 gallons… that’s the minimum in saltwater unless you are really good (less than that might not be stable enough).

          Yes there is the problem of having to move out every few years. That’s why I won’t go over the top with the new project. It will be designed to be easy to move (once emptied obviously).

          Temperature is not a problem, you are supposed to heat the water, and what you are aiming for is 25-26C, just a bit over the room temperature. My problem is reverse right now. I’m trying to keep water at about 15C with the new project. Chilling the water is a lot harder than warming it. Yes there is insulation in the plan, and that’s the whole point of the project (I don’t think anyone ever done that — at least I found no trace of such a project on the Internet). I WILL take pictures and videos and post something about it when it’s done, whether it works or not (errors might be useful to someone else).

          As for electricity, we are quite lucky, we have about the cheapest energy in the world. Still, I’m trying to cut down on that in the plans. Insulation and a different kind of lighting on the plan. My current aquarium almost doubled the bills for me (but I don’t pay for heating, that was included in the rent… I estimated it added about $20 a month to the bills).

  2. lidia
    June 4, 2013

    I have a similar tank! Which I used for my Mantis a long time back. 😛

    • Tom Duhamel
      June 4, 2013

      You had a mantis? Like, that green insect? Do you have pictures?

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This entry was posted on June 1, 2013 by in Aquariums and tagged , , .
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