Some housekeeping: forgot to mention yesterday that we also bought a sand vaccuum. Thx for the tip Stardancer, that woulda been bad, but we chose an alternative method, one that I really wouldn't suggest. Also the calcium block was removed yesterday. I've seen no mention of it's use in any forums or articles detailing proper fish care. Hope we didn't upset the PH balance too much. Thanks Jenjen. Glad to know people enjoy the daily updates. Yeah, as for the heat, I did a bit of reading on that. Without giving any spoilers, the issue will be tackled more in depth on Day 6. Present Today (not to be confused with Past today which is the post below which occurred a few days ago) I still have yet to see the temperature, but I think drastic measures will have to be taken.
Day 4 || Ammonia 0.25 || 82 Degrees || 50% Water Change
No more toonie sized bubble nest look-a-likes in the middle of the aquarium. Only those on the perimeter
Wanted to change water yesterday but I was at work. Doing that today but first, to put the test kit to use. Since the aquarium was less than a week old, I figure that the only thing worth testing was Ammonia. Felt like Bill Nye with those test tubes and chemicals. Was pleased with results. Sorta what I was expecting. We then proceeded to do a 40% water change with the sand gravel vacuum. Our substrate is comprised entirely of marbles GF got them from IKEA a long time ago. She says she doesn't want sand or gravel because she would have a hard time or find it impossible to clean them. With the marbles she says she can take them out of the aquarium and rinse them somehow.
By this time I had been doing a lot of research on the net and had heard of something called the nitrogen cycle. Was intrigued, saw all the positives, but also heard that it was hard to do on a 2.5 gallon tank. Especially if GF was going to be taking out the marbles each water change and cleaning out the beneficial bacteria (BB). So today I showed her some vids on youtube depicting how the sand vacuum works. After seeing it, I was finally able to convince her that the vacuum I asked her to purchase yesterday wasn't a waste of money AND that sand/gravel is a better substrate than the marbles, which has so many gaps for debris to get into.
Together we removed 40% of the water based on popular recommendations. At this point, things were starting to make sense in my head. The recommended water changes posted here all seem to support the cycle, even if they don't say it. And each change seems to be timed right before toxicity levels hit dangerous levels. My GF still thinks thinks the test kit was a luxury item that we didn't need but I think that it is us, the noobs in this hobby, that need it most. We don't have the instinct or experience to tell us when a water change is due, except by following the schedule. I believe the test kit gives a more detailed look into what's going on in that little tank so that we can see just how clean the water actually is. In this case, if the results showed that it was 0.25 Ammonia before the water change, it should be around 0.15 after a 40% water change. The kit was pricey, and it could be done without it, but I wanted to play it safe when I have somebody else's life in my hands. Everybody is different, but for those that like "easy mode", this takes most of the guess work out.
Unless you mess it up, like we almost did, hehe. We only planned to remove 40%. We had a 1 litre ice cream container for draining purposes. I was siphoning the corner, where there was a lot of residue we didn't even knew about from the Ca block (curse you giant marble crevasses) and by the time she told me to stop, it was nearly too late. I raised the vacuum out of the water, but the water in the tubing still had to travel down to the 1 litre ice cream container. It was right up to the brim. Three more tablespoons and we surely woulda had Sashi water on the kitchen mat. And that's how we ended up with a 50% water change.
After gradually refilling the tank, fed him for being such a good sport during the whole process. I was expecting him to be freaked out and hiding on the opposite side, but no, his curiosity was right there beside the gravel vacuum. Infact, I was getting annoyed because I had to take care not to bump into him. I probably would have been able to clean more than one corner if I didn't have to worry about that. Fed him a bit for now while we went out to watch a concert. Plan was to feed him again, but we came home at midnight and didn't want to feed him so late. Think he was sleeping when we came home because he was the least enthusiastic I've seen him since day 2.
Question of the day: Tap or filtered Brita water? We've been using filtered brita all this time but for the next water change I think we'll only use half filtered and half tap, and tapering it down from there. As far as I know, the only thing we don't want from tap water is chlorine and chloramine, easily neutralized . If there are other minerals there, I suppose Brita could be filtering them out. Minerals that Sashi may need. A few days from now I tested the PH of the water. 7.2. I think that's ok. What worries me is that on the first day, he was probably in tap water from the store and when we took him home he was in britta water. I understand there may be huge PH differences between the two, but nothing I can do about it now. At least we haven't seen any adverse affects yet. Fingers crossed.
