Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just Clowning Around

These are my resident clown fish, just several of MANY species I will cover in future days. These three are Clown Anemonefish otherwise known as Amphiprion ocellaris. These three are very personable and very territorial. Since I only have one anemone and it's a short tentacle variety, these clowns have taken to the corals. The corals don't seem to mind much. The clowns are fed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday along with the other fish in the tank. I feed them frozen brine shrimp or misys shrimp and they will eat out of your hand rather easily. Last year one of them actually laid eggs on a piece of live rock, none of them survived though I found it very exciting to watch their antics guarding the nest from the other fish and crustacea in the tank.
The second image here shows a Maroon Clownfish or Premnas biaculeatus. Its is rather dark in color, almost black. The other clowns do not like this one at all and will gang up to keep him away from food and their corals. This little guy stands up for himself though and does rather well for a fish 1 against 3. He is also rather personable and enjoys a little attention now and then when the others are not watching.
Also seen here below him is a small bubble coral (short tentacle type) know as Plerogyra sinuosa. I try to keep easy to care for corals that only need light to sustain them. The short tentacle version is much more "fish friendly" than the long tentacle types.
Most clownfish are very easy to take care of and very personable. I recommend them for anyone who is just starting out with a saltwater tank. Stocking several of them at the same time is the best course so they can establish their territories at the same time. The antics and personalities are sure to reward any enthusiast with endless hours of fun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pumping Water Around

Ok it's been more than a few days...The salt mixture was a little anemic and so I had to slowly increase the salt concentration to get it to 1.023. To get out the dirty water from the aquariums, I graduated from 5 gallon buckets to a Python No Spill Clean and Fill. They are actually on SALE right now at Drs Foster and Smith. Though they have good prices every day, this SALE makes this a no brainer purchase.

The Python is connected to the bathroom sink faucet in place of the aerator. With the valve in one position and the water turned on, the water will be sucked out of the aquarium and directly into the sink. It takes about 15 minutes to pump out 30 gallons of water and vac the entire substrate. You can do this with both fresh and saltwater tanks. Man does it save your back from hauling 5 gallon buckets of water around. That's 12 bucket trips saved with a 30 gallon water change!!!

Once the water is out, it's time to pump in fresh water into the aquarium. The valve is switched to pump mode and water is pumped directly into the aquarium. You need to adjust the water temp first to match your tank but it's not difficult to do with a thermometer. You also need to add a dechlorinator to the filling stream so you don't stress out your fish too much. I add in Amquel+ 1 teaspoon every 10 gallons as I go. Before long, the tank is full and clean and hardly a drop of water was spilled.
This is where things diverge for the Saltwater tank. Since the new salt water is mixed ahead of time, this has to get pumped back into the aquarium and the Python won't do it by itself! I use a magnetic pump safe for saltwater use. It was trial and error on the pump size as the distance, height of the tank above the ground, hose diameter, etc all play a part in how fast the water gets from point A to point B. In my particular instance, a 700 GPH pump gave me the best flow, not too fast and not too painfully slow. Using some spare parts, also ordered from Drs Foster Smith, I fabricated a host that would simply screw onto the end of the python hose and then attach to the pump.
After I'm certain that the temp and salinity are the same as the tank, I plug in the pump and fill the tank. I've done this for years, 30 gallons at a time (about 50%), and never had any issues with my corals or livestock.
Using the Python and a pump is HUGE back saver. I would never before have considered cleaning both 65 gallon tanks on the same day. That's 24 trips with the buckets. With the Python I can get both tanks done from drain to fill in just a couple of hours. After all, I would rather spend my time enjoying the aquariums than hauling buckets all weekend. It's important to simplify your processes with aquariums, especially very large ones. I guess that goes for having any kind of pet. The less time you have to put in doing maintenance, the more you can enjoy what you have.
Coming soon, more time saving processes and a little more about my aquarium inhabitants.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Salt Water Mixing Day

Well today is salt water mixing day. My SW tank is 65 gallons and I generally change about 50% of the water every couple of months. To do this I use a Rubbermaid plastic tub that's about 40 or 45 gallons. I use filtered water that is filtered through a Pur 3 stage under sink water filter. It's not quite as good as an osmosis filter but it does a very good job and you can take a drink in between bucket runs to the tub. I then mix in about 12 cups of salt mix. I use Reef Crystal salt when I can. Using two power heads and a 300 watt heater set for 74 degrees, I let this mixture churn and aerate for 24 hours before checking the salinity. Over the next couple of days I will add salt until it matches exactly what is in the tank, usually 1.023. On the last day I will bring the temp up a few degrees to match the tank temperature. It only takes a couple of hours with a 300 watt heater.

In a few days I will tell you my process for getting the old water out and new water in (pictures coming)...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Aquariums

This tank is my 65 gallon salt water tank. It has no mechanical or biological filtration other than the live rock, live sand, and an air driven protein skimmer. It has matured for 3 years this way and is home to 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Hippo Tang, 3 Percula and 1 Burgandy Clown Fish, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Neon Blue Goby, 1 Cardinal Fish, 1 Manderin Dragon Fish, 1 Foxface Lo Tang, 1 Serpent Starfish, 1 Reef Lobster, 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp a cup full of hermit crabs, and various soft corals that require only moderate light to survive.

The biological filtration is performed almost entirely by the live rock...about 80 lbs of it. This also aids in the reduction of nitrates to such a level that with water additives, I only perform water changes of 50% every two months. This has not seemed to bother the live stock. I just make sure that salinity and temperature are the same as what is in the tank.

This is my 65 gallon freshwater tank currently home to 3 LARGE Plecos, 6 Cherry Barbs, and 6 Long Finned Rosy Tetras. This tank has had some issues along the way and I have had to include a 15 watt UV sterilizer. So far no more deaths. I am keeping hearty inexpensive fish in this tank until I'm certain it's ok. This tank has matured for 3 years now and houses many different type of live plants.

3 Dimensional Bronze Fish Art

I have been searching for a while for art that depicts fish and other aquatic wildlife. This piece I purchased in Berkley Springs, West Virginia. It is a three dimensional piece welded together of bronze and copper. It is roughly 24 inches tall and is designed to hang on a wall.

Unfortunately the piece does not have the artists name on it. The store told me that it was made by a person in Cumberland. I have this one hanging on the wall over my 65 gallon salt water tank.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Clown Fish

Here is one of my Percula Clownfish guarding his anenome.