confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

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Fish Dork
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confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:57 pm

My tanks are a mess. I have come to the realization that for tanks to work for me I really need to have a serious cleanup crew, because I am way too lazy to do the cleanup myself. Red cherry shrimp, nerite snails and MTS seem to work well for me. My "big" tank (29 gallon) has 5 botia striata who think that plan sounds yummy. So I'm at a point where I need to commit and make the tank work for the fish and those of us who have to look at it, or I need to accept that fishkeeping is not for me.

Soooooo, my plan is to come to this nice friendly forum (at least it was a few years ago, I really hope it still is) where I know the skill level and commitment level of the members far exceeds mine. And I'm going to post a photo of my ugly tank. And then I will feel accountable to all the knowledgeable people with the lovely tanks that will look at it. And then I will have to fix the tank, posting my progress along the way, because otherwise OMG, it's just too embarrassing.

So, um, here it is (it actually looks better in the photo than in person): :oops:
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The tank houses 5 botia striata
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3 rainbowfish (1 male, 2 female)
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1 amano shrimp
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1 bristlenose pleco who declined to be photographed

I also have: 1 new SLR camera with which I seem to be able to take photos where the fish aren't just a blur.

1 10 gallon tank which also needs help, just not as badly (home to 2 geriatric guppies, 2 nerite snails and many MTS)
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1 5 gallon tank which is home to 1 nerite snail and 1 red cherry shrimp
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The smaller tanks at least have some green in them (ok, some of that is algae, but whatever), so they are second priority.

To do list:
-new substrate - looking for natural looking pool sand in my area
-new plants - thinking about vallisneria, as I have had luck with that in the past (different tank and different water though), anubias, more java fern, crypts
-new decor - have new hollow log for pleco, need new driftwood, backgrounds?
-assess moving BN pleco to 10 gallon tank - he doesn't come out that much, I think the loaches irritate him
-obtain cleanup crew that won't be lunch for loaches - planning on trying some otos
-grow food for otos and nerite snails - have jars of algae on windowsill and husband has not left me yet, so plan seems to work
-more red cherry shrimp for small tanks - think the guppies caused severe population decline. Rescued one berried female and moved her into tank with no fish, but she is not doing her part to rebuild population.
-stop slacking off on water changes
-find time to implement plan with 4 month old baby who doesn't like naps

starsplitter7
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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by starsplitter7 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:45 am

I too have not the prettiest tanks. Yours are by far much nicer. :)

But I wanted to let you know that your stock looks beautiful and healthy. The striata are very nice and the Amano is breathtaking.

I look forward to the suggestions you receive. I could use the same.

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Fish Dork
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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:14 pm

Thanks. I have been justifying the state of the tanks by claiming that at least everyone was healthy and water conditions were good, but I admit that lately the water changes have not been as frequent as they should be. That is really top priority, as the rest is just aesthetics. One of the female rainbows has been a little off lately, so I have my eye on her, but everyone else appears to be doing well.

In other news, I was trying to find a local supplier for Red Flint brand sand, which I have seen people use in tanks. There's no local distributor, but I can get 500 pounds of it shipped to me. Not sure if that would be enough for the 29 gallon tank. ;-)

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by franmorr1966 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:18 pm

Admittance is the first sign of overcoming your problem. LOL

I'm lazy too and water changes on my 55 gal got that little bit more involved when we redid the kitchen, changed the faucet and the Python no longer fits on it anymore. So I bought an extra large fill bucket and a sump pump, and I now fill the tank that way. This lazy person wasn't too happy about that, but do you know why I persevere? Because the fish live. They look great. They grow. That's why I keep up with the pain in the ass water changes, and try to keep the tank looking good too.

Your striatas are so cute that they deserve the attention you should give. :-) Good luck from a fellow New Englander.

Fran

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:41 pm

Hey, so while we're at it, let's discuss the Python water changer or similar options. One of the things I have learned in life is that knowing yourself and your tendencies well is the best way to find systems/solutions that work for you. So I know that one of the obstacles in the way of water changes is the whole water aging thing. Currently I use gallon milk jugs to age water. We have a community well that is chlorinated, so I let it sit for a couple days to evaporate chlorine and warm up.

This is problematic because 1) there's gallon jugs of water in our dining room 2) I forget to fill them and then there's no water when I have time to do a water change and 3) sometimes I don't get to the water change and then they start to evaporate and I really need to refill them which leads back to item 2.

