Something Fishy Going On... - Homesteading
So, a few weeks ago, we found a small fish bowl in a thrift store and fatalistically bought it - and the betta fish to go in it... hence beginning another new adventure!
I've kept fish before with moderate success.
Within days of getting the betta and learning that he really needed a larger tank, the universe smiled on us and provided an inexpensive 30-gallon tank with stand and (almost) everything with it.
Knowing it would need to be set up a day or two before putting fish in it, I got this done immediately - including buying a bunch of plants to put in it. The next trip into town (about two days later), I met someone who changed my fishy life... who encouraged me to do it right, showed me what to buy and helped me understand better what I was doing.
I went home without any fish, but with a test kit and lots of other bits to make my life a lot easier (and hopefully a much healthier situation for my fish!)
The first step:
Cycling my Aquarium!
At first, I thought this was mostly a buzz word for "don't be hasty." But it's a lot more than that.
Your aquarium requires a delicate bacterial balance to keep it healthy. As much as water changes will help, letting the bacteria do their work for you is far more important!
- You need ammonia to begin this process! Something rotting in the tank is perfect - or you can add ammonia chemically. In our case, our city water uses chloramine in its treatment of our drinking water - which breaks down into chlorine (which evaporates) and ammonia (which doesn't.) Note: ammonia is very toxic to fish, so although we need it now, it has to be gone before fish will be safe!
- At some point (a week or two) bacteria develop to break down the ammonia into nitrites (NO2), which is still toxic to fish, just a bit less so.
- At some point further (another week or two) nitrites start being broken down into nitrates (NO3), still not great for fish, but a lot better for them!
- You aren't supposed to add fish to the tank until all levels return to zero. After each addition of fish or other livestock, you have to watch the levels again.
One way to hasten the nitrogen cycle is to use materials from a previous tank (things like substrate, ornaments, plants, old filter medium - NOT water... that doesn't work very well). As it turned out, the tank we bought had good bacteria in it as it quickly reached a healthier point than the little bowl I had the betta in...
I made the decision to go ahead and move him into the larger tank even though it wasn't ready yet.
I've added some snails: 6 mystery snails and 2 nerite snails (I'll talk about them more at a later point, I'm sure.)
Yesterday, we finally reached a good point on the tank - not perfect, but good enough for me to feel okay with buying our neon tetras to swim with the betta. (This community tank is being developed with the betta's needs in mind.)
And today's tests...
Not quite perfect, but pretty darned close! Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate almost to zero. The pH was also around 7.5 which was my goal (our tap water is 8.4, so I used our snow water to balance it out.)
lol, I picked up two more tanks the other day... one (5 gallon) is going to be a quarantine/hospital tank on a shelf below my plants in the basement. The other (20 gallon) will be for one of the kids (probably). (I think I might have an addiction...)
Anyway, I was watching various videos on how to do a better job at keeping fish and my next goal is to create two well-planted tanks.
I'll go more into that once my new plants arrive, but until then I'm working on scrubbing rocks and sticks for the new set-ups.
These things were mostly found at my inlaw's property and scrubbed. The sticks have had boiling water poured over them to disinfect them, then are being soaked to get them waterlogged (making them sink in their eventual tanks.) Next post on fish will be about rebuilding my 30 gallon tank and then doing the 20 gallon tank.
I decided to keep this in my homesteading category because I eventually want to get back into aquaponics, but that starts here - with keeping a household fish tank to the best of our ability.
Photos taken with my Samsung NX11. Crossposted on Hive.
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