Welcome to my aquarium journal. I thought this might be a good way to keep track of the trials and tribulations and of course, the joys of my latest fish-keeping endeavor.
My aquarium is really not mine, it is a pet that my 6 year old son earned for consistent good behavior. My 8 year old is working on earning a pet cockatiel, so I may share some thoughts on that too from time to time.
We have a 29 gallon set up that I got free from a friend. We officially started the process on January 13, 2014.
Here are the specs:
gravel and laterite
Aquaclear 50 hang on back filter
Aqueon Pro 150 heater
20W GE plant and aquarium bulb
After much encouraging research here and on other forums I decided to add live plants. This is what we started with:
Java Fern and bronze wendtii cryptocoryne - given to me by my friend
The others we bought at PetSmart
My plan had been to wait a week before adding anything else, but my son really wanted to get the betta asap.
the neons were doing well. Our water parameters were great, ammonia and nitrites 0. Trace nitrates. So we headed out the next evening to pick out our betta.
My son wanted a red betta, so I showed him 4 of the best looking ones of the pathetic lot available. There were 2 that were quite unique, a dragon and a crowntail, but he really liked the solid red veil tail.
He named him Sammy right away. I said, "That's a nice name."
When we got home my husband asked him, why the name Sammy? My son replied, "It's a nice name"
The neon tetras are really a lot of fun. They school together and chase each other. I love how small and colorful they are. They seem to enjoy swimming in and out of the plants and caves. I'm feeding them Omega super color flakes.
Sammy the Betta is very timid. He spends almost all his time in the cave or the cryptocoryne. When he does swim around he seems to be doing fine with the filter flow. He didn't eat much at all the first week. I started feeding him Nutrimax Betta (that's all the pet store had) and then switched him to the Omega Betta food.
The neons chase and nip each other, but completely ignore Sammy and he seems to not even notice them.
2/1/14 First water change. Our chemistry was good, no ammonia, no nitrites, 10 nitrates, but I felt like it was probably a good idea to do a water change since the tank had been running for a little over 2 weeks. I siphoned out 5 gallons since that's the size container I have and can lift to my kitchen sink.
Previously I used a python clean and fill system. Now I have a fancy kitchen faucet, so I can't hook one up. I loved that method and would recommend it to anyone with a large tank (I used it for a 70 gallon).
So anyhow, now I just start the siphon by mouth, lug the dirty water over to the sink and have my husband re-fill the tank, since it's too high for me to reach. I'm using Prime as a conditioner.
Since I couldn't get the python, I got the EHEIM quick vac pro. It's a battery powered gravel cleaner, that can be used without removing water from the tank. I didn't like this product at all. It is expensive ($50) and really doesn't do well at all. There is a mesh screen for collecting debris, which is fine for big fish poop, but everything else goes though and then is floating in the water. The tank looked terrible after using it and was cloudy for 2 full days. Since we have quite a few plants there is only a small area I can vacuum.
I also added API root tabs to the gravel for the Cryptocoryne, Wisteria and Bacopa.
I got the wisteria for 30% off because it looked so pathetic (it was the only one they had). It started getting new leaves within 2 days so I think it will do well.
I rinsed and squeezed the Marimo in tap water and rolled it in my hands. It looked much nicer and greener after rinsing.
I think I will probably do water changes every 2 weeks, since the filter and plants seem to be doing a nice job. I'll watch my ammonia and nitrites and see.
Here begins the Testing part of the Betta Testing Journal!
2/6/14 Everyone was doing great so today we added 7 Black Neon Tetras. There color at the store was not as nice as the ones I had seen last month, but they told me they were stressed from being transported to the store and would be fine when I got them home. We acclimated them slowly over about an hours time and then left the lights off until the next morning.
I also started fertilizing my plants with Flourish.
When my tank was so cloudy after the weekend I ordered Purigen online, after reading many great reviews. By the time it arrived two days later everything was clear. I plan to replace my carbon insert with the Purigen in a few days, when the neons are adjusted.
