Sunday, May 12, 2013

From the Fish Tank: The Week Ending 5/12

The 55 US Gallon: shown are Dennison Barbs, Various Tiger Barbs, an Odessa Barb, and a variety of nice plants.
So, today has seen the hopeful end of a crazy week for me for fish. Odessa barbs are presently on sale at work for a quarter of their usual price, which made it very worthwhile to obtain some. I then had trouble keeping the poor things alive, which spurred a rather extensive set of tests, experiments, and adjustments to determine the problem overall.

Somehow, over the last month or so, my pH has crept up to 7.8, which is a change of about 1.3. Over a month, that much of a shift isn't that bad, but it did cause problems: I've lost all four of the original odessas, which were replaced on warranty; two of my tiger barbs, who seem to be fine now; and one of the S lineolata loaches that I love so much and can't replace.

I'm not particularly pleased. The culprit, as I have identified, is actually the "sand" I used. It's not a quartz sand, but a crushed stone which I have determined to include a large amount of carbonate minerals, thus making the water steadily more alkaline. It wasn't a problem before because my filtration over granulated peat did quite a bit to keep it in check.

Last month, however, I discontinued the use of the peat over sustainability concerns (I'm trying to reduce my hobby's overall environmental impact). Obviously, I'm going to have to re-continue it as soon as I can. In the meantime, it's nothing that can be done besides careful adjustment with vinegar and some careful attention to keep an eye on other problems.

There's been some other changes - the addition of a supplemental CO2 dosing system that helped keep the pH problem in check as well as promoting some rather aggressive plant development. However, a leak in the  tubing I failed to detect means that the system is depleted, so I can't lean on that either.

Regrettably, the barbs weren't the only fish lost. I also lost mongkut to a nasty case of swimbladder dysfunction caused by impaction that was difficult to treat. After about a week of treatment, I found him dead today in his quarantine cube. I'm actually pretty sad about it - he was the fish that kickstarted my return to the hobby after a few years of inactivity, and he was by far the favourite fish of most people who came to visit. I'm going to miss him - he was exceptional even for a crown tail and I doubt I'll find another like him any time soon.

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