Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tank Update

... I spend more time involved with my fishkeeping hobby in the winter than in the warmer months. Inclement weather forces me to spend more time indoors and tinkering with my aquariums is a great alternative to stupid sitcoms and ridiculous reality shows. Last November, as the mercury began to fall and snowflakes started to fly, I began a project, turning the 90 gallon aquarium in my office into a show/display tank for fancy goldfish varieties.

... I chose fancy goldfish for several reasons, including their interesting shapes, bright colors, and peaceful dispositions. I learned from experience that a beautiful aquarium full of fish, grabs a visitor's attention faster, and hold it longer, than any television program. As this project progressed, I found my skills, abilities, and knowledge being challenged in multiple ways. This was a surprise since the prevailing view seemed to be that goldfish "are just carp". I spent some time and energy "fine tuning" the system in order to get to the point where minimal intervention and maintenance is required.
... Mechanically, things were "give and take". I had hoped to be able to keep from installing a heater, but the winter cold caused the water temperature to flucuate and stress the fish. Among my supplies, I had a brand new 250 watt submersible Ebo Jager heater, completely capable of maintaining a constant 74 degree water temperature at minimal expense. It will control this variable until the cold weather passes. The filtration requirements changed next. I was able to completely eliminate the Millenium 1000 power filter I was running. This filter created a strong current in the water that, again, stressed the fish as they constantly fought the current or sought out hiding places where they could rest. As soon as the goldfish realized the water was no longer a raging whitewater river, they came out of hiding and floated around the tank, visible for a change. I kept the HOT Magnum micron filter to polish the water and remove floating debris. It is a filter that, while very effective, requires more frequent maintenance. Fortunately, the maintenance is easy and doesn't require much time to do. The final mechanical change is the most dramatic and involves the bio-filter. I noticed a white cloudiness to the water, indicative of increased ammonia levels. Several of the fish were developing fin rot and two of the telescope eye Black Moors had a white fungal coating on their eyes. I didn't need to do any water tests to know what was wrong. I immediately changed about 50% of the water and exchanged one of the sponge filters for a larger version. This sponge, although dry, had once been used in another tank and contained the necessary cysts (shells) of aerobic bacteria. It would "revive" in days, repopulating its porous surface with ammonia converting, beneficial bacteria. At the same time, I repositioned the air pump, hanging it on the wall behind the tank in order to maximize the amount of air being pumped through the two sponges. A totally reactionary response, I lost a couple of nice fish that were weakened from the stress and ammonia spike. Almost immediately after these changes, the eyes of the afflicted Black Moor began to clear and all the fish are showing improvement. I am changing about 10 to 15 gallons of water a day to control water quality as the new sponge renews itself.
... amazingly, throughout the entire episode of "new tank syndrome" only one fish, a common orange fantail, showed no sign of stress at all. I will go as far as to say that this fish thrived and continued to grow while the inbred, genetically altered pearlscales, black moors, and orandas either suffered or died. Extend these findings into the natural world and one could possibly make a case for either evolutionists or intelligent design advocates.