I decided that I wanted to get back into the hobby, but I was determined to understand the hobby better this time. If I was going to do it, then I was going to do it right. I started by watching everything I could get my hands on via YouTube. So many amazing YouTubers online putting out amazing content. Once I determined I had enough knowledge to get started I needed a plan. I dove into pricing out a 5k setup that I wanted in my office, but I knew I would never be able to start with that. I was not that confident in my skills and was determined to have a quarantine tank for that dream tank and that’s when I decided to start with my quarantine tank… in a way. I figured that if I started with a small tank I could dip my toe back into the hobby and if everything went as planned my small starter tank would become my quarantine tank. Now I know what your thinking… I need a quarantine tank for the tank that will eventually become my quarantine tank. Your 100% correct, but at some point I am going to have to climb without a net and it’s a risk that I developed a plan to mitigate at least until I got some experience and a larger tank.
That brings me to Craigslist shopping. I wanted to find a nice, but cheap tank and I figured, I would know it when I saw it. Finally someone posted a Waterbox AIO 20 Gal complete setup with a Kessil Light and Controller. It was dirt cheap and almost seemed too good to be true. The good and the bad news was that the two fish currently in the tank were a clown and a Mandarin Dragonet. The good news is the Mandarin is my favorite saltwater fish ever but the bad news is he had no business having that fish in a 20 Gal tank. So, I was taking on a challenge if I wanted to keep that Mandarin alive. Could end up being a costly monthly bill in pods, but at 45 years old I have some funds available to me that I did not as a younger man and I decided to accept the challenge. Plus, since the Mandarin was one of my dream fish, I decided that until I got my larger tank these two fish would be my only fish. No exceptions. Granted you can still get fish disease off invertebrates, but my hope was that would limit the risk some.
The previous owner had the tank running for a year. The guy really let it go when I arrived so the pictures on Craigslist must have been old. Algae all over the place. I emptied everting into buckets, putrid water and all, bagged the fish and loaded it into my car. The tank was so bad that once I got it home I dumped his sand in the backyard and cleaned the entire Waterbox as best and as quickly as I could. I scrubbed all the rock with a toothbrush to remove as much algae as I could and I strained all the filthy water through some filter floss in hopes of preserving the bacteria but straining out the algae floating around. I got everything rock and all back into the tank with it running. It was still a huge, huge mess, but all the rock was in the tank, it was in my office and the fish looked happy. Stage one complete and everything seemed alive… so far.