I made a decision last week that feels much bigger than it really is. I decided to turn my now-empty goldfish tank into a terrarium rather than restocking with more fish. For many people, this sort of decision is like picking out which photo to hang on a wall – something to put some thought into, but nothing to agonize over. Alas…I am not one of those people.
I love fancy goldfish…and I’ve been keeping them since shortly after I bought my first house (so…15 yrs now?). At one time I had a 45 gallon tank stocked with four beautiful (and huge) goldies. Then I lost one in the move when I got married, and over the years the large tanks gave way to smaller as fish died, and this last one was 29 gallons with just two fancies (still slightly overstocked, so over-filtered to compensate). They’re beautiful fish – I love their tails and coloring and the way they beg for breakfast every morning like little wet dogs.
They’re also part of my little ultra-local eco-system…the water from the aquarium goes to the upkeep of my house and garden plants, for a completely natural fertilizer you can’t get anywhere else. I love houseplants, and I love roses in the garden (no cut flowers, please). Fish-water fertilizer is something all plants love, and it’s been my “secret” to beautiful plants for a long time.
In any case, I felt horrible when I lost these last two, and for awhile I thought I’d turn that tank into a community freshwater tank (because it really isn’t big enough for goldies, and any space I had for larger tanks before has long since been re-purposed). But I don’t really *want* a community tank. And being perfectly honest with myself, I have other things I’d rather prioritize on the weekends than aquarium maintenance at this point in my life.
So yesterday, I drained the tank, left the gravel in the bottom for drainage, bought some potting soil and ordered some charcoal. I also bought myself a new Rex begonia for following through with the “no more goldies” decision – I don’t think my husband thought I would (he reminded me that last time I said I was done with fish, we had two within the next month or so). I have a China Doll plant and a curly-leaf arelea that both want more humidity than my house currently has, so those three will be the main plants in the tank, and I’ll create a park for some of my Smurfs with the rest of the space.
The difficult thing will be keeping myself from adding something “living” later on (as if the plants weren’t alive enough…). I love little critters – toads, frogs, lizards, etc…and it’s hard for me to have a terrarium without wanting to turn it into a vivarium. A little slice of the world right in my own home…but that would defeat the purpose of scaling back and turning my priorities elsewhere.
I do still have a 10 gallon tank with four cory catfish in it, and I’ll keep them until they die. Then that aquarium too is probably destined for terrarium-container-ship. It’s just…time, even though it’s kind of depressing, and I’m not really sure I want that part of my life to end. I feel like it needs to, though – a small, but significant difference.
In any case, I won’t wallow for long – I never do. The charcoal for the terrarium (between the drainage & soil layers as a filter) should be here by Wednesday, and when my husband is off playing pool that night, I’ll start working on the landscaping and planting. By next weekend, it should be a lovely little park for some Smurfs to play in, and where my humidity-loving plants can thrive.
And I’ll have an excellent excuse to visit the miniatures store again…