The chemistry is holding firm, the other live rock, from the breakdown of a tank in the midwest, arrived today, and we made the decision, once we had the rock arranged to our satisfaction, to put the rest of the corals over, and the four fish we have.
The last in was the yellow watchman male, who was just more elusive than the others, and some crud got kicked up in the old tank: when we finally did get him, he’d inhaled entirely too much crud, and the poor fellow fainted, quite unresponsive when we put him in—we’d been talking about a celebratory dinner, but we stayed and ate a frozen one, because we were worried about him: he was mostly unresponsive and breathing like a bellows. Eventually he began to cough (yes, fish can, a sort of a wheeze that blows the gills clear) and twitch his fins, and then began really to come to, about the time his mate discovered him, and he waked up and did a little ‘hi there’ dance with her: they dived deep within the rocks, and hopefully he didn’t take any serious damage now that he’s cleared his system of the nastiness…the old tank had just had too much disturbance of the sandbed, which in a marine tank you don’t disturb. Usually that crud gets processed, instead of being kicked up like that.
The other fish, after initial confusion, are dashing about in all this doubled space and new currents, just enjoying it.
We’re settling the disturbed old tank down again just as a backup in case the chemistry of this tank goes south, but it’s very unlikely it will. The sump sandbed’s been feeding this tank for a week, and if anything were out of kilter, the microlife wouldn’t be multiplying and filling this tank—I saw a mysis shrimp dart for cover in the new tank: they breed in the sump.
The conch and crabs and shrimp are all doing their thing…and I’m pretty confident this tank is now rolling. The four fish we have, each one about 2″ long, and skinny, are not going to stress the sandbed, and we’re not going to be feeding big dinners for a while yet—let the fishes forage for starters.
WE have acquired scads of tiny snails, a brittle starfish, scazillions of crabs ranging from 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch, and they are crawling all over. There was also a fuzzy chiton and several limpets, larger variety, about 1/2 inch. And 2 of what was billed as a ‘small’ fighting conch. Ha. One goes in the sump, one above: they’re the size of a baby’s fist. I’m used to 1″. But they’re fun: their eyes are on stalks, and they have an elephant trunk, at the end of which they have their mouth.
The rock isn’t here. We have 28 more pounds arriving. And of course now the tank is lousy with crabs, which we will have to watch out for while arranging the new rock: I’ve already had to turn a stupid snail rightside up, a chopstick operation. Some species can die if they get flipped, and apparently nerites are one of those. Ceriths can right themselves. You wonder if evolution works for snails…
Time to clear a storage filebox for 2012 records…the victim was 2003, long overdue for sunsetting, and it’s always a memory trip when I do that. We were living over on Coeur d’Alene St, we had certain places we went, things we did…trips we took, that show up in the records. There were the epic screwups, the companies that would not believe we did not want to do business with them, the letters, the usual 941 confusion (it took us years to figure out when those reports were due) — and the whole business of a year now lying in little bitty confetti, with all its trials and tribulations: we collect the good bits and take them with us.
Jane went out weeding the back paths while I attacked the office organization prior to corporate taxes, our separate little re-April-15th because we’re on a fiscal year. At least it separates the personal chaos from the corporate chaos. We’re pretty well organized. Just not totally.
And the shredding, of course the shredding. We have a big crosscut shredder, not one of the little wastebasket toppers, and I still kept overheating it.
We went to the gym—had to activate credit cards that had expired over there; and did a bit of a workout; and we’re resolved, as the aquarium mess sorts out, to start throwing things out. I’m taking garbage bags to the basement, and if I don’t see a use for it, out it goes.
Naturally we heralded this resolve by flooding the basement floor—I was tired, I was distracted; I turned on the ro/di water filter for the 32 gallon tub, and didn’t set the kitchen timer when I came up. Result? 32 gallons of water that went onto the floor, and over to the finished side of the basement. So…lots of towels, the dehumidfier turned on, mopping, laundering, drying…
I swear, I double-dog swear I am going on a stuff-removal campaign. We have too much stuff. I am going to start at one end of the basement and go to the other, disposing of things.
I think when two people have shared nearly every meal for twenty-some years, you get similar plateaus, not the same weight, but the same era of what-you-weighed-when, and ergo—when you diet together, you’re going to have sticking-spots near the same time. Jane and I don’t weigh the same, but we sure have been battling this one.
Now granted we made two trips out to eat; but we stayed within guidelines. Granted we had one bottle of Champagne, but we had no weight bobble after that.
But my 192 and Jane’s–whatever-it-is—have been stuck in place for at least two weeks and nearly 3. We’ve gotten back on our vitamins, which had lapsed in the chaos, and we’re being careful to drink water. But try as we would, I’d go up to 193, down to 192.5, down to 192, up to 193 for no earthly reason, and often after I’d worked like a dog, physical labor, and endured being really, really hungry. Then…last few days, with the tension of the tank delivery off, 191.5. Now 190.5. I think we’re starting to move past it. No difference in the diet. Nothing new. Same 5 meals, over and over and over. No snacks. No alcohol. It just decided to budge, finally.
If I can break 189, I’ll be really, really happy. Jane has her own target, but we’ve resolved to eat these same friggin’ five frozen meals every day for a year, if it gets us down into territory we want to see again.
So there’s a reason that weight graph hasn’t budged. It’s because it hasn’t budged. But it’s starting to show signs of movement.
It’s beauteous. I’m very anxious to get fish and corals into it, but the water’s warming up to liveability. Chemistry for these tropic creatures doesn’t work at life friendly rates until you reach 62 and it started at 58. So We’re trusting the lights to warm it—which it can do. The next question is how to cool it down and get the ‘heat budget’ balanced…
Sort of like making a planet behave…planets figure things in terms of albedo, ie, how much solar input does it reflect back into space— and internal heat from the core; and how much solar input it gets.
