Adventures in Fishkeeping or A Fish Tale

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Apr 2, 2002
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The universe has a way of reminding us, especially when things appear to ne going well, that we are not in charge of anything. I set up the bio-farm a couple of days ago. I have done this about 7 times over the years. I usually start with a bottle of Dr. Tim's bacteria. Expected this would be needed I grabbed a bottle good for 120 gals. around 5 weeks ago when doing an Amazon order. The weather should be good for that in terms of in-transit. When it arrived it went right into the refrigerator.

I set up the bio-farm and dosed it. I had added some filter squeezing and a bag of crushed coral as well. I mixed the ammonium chloride to produce about 3+ ppm of ammonia into the tank (I have a gram scale). I rounded up s a couple of the calculations is why there is a + after the 3. When I tested the tank using an API kit, it red between 3 and 4. The tank is a 40B with 14 Poret cubes- 6 are 5x5x5 and the rest are 4x4x4s. I covered the tank with a big towel.

Given the above, the tank should have cleared the ammonia in 24 hours. But when I tested about 36 hours later, it was almost 2 ppm. Something was not right. I had let the bacteria come up to room temp before adding them. I figured I would give it another day in case the bacteria had been slow to go from dormant to working. But the next test was at lest 1.5 ppm. Clearly the bottle had been mishandled somewhere along the way from being filled to coming to me. The contents were clearly dead.

I even added do baking soda to the tank- 1/2 teaspoon or so and did another squeezing of filter media into the tank. But this morning it was still at 1.5 ppm. Last night I gambled and ordered another bottle of Dr, Tim's on Amazon. It is due Friday but I am betting it may arrive sooner.

The thing is I need to cycle those 14 filters for 210 gals of tank capacity and do so in about 35 gals of water. That required the bio-farm tank be able to process 9 ppm of ammonia in 24 hours or less. getting there is a process of ramping up. At no time should the ammonia in the tank be over 6.25 ppm on a Total Ion scale kit.

On another note, I lost control and paid for 8 of the TR Altum angels and their shipping. I did ask the breeder to hold them for me for about 2 weeks. I need to do a major cleaning in the Altum tank and then a minor rescape. I need a couple of weeks with 36 hour days. It is June and that means canisters get cleaned.


"Damn the snailpedoes, full munch ahead!"

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fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Well, 9ppm is a LOT of ammonia to process! Sheesh...

I'm not surprised you got the altums! You sounded very set on them ;)....Good luck & please post up some pics...we want to see!
 
Apr 2, 2002
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*Sigh*

I breed a few plecos- not news. I am overrun with offspring as a result of Covid and not selling fish. Again not news. I have a breeder tank and then one or more grow-out tank for each differently source species. I have one tank of breeding L236 from the Budrovcan line and a single grow-out. If you are interested, you can read about about this line from the horse's, make that pleocos', mouths here.
Part 1 of "The L236 Story" is a catfish of the month article. Article © Ingo Seidel
Shane's World- Species- The L236 Story, Part 2 • First captive spawning - Article © Robert Budrovcan
Shane's World- Species- The L236 Story, Part 3 • The successful raising of L236- Article © Ernst Schmidt

Anyhow, yesterday I was doing the weekly cleaning and water change on my Budrovcan 236 grow tank and was surprised to spot several newly free swimming fry. I have not added any of these sized fish to that tank in about 8 months. This means the oldest six fish in that tank must be a spawning group.

I messed up my bio-farm cycling. It looked like it was going OK and then it stalled. I added some Baking soda and did a WC when the temp went into the low 90s and that seemed to make things OK. Last week I added ammonium chloride for about 5 ppm and it stalled. I did a water change and when it moved again I redosed to 5 ppm and it stalled and was for about 3 days.

I have to admit up front I got too cocky and assumed if I did it, it would work. But the number of filters was high and I have usually managed fine just testing for ammonia after it is added. So I did no other tests. Today I came to my senses and decided to test for KH. 1 drop turned it yellow on my API kit. Very bad fir cycling if accurate. But the kit was very old, so I decided to test for pH. I used the regular range API kit. It read at the very bottom of the scale- 6.0. That confirmed there was likely a KH issue which dropped the pH. I then dosed 1 tsp. of baking soda into the 35 or so gals. I waited a bit and retested for pH- 7.2+.

To raise the KH without raising the GH, add sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), commonly known as baking soda. 1/2 teaspoon per 100 Liters {26.4 gal} raises the KH by about 1 dH. Sodium bicarbonate drives the pH towards an equilibrium value of 8.2.
However, testing for KH it still was 1 drop. Comsidering I ha clouded the water from waving the crushed coral bag in the water as well as adding the Sodium bicarb, the KH should have read higher. So I assumed the kit was bad from age. The local PetCo was out of them.

Here is what had to have happened by my being so cocky and not testing. As the bacteria processed ammonia. They used up the carbonates/bicarbonates. The bag of crushed coral could not dissolve fast enough and the KH dropped. This in turn allowed the acid from the cycle to drop the pH. When the pH is at the 6.0 level in 86F water and it has 5 ppm of Total Ammonia, only 0.0043 ppm is NH3, 4.9957 pp, in NH4.

