Did you ever ask yourself why do we do this?
I just needed a moment to ramble.
I love my aquarium and all my wonderful fish, I got into the hobby about a year ago and I have to admitt I got bit by the planted tank bug. But here's the thing, everyday it's something different another obstical or perhaps a headache. When I wake up in the morning I turn on my CO2 and add my ferts to the tank, then I go to work and on my breaks I log into this forum and read about tanks,plants and fish. When I arrive home I feed my fish and careful examine the tank for algae and possible problems, then I perform my water peramiter checks.
Now, let's not forget every Saturday I perform a 2 hour water change/aquarium cleaning (with the wife yelling at me that it's taking to long and we need to do other things), so after a inavitable argument we go do our grocery shopping and other family things. I figure "ok" we are home now and all of our chores are done, I will go sit down and enjoy the tank and relax since I dedicate soo much time into maintaining it only to find out that since the wife was yelling at me when I was cleaning the tank I forgot to plug the heater back in. WOW, now the tank is five degrees lower than it usually is and i'm beginning to stress out, but then my youngest son walks over to the tank and says I really like your tank Dad and I smile and he smiles back at me and now im calm again.
Now Sunday, I go to turn my CO2 on and notice I'm low so now I tell the wife that I need to get CO2, I drive to the store and surprise the only place I can get CO2 in my area is ALL OUT!!! I now have to wait three days untill they get more, so now I start complaining to the wife on the ride home that my tank has to go three days without CO2 and I'm not happy about it. Well, this starts an argument because now I'm edgy and she doesn't want to hear about it so I suggest we go to the store and finish up some shopping. While were at the store I made a big mistake, my wife goes one way and tells me to take my son with me and she will meet up with me it ten minutes, well I take my sons hand and we go to the fish section just to look around and kill some time. I notice that they had stocked some new heaters so I pick them up just to look them over, all of a sudden my wife taps me on the shoulder and says are you missing something, well it turns out when I was looking at the heaters my son wondered over to the next isle and wife was mad as a hornet (this was not a fun night when I got home)...
Hey, lets not forget plant trimming day.. Dont you just love it when you put your plants back into the substrate and a couple hours later to your surprise there floating on the top!!! Yeah baby, that really makes my ears turn red!!!!!!
So I sit here on the computer asking everyone, is it worth it?
My short answer is YES!
To me it's been worth every Sunday morning sacrificed to water changes, all the money that flew out of my wallet, and all of the hours and hours spent here trying to get things right when starting up.
In the end, I have an amazing community tank and 6 crazy bettas in their own homes and they make me smile every single day.
I also have my human trained to understand that Sunday is water change day for me. I can be flexible on the day and make it Saturday if necessary but at least 4 hours of the weekend are mine for fish. Period.
If it causes a lot of stress and problems, instead of relieving stress and being relaxing ... then no, it isn't worth it.
Hobbies are suppose to be enjoyable, relaxing, and fulfilling.
You could try and make some adjustments to your setup and see if it reduces your work load and makes it more fun. Looking at the picture you have in your profile you have a highly planted tank. You could maybe cut back the number of plants a bit, and ditch the CO2 system (one less thing to worry about).
How long is your light on? Shouldn't be more than 12 hours. If you are seeing algae problems, that means you have too much nutrients and/or lighting, try cutting the light down to 11 or 10 hours. Having it on a timer saves you the hassle of remembering to turn it on and off each day.
The Amazon Swords and Anubias both do fine in low light, and neither need CO2 injection. Wisteria I hear can be hit or miss in a 'low tech' system. I have both amazon swords and wisteria in my own new tank. The swords are exploding in growth, and the wisteria is showing signs of new growth. I don't use CO2, have low light, and just dose fertilizer once a week (with a root tab near the swords ~2-3 months). We'll see how the Wisteria turns out.
What is your weekly cleaning routine? 2 hours does sound like a lot... a water change, sponge rinse, and scrubbing the front glass should only be ~15-20 minutes.
You shouldn't need to check water parameters daily. If the tank is established and you don't make any changes, the values shouldn't change much.
Maybe trade the wife in for larger fish tank?
I've had my tank for nearly 5 years now, and went through the same funk a few months back. I was sick and tired of "wasting" the limited time I get at home with my daughter on the weekends trying to clean, filter maintenance, etc. (I travel a lot for work). I used to look back and remember the complete joy I would get out of sitting there watching the fishies. Then I made the leap to planted and it has rekindled my love affair with the aquarium and opened up a whole new world of learning and challenges that I've been enjoying. But I know perfectly well where you are coming from. While my wife is generally supportive, she gets a little "frustrated" when I have my arm in the tank when she gets home from work and am cussing at the microsword to stay in the flipping substrate lol. I think overall planted (while I actually spend more time on the tank) is easier, and more enjoyable, but I'm preaching to the choir here as you always are planted. Long story short, the best thing I found is to try and involve her. As mentioned I travel A LOT for work. In fact I'm heading out on a two week trip on Monday. So involving her now that I'm planted was a necessity. She works in a Pharmacy and going to med school so the biology/chemistry was right up her alley. Now while I'm gone she now doses my ferts, does the parameters check, watches for algea/disease. Anways, enough of the personal background story. The moral I guess was yes, we all reach burnout in anything that we do. Especially when it conflicts with family interests.
My advice would be to try and find a way to involve her more, let her pick out some plants, ask her for what she thinks of plant placement, etc, etc. My two year old the other day was hillarious. The wife asked her if she wanted to go shopping and her reply was to the effect of "I love getting fish plants" lol. Wife came in shaking her head and told me I spend too much time at the LFS.
If it is causing undue stress at home with family it may not be worth it, perhaps you could try to "downgrade" to a lowtech setup that requires slightly less time/maintenance. The worst feeling is when you bust your butt on something you really love only to realize you spend so much time working on it that you forget to take time to enjoy it. Gotta stop and smell the roses. Or in this case, the fish poop. :)
Oh another thing that I did was get an extra 10g to put on the bedroom dresser that I told her was for her and our daughter. I've never once fed those fish, the 2yr old does that every morning (well OK I setup the food in one of the lids so all she has to do is dump it in. Anyways. My wife took some of my old silk plants and picked out some new ones "because she didn't want the hassell of live plants". Sure enough a couple weeks ago she texts me and says "If your up north at your parents I heard they have a fish store with plants, can you grab a few for the 10g" PERFECT! I got to get some new plants for my tank and got to help her plant the 10g (which ended up being me doing most of the work, but who can complain about that) I caught her stealing clippings from a plant not ready to be clipped last night LMAO because she wanted it for her tank. She just recently traded in a TON of her old text books for a large amount of amazon store credit, and I got permission to use some of it on the fish tanks, she wants one of my "sponge bubble filters". The HOB is blowing around the Wisteria on the surface so I also got myself a new light, and stuff to plant the 2.5g at the office. Again, I'm rambling also, but I guess I'm just going back to the point of getting her involved is paying some serious dividends. Not sure how old your kid(s) are but using the fish as "learning tools" also helped ease the wifes originally "friction" with my aquatic mistress. Our daughter loves to count the fish and try to find the ghost shrimp. Another tip (while depending on your outlook in the gray area of morality lol) use your kid to get your wife involved. Our daughter will go up to her and say "momma please help, shrimp are hiding. I mean come on how do you turn that down. Next thing you know both of them are pushing me out of the way so they can get a better view.
Keep your chin up, grab a cold beer, put away the siphon and scissors, and pull up a stool :)
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