Well, hindsight is 20/20, but I should have waited to get the Black Neons until they looked good at the store. By the next morning two of them were dead and so was one of the oto's. Of the remaining 5, 3 were swimming together and two were off toward the bottom by themselves. UGH!
Water chemistry was fine.
I cleaned the filter sponge with de-clorinated water. Wow, it was filthy, but the water in the tank is completely clear and water parameters are good.
The Black Neon situation is the same. All are pale. Everyone else is fine and Sammy seems to be out and about and less fearful now.
Another Black Neon died, now we have 3 swimming together, one by itself. Plus, surprise, surprise... all 4 have Ich! The other fish are not visibly affected.
I started raising the temp in the tank from 78 to 82.
So, I took the frozen, dead neons back to Petsmart and exchanged them for Ich Attack. I chose this particular product because it's safe for planted tanks and doesn't stain decorations or silicone joints. I will update as to how it works.
I tossed my carbon filter, and did a 5 gallon water change. I started dosing Ich Attack and increased the tank temp to 86, gradually over the next 12 hours. I checked on the fish frequently and didn't note any respiratory distress. My filter does a pretty good job moving the surface water, so I think oxygenation will be ok.
While exchanging my poor little dead fish at the pet store for ich medicine, I also purchased the TopFin Aquarium Gravel Vacuum.
I've been doing a lot of reading about Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis). The paramecium infects the skin and gills causing the white spots. Then it falls into the water as tomites and can be killed by temperature or medication (or it rapidly multiplies and attaches itself to fish again.) The tomites are most prevalent on the gravel and at lower levels in the tank. I wanted a gravel vacuum that actually removed the tomites, rather than just stirring everything up like the EHEIM vacuum.
I bought the medium size (10 -20 gallons) even though my tank is larger. It seemed like it would be easier to use between and around my plants. It was $12.99 They have 3 or 4 sizes for a variety of tanks.
The vacuum has a bulb to start the suction and a screen to prevent fish from being completely sucked up. There's also a clip to attach it to your waste water container.
I thought the TopFin Vacuum did a great job. The flow and suction for the medium size was fine. It worked so well I suctioned about a gallon of water onto my kitchen floor. So, do keep an eye on your bucket if you're using one.
2/10/14 This morning I can only find 3 of the Black Neon Tetras. The 4th is MIA. The number of white spots on the 3 Black Neons has really increased. I expected this with the increased temperature.
No other fish seem to be affected, and there's no apparent difficulty with respiration.
I'm continuing to dose Ich Attack 1T twice a day. The water is a little bit darker and smells like an unidentifiable ethnic restaurant. (There must be a lot of garlic in Ich Attack)
My heater is on almost all the time to maintain the temp at 86.
One thing that is really cool today is that Sammy is on the Betta leaf hammock! I came in the kitchen after the tank light was off, but the ceiling light was on, and there he was sleeping on the leaf. He looked so cute.
Then I started to worry maybe he was sick (b/c that's what I do). I went and got my husband. He said, "Isn't that the purpose of that thing?!" I had to laugh.
2/11 I'm continuing to keep the temperature elevated and dosing Ich Attack twice a day. The ich on the Black Neons is significantly improved. Everyone seems to be eating and swimming well.
I performed a 5 gallon water change and had my son help me by watching the waste water. Together things were much neater. My son is very sweet and loves to participate in the fish care.
During the water change I moved some of the plants around and found the very dead Black Neon I couldn't locate. It was stuck in that awful purple plastic plant. I am hoping the live plants grow in so that can disappear, but my son is proud of it, and so happy. And, purple is my favorite color, so I guess it's not so bad, lol.
One of my Anubias plants has a yellow leaf which I removed. I moved it to the front of the tank because I think maybe it was getting too much light. The Bacopa has grown quite a bit and all the plants have some new growth. I'm hoping the high water temperature for the ich treatment doesn't affect them too much.
2/12 This morning Sammy was dead on the bottom of the tank. There were no outward signs of disease and he was behaving normally. I think probably his gills were infected with ich and that killed him. The water tests fine. Poor guy...
