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Multiple Tank Syndrome | A Fish Keeper's Disease

Updated on March 8, 2010

White spot, fin rot, and dropsy are all common infections to be found in fish, but an even more insidious infection often stalks fish keepers. The dreaded multiple tank syndrome. Most fish keepers start out with just one fish tank. It has pride of place, is blessed with frequent water changes and is inhabited by numerous fish. For weeks, sometimes days, it sits there, the sole tank in the home. Then something happens. Perhaps a fish is found to be incompatible with his or her tank mates. Perhaps the keeper realizes that a fish will grow much larger than the current tank allows. Perhaps the keeper spots a new, pretty fish, a fish they must have, and soon there is another tank in the house.

Two tanks seems reasonable. There's nothing wrong with having two fish tanks. It's quite common, in fact, it is sensible and necessary. You require a hospital tank to quarantine any sick fish in, don't you? Oh, you don't have one? Well, there's your third tank.

At this point, a keeper may have some inkling that they are suffering from multiple tank syndrome. Then they decide that it might be quite nice to breed some of their fish, after all, it just makes sense, if you're going to have all these tanks, you may as well breed your fish and make some money back, right?

In comes the spawning tank, and now you are up to four. By this stage, multiple tank syndrome has taken hold in full force. You'll now acquire tanks without having any real immediate need for them, but simply because they are a good price and because you are pretty sure that you will need them at some point in the future. At this point, the keeper is not only overrun by tanks, but also by accessories. Filters, heaters, fish medicine, fish food, all multiply at a rapid rate. Some equipment will be declared unsuitable for future use, but will none the less be hoarded away 'just in case'.

As I sit writing in a room with six fish tanks in it, I know that I am most definitely affected by what is widely regarded as a terminal fish keeper's disease. Only yesterday I had to restrain myself from purchasing yet another tank, thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea to have another one to put a breeding pair of bettas in it. Multiple tank syndrome leaves sufferers constantly craving more numerous and often larger tanks. Come to think of it, it probably is time that I upgraded the 55 gallon to something a little more spacious...

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