Last night well after 10, Jane went down to the basement to get her laundry…and found a big puddle.
Our sump arrangement for the marine tank in the living room is right by the washing machine.
Two days ago, I spent at least two hours cleaning the skimmer — a fiendish plastic column, double-sleeved, with a removable collection cup atop, a device that is driven by a pump to froth water up the column into bubbles, which, if sticky enough, rise in the column to collect in the cup as nasty blackish green liquid to be thrown away: these are spare amino acids—fish waste, fish poo. The stuff that is the foam that collects on beaches from the surf of the natural ocean.
The skimmer has two air holes. But should the exit hose for the majority of the water clog—somehow—WATER jets from a particular air hole that due to its location—partially falls into the sump. The rest goes, we find, onto the table. Onto the floor. Despite the fact the hole is actually over the sump. But when it fountains, it goes, well, outside.
This water loss of course means the water level in the tank sinks, which sucks air into a tube arrangement connected to a sensor.
This signals another pump to turn on and pump fresh water into the system. In the usual course of things, this is because evaporation has made it necessary (water evaporates, salt doesn’t, and evaporated water has to be replaced by fresh water, not salt water.)
So—when the skimmer spat salt water out of one section onto the floor, the autotopoff obligingly put more water in. Fresh water. This alters the salinity of the system.
Double whammy. If Jane hadn’t caught it in the act, the entire freshwater reservoir could have emptied, pouring 30 gallons of freshwater into a 100 gallon saltwater system.
I tested the salinity. It’s supposed to be 1.024. It was 1.018. Double damn.
Fortunately—very fortunately—I have some 1.024 water. And the condition had not been of long duration. I began dipping 1.018 water out and replacing it with 1.024 water from the reserve supply.
After a while of this, I had the salinity back to 1.022. Not great, but you can’t push salinity too rapidly higher, or you can kill things from the change. If you don’t, they can die from the lack of salinity.
So today, on my agenda, is rigging a disaster tube onto the skimmer which, in such a situation in future, will route the water from the airhole on into the sump…and continue raising that salinity, which will be a tick higher with evaporation. I’m also going to turn on the portable dehumidifier, which will push evaporation faster. And I’m going to go on until I have the salinity at 1.025, right in the middle of the safe range. And I’m going to try to figure why that hose clogged.
Jane’s doing the taxes—oh, joy.
Fishtanks. When they behave well, they’re a pleasure. When a little tube that’s supposed to empty into the tank is positioned so it becomes a fountain two inches high—it’s a pain in the ass.
I’m having my morning coffee. After the third cup, I’m going to go downstairs and attack this situation.
I’m going in. Wish me luck.