My husband asked if I was going to try to just replace him while the kids were at school. That's not an option as much with Bettas as other fish. Eventhough Sammy was a common color and shape, he did have some distinct markings, like a little blue here and there, that my son has commented on. Besides, there's no way I'd throw a healthy new fish into a tank of ich.
I told my son after school. He didn't cry. He wanted to see him. He looked at the body and said, "That's sad." I thought he was going to cry, but I patted his head and gave him a hug. Then he asked about getting another betta.
We'll get another when this whole ich situation is behind us in a couple weeks.
The Black Neons are looking really good, 2 of them have just a couple very small white spots. I also noticed one little spot on 2 of the regular tetras, I'm not positive on that because they swim and dart around so quick. That's frustrating, but I think the outbreak is controlled and I plan to stay the course.
I've been doing lots of reading about ich and find it very interesting. I wish I had a good microscope or was still in school. It would be interesting to autopsy the dead fish and look at the water and gill/skin scapings under the microscope. Hopefully though, once this is ich problem is over, it will be a very long time before we have dead fish again!
I was really hoping not to have to set up a quarantine tank and I know that's the root of my problems. I was hoping to get lucky, get things established in the main tank and then coast. I'm not sure what I'll do when this is taken care of and we're ready for new fish. I want to have a full school of the black neons and a betta.
2/14 “A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have..."
Things are going well. There are just a few tiny spots on the fish. Plants look ok, I fertilized with Flourish.
I did another water change (see quote above). I didn't have my son help me and the tubing came apart at the suction bulb junction. Of course it took me a few minutes to notice! Fortunately, I do have plenty of old towels.
Two of the black neons and two of the neon tetras each have one white spot each. One of the smallest neons died today. The plants look ok.
Water parameters are fine. We continue to keep the temperature up and dose with Ich Attack twice a day.
We did another water change without incident!!
Our other big news is our new pet cockatiel, Charlie. This is my almost 9 year old son's bird. 'A' loves birds of all kinds. He is particularly good at identifying wild birds. He can tell you what a bird is at the feeder, in the air or by it's call. He really wanted a falcon, but we thought it would be best to start with something that didn't require a federal permit.
I've now been treating for ich with heat and Ich Attack for 10 days. There are still a few little spots on 3 of the fish, but definitely a steady improvement. The plants are definitely getting weary of the increased temperature. They are getting a little pale/yellowish.
My plan was to start lowering the temp after 2 weeks if the visible ich was gone. I think it's going to take longer than that.
I'm trying to decide whether to suck it up and start up a quarantine tank for when we're ready to finish stocking the main tank. I want to avoid this disease fiasco, but I really don't want to set up a second tank.
Our cockatiel, Charlie is doing great. He steps up on command and is really sweet. He will sit on my shoulder and plays with the kids. He seems to be adjusting well. He is pretty quiet; I hope that continues.
My little dog, Shrapnel is oblivious to the bird. She is 14 and acts like a puppy when she's awake, but she spends much of her time sleeping. The bird has seen her and was frightened, but she didn't even notice the bird. I don't get the bird out of the cage when the dog is around.
Shrapnel, miniature pinscher, 14y. She wears a sweater all the time because since she's gotten old she is always cold. Sorry the tag is still on in the picture! I had just bought the sweater and then she was so happy when I tried it on her, I had to take a picture.
Today we did another water change. I only see one white spot on one of the black neons.
I bit the bullet and set up a ten gallon quarantine tank. The tank, filter, and hood cost a dollar less than the heater! That was frustrating. But it is up and going now. I used Tetra Safe Start again and we put in 3 African dwarf frogs. They are cute, each is a little bit different color. I've kept these little frogs in the past and found them to be very hardy and easy to take care of.
I bought the aquarium at Petco. while I was there I checked out the bettas. There is a blue-green crowntail male that I really liked. There was also a beautiful lavender veil tail. I'm going to take my son to look at them tomorrow.
My goal is to quarantine the betta and frogs for two weeks and by that time our ich problem should be fully resolved. Then we'll probably quarantine a few more black neons and then we'll be done.