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Posted By: Greg Dunlap <gregandeileen@juno.com>
Date: Friday, 6 December 2002, at 8:58 p.m.

I thought I would drop by and say Hi! I haven't had much time lately to drop in. Between getting the yard healthier, finishing up this AV system (BIG bucks and headaches!!), training the pup and everything else my time has been limited.

I did add some trace-minerals to the tank for the Pothos. The Ca, Mg and other nutrients seemed to perk it up.

The tank is a dream now. It has been 3 weeks since we last cleaned it and it is still very clean- only a few very light patches of algae showing.

I plan to do a "major" this weekend- a thorough vaccuming, carbon-change and change out almost all the water. With the RO system getting 50 gals of water takes about 5 hours, and with all the water we have plenty of time to really vaccum the gravel clean. This RO unit runs better water than our old one, the tank definitely stays cleaner longer. And pumping 50 gals of water back in takes about 10 minutes with my spare powerhead.

Notes for those who may want to go to RO water. I rebalance the 50 gals with 1/2 heaping teaspoon of Recon-50 and 1/4 teaspoon of baking-soda (good KH). For about 50 gallons this pegs a nice even 6.8 Ph. I recheck the Ph at 12 and 24 hour intervals and adjust the GH up with slightly more Recon-50, if needed, or down with a small amount of Acid-Balance.

My PH tens to creep up, due to all the Pothos and rock, so I add 1/2 teaspoon of Acid-Balance mixed with RO water about every 3 days. I mix a large batch (8 1/2 teaspoon doses with 32 oz. of water) and keep it in the fridge- it takes about 2 minutes to Ph test and add 4 oz. of the solution.

Aside from feeding, this is my only weekly maintenance, I am not even doing waterchanges anymore between major cleanings. The RO water just stays cleaner longer and is more stable, much easier to work with. It has cut my maintenance time in half.

The fish are doing great- the Clowns have grown, gotten fatter and have better color with the new RO water. I used to do a major cleaning when I saw them start to fade to slightly grey at the black stripes- a good indication the water needs changing. This used to happen about every two weeks, then back to jet-black, a great water-quality barometer! Three weeks now, and they are still jet-black. Clowns are a great way to watch your water-quality!

That's about it. I thought I would once again plug RO water. In 20 years I have never had an easier time keeping a tank, and my tank is pretty well stocked up. I will vaccum tomorrow, though. With UG plates it is good to keep them cleaned, they can clog if too dirty, or at least flow through them will slow. I am still running the powerfilter and powerheads at about 1000 gph turnover, about 80% of max. The fish have some current to play in, but it is not outrageous. At full settings there seems to be too much current.

I am still just rinsing/reusing the stock Emperor filter-pads and using them for up to 6 months! Sure, the carbon dies, but I use a high-grade bulk anyway (in a Marineland box) and dump it every month. With the UG plates and heads as secondary filtration I now only teardown/clean the powerfilter every 6-8 months, and this is a relief. I hate doing that, it takes time!

Aside from buying bulk carbon and filter-pads every 1.5-2 years I am buying nothing for filtration. Marineland does not like me! With the RO water and the addition of the UG plates and heads to the powerfilter and using the iso-tank for EVERY incoming fish, I have had one fish-death due to illness in the past 18 months, I only restock Neons and Zebras as they literally die of very old age. My Gourami did kick, admittedly, but I am very suspicious the little guy had some type of internal tumor or cancer.

Fish do get weird diseases sometimes, especially as they get very old. I swear my Neons and Zebras get arthrits when they get very old- they tend to swim slower and get hump-backed! At this point the other fish will start bothering them, nature can be cruel, so I euthanize them. The best way? The garbage-disposal ( he he he!) Seriously, it takes them out in about 1/10 of a second. I think this is more humane than severing the spinal-cord or using OD limits of drugs. In nature, minnows rarely live past one breeding season, so I guess an 18-24 month lifespan is good. They seem to be very healthy and active.

I do need to get another heater- it's been cold here at night, and I have nightmares RE losing my single heater! I have an older Visitherm, and I have seen the new ones. Any input as to if they are as accurate and bullet-proof as the old ones?

I have to go- the pup is chewing on my socks, she wants her supper NOW! GREG


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