[Editor's Note: while the following may offend some readers, please remember that this is our first time owning a fish and still learning as we go along. Also, this is written from the point of view of the writer. Bias will be present]
Didn't see Sashi today but things didn't turn out so well when GF was feeding Sashi. The day before, I fed him differently in that instead of putting the frozen bloodworm cube into the tank and rubbing it there to get a few pieces out (how the pet store instructed me to do) I tried putting it first in a styrofoam cup and letting it thaw before pouring the whole cup back into the tank. We used styrofoam for lack of better equipment; didn't want to use our glasses for obvious reasons, and we had nothing else on hand. Most of the bloodworms came out, but a piece got stuck so I had to do a swish and rinse to finally get it out. GF didn't like that but it was just a temporary measure until we can get a designated cup for Sashi.
So on this day, she was feeding Sashi on her own for the first time and decides to thaw the whole bloodworm cube for 5 minutes or so in open air before rubbing it in the tank. I love my GF, bestest friend I ever had, the only one that will put up with my "eccentric" behaviour, but to say that I was upset would be putting it mildly. It's summer, that cube thawed out nicely. Soon as she put it in the tank and rubbed on it, large portions came out. Very large portions. Over the phone, she would later inform me that Sashi was having the feast of his life that lasted for a good 3 minutes.
In a way, I was glad that Sashi was well fed because we only fed him half of what he normally gets yesterday. The other half we couldn't give because it was rather late when we got home. Also, this would be his last meal because tomorrow was his fasting day and the following day would be the start of his new pellet diet. I was kinda more mad at her method because now that cube has gone through the thawing process. Putting it back in the fridge will help, but I feel that it's shelf life has gone down. Best course of action will probably be to use it one more time before disposing of the entire cube and starting with a new one.
She describes Sashi's abdomen as "really big". He was still swimming normally afterwards as usual, even looking for more that fell in between the marbles. All that made it much easier for me to convince her that gravel or sand was the way to go, so that no food particles will get stuck down at the bottom. Apparently Sashi wanted more and could see more in areas that he couldn't reach. I wasn't there but I'm guessing he eventually got to them because after a while he stopped and was back to his left/right patrol of the aquarium.
In the next entry, we take a trip to a pet store closer to home and we take a closer look at Sashi's abdomen after his all-you-can eat binge (for the first time...with pictures!). What did we come home with, and how feisty can one fish be? Stay tuned to find out.
Day 6 || 84 Degrees || Amonia 0 (post pseudo 50% water change) || PH 7.2
Got this weird feeling as I am writing this. A little hesitant on showing pics of Sashi. I suppose it's similar to how parents feel when their children attend school for the very first time. Will he be accepted? Will he be criticized? Does he look like in good health and what does that say about me as his care taker? Truth of the matter though is that he developed this large lump near the end of his body after his gourmet meal last night, so as much as I'd rather not show him in his best light, it's more important for me to have this condition diagnosed so it can be treated ASAP.
So yeah, that's him. Say hi to our Sashi. This pic will be taken 3 days from now, but not much has changed. Originally it was more well defined and perhaps 10% bigger. GF was alarmed, but I told her not to worry. He had a big meal last night, he has a lot of business to take care of down there. Looking back, I wished I had taken it more seriously, and done things differently, but what's done is done. There has been no change in his behavior or swimming ability. Somebody please tell me it's just constipation.
Anyways, after a quick inspection of him it was off to the big pet store. We were there for almost 2 hours, including a 30 minute lunch break as we went through our options. It was hard to justify spending so much on a $10 fish, but passion won over reason and we left that place with our wallets feeling a lot lighter. Items bought were: 5 gallon tank with LED and filtration system, 2 bags of black gravel, 1 bridge, 1 large plant (plastic), 2 small bamboo plants (plastic), 1 small leafy plant (silk), 1 bridge, 2 tiny lanterns, 1 scrubber, and a bottle of Omega pellets. Items we forgot or couldn't find were a toy mirror, ping pong ball and an extra foam sponge to baffle the filter (more on that later).
When we got home, I spent about an hour setting up the tank for Sashi, while my GF prepared the water we would need to fill the new tank. Got a bit stumped with how the filter actually worked but after a quick search on youtube, got that sorted out. We made sure to turn the water flow to the lowest setting before dropping it to the bottom of the aquarium because while the aquarium that we got received glowing reviews, the one issue with it is that the current is a tad too strong for the stagnant water dwelling bettas.
Once everything was set up, then came the time to transfer Sashi from his 2.5 to his new 5.0, and boy, did we mess it up good. This time however, I blame Sashi for being temperamental and impatient as much as I blame myself for being irresponsible and ignorant.
