VII. Water Change Math, OTS

Water Change Math, OTS

And Other Mismatches Between Tank and Source Water

This note assumes that you have read the note on what OTS is itself as well as the article on general Water Change Math, if you have not yet read those, you may want to scan them for background which may not be reviewed here.

Old Tank Syndrome, OTS {Click}

Water Change Math {Click}

When the water we want and plan to use does not match at all well with the existing tank conditions, if we do substantial changes we will subject the fish to sudden differences in the osmotic pressure of the water around them. This stress may be so severe that the fish suffer shock and may even die. They are adapted, hopefully and usually slowly, to the water that they are living in now. Too much change too fast is a system overload. This situation on the boards is commonly called “pH shock”, but it is not that, even though the pH may well be quite different. It is osmotic shock from the sudden change in TDS (total dissolved solids).  TDS includes GH, KH, nitrate ion (NO3–), sodium chloride (Na+, Cl-), carbonates and bicarbonate, and all the other dissolved materials that we do not measure (potassium, sodium, sulfates, phosphates, organics, etc.).
Continue reading VII. Water Change Math, OTS

VI. Water Change Math

Water Change Math – General

In other articles I push using nitrate (NO3) as an indicator of general pollution, and I still do that, but obviously that cannot be used in a planted tank, or even in tanks with functional microporous biomedia – which can denitrify, or in tanks with plenums – which do denitrify, coil denitrators – also for denitrification, or with added chemicals or exchange materials which complex nitrate. So what do we use? We have nothing that we can measure directly by hobby level test kits. Instead we use a hand-held calculator, or the comparable program in our computers, or even by pencil and paper. We calculate what our water changes are doing and what they are leaving behind, and then we decide what sort of schedule we can live with and/or live up to, and then that is what we do.
Continue reading VI. Water Change Math

VI. Some Fish That You May Not Want part 2:

Iridescent Shark Catfish

Pangasianodon hypophthalmus, the Iridescent Shark Catfish, is a large omnivorous migratory catfish from the Mekong Basin. The fish is widely aquacultured in its native areas. It has a listed maximum standard length of 130.0 cm or ~51.2 in; not exactly a small fish. An even more interesting bit of information is that at full size its body weight would be expected to be 44.0 kg or ~97 pounds. To further complicate the fish’s would-be keeper’s problems, this is another schooling fish, with a suggested minimum group of five individuals. Alone or in too small a group, the fish will be much more nervous and skittish. Most of the traded-in catfish of this species which I have seen showed moderate to severe injuries of the head and eyes from slamming into the glass or tank equipment. Now let’s see – the needed tank size for a group of five over four-foot long fish which weigh close to a hundred pounds each, are very fast swimmers, and extremely easily spooked fish would be what? Something larger than home swimming pools, but perhaps a bit less than a competition sized Olympic swimming pool? Try to imagine the water and power bills.

Continue reading VI. Some Fish That You May Not Want part 2:

V. Some Fish That You May Not Want part 1:

Colombian Shark Catfish

There are more than a few fish that show up in stores which realistically cannot be maintained in captivity in the home short of unlimited budgets and considerable professional assistance. Too many of these are just too big to be managed as a hobby fish, but stores may tell you that they can live in hobby tanks. That is unjustified. If you keep a horse in a dog crate, does it become a house pet? I suspect that you know the answer to that question. The same thinking applies to fish. This is the first of a projected series of articles on fish that are only marginally appropriate to inappropriate for hobby home fish keeping.

Continue reading V. Some Fish That You May Not Want part 1:

IV. The African Glass Catfish



a.k.a. the “Debauwi” Catfish – which it is not. 

Unlike the Asian Glass Catfish, this fish is not nearly all transparent, but is silvery with black stripes, with some transparency especially along the belly, back and side muscles of the fish.  Like the Asian fish called by a similar name, it is strongly diurnal (day-active) and very strongly
schooling with its own kind.  Also like the Asian fish, it has suffered
major name confusion and error.  The real name (at least at the moment)
Pareutropius buffei .  It has been called for years in the trade either Pareutropius debauwi or Eutropiellus debauwi and is commonly labeled “Debauwi” catfish for sale.  Unfortunately, the true fish of that name is a near relative, larger than this fish, and rarely imported.

Continue reading IV. The African Glass Catfish

III. Old Tank Syndrome, OTS

What is it, and what do we do about it?

At the other end of the line from “New Tank Syndrome” (NTS) is its opposite, “Old Tank Syndrome” (OTS). OTS can take several forms, a couple of which we will briefly examine in this article. I would not expect OTS in any tank less than 12-24 months old, but I suppose it could happen if little or no routine upkeep were provided, or if the tank were grossly overstocked or overfed or inappropriately fed, or some combination of those things. That does happen.  OTS is most often seen after a tank has been operated 2-3 years or more – sometimes much, much longer.

Continue reading III. Old Tank Syndrome, OTS

VIIII. Veggie Filters

Vegetable Filters

It is generally accepted that healthy plants have a beneficial effect on the water conditions in fish tanks. They absorb minerals including some metabolic waste products from the water, converting these into plant mass. So these may be considered a form of biofiltration. The other mineral ions that they absorb and use could be considered a form of chemical filtration. During their lighted period they adsorb carbon dioxide (CO2), produce oxygen (O2) and submerse plants release excess oxygen into the water, so are also a form of aeration. If the water is not oxygen-saturated, there is no visible evidence of this. In oxygen-saturated conditions, very small bubbles of O2 will form at the leaf surface and be released- this is the “pearling” plant tank growers point to with pride as evidence of strong healthy metabolism in the plants. In the dark they do use oxygen from the water (and release carbon dioxide), but they do not use as much as they produced in the prior light period. So if we accept all that, it is reasonable to want to have plants in our tanks, not just for aesthetic enhancement, or even for refuge for the fish, but for the benefits they can provide to the water quality and thus to our fish. Continue reading VIIII. Veggie Filters

V. sing the Python Products’ No Spill Clean and Fill

No, we are not talking about a snake. This device is the best, or perhaps the worst, device available as an enabler of MTS (multi-tank syndrome). I confess to being a long-term sufferer of this syndrome. My first setup was two tanks, one above the other on one stand. So unlike most hobbyists, I started out with more than one tank. My addiction was limited however. I could never get past the ~12 tank barrier. Upkeep took too much time and physical effort (I have also always been lazy). Then one day I saw an ad in a hobby magazine… it was all downhill from there. Continue reading V. sing the Python Products’ No Spill Clean and Fill

II. New Tank Syndrome, NTS

New Tank Syndrome, NTS

Robert T. Ricketts

There are all but constant questions on the boards relating the trials, tribulations, and assorted woes associated with a newly set aquarium. Very few novice tank-keepers have any realistic concept of the complexity of the system they are starting. This is no doubt a good thing – if most of us really knew up front how complex aquarium ecology is, we would probably never start – and think of all the fun we would have missed. The micro-ecology of out tanks is complex. The development of the micro-ecology is a tad demanding of attention, but the chores involved are not complex. After stability is reached, handling is not complex at all. As with many of the things we do, once you understand something about it, it is relatively easy. Continue reading II. New Tank Syndrome, NTS