I would love to be able to use something like the Python to refill the tank (would probably still drain into a bucket as I have fears of sucking up some living being and having them go down the drain). Chlorine and temperature are concerns however. I know that when using water for cooking/drinking, you should never use the hot tap water as it has more of a tendency to have dissolved contaminants. So I would assume the same applies to adding water to the tank. I also dislike chemicals in general, so I try not to add any to the tanks (I think I am the only one who stands in the fish store looking at the ingredients on fish food to try to find "all natural" versions). So I don't like dechlorinators.

All my tanks are within reach of a faucet. So could I in fact use the Python to fill the tanks without worrying about chlorine or temperature? I've never used one, but I assume I could fill very, very slowly and the heaters could keep up? I see a lot of claims that it dissipates the chlorine, but has anyone seen any actual hard evidence of this?

I would gain a lot of points if I got the gallon jugs out of the dining room. Probably enough that I could continue growing algae in jars on the windowsill without any comment.

franmorr1966
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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by franmorr1966 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:14 pm

Hi.

My disclaimer on the following is that I've never actually tried filling CHLORINATED water directly from the faucet though I read it has been done by pouring dechlorninator in at the same time. Cold water won't be heated fast enough by the heater. I fill directly from tap to tank because I'm lucky to have non-chlorinated tap. I feel for the right temp on my forearm and I always am within a degree of tank temp. I'm all for making life easier while getting the job done.

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:09 pm

Ok, I guess I will stick with my milk jug solution for now...

I did acquire some pool sand today. It is lighter in color than I had hoped. I'm hoping that with lots of hiding places and (hopefully) lots of plants it shouldn't cause stress for the fish?

glenna
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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by glenna » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:09 pm

okay, I would never trust using a python, no matter HOW slowly, to dissipate chlorine. I think the biggest obstacle to decide about is the use of dechlorinators (otherwise you are stuck with the milk jugs, I'm afraid). I use Prime and I would personally drink water treated with it (but then I drink diet Mountain Dew, so that just negates any validity to safety concerns!). Still, dechlorinators have been used a long, long time and I'll bet every fish you own was treated with one at one time or another at the pet store and lived through it!
Anyway, if I did NOT use a system akin to a python, my fish would be long dessicated.
I have been called foolish for using a two liter pitcher: First, I drain whatever water from the tank that I want to change...out the window with a gravel vacuum and extra hose. Then, I hook up a regular garden hose to the sink using the python sink attachment. I actually use an Aqueon water changer (not python brand). I feel that the auto-syphon on it it wastes too much water down the drain so I just use the old fashioned technique to get a syphon started by sucking on the end of the tube and hoping I don't end up with a mouth full of yuck. After the water has been drained (put a mesh or net over your vacuum or you'll be sending "Fluffy" under the bushes!)
Then, to refill the tank, I run tap water directly into the 2 liter pitcher to which I have added the Prime. I let THAT overflow into the tank. I have a TDS/temp gauge that I use to measure temp and TDS in the tank, and then the tap water. I don't like there to be too big a gap on TDS (not more than 50) and will adjust the temp from the tap to match that from the tank. I have never lost a fish to a water change using this technique. ( I have lost some shrimp, but that was BEOFRE I added the TDS/temp part of the process). In fact, they do not seem to notice (Except for the tsunami factor). Then they get all frisky with the clean water!!!
HAppy, happy, clean,clean !!! ....give it a try!
glenna

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:37 am

Ok, I'm not giving up on this! I want pretty tanks!

I still haven't ordered plants, and there doesn't seem to be any place close to me that has anything I want. I do have pool filter sand however, and would like to change the substrate. With the long weekend coming, maybe I have a chance!

For those of you that have done this, how dumb is it to think that I can remove the gravel and add the sand with the fish still in the tank? The rainbowfish seem to get really stressed out easily, and I am thinking this would be less stressful than netting them and putting them in a bucket, but I'm not really sure if it's feasible? Thinking I could net the gravel out?

Sticking with my current water change strategy of aging water in gallon jugs for now. Thanks for all the info!