So the tank was set up, finally on the countertop instead of the kitchen counter. An elevation increase of about 8 inches, doubling his field of view from 90 to 180 degrees. Gravel washed, decorations arranged, 4L of water in place, the same temp as in Sashi's aquarium since they have been sitting in the same room even before we left for the pet store, with another 4L ready to go, and another 4L being prepped. I've spent 6 days with the little guy so far. I've got a pretty good feeling of how he is. Although we had a fish net, I knew that Sashi was not shy around me at all. So we took a well rinsed disposable plastic cup, the ones you get when you order soup for take out, and lowered it gently into his tank and scooped him up from behind. He can't say that he was totally caught off guard because everytime we would wash dishes, he would swim to the closest end of his aquarium and watch as we go about our daily business. This time he definitely knew that something was up because the two of us were there, me setting up the aquarium above him, while GF on Sashi's other side preparing the water and gravel. And even when I lowered the cup into his aquarium, I did it slowly enough that if he really wanted to, he could have escaped. But I did it gently to show him that I meant no harm, and when he showed no signs of resistance, I scooped it up.
The second I placed him down on the countertop, he thrashed in his tiny little plastic cup. My GF and I looked at each other, both in amazement and in confusion...then he thrashed again. "Quick, get me that lid!," I say. Safe from the danger of falling into the sink on one side and a metre drop on the other, I scooped his old aquarium water as fast as I could into his new tank. We were treating this as somewhat of a water change. We didn't want him to be in entirely new water so that was the reason he was staying in the cup while I mixed a cocktail of new and old water in his new tank. It was over in less than a minute, but even in his lidded cup, we could see and hear him thrash several more times during the process. So finally there was roughly 8L of water in his new tank, half he was familiar with, half new (we didn't pour the last bits of his water in which had all the poop). I took the cup he was in, lowered it to the aquarium and removed the lid to calm him down, but it did anything but. If anything he was more determined to get out. That plastic disposable cup had a sizeable thickness. For safety's sake, I wanted to acclimate him in there for atleast 5 minutes just to be sure that there is no sudden temp changes. He couldn't wait 5 seconds. He was back to thrashing, and more vigorously than before. I was afraid he would leap up in the air only to fall hard on the ridge of the container. Gotta love these panic inducing moments. Consulted GF on best course of action. She's got that stern, motherly attitude. She says that if Sashi can't wait to get out and be properly acclimated, well, that's his decision.
We both love Sashi. We don't want any harm to come to him. And in our line of work, that is our philosophy: we give you the information, you decide what you want to do with it. I understand fishes are different than people, but in that moment, we had to think fast. I lowered the cup and let him go. I don't think any harm came out of it. The water temps should have been similar and even if they weren't, worst case would be is that the 84 degrees would be reduced to cooler, more comfortable temperature.
In fact, that's exactly what I ended up doing as I gradually topped off his tank. It was only at the 60% mark so I had a lot of refilling to do, 1 cup at a time. The first remaining 20% was water acclimated since it's been sitting out for an hour in this summer heat. The final 20% had only been sitting around for ten minutes, but since the temp reading was at a steady 84 degrees and the day was only getting hotter, I had no qualms about putting those in even though they felt a bit cool. Temp still stayed at 84, but because this was going to be the hottest day, my guess is that it would have reached 85 if I didn't take those precautions.
After it was all said and done, we did the water check's, with the results posted above. I was thinking that maybe we should have dumped in the poopy water in the new tank as well, but it just didn't seem right. No need to rush the cycle.
Mental note: get those aquarium bags in the future for transferring fishes. His agitation probably came from his determination to never be placed in a small cup ever again. After spending 6 days in a 2.5 gallon aquarium, that cup probably looked like prison to him, especially since he couldn't see out of it. Poor planning on our part, but I still don't appreciate his temper. It was beginning to dawn on us that we got ourselves one feisty fish, but these displays of aggression was only the beginning...
As for his new home, I'm assuming he does what all fishes do when they are introduced to a new environment. He explored every nook and cranny. There was much more plants and decorations for him to interact with. We both got excited when he went under the bridge for the first time, seeing a slight hesitation before going through that dark area. In the first hour I saw him get blown halfway across the length of the aquarium 2 or 3 times when he ventured to close to the filter outtake. Sashi, being the inquisitive fish that he is, always returned to that spot until he finally got the hang of it and would swim against that one area in the aquarium where the current would be just enough for him to swim against without really gaining any ground. Reminded me of those days in the mall when we would run up the wrong side of the escalators.
