Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I had four goals tonight

  1. Finish the game notes, even though it meant reliving the loss of the character. [Check]
  2. Get the living room in serviceable shape so I can sit on the loveseat and actually watch something if I'd like. [Check]
  3. Get the dining room in enough shape that I could get a bucket from the bathroom to the aquarium (which is in the dining room). [Check]
  4. Fill up the aquarium and then vacuum it as thoroughly as I can. [Check}
I'm hoping the one remaining goldfish (which is the biggest, prettiest one I had) will not die, with this major influx and change of water. But I'd let the aquarium languish, to the point where it was too low to keep the pump on, and there was a lot of Java moss, too, which tends to choke the remaining water. I have most likely the dirtiest aquarium known to man, mainly because I can't get those stupid 'self-starting' vacuums to work, and I've gotten enough knowledge of aquariums and infection control that I didn't want to do the old 'suck on the hose until it starts' that we did in the old days. I have three vacuums, two large, one small, all 'self-starting'. The small one is actually for the three-gallon betta tank that is currently not set up.

Well, I took an old Tidy Cat five-gallon bucket (not a liquid five gallons, but you get the idea), and filled up the bucket three times with water, and put it in the aquarium, which brought it up to the right height. I also changed the foam and activated charcoal in the filter (but not the anti-ammonia pellets--you should always keep some of the medium so that good bacteria that eat nitrates and therefore keep down algae blooms spread throughout the filter). I then plugged in the filter and discovered, to my dismay, that the heater had been plugged up all this time, in not so much water, which I don't know what that does. I think it shut itself off, at least. I cleared out some of the Java moss and then I let the filter run for a couple of hours, till the milm was settled on the floor of the aquarium and the water was clear.

Enter the turkey baster. Years ago, a former friend had given it to me as a gag gift, which had nothing to do with eating, as I don't eat poultry. It was still in the original plastic, some time ago, because of course I rarely throw anything away. I had used it once before to start the suction on the vacuum, and tried again. But the large vacuums have very long hoses, and I am too short to properly get the water and detritus into the container from my height, with the hose on the bottom floor of the aquarium and the container on the floor of the apartment. I decided to try the smaller vacuum, with a shorter hose, used the turkey baster to get the suction going, and then vacuumed two two-litres and a gallon milk jug's worth of gunk and water, which I capped and saved to water the plants with, as it's good fertilizer.

I then planted the plants back in, righted the tree branch and gargoyle, and found the little cave the fish like to go into. I replaced the lost water with six two-litres full of clean treated water and got some of the algae off the glass top. I certainly didn't get all the sediment, but I didn't want to shock the fish's system any more than I had done already. I then put away everything, scrubbed my arms down with soap and water, and I'm going to wait and see what it's going to look like when everything settles, then wait a week or two, and vacuum again. If I can get it looking halfway decent, I'll check the water (my chlorine, ammonia, and chloramines are always fine, the pH is hard, given that we're sitting atop lots of limestone, and my nitrates (but not my nitrates) are always very high, which is why I've had feeder goldfish in the tank for years. Of course, goldfish are very 'dirty' fish. They poop a lot, which causes the milm to build up, and the nitrates. Maybe if I can get things under control, I can go back to other fish, like livebearers and plecostomuses, while keeping the goldfish. You are probably thinking, just set the three-gallon up and put the goldfish in there. The problem with that is that goldfish actually need quite a bit of room, and goldfish bowls actually stress them out, and they die quickly. And while they usually prefer colder water than livebearers, mine's use to warmer water. So there's that. We'll see how it goes. I've had trouble with this set-up since I put the aquarium back together years ago. It never matured correctly, even with adding nitrate-eating bacteria and letting it 'cure' before putting fish in. I never had that trouble before, and the aquarium has been up most of the last thirty years, and the only thing I've really changed is the type of filter (better than the old undergravel ones) and that worked for years, and I've put an LED light in rather than flourescent, which provides more natural and long-lasting light. So I don't know. I did fine for over twenty years. Maybe it's somehow how the aquarium has aged. The gravel is the same gravel, albeit having been washed with water (not soap or anything) between set-ups. In the meantime, I'll cut the long hoses down to a better length. Anyway, here's hoping that everything's going to get better, and I get to be a better 'fish mom', not letting stress make me ignore the poor fish and the tank.

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