Many Hats of Me: March 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Quarantine Process for New Aquarium Fish

Buying Fish from the Pet Store

Today I bought 3 cory cats from the Petco today. They were quite inexpensive at $3.45 each! After I buy new fish, I always drive home directly so that their time in the bag is minimized. 

New Aquarium Fish Quarantine Tank

One of the biggest mistakes for beginner fish-keepers is to dump the new fish, water and all, into an already established tank. Pet store fish are usually stressed from their trip from the breeder to the store, causing their immune systems to weaken. They are further stressed from the the trip from the store to your house. Many fish fall sick and die within the first two weeks of their purchase. How do we prevent our new fish from dying? The answer: Quarantine Tank (QT for short)!

From reading the fish forums, I learned that many fish-keepers complain that they have no space for a quarantine tank, or it seems that a QT is too expensive since it's used so rarely. Why use an expensive, large, fragile glass tank, when you can use a small plastic storage bin? I use a Sterilite plastic container from Target. 

5 galling plastic container from Target

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Aquarium Water Change System

Love Affair with Fish

I set up my first tank when I was 10 years old. It was a standard 10 gallon and I filled it immediately with colorful gravel and plastic water plants, and about 20 fish. Every fish was dead in the next two weeks. I was extremely disappointed. A few years later, a school friend was moving to live with her father in California and she gave me all her fish. She assured me that her fish will survive since she does nothing to keep them alive except feed them. She never changed the water. Ever. Her tank water was thick and green so that you couldn't really see the fish.

To my great surprise, her fish survived in my old 10 gallon tank and did so for about a year until my heater broke and caused the tank temperature to rise to 100 degrees and literally cooked my fish. I've learned a lot about fish and fish tanks since then.

Today, I have 5 tanks in my house: 
  1. A 1 gallon bowl filled with freshwater plants
  2. A 10 gallon that houses a 4" orange parrot fish and 2 corycats
  3. A 29 gallon with cherry shrimp tank and 2 albino bristlenose plecos
  4. A 40 gallon with 3 discus fish, 2 German Rams, 3 albino bristlenose plecos, 3 assorted cory cats, and about 18 black tetras

Water Changing the 40 Gallon

Discus thrive in clean water, and they LOVE water changes. I change 75% of my water every other day using a semi-automatic water change system.

Materials List

Water Draining

I used 3/4" PVC pipe and elbow connectors, and a hose barb to attach the Python water change hose and the Quiet One water pump. The percentage of water you wish to change determines the overall length of the PVC pipe. For example, if you wish to make a 50% water change, the pipe (on both the water and dry side) will measure 50% of the height of your tank. The best thing to do is to bring your pump, Python hose, and tank measurements to the home improvement store so that you can discuss the overall dimensions with the retail assistant. You can piece together the entire contraption at the store and make fine adjustments on the spot.

I also suggest that you consider which side of the pump will be facing the tank glass and which side will be facing the fish. I placed the side that sucks the water facing the glass to prevent fish from being sucked into the pump.

To ensure the pipe never falls off the hose barb, I use a hose clamp. The suction cups are attached to the pipe using zip ties; it keeps the pipe and pump from banging into the glass.

What's great about this system is that when I turn on the water pump, I just walk away from my tank until I hear the pump complaining that the water level is too low (it makes a lot of noises).  I don't need to babysit  this stage of the process because it will ever drain more than the length of the PVC pipe. 

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