Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ich Been Gone

And it's been gone a while, but I have been remiss in my fish blogging. As I was saying to Eric on our Very Hot Date last Friday night, now that the tank set-up is done, I've picked my fish, and the fish have settled in pretty well, "you're thinking about getting a new tank," he finished, a kind and knowing smile. "It's called multiple tank syndrome. We've all been there."

Apparently, New Relationship Energy has a pretty short span when you're in love with a fish tank.

There's no gentle way of treating ich. You can buy a bunch of different treatments in the stores - all chemicals, all with a list of ways it would hurt the various things living in your tank. The one I got was copper, and after doing a bit of research, I realized that the copper might kill my loaches. They don't have scales, so they're more sensitive to things like toxins being dumped in the water. And I do like them. They don't have the personality of the cichlids, but every time I see them swimming around, I think "oh, the khulis. scoobilling around. scoobily scoobily." Who wants to kill that kind of contentment?

In the end, I decided to go with heat and salt. Over the course of two days, I raised the temperature up to 88 F, two degrees at a time. I lowered the water level to just below the filter jets to improve aeration.

After a few days, the heat had killed some of the ich on some of the fish, but then the ich on my red-bellied dwarf flags (who are really afraid of the camera, so I can't get a good picture of them, but they're very cute) went bananas.

Out came the salt. Sea salt. 22 tablespoons of it, in two goes, dissolved into a bowl of tank water first and then slowly poured in.

For a little while, the tank was kind of like soup. Not very healthy soup, since the salt wreaked fucking havoc on my plants.

The fish, however, didn't seem to mind too much. They were a little lethargic, but after 5 days, the ich was completely gone, and they'd stopped scratching themselves on the rock, the driftwood, the sand. The plants, on the other hand? They took a fucking beating, and the tank looked like hell.

After another 5 ichless days, it was time to slowly move out of kill-ich mode. Down came the temperature, two degrees at a time. When that was stabilized, I did a 75% water change to get rid of most of the salt. And another, again today, to make sure almost all the salt was gone.

I've heard tales of how awful it was to do water changes in the days before the PYTHONTM. All pails and spills. Not so with the PYTHONTM. You screw it onto your sink at one end and put the other end in the tank. Then you run the water and if the green plastic doohickey at the bottom of the sink end is down, the PYTHONTM creates a vacuum and sucks water out of the tank and if the green plastic doohickey is up, it pushes water down the tube and into the tank. There's a flip switch on a valve about two feet from the non-sink end so that if you have to say, run the exactly 50' from the tank to the sink to warm the water up so it doesn't shock your fish and give them ich again, you can leave the non-sink end on the floor and not soak everything in your living room.

The fish freak out a bit when I first put the PYTHONTM in the tank, but once its been in there and not moving around, the brave fish come over for inspection. The one in that picture there actually got sucked halfway up the tube before I noticed. It's a bolivian ram.

I did a lot more plant pruning while this was all going on, which is how the ram nearly got sucked up, and in the end, my tank looks much cleaner but very bare. I'm a little sad for the fish, who really do enjoy swimming amongst the plants.

Except this one, the Bristlenose Pleco. It's in its usual position, hanging around, upside down, sucking on a coconut hut. And really, if you had the choice, isn't that what you'd be doing too?

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