• Major Tank Maintenance Done Today

    From Jeff Snyder@1:345/3777 to All on Mon Nov 9 19:12:00 2009
    Oh gosh . . . am I aching . . . but the tank is clean! :)

    Today I spent about six hours performing some major cleaning maintenance on
    my 45-gallon Malawi cichlid tank, which now holds five adult mbunas -- four males and one female -- three "teenaged" mbunas -- Junior and two other fry from spawn #3 -- and the twelve fry which were released by Mama Mbuna on October 28th, for a total of twenty fish.

    Oh yes . . . during the past several days, I have actually been able to
    watch all twelve of the fry. Each one has staked out its own little
    territory; and I must say that it is a bit amusing to see them already
    sparring with each other at not even two weeks of age.

    But to continue . . .

    For some time now -- partially due to my slowing down on water changes, and heavily feeding the fish -- a thick carpet of reddish-brown algae has been growing on the rocks. While it is far from the prettiest algae, it does
    serve a purpose. For one thing, it gives the rock decor all the same color. Second, my mbunas appear to enjoy eating it, being as they are herbivores by nature.

    Sometimes I will not feed them for a period of 2-4 days so that the water quality has a chance to recover, but also so that the mbunas will crop back
    the algae growth, and they do a pretty good job of it. It is easy to tell
    when the mbunas have been foraging on the reddish-brown algae during the
    night, because in the morning, there are white spots all over the rocks
    where they've eaten it . . . and then there's the dark-colored feces all
    over the tank bottom as well. :)

    The algae also harbors some microscopic animals -- such as planaria -- which adults and fry both enjoy eating. In fact, I believe that the reddish-brown algae is responsible for helping the new fry to survive during their first
    few weeks of life, until they learn to catch and nibble on pellets.

    But, if the truth be told, the reddish-brown algae was really starting to
    take over the tank and look unsightly. Lately, some pieces were beginning to peel away from the rocks, and it was like this thick, rubbery, fleshy skin .
    . . really kind of weird to the touch.

    Anyway, this morning I started to peel away a few pieces of algae from the rocks with my fingers, and I was surprised by what I found. While the
    surface is reddish-brown in color, underneath, there is this thick, white, fibrous material, maybe an eighth of an inch thick in some places. It is apparently what anchors the algae to the rocks, and quite well at that.

    Having peeled away a few pieces, it didn't look too nice with the bare rock showing through, so I decided to put my hands to the plow, and do what I had been planning to do today or tomorrow anyway.

    I ended up taking out all of the rocks except for the large base rocks, and scrubbing them down with my trusty toothbrush in the bathroom sink. Once the smaller upper level rocks were done, I went back to the tank and applied the toothbrush to the larger base rocks as well.

    The next stage was to spend quite a bit of time netting out all of the loose algae, detritus, etc., which had settled all over the tank. I also used my turkey baster to stir up and freshen the sand substrate along all four panes
    of the glass.

    After that, the next step was to scrub down the four glass panes while the bio-filters were still working, so that the finer algae that was suspended
    in the water would be filtered out of the tank.

    This was followed by washing out the foam sponges and other inner components
    of the two Penguin 330 Bio-Wheel filters, cleaning the bio-wheels, and
    applying the sponge and toothbrush to the filter tubes and intakes.

    Once all of that was done -- man was I getting tired -- I drained about 60%
    of the water -- 22 gallons -- and used the hose to suck up more detritus
    from the sand as the water drained into the bathroom floor drain.

    After removing the water, I put all of the upper level rocks back into the
    tank -- not exactly the same as before, but close to it -- with lots of
    little caves and hiding places for Mama Mbuna and the fry.

    Next came replacing the water. I use four one-gallon water jugs so that I
    know exactly how much water I have changed. I add chlorine remover to each gallon after I've filled it up.

    Once the tank was full again, I turned on the two filters, and then I
    scrubbed down the interior of the four glass panes again in order to remove
    any water marks which may have formed while the water level was low.

    Finally, I put the lights back on, cleaned the outside of the glass panes, dried up any water on the outer surfaces, and I was finally done.

    Well, not exactly. I still had to clean up the big sandy mess in the
    bathroom, clean up my bedroom floor, wash some dishes, and finally, freshen
    up myself, so I could sit down my poor, aching body . . . and it IS aching!

    Man, this hobby takes a lot out of me! I'm getting too old for this! :)

    What I find interesting is that even though I stirred up the tank so much,
    the twelve fry have each found their own territory again. And, of course,
    the water change has made the adults spunky with each other. They were all eyeballing me, because I haven't fed them in a few days. I was going to wait until tomorrow, but I finally gave in to their pleading demands.

    Yeah, so I'm a softy . . . So what! :)

    Anyway, that is how I spent a major part of my day today.

    Until next time . . .

    Jeff Snyder, SysOp - Armageddon BBS Visit us at endtimeprophecy.org port 23 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your Download Center 4 Mac BBS Software & Christian Files. We Use Hermes II

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