Test results and maintenance update

Almost two weeks ago, on Friday when I collected the loaches, I did a 20 litre water change on the tank because I wanted to acclimatise the loaches directly to the water they would have in the end, so I used the water from the 60 litre for the quarantine tank. The test results for the water from the 60 litre before the water change were (on day 113):

  • KH: 7 ° (125 ppm)
  • GH: 19 ° (339 ppm)
  • ammonia: 0 ppm
  • nitrite: 0 ppm
  • nitrate: 20 ppm
  • pH: 7.8

And today (day 124):

  • KH: 8 ° (143 ppm)
  • GH: 18 ° (321 ppm)
  • ammonia: 0 ppm
  • nitrite: 0 ppm
  • nitrate: 20 ppm
  • pH: 7.8

The temperature has been steady at 20 °C, which is perfect for these fish and fits in with the recommendation of the breeder from whom I bought them.

Following these tests, I performed an 8 litre water change (with the old water going into the quarantine aquarium that contains the loaches) and finished off by wiping the glass on the outside.

Current maintenance schedule consists of cleaning the glass and pruning the plants once per week. While normally I would recommend weekly water changes to beginners, in a well balanced aquarium such as this (which is lightly stocked and is planted enough that individual plants can not be counted) which does not contain young fish and where the fish are not overfed, the water changes are not as important because the plants can maintain the water quality. For the moment, I do water changes when I feel that they are needed or need water for the unplanted quarantine aquarium.

Fish jump.

Some do it as a defence mechanism, some do it for breeding, but regardless of the reasons most fish are very capable of jumping and quite a few are exceptionally good at it. Some species, such as Pangio spp. and Erpetoichthys calabaricus, are even known as escape artists, requiring extremely tight fitting covers for their aquaria. Jumping fish can easily become a problem as the fish can hurt themselves or even manage to escape and die.

In home aquaria, fish most often jump when they are spooked, so the primary point of concern is making sure that the aquarium is located somewhere that the fish are not disturbed. A suitable location would be in a dining room or a relatively quiet lounge, away from the doors, preferably where no one would walk by the aquarium on a regular basis. While most fish jump for the sake of jumping, I have also heard reports of an increase in jumping in waters that contain ammonia and I have had a pleco that took to jumping with age.

Of course, it is also important to discourage the fish from jumping. This can be done by adding floating plants, as fish are usually less inclined to jump through a barrier. Even with floating plants, a cover glass is highly recommended as the plants are no guarantee against jumping.

With all of these precautions, the dangers still remain as a fish can hurt itself if it jumps into a cover glass, so it is best to use all of the above measures in combination.

Most fish can not survive out of the water for long, some species, such as gouramis and certain catfish can because they are able to breath even when out of the water, so it is always worth checking if the fish is still alive if it is found after it has jumped. Chances of survival, as long as it is still alive, are quite high. It is usually recommended that the fish is floated in a shallow contained with increased aeration until it is able to swim and then, transferred back to its aquarium.

I thought it would be wise to mention all of these things as I am now down to 9 Danios because one male jumped around 40 mm up, through the opening for food (approximately 50 by 100 mm) and onto the floor, then made its way approximately 1 metre away from the aquarium, where I found it dry and dead by morning.

Cleaning the glass

Cleaning the glassMost home aquariums are made of glass, although it is possible to find some made of acrylic. The cleaning methods vary slightly between the two as acrylic can be easier to scratch, but even the harder glass is not difficult to damage, especially while in the process of cleaning it.

There is a handful of common equipment offered for this purpose: metal and plastic blades, magnet pairs (one for inside the aquarium, one for the outside), slightly abrasive gloves, etc… Having tried most of these products, I have given up on all of them when it comes to small aquariums. I have developed a strategy which involves cleaning the inside of the aquarium with an old bank card (it does not have sharp edges, so can not scratch the glass like blades can), using acetic acid (vinegar, may damage some acrylic) and a microfibre cloth for water stains. Magnet pairs are the only commercial product I consider to be effective, but only for large aquariums where it is not possible to reach the glass by hand or for aquariums whose inhabitants pose a health risk (for example, fish that carry poisons and predators that can harm humans). The problem with using any scraping device is that if some substrate is caught between the device and glass, the glass is very likely to get scratched.

I start by scraping the algae off the glass with firm downward strokes, moving the card away from the glass between each stroke to avoid catching the sand between the card and glass. Once I finish the first pass, I do a second one across the glass, but only in areas which are well away from the substrate. For the last bits near the substrate, I repeat the vertical motions again. Once the glass is clean, I change the water or let the filter pick up the floating bits. Note: if you leave the water for the filter to pick up what you have just scraped off, make sure to clean the filter within the next day or so, if there was much algae on the glass, as it can become blocked otherwise, which would affect its performance. If I plan to clean the lime scale stains which are at the water level, I drain the water so it is about 5 cm below the stains and a little bit of acetic acid on a microfibre cloth to gently scrub them off, while being careful to prevent the acid from going into the water. Finally, I top-up the aquarium and go over the front of the glass with a little bit of acetic acid and the cloth.

The glass box

The aquarium

This log is about a pretty standard 60 litre aquarium (which is approximately 16 US gallons or 13 imperial gallons). It is a standard shape: 60 cm long, by 30 cm deep, by 36 cm high (which is approximately 24 × 12 × 14 inches). For the purpose of setting up and running an aquarium, the specific manufacturer of the glass doesn’t matter.

The three most common materials used for aquaria are glass, plastic and acrylic. I prefer glass because it does not scratch as easily as cheap plastic aquaria and acrylic is used predominantly for oddly shaped or large aquaria.

For simplicity and because I prefer aquariums with a flat front and curved corners, I decided to go for the Arc Tank II kit by Arcadia. It is an all-in-one package which contains most of the equipment needed to start.

The glass is 5 mm thick, with a slight green tinge. The silicone is clear, and the joints are quite neat, so it is barely visible. The surround on the bottom is a thin and made of metallic grey plastic. The aquarium itself is suspended on the frame, about 3 mm from the surface, with all the weight being spread between the four corners. The cover glass is 3 mm acrylic, with a large cut-out for the light fitting on the back a smaller cut-out for feeding on the front. Due to the thinness of the acrylic, it does sag in the centre. The cover glass is quite loose and is very light, so if one is planning to keep fish which are known for attempts to get out, a new cover glass will be required.

Because the aquarium is suspended on a frame, a base mat should not be used. For the same reason, whatever is used for the aquarium stand should provide good support in the corners as it will weigh 70-80 kg when full of water and decor.

Overall, it is nicer than the average aquarium with a lid and looks neat.