I've heard that bettas dont like strong currents but during his first day in his new tank, I was convinced that Sashi does. At this point I'm convinced Sashi is alot of things. Cute, yes. Crazy? Not too far of the mark. I didn't know how long he would find it entertaining but when it was time for me to go home, I took his old terracota cup and placed it open end into the spout that was releasing the current to stillify the water. Wedged it in good with the tall plant. Hoped it wouldn't fall during the night while he slept below.
Been in contact with the moderators of the forum. Together we have decided to move this thread from fish care section to journals. Day 7 & 8 will be the last ones posted on here. If you are having trouble finding day 9 in the coming days, please look in the journal sections.
Let's start with the desert first. No sashimi at the bottom of the pool. The terracotta stayed in place the whole night, providing our fighting fish calm waters to sleep in. And the day was much cooler than yesterday; the 3 day heatwave had come to an end. That's a good thing as I was planning to do a drip cool method of hanging some ice cubes over the tank to cool it down, with no idea how to set up something like that. Was thinking of laying a bunch of chopsticks lying around over the narrow slit on the aquarium lid and placing the ice cubes there. Maybe in the future, but the day brought different challenges.
Here comes the veggies.
First the tank was murky. For those that have seen the pics I posted yesterday, you will know that the aquarium rests on the countertop that splits the kitchen from the dining area. From my angle on the kitchen with the sliding door on the far end (DSC_1816 best illustrates this) illuminating every floating particle in the aquarium, it didn't look clean at all. First aquarium, no experience, but I suspect that this is a normal occurrence because the filters are new and are blowing out more dirt than filtering out. Yeah I think I read that some where. So I knew that the issue should resolve itself given another day or two. But I also realize that I stifled the filter last night. The thought running in my head was that there wasn't enough water flow for the filter to do its job properly and that the water was only going to become murkier day by day while the terracotta was cupped against the outtake spout. So I removed it, and a whole can of murkiness came out. Just wasn't my day. It wasn't evident right away, but after 5 minutes, the water really looked murkier. Just great, I thought, but now at least more water would be pushed through the filter. I was hoping against hope that it would clear up in an hour or two, but even when I was about to leave later that night, I still couldn't tell how much improvement, if any, there had been on water clarity. The only thing that helped was when the sun went down and the particles were not being side lit anymore.
Second issue was the excessive water flow. By removing the cup, the water current was great enough that the pretend leaves on the pretend tall, old tree were visibly swaying. It was pretty rough. And what I don't understand was why Sashi kept coming back to it. He would swim left with the current, travel time 1 second, then he would turn around and swim right, against the current, travel time 3 seconds. He would do this several times over. Soon as we left the pet store yesterday, I realized we forgot to buy an extra foam to baffle that spout, but I thought that by placing the tree close to the spout, it would spare the rest of the aquarium from turbulent waters. My unscientific estimate was that 60% of the aquarium held calm waters, while 40% were exposed to the high current. And this crazy fish of mine had nothing better to do than to swim in that 40%! Crazy fish...
Meanwhile, life outside the aquarium involved me helping GF with her essay. If we had finished early, I would have gone to the mall and bought a piece of filter foam to remedy the situation, solving both the high current and murky water, but there was a lot to proof read and in between, I couldn't stop watching Sashi. It was just too funny watching him do what he was doing. So no trip to the mall. I did make minute changes to the angle of the spout and placement of the big plant to achieve the calmest waters several times. And every time I dipped my hand in the tank, Sashi was right there supervising the whole operation. A little to the right, I could imagine him saying. Crazy fish.
When he wasn't running on his water treadmill, he was doing ziz zags on the two bamboo plants we had placed on the opposite end. For reasons that will be explained in the next journal, we had to split the bamboo apart--which is why you don't see it that way in the pictures--but initially we had them placed together to simulate a "bamboo forest look." Fan of Wuxia films and since bettas are Siamese, we thought, why not? In the days ahead, Sashi would cause us a certain amount of frustration, but this day everything seemed to be falling into place. Are all fishes this graceful? I knew I spent too much time staring at Sashi, but I was mesmerized by the way he navigated those tight turns. And when he made a mistake by bumping into a leaf, he would turn back, pause, pretend it didn't happen, then try again. As a dude, I try not to use the word cute too often, but if ever there was a situation that called for that word being used, this was it.
I don't know how these journals will end. I don't know when these journals will end. All I can say is that the entries onward will be darker in nature. So if you like happy endings, well, as I mentioned above, this day was the best we will have with our little guy. For those who wish to read on, the next entry will reveal the mystery surrounding Sashi's tattered tail.
