My Very First 10 Gallon Fish Tank

I got my very first 10 gallon fish tank in second grade; this is where the obsession began, but it took some high school chemistry to make it come alive.

Fish have never been just pets for me; they have been objects of fascination, a distraction from reality, and a marvel of the world around us. Fish are far more than small animals that blow bubbles and provide seafood. Fish are an obsessive love for me.
From that first day of having a fish tank, I was enchanted with these small underwater creatures. I went to the fish store for the first time as a nine-year-old and looked around me with wondering eyes at the walls and rows, columns, and stacks of astonishing beautiful intrigue before me. This was the first time I became curious. Through this, I learned to take notice of small things in my everyday life that not everyone else sees. I notice the things that seem to small or insignificant for others to make note of, but for me they are just as noticeable as spots on a male Pelvicachromis Taeniatus. The little things are what make life so intriguing, they show you the things that should truly be appreciated.

I wondered what the different fish were and how they behaved. Why they looked how they did. I questioned why one would suck on the glass while another swam up for air. I examined the different color patterns, fin sizes, and which fish I thought would have the best temperament. As I pondered, the clerk came and started telling me facts about each type of fish. He explained how they behaved with other fish in different tanks and how they would act in my ten gallon tank. This was the first time I became captivated. I became fascinated with life, fascinated with how the world around us flows together and how I fit into this big circle of life. I started looking for connections in my own world that connected to friends’ worlds, going so far as connecting my life and experiences to those of people across the country and on the other side of the world.

As I took my new plecostomus, neon tetras, cory cat fish, and beta home, I became excited. Excited about the new things I would learn, experience, and see. I became excited to delve into this whole new realm of knowledge and really find out everything I could about these fascinating little creatures.

While the years came and went, so did the fish. But my love remained. Through the birth of two siblings, the family addition of a golden retriever, and all the other trials and triumphs of middle school, the love remained. All the while I kept up my tank and made sure to try new species, and learn from each fish I brought into my small bedroom 10 gallon ecosystem.

When I walked into my sophomore chemistry classroom and saw Mr. Sanford’s 75 gallon tank, I was enthralled, and more than a little distracted. The fish and plants were so alive, the colors moved with the current from the filter, and the spark of fish was reignited inside of me. Mr. Sanford made it come alive. I started spending more and more time during and outside of class discussing fish with him. I tried to take in all the information he had gained since the 60’s, soaking it up like a sea sponge, peeling back layer after layer of hidden information I had never known.


Throughout my past two years of chemistry and AP biology, Mr. Sanford has helped to show me a true passion in life that I will never lose. I learned to love what intrigues me, and to learn as much as I possibly can about it. This is what I love about fish. The learning never ends, and the experiences are always new.

Recently I received a 5 inch black ghost knife fish as a gift from a friend. Now this is no normal fish. These fish are partially blind, jet black, have one main fin under themselves, they can swim backwards, they are gentle predators, and also send electric signals to find food. This fish has been my dream fish. I dream of finding new fish- fish that I have never seen before with intriguing differences that set them apart from others. Swimming with them, researching them, and finding out new and exciting information about each and every one of their incredible species. Through the guidance of Mr. Sanford, I have seen a new side of life that is hidden under the sea. This world is the one that I want to see, learn, feel, and discover.

And to think it all started with a ten gallon fish tank in my Barbie pink bedroom.





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