June 2007

Cherry barbsDoesn’t it ever take a time? And a worry?

It’s been 31 days now, but something does seem to be happening at last. Ammonia levels are still at 3mg/l, which is very high, but I think they are starting to think about coming down a little as the colour is at the paler end of the colour band. Meanwhile, nitrite levels are up to 0.8mg/l, which suggests that ammonia-eater population growth is outstripping the nitrite-eater colony’s ability to process nitrite, and therefore that growth in the nitrite-eater colony will soon be stimulated. Yay!

In other news, I did wonder whether the fact that my fish seem unbothered by the high levels of ammonia might be down to an increased proportion of ionised ammonia due to increased acidity of the water due to leaching of tannic acid from my bogwood… (are you following this?)

To test this theory, I did a pH test and it came out as 8.0, even more alkaline than the 7.5 it was before! I assume, therefore, that the effect of the alkaline ammonia in the water is outweighing the effect of any tannic acid. Although what that means for my theory, I don’t know, because it is still possible that the water would be even more alkaline were it not for the bogwood and hence the proportion of ionised ammonia is still potentially being affected by the bogwood, only the effect is masked by the ammonia itself. Or something. I’m no water chemist, so I’m just speculating. Ho hum.

In any case, I’m going to spend a little time observing my fish for ill effects, especially given that the nitrite spike seems to be kicking off now (which they did NOT like last time around) to see whether I think I need to do a water change.

Edit: Fish seemed a bit lethargic, so I gave them a clean bucket of water, and they seem more sprightly now, pottering about as usual. Yay!


Cherry barbs, still alive!

Just in case anyone thinks I don’t love my fish no more… Here they are, still alive and happily pottering about the tank together.

I can’t help but notice the number of hits I am getting on my Lactophilia post. I hope this is from hordes of proto-feminists trying to work out why Juggmeister videos make them feel queasy.

Meanwhile, will the sick individual who found me by searching for “creatures and aliens raping human female” kindly get some help? Also, please get out of my brain.

A snail we saw in the rain on Sunday:


A shiny little bug that crawled on us in the garden today:

Bug 1 Bug 2

Something we decided not to eat (or smoke, or whatever it is that you are not supposed to do with strange fungus you find growing about the place):

Mystery fungus

And the cherry on the cake, or rather – the grasshopper (I think – I am no naturalist). This is amazing, look at the legs on this thing!

Updated to add (couldn’t seem to upload this yesterday) – a fluttery thing. I thought moths came out at night and butterflies were pretty, but this is neither. My feeling is that it is a confused moth, but as noted above I am no naturalist:

[Right: in a rare show of male-inclusiveness, Maia displays art by a man.]

My poor fish. Or rather – since my fish in fact seem perfectly fine and healthy – poor me. This cycling lark is stressful. Particularly when you thought you were all done and then – POW! – you are back to square one as I was about 10 days ago.

My ammonia levels are going up again now. Nitrite constant, nitrate rising. I think this means that:

  • The tank is certainly still producing nitrate.
  • This means I must still have nitrite-eating bacteria – a big enough colony to cope with the amount of nitrite being produced, albeit lacking the extra little oomph to take the levels down to zero.
  • Since I have nitrite-eating bacteria, who have clearly got something to eat, the tank must also still be producing nitrite.
  • This means I must also still have some ammonia-eating bacteria. They have *not* all died in some freak anti-ammonia-eater bacterial terrorist attack. Yay!

Given that my ammonia levels are rising only slowly, I must have a big enough colony that it can almost cope with the rate of ammonia production.

But is “almost” good enough?

The trouble is, I don’t know whether this is normal – I am told ammonia-eater colonies do grow very slowly. And I don’t know whether the reason they can’t keep up even though they apparently previously could is because I have stopped doing water changes or because there is an increased source of ammonia from somewhere (bogwood rotting? overfeeding?) or even because my ammonia-eating population is actually in decline from some unknown but horrifying reason. And I don’t know whether I should now re-start my water changes. The fish do seem perfectly fine, and if water changes do interfere with cycling (as some experts say, although others say they don’t) then I don’t want to be doing it unnecessarily. But what if my fish only seem fine but are actually receiving some hidden damage? Or am I now in sillymummy flap territory?

Deep breath.
Being a fishmummy is really hard.
It is not as hard as being a babymummy.
But it is still hard.

I think I’m just having a flap about nothing. I’ve read my nice, reassuring fish book again and feel like a silly flapper. (So, yes – this is just like being a babymummy!)

Next Page »