***More veggies...this one took longer than I expected. Can hear birds chirping outside which is my cue to go to bed. I know 7 and 8 was supposed to be back to back, but in order to maintain a certain degree of quality, I'm going to have to call it a night. Hope you enjoyed the read.
Question of the Day: I know fishes sleep but how much sleep do they need for a healthy night's rest? I usually leave GF's house around midnight, then that house wakes up at starting at 6. Is that enough for the fish? He doesn't sleep whenever we are around, though what he does when were not around I dont know.
The Road So Far...
[cue in "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas]
It's been a week now writing these journals. I'd like to take a break here and reflect on the events of the days past. Also, this gives me a chance to read everything from start to finish and fill in some details that I missed.
A key moment in yesterday's journal that I forgot to mention was that the bait and switch tactic worked (that sounds morbid when the topic at hand is fishes...), Sashi ate the pellets. Fairly certain they are the Omega 1s. Seems to be the popular one round these parts. I suppose it helped too that the day before he was fasting so that must have helped his appetite. Bloodworms are now weekly deserts. He was given the 2 pellets at night. We were still concerned at the time about the lump on his belly which is why we didn't feed him anymore. If my theory is correct, this may have been our biggest blunder yet. No noticeable weight loss, but I'm starting to suspect that in the first week, he was underfed.
As for the noise that I was worried about in the kitchen, so far it hasn't been an issue. It helped that the seasons worked in our favour. Summer being the hottest, and the week we got him that was the hottest on record so far for the year, nobody in the house wanted to torture themselves by dabbling in the culinary arts. A lot of take outs and dine-ins so for the most part Sashi was spared much of the noise he would have endured if we got him a few weeks earlier from all the noise involved with cooking and washing. Eventually they will start to cook again in earnest, but for now Sashi has been given a chance to acclimate to his surroundings before experiencing decibels and vibrations in their full force once the pots and pans come out. I think the only time he was ever actually scared was on the second day that I mentioned. After that, it was all curiosity and attitude and water treadmills.
He'd prolly be dead by now if he had not slept during the week, but not I nor GF has ever actually witnessed him do it. Oh we tried. In the mornings, GF would walk slowly towards the kitchen as quietly as she can, but her peeking into the kitchen would prove useless as Sashi would already be awake. There was a time, I think it was the 3rd day when we came home from the concert, where we found him less active in the aquarium and he actually went to his terracotta and curled up like a dog. I guess that was the only time and as much as I wanted to enjoy the moment and watch him sleep, it was more important that we gave him his privacy.
Full Disclosure below
My apologies for the cheese factor involved with the intro, but after putting it there and playing that song on Youtube, it reinvigorated something in me to keep on writing these journals. I probably have as much fun writing these journals as you guys do in reading them, but after 7 entries in 7 days, they were becoming exhausting, and that was during the happy days. I'm dreading writing about the days ahead because they were so frustrating for both my GF and I. But I can't leave it here hanging like that, not after all the build up. So that song really helps me soldier on. I'm reminded that the word "adventure" is in the title somewhere, and adventures always have their ups and downs. You gotta take in the good along with the bad, as the saying goes. So wherever Sashi's story takes us, I'll do my best to chronicle. At the very least an update here and there.
For the time being, while this marks another delay in the publication of Day 8, I am formulating ideas in my head on how to make it work. May have to watch Fight Club tomorrow. Dark Comedy just might be the way to go.
I'd like to introduce a new segment to the series, the Pictures and Comment section. It has come to my attention that the picture I linked a few posts above got all the hits, but quite a lot of you didn't have the opportunity to scroll right or left to view the other pics. No problem, as this part of the journals will showcase some of the pics I've taken, and this will also put an end to the "Question of the Day" segment as most of the readers here seem content with just the reading, not that there's anything wrong with that. This also gives me the opportunity to briefly describe the pic in greater detail and give you guys a better picture of the situation, no pun intended. The only thing I should mention is that while I don't have the time at the moment to go into detail about how these pictures were taken, the relevant settings can be found by following the original link where you will see details such as shutter speed and aperture (click "additional info). Ok so now that we know what's up, lets talk about this pic. A fish. Some black gravel. Blurry plants. Nothing really, until I honed in on the blue marble, and that's really what this picture is all about. Bad photography, since the marble is competing--and winning--the viewers attention. But I wanted to show this because those marbles were the sames ones in Sashi's previous tank, except there was way more of them, and stacked as they were as substrate, you can see how it was easy for things to slip underneath. Glad we went with gravel. Now it just acts as an accent. An afterthought. They were all rinsed (goodbye BB...) and ready to be put away. Glad we decided to add a few in.