Fishy tails

I managed to get a few decent pictures eventually 🙂 Here is one:

Golden zebra danio, with cherry barb

And if you can see through the grubby glass (must clean the outside of the tank!) here is a pretty decent close-up as well:

Golden zebra danio


Look – new fish! Today we welcomed six new Golden Zebra Danios into our home.

They are a colour variant on normal Zebra Danios, but the same species. They are a pale golden yellow with highlights striped down each side. They swim too fast for non-blurry pictures, but I am in the middle of making a welcome video (to be posted soon) which will give you more of an idea.

Meanwhile, here is how they looked earlier, huddled together and fidgeting nervously at the surface of their new tank, just after having found their way out of the bag:

New golden zebra danios

(That bright light, by the way, is just my overhead light in the room where the tank is. There was no way to take this picture without having it in the way.)

I am slightly worried about dumping six new fish into my tank all at once, but they are pretty small and very hardy so hopefully the bio-filtration will be able to cope.

Polar bear with fish stuck in iceSo I left my fish to go on holiday. There were floods, riots, water shortages, powercuts and a filter conk-out. Well, I made the riots up – but still it could hardly have been worse! The good news is that my fish survived and everything is fine.

I have been reluctant to change the water because the tap water has been dodgy right up until last week, so until today I hadn’t cleaned the tank or changed the water or anything since before I went on holiday nearly 4 weeks ago! The job is done now and all is clear and fine.

Maybe because of all this, I dunno, it took me a while on returning from holiday to re-bond with the little critters. Maybe I’ve just been too stressed out and busy and distracted to just sit down and have some fishy chillout time. Whatever. We’re mates again now. Yay!

Also, Ariel has started asking when we are going to get some more fish. I promised we would see about getting more after we got back from holiday, and so I was thinking we could go and get some this weekend.

Preparatory to this, I decided to check my ammonia etc, to make sure all levels were nil or near enough. Oh no! Ammona is not nil, but then it never has been and the fish don’t seem to mind – but the nitrite has gone purple, fading to ruby after a while. Yikes! Frantically, I search for my colour charts. Can’t find them, but I’m pretty sure purple wasn’t even on the chart. The instructions, in case I mucked something up and forgot the correct way to do the test. Can’t find them either, but again I’m pretty sure I got it right. Either the chemicals have gone funny or my fish are on the brink of death. Looking at my happy, healthy fish, I reckon its the chemicals. Ho hum.

Well I bit the bullet today and finally cleaned out my fish tank.

I had read somewhere that you should just leave it be during the cycling process, rather than risk disturbing the developing bacteria colonies by mucking about with their home (the filter).

But it has been 5 or 6 weeks since I put the fish in, and the tank does have brown algae in it, and I had a suspicion that the filter may not be working as efficiently as it should.

Also, I have various camping trips planned over the next few weeks, and didn’t want to leave cleaning the tank until afterwards – which means doing it well in advance so as to give me time to help the tank recover from any blips caused by mucking about with the filter colony.

Anyway. I’ve done it.

The filter was absolutely full of brown stuff, I assume this is brown algae as there was an algae bloom over other parts of the tank as well. I haven’t scrubbed everything very thoroughly as I didn’t want to stress out the fish too much all in one hit, but I’ve given the filter a good rinse (in a bucket of water taken out of the aquarium, so as not to kill of the bacteria by washing them in chlorinated water!) and wiped over the surfaces where there was visible algae. Plus, changed some water and hoovered up some debris with the gravel siphon jobby.

The tank looks a bit nicer, the filter seems to be filtering away and the fish came out to play once I’d put their tank back together again. All in all, hooray!

(Although I will check things carefully over the next couple of days in case anything horrible has happened to my bacteria colony…)

Fish toilet!I am trying to wean myself off water testing.

When I first had my fish I tested every single day, enthused by the novelty of drip-dropping assorted chemicals and reagents and things into assorted test vials and generally feeling like a special scientist. That little pleasure, while not entirely evaporated, has diminished considerably with familiarity.

I then realised that I didn’t have to test every single day, because I have got to know my fish and understand what is normal behaviour for them. So I can spot if they are acting up – and only test when I think I might need to take some sort of action, or so that I can understand what is going on in the aquarium. I cut down testing to every 3 or 4 days just to keep track of whether my ammonia / nitrite are going in the right direction for the tank to get cycled some time soon, but that was about it.

Now I realise that actually if I can spot when they are acting up and know what works (i.e. a water change), then I don’t really need to test, do I? After all, the other reason for testing – to establish whether my tank is cycling – is kind of secondary and I don’t really need to test frequently to find out whether my levels are going up or down (indeed, I watch the fish to see if they are going up). I will obviously test before considering getting more fish, to make sure the water will be safe, but why bother otherwise?

I don’t plan to get any more fish in the next few weeks, even if my tank completes cycling, because I have two camping trips planned over the next month and don’t want to introduce fish if I’m not going to be here every day to keep an eye on things personally! If I’m not going to get new fish, I don’t need to worry minutely about how the cycling is progressing. So I can relax.

How liberating.

PS The toilet picture is there because it amused me. The fish don’t get flushed – the toilet water is separate from the aquarium water!

Well, one of my fish (Spice) is acting strangely. She has been swimming up and down the side of the tank, as if trying to get at her own reflection. A bit like this oranda:

Spice has always been more active and confident than Sugar. What she has been doing today, though, has more of the look of frantic. I’m not sure if she is trying to escape, or has been somehow hypnotised by her reflection! I think the latter, because when she has been doing it if Sugar swims near her it seems to distract her and she swims over to Sugar instead of dancing with her reflection.

Anyhow, just in case this frantic behaviour is down to ongoing high ammonia levels, I’ve done a nice fresh water change. Both fish are currently pottering about as normal, so with a bit of luck everything will be OOOOOO-K. Yay!

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!

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