Many of the ammonia bacteria in tanks prefer NH3 and have receptors for that. they may have some for NH4 as well. Other bacteria will have more NH4 receptors but may not process that as effectively as the ones using NH3 can.

So what I did was to allow the ammonia in the tank to become mostly NH4 and this slowed things way down. I let my hubris overcome my knowledge- call me Homer, DOH!

Ain't fish keeping fun........

I suppose I should test nitrite and even nitrate, but those are old kits too. *sigh*
 

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Oh man TTA, what an adventure is right. I too have expired test kits (sigh) & have done the old timer cocky ballpark thing. My cockiness comes from almost always having plants too & I rarely start from scratch. I almost always have used filter media from a healthy tank. But I know my tap water is soft (low KH & GH) but enough that it "should" be fine with regular water changes...But plants (mostly slow growers) & bacteria use KH & a small amout of crushed coral isn't always enough. I am a lame fertilizer & an even worse tester...& now we're back to drought conditions so I know I cut back on water changing at least bit. I pretend light stocking & plants are good enough but, well, I don't actually know that.

So, did you get the altums yet? Or are they still on hold?

I'm off to read your pleco links while I cook.
 

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Oh dang TTA! I've looked at pics of L-236 before when you've mentioned breeding them. I'm not sure that's the first time I've read the Shane's World about them, but I may have been paying more attention this time. My husband is in love :D & not just with my wonderfulness & my cooking, it could be some pleco lust...But 100F days now, it's not time to even think about them...Oh, you are evil...in a very tempting way...
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,920
467
92
New York
Based on what I see on the news, California fish keepers are having to use sand for water changes these days.

Maybe you should keep the water and change the fish............
 

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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SF Bay area, CA
Haha! Low stocking & plants are all that's helping with the WC thing. I water my Meyer lemon tree & not much else. My aging manzanita wood smells like smoke from last year's fires...maybe vinegar would help with that...I dunno...might happen again this year.

So did you get the altums? You didn't say...
 

jake72

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Jan 28, 2019
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I have about 8 L204 and I hope to breed them though from my reading it is not easy. L204 don't sell for much but they sure are lovely fishes.

*Sigh*

I breed a few plecos- not news. I am overrun with offspring as a result of Covid and not selling fish. Again not news. I have a breeder tank and then one or more grow-out tank for each differently source species. I have one tank of breeding L236 from the Budrovcan line and a single grow-out. If you are interested, you can read about about this line from the horse's, make that pleocos', mouths here.
Part 1 of "The L236 Story" is a catfish of the month article. Article © Ingo Seidel
Shane's World- Species- The L236 Story, Part 2 • First captive spawning - Article © Robert Budrovcan
Shane's World- Species- The L236 Story, Part 3 • The successful raising of L236- Article © Ernst Schmidt
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,920
467
92
New York
The Altums should arrive here Tuesday 😀😃😄😁😊😊

I fell in love with H. zebra the first time I saw a picture of them. It took me a while to get some. It took more time to learn how to keep them properly. And then I had the chance to purchase a proven breeding group of wild zebras in 2006 and I jumped on it. the rest came from that decision.

204 is a nice looking pleco. I have never kept any of the wood eaters. As for having them spawn, PlanetCatfish only has two breeding reports. So they are probably not as easy to spawn as the Xingu Big Bend Hypans are. You might want to consider the Rapashy Morning Wood as a way to help get them in spawning condition. In one breeding report the feeding was shrimp and the other it was algae wafers.

I now have 3 tanks cleaned (plus the bio-farm). They have 3 sides blacked from the light and ready for some sand, a heaters, a divider etc. and filling. When I fill one i will move its filters in and feed it ammonium chloride until I am ready to add the fish. I really need to clone myself a couple of times,,,,,,,,,
 

jake72

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Jan 28, 2019
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Well i wont' try for another year - after i move i'll have a basement with room for lots of extra tanks. Right now my tanks are stuffed and i don't have the space to customize their habitat or baby sit the frys. By then they should have a bit of age on them - my eldest i've owned for 2 years now and the other 6 are close to a year of ownership. The first was nearly an adult but the other 6 were pretty young at purchase. I wonder if they will require soft acidic water for a successful spawn.

The Altums should arrive here Tuesday 😀😃😄😁😊😊

I fell in love with H. zebra the first time I saw a picture of them. It took me a while to get some. It took more time to learn how to keep them properly. And then I had the chance to purchase a proven breeding group of wild zebras in 2006 and I jumped on it. the rest came from that decision.

204 is a nice looking pleco. I have never kept any of the wood eaters. As for having them spawn, PlanetCatfish only has two breeding reports. So they are probably not as easy to spawn as the Xingu Big Bend Hypans are. You might want to consider the Rapashy Morning Wood as a way to help get them in spawning condition. In one breeding report the feeding was shrimp and the other it was algae wafers.

I now have 3 tanks cleaned (plus the bio-farm). They have 3 sides blacked from the light and ready for some sand, a heaters, a divider etc. and filling. When I fill one i will move its filters in and feed it ammonium chloride until I am ready to add the fish. I really need to clone myself a couple of times,,,,,,,,,
 
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