Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Go fish!

This evening, I caught up on a bit of fishkeeping. I have a 20-gallon freshwater aquarium downstairs, with some very hardy little fish: A Chinese Algae Eater named Algernon; an albino Corydora; and four Black-Skirt Tetras. Although I've had the tank since Yule 2002, I still consider Myself a beginner.

One thing that I've noticed is the dearth of replacement parts for some of the tank accessories. I lost My second lighting hood a few months ago, and haven't yet replaced it because it seems rather silly to replace an entire $50 canopy when all I really need is a new lighting unit. The fish could also use a new heater, a 200 watt unit rather than the 100W unit that came with the tank.

That said, I'm doing rather well with the gear that I do have. I've got water changes and tank cleaning down to an art... It takes Me approximately an hour to strip out the accessories, clean the gravel, clean the glass, clean the bubble hose and heater and power filter, put everything back together, and complete the water change. All I use is a bottle brush, a fresh pot-scrubbing pad, a siphon hose, and a five-gallon pail to catch the old water and gunk.

I used to spend a lot of time filtering and testing water before adding it to the tank, but have simplified that as well. My fish are compatible with local tap water that's been dechlorinated, so I don't spend any time running water tests and adding fancy pH-altering chemicals. All it takes is a few drops of a combination water conditioner and stress coat, added to every pitcher of water I pour back into the tank.

The fish have also done much better since I decided to be less zealous in siphon-vacuuming the schmutz out of the gravel. It may be because they don't have to constantly race back and forth to keep out of the way of the Cleaning Lady... They just saunter casually down to the other end of the tank. It might also be that I'm inadvertently leaving some Beneficial Biological Stuff in the tank.

And it's so worth it when the tank settles and the water clears. I sometimes just sit in a nearby chair and watch the community go about its business in an inscrutable, seemingly random fashion.

I wonder if the inventor of the Lava Lamp was a fishkeeper...

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