Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm a Murderer (Quite Unintentionally)

This is our aquarium that we've had for quite a long time. Many moons ago it housed numerous colorful fishes. Then one day we brought home the MONSTER - our Angel Fish. He was no angel. He (I'm not for certain if he was a he or a she) started out as a good housemate to the other fishes in the tank. He swam around with them, ate food, seemed quite content. BUT he grew! He got bigger and bigger and bigger. And meaner and meaner and meaner. Pretty soon our other little fishes began to disappear. Yes. The Monster ate them - all. of. them. I wish I had a photo of this monstrosity of a fish to share with you. He used to live in the aquarium pictured above. Imagine if you will his top angelic (cough) fin touching the top of the tank while his bottom fin touched the gravel. His body was about the size of a baseball. No kidding. Not thick wise just around wise. Does that make sense?

My birds are finally coming back! YEAH! Sorry for the interruption, but I've had seed out for days and no birds. We've had a hawk in the area scaring them off. I just looked up from my screen and there are two house finch on the bird feeder. WOOT!

Okay back to the fish. Monster finally died last September. This is going to sound awful, but I was NOT sad to see him go. My husband and I cleaned out the aquarium and brought it out of the basement. Wasn't that the perfect place for a monster fish to live? We placed the aquarium on the back porch. I love having it back here. I love to sit and watch my fishes swim around. It's so relaxing. For my birthday my husband decided to buy me fish for the aquarium. I've been wanting Oranda goldfish. They're the fish that get the big heads. The proper name for their large head is wen.

I borrowed this photo from google images.
Isn't he gorgeous? Well, we went to the pet store. I won't say which one. I selected four goldfish. All four were supposed to be Orandas. It wasn't until this week that I found out that NONE of them were Orandas. Again, I wish I had photos to show you of my adorable fishes. Their names were Harvey, Lucy, Marylin, Poseidon, and Ollie. Harvey came to us via the Fish Festival. Michael won him playing a game.

All of them were doing nicely until we decided to bring home two snails. We had an algae problem and I didn't want an algae eater. The last one we had grew to monster size like the Angel Fish. We brought the snails home in January. (So we had success with the tank for four months.) The snails seemed to enjoy chomping away at the algae, and the fish didn't seem to mind them. Two weeks went by, and Lucy didn't seem to be feeling well. She wasn't eating, and her beautiful tail looked like it was being eaten away. At about the same time the snails sealed themselves into their shells and wouldn't come out.

I removed the snails and treated the tank for bacteria, like ick and tail rot. I read that snails can die from the treatment. Unfortunately, Lucy died the next morning. This time I WAS sad. My poor Lucy! It happened so fast. The other fish seemed to be doing better, and we continued with the treatment. By the end of the week everybody seemed back to normal, swimming, eating, and playing tag. I placed the snails back in the tank because the algae was getting out of control. It was layered all over the glass and my decorations. The snails wouldn't budge out of their shells. Still sealed tight. I even picked them up and smelled them. If they smell fishy, they're dead. Eww! Luckily there was no fishy oder.

I waited a few days until the weekend, but the snails were still sealed up tighter than a drum. I decided I couldn't stand looking at all of that algae. I took out the decorations and scrubbed them off with water in the sink. I used our magnetic scraper and cleaned off the glass sides of the tank. Much better. I left the decorations out. They were only collecting algae afterall. By Sunday all of my fish looked AWFUL! What happened? I took out the snails AGAIN and began treatment. But the next day Ollie was dead. Ollie was black with telescope eyes. Sniff. I kept the treatment going hoping no one else would die. Sadly the very next morning Harvey, Poseidon, and Marylin were floating at the top of the tank. We had another fish funeral.

We cleaned out the tank again. Set everything up AGAIN and ran the tank for a week with no fish. Matt talked me into it, really. At first I didn't want anymore fish since I seemed to kill them all. Matt didn't think it was my fault. We went to a different pet shop in Amherst called the Ben Franklin store. The fish are kept in the basement of the store. The gentleman was quite knowledgable when it came to fish. When we told him what happened he asked, "Did you do weekly water changes?" Water changes? We thought that was more of a recommendation rather than a requirement.

He explained to use that the ammonia levels probably built up to the point where the fish couldn't survive. He said we need to do weekly water changes of 20 percent. What he didn't say was that I got rid of the algae that helped to break down the ammonia levels in the tank thus keeping my fish happy and living. I read about that later. We left the store with a water testing kit (I'm becoming quite the chemist.), an underwater filter and pump, live plants, food, and various additives for the water. Oh...and four new fish.

This is our Red Capped Oranda. I read somewhere that the Japanese think she brings luck. I could use all the help I can get. I named her Madeline for her red beret. Remember the story of Madeleine? "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. They left the house at half past nine...The smallest one was Madeline."

This is our Chocolate Oranda. Her wen hasn't quite developed too much yet. I named her Coco Chanel. I must have been in a French mood that day. Actually I was really thinking of CHOCOLATE rather than the designer, but I liked the sound of it.

This is our Butterfly Moor. I named him Morgan after Morgan Freeman. Follow me here...Morgan Freeman played a Moor in Robin Hood. Butterfly Moor, Moor in Robin Hood. I love Morgan Freeman with his adorable freckles! Morgan the fish has a beautiful tail that when viewed from above looks like butterfly wings.

You might be wondering where the fourth fish is... Well, our Lionhead, (His name was Bettis after Jerome Bettis, the Bus, from the Steelers because he looked like a little bus.) didn't make it to the first water change. It was the Friday two days before our first water change. That morning when I went to feed my fishes their breakfast, they were all lying on the bottom of the tank. Still breathing, but struggling. Matt must have heard my cry of dismay because when I when I returned from taking Michael to school, Matt was already changing the water. Once we were finished, we tested the water to see what the levels read. The Ph was 7.6, the nitrite was 0, the nitrate was 5, and the ammonia was 2. I wonder what the ammonia had been before the water change? I kept vigil all day praying that our fish would make it.

To make a long story short...we went back to the Ben Franklin store later that afternoon and asked him what we did wrong. He said our tank is cycling, and it will take four to six weeks. He recommended we do water changes daily and then every other day and then weekly. It's a building process.

Yesterday was our third water change. I'm HAPPY to report that everyone in my fishy world is doing fine.

Here's all three hams mugging for the camera.

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