I fear that my posts of late are spiraling down the irreconcilable path of ichthyomania – “fish mania”. Nevertheless, I’m posting again about fish.
Day Five and
S Lyota (I keep calling him Sam by accident!) still hadn’t touched his new food. This special pellet, super nutritious and designed to float to match a betta’s optimum diet and eating preferences, was being completely ignored. When I dropped it in, his eyes might occasionally notice the movement, but he otherwise just hung around the top of the tank waiting for food. On Friday morning before I left for the weekend I caved and fed him a good portion of his old, low-quality sinking food. He devoured it ravenously, and when I returned after the weekend, he still wasn’t touching the floating pellets. I caved and bought him some new food, which is a mixture of floating and sinking flakes/granules. I hope he likes it.
But that’s only if he survives. Because you see, I decided to finally do a water change. Some water had been evaporating from the tank and the heater was slowly peaking out the top, so I figured it was time for a top up. And then, heck why not, I might as well do a bit of gravel vacuuming to clean the bottom of the tank (which was now littered with saturated pellets Lyota had ignored). As I started gravel vacc’ing, I found all kinds of nasty gunk in the rather malodorous water and decided to do a full water change, seeing as the ammonia was probably building up from the rotting food and fish waste. But foolish me, I accidentally used a cloth and bucket which had almost certainly seen some very powerful detergent in the recent past. Soap in general is ultra toxic to fish, so there’s a pretty good chance that when Lyota next goes into the tank, he’s not going to survive. I rinsed it out a few times, reconditioned the water and restarted the filter in the hopes that maybe he won’t perish after all. He’s sitting in a jug until the heater has warmed up the water a little more.
This is poorly timed because my confidence in fish-keeping is pretty shaken at the moment. A couple of weeks ago I helped a wonderful lady and her two excited daughters set up their very own fish tank. I spent about an hour with them, running them through the pros and cons of different tank styles, heaters, gravel, ornaments, conditioners, food and fish. I warned her that it was best to keep the tank running for a week before putting new fish in, but that if she wanted to try it today, she could add a chemical to the water daily that would make the ammonia harmless. She decided to go for this option and bought four fish for her elated daughters. She returned a week later to inform me they had all perished after a few days, and I couldn’t for the life of me work out why. She reset the water, conditioned it and left the filter running so that the bacteria could start colonising, and then a week later we retested her water. The ammonia test turned cloudy with little particles in the vial, which is certainly not supposed to happen, and I had no idea what it meant. Some quick googling and consulting our fish guru informed me that her general hardiness was sky high but perhaps her ammonia was actually 0 due to a defective testing kit. We retested and it looked pretty hopeful. I have no idea what to do when GH is really high, and so I gave her a fish and sent her home, praying for the best. But honestly, it flummoxed me, and I felt wretchedly incompetent and largely responsible for the death of her fish. I fear her next visit a week from now will reveal her fish has died.
Furthermore a customer named John came into the store and bought a whole bunch of fishkeeping equipment from me. I showed him how to use a gravel vac, told him all about the different goldfish we had and helped him have a generally informative/awesome time in the store. He returned a few weeks later to inform me that all the fish he’d bought from another store had perished, and the only ones that had survived were the ones he’d purchased from me. I felt both proud and uneasy that he was putting so much faith in my knowledge. He had brought in some water for testing, and the results showed his ammonia was dangerously high. His fish were thriving in spite of it, but I couldn’t figure out why the ammonia was there in the first place. He’d done everything right as far as I could tell. After a lengthy conversation, I uncovered that he’d washed his filter media in tap water, and the chlorine had likely killed all the bacteria allowing the ammonia to accumulate. He went home happy and left the filter running unimpeded. He returned again to retest the water after a week, and once again the ammonia was very high. I was stumped. After about fifteen minutes, I realised that the dechlorinater he was using was approximately ten times weaker than normal, and he had consequently been underdosing the water. He bought some new conditioner and some quickstarting liquid to help the bacteria colonise quickly, and went home to do a half-water change and try the new products. A week later he returned, and yet again the ammonia had barely changed. So if the chlorine wasn’t killing the bacteria, what was? In desperation I concluded that his filter was rubbish and didn’t have any biological media in it, so he bought some bionoods with the instruction of removing half of the sponge in his filter to make room for it. I very nearly bought it for him, so responsible did I feel for all this rubbish that was happening and the constant trips to the store he was making. This mystery is to be resolved in a few weeks.
Lyota, mate, please don’t die on me. I really don’t want to be responsible for more deaths! Crossed fingers, everybody =x