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by KittyKat » Wed Nov 23, 2011 4:34 pm

Fish Dork wrote:For those of you that have done this, how dumb is it to think that I can remove the gravel and add the sand with the fish still in the tank? The rainbowfish seem to get really stressed out easily, and I am thinking this would be less stressful than netting them and putting them in a bucket, but I'm not really sure if it's feasible? Thinking I could net the gravel out?
If you are slow and careful, then it can be done without removing the fish, but if for some reason you can't do it slowly, then it is safer to remove the fish. I found that the easiest way to remove gravel was to syphon it out and the easiest way to add sand is to syphon it in. Remember to switch your filter off!
Fish Dork wrote:Sticking with my current water change strategy of aging water in gallon jugs for now. Thanks for all the info!
This doesn't work on chloramine (unless you aerate the water while you age it for a week) and heavy metals. There is actually nothing harmful in dechlorinator unless it is overdosed by (taking an educated guess here) 10 times or so. As for water pythons, no, chlorine will not have time to dissipate between tap and tank: it takes 24 hours in a well aired environment. The best thing to do is treat the whole tank with dechlorinator first (enough for the old water and new), switch the filters off so the chlorinated water can not come into contact with them, then top up with new tap water. In theory, dechlorination should be instant, in practice, it usually takes 2-3 minutes if you make sure the new water and dechlorinator are well mixed. Adding tap water straight the the tank full of dechlorinator is probably not the best idea with an undergravel or a sponge filter, as the media is quite exposed in those.

Dechlorinators such as Prime have the added bonus of temporarily dealing with ammonia, which is left over after dechloramination.

While small quantities of chlorine and chloramine are not harmful to fish, I found that a 5-10% top up with chloraminated water consistently stalled a cycled filter for 2-3 days when I did some experimentation with household ammonia and my tap water.
Kat
stock list | main display tank | 60 litre cycle log (ex- guide for beginners) | Flickr

glenna
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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by glenna » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:41 pm

I do not think your substrate change is a "dumb" idea.

I have done a substrate change with the fish in the tank and it worked fine, but did take a lot of time and being careful.

I think it was a little easier since I was going from sand to gravel. STILL, I did about a third of the tank at a time: sucking out the sand with the syphon, then I used a small plastic cup to place the pre-rinsed gravel down in the sand's place.
The water got cloudy, but no one was too stressed since I preserved their ability to hide. I waited after I did the first third, then did a 25% water change, then waited a little while before I moved on to the next section, followed by another 25% water change. I just moved all the decorations/driftwood and "pulled up" the plants over to the new area while I worked on the middle, then last third. I am a little lucky in that my tap water is pretty good, so that such a large water change was done, but in stages.
who knows, ...maybe I got lucky!

good luck! (okay, I know this is the END of the long weekend, so maybe you are already done, so let us know how it went)
glenna

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:51 pm

glenna wrote: (okay, I know this is the END of the long weekend, so maybe you are already done, so let us know how it went)
That's funny. ;-) I have not touched the gravel yet. It is encouraging to think perhaps I could do this with the fish in place though. And I can definitely do everything slowly, and leave them places to hide. So that, and I need to order some plants before it gets unbearably cold...

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:54 pm

IT'S DONE!!! Unbelievable. And what a hassle, but the loaches seem to love the new arrangement, as they are out all the time now. Not sure why, as it's almost all the same decorations, just in different places. Photo soon, though I have little to no design sense, so it's not like it's a work of art, just less algae and new sand.

Question: if I use root tabs to fertilize, are the loaches likely to dig them up? I have never used them before, but I am terrible about remembering to dose with Flourish, so would like to use something that doesn't need to be done that often. I really want these plants to be halfway healthy.

To Do:
-get otos to help me keep the tank a little cleaner. My other little tanks always look quite green and nice, and I think part of the difference is that I have a better cleanup crew in those. Hopefully the otos will help. My BN pleco seems to not understand he is supposed to help. ;-)
-get more cherry shrimp for my smallest tank
-take down my 10 gallon tank once done quarantining the otos. My geriatric guppies finally passed away, so I can eliminate one tank.

glenna
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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by glenna » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:51 pm

YEAH!!!
done. Sounds like the loaches are loving it. I think they do respond to a change in environment.
It also sounds like your "to do " list is going to be very good for the tanks, I just LOVE ottos! little silent worker-bee fishes.
I hope you get a chance to post some pics!!
glenna

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Re: confessions and aspirations of a lazy fishkeeper

Post by Fish Dork » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:16 am

Ok, let's keep a few things in mind:
1) I have no design skills
2) The plants need to grow
3) I am not cleaning off the glass 'cause I want the otos to have something to eat when I add them ;-)

Let's review: Before
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After
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It's definitely better (just take my word for it). Hopefully the vallisneria will get nice and tall in the back. I have had good luck with it before.

The LFS was out of otos yesterday, so still waiting on that. I'm going to add a bunch of MTS and hope the loaches leave some.

Has anyone figured out a hanger for a heater that actually works? The suction cups always fail on me eventually.

Ok, a couple photos just for fun.

Like these stripes:
Image
Image

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