For a tank—it’s how much does the heater input, how much do the lights input, how much do the submerged pumps input, how much escapes via evaporation, how much radiates from the glass, the rates while the lights are turned on—and the rates during the dark cycle—not mentioning that we have 2 light cycles. And if you think I’m getting pad and par meter and thermometer and figuring all this out in numbers, nope, nope, nope. I’m doing it by setting up what has to run, and figuring out what has to increase (heater) and decrease (fans) for this to stay within a 1-2 degree swing day to night. Rock and sand are a heat sink: they hold the prior condition, and the more of that there is, the more resistant the system is to change; water holds the prior condition too, but not quite as efficiently, and not while it’s falling in air with wind blowing on it.
And my friend in the East is sending me an 18″x18″ box of rock. So there will be more rock coming next Wednesday.
As a footnote, we did break our diet and celebrate with a bottle of Champagne. Jane had weird dreams that didn’t make sleep easy, and, me, I just got a headache. But neither of us woke up 3 pounds heavier, so we’re happy.
I spent the morning washing sand Jane put into the tank.
We performed the major transplant…cut off the lines to the 54g and made them go to a 10 g tank under the stand, where a pump (borrowed from the skimmer) brings the water topside again.
We extracted the corals, the live rock, and the wascally wabbitfish, and lowered the water level enough we could budge the 54g, and get it across the room; then we left it while I gathered up the wabbit, half our hammer coral, and took off to the fish store out in the Valley.
I had to pick up the new light for the 54, plus the new pump for the 54, which should have been here yesterday, but we missed them. And I turned in the wabbit and the coral for enough to pay for the 54′s new pump and partially pay for the new lights.
Drove home, and Jane had been finishing up on the 105g, and connecting it to the basement sump and pump, which was ‘off’ for the duration. We’d gotten it into place before I left, and now — time to plug it in, see if the lines leaked, and see if the vertical spraybar I’d concocted for water movement was going to explode or wimp out, or work. This also involved adding all the rock we’re going to have in there—because you use a measured amount of water, and rock volume can affect that measure. [We got all through and found 4 more large rocks, so we’re going to have to do some dipping out of water.
But it is 4pm local, and we have both tanks running marvelously. The metal halide light (like a projector light, to give you a feeling for the intensity) is on and warming up the water asap…that’s the one thing hardest to do in advance.
Now we’ll run the 54g as a salt tank until we’re sure the 105g is bacteriologically active enough to handle a few small fishes. The corals and fish are in the 54 while things warm up (warmth increases the pace of biochemical action) and we see where we are.
It is gorgeous. There will be pix. Jane and I are just about exhausted this evening, having made uncounted trips up and down to the basement, having shoved elephants left and right (tilting a partially filled 54g tank so Jane could get the teflon glides that had stuck to the base was particularly exciting: weighs about what I do..)
And we’re going to love this. Freshwater 54 in one corner of the living room, Saltwater 105 in the other, and it just looks so cool!
Even if it’s only rock and sand in there right now.
The fish store will be open, and I hope to all getout they have the pump we want. We’re going to be building some rockwork, washing sand, installing sand, and adding some water.
This requires removing corals from the 54g, putting them in a tub with excess water from the 54g, warming water—we’ll be microwaving water and pouring it into the tubs—and arranging base rock to support the tank’s prettier rock above the sand level.
We’ll wash the bagged sand completely before beginning to put it in. We have the bottom lined with eggcrate lighting grid so it protects the bottom glass.
We’ll be establishing a pump and pot filter that circulates water in the 54. If I were really brave, I’d connect the main pump to the 105g, put a hose over to the 54g, and leave the drain hose connected to it, which would, theoretically, balance out and not flood the living room.
But I’m not crazy, and I’m not relying on a siphon to do anything involving fish tanks.
Fish, which are more fragile than my corals, are going to stay in their tank until I know the 105 has had its adjustment snit (aka ‘cycled’) and the coral acts happy.
We’re going to get our workout today.
Of course the flanged metal screws that would easily screw the suspension tape to the a/c vent to hold the pipe she’s putting in place of the crazed spiderweb of cords holding up hose that turned out to stretch twice its length when we turned the pump on—went missing. So it was wood screws with a washer. It was a bear of a job, but we now have secure hard piping between the living room and the basement. Then we found the screws we were looking for…
And meanwhile I was going to start washing the sand, but the weather is saying snow with the cherries and quince and apples in bloom, and me trying to do the early algae treatments on the pond…Oh, what was I doing this afternoon? Treating the pond with something derived from sewage…
Somebody called wanting a video interview and wanting to come to the house. I babbled something about my tank being delayed because of needing rock and pipes all over the house and Patty having a baby horse we need to get down there and see, so we are agreed to do this next Tuesday, downtown by the river, by which time I hope Jane and I can be somewhat saner and have water flowing in the tank…
…at the factory. But we think we’ve got it handled.
The new Easy Blade scraper works really well, which will enable us to clean all the front glass, beyond arm’s reach, even with coralline.
And, after 2, count ‘em, two trips to Lowe’s in a 40 mph gale, I got all the pieces I need except the 2 valves. We have the tank plumbed, ready to connect to the sump. We have determined we didn’t get enough rock for the rockwork we want.
We have some planning on the rockwork, we have the eggcrate liner laid down, we’ve got everything ready to plug in except we need the bottom ‘junk’ rock to lay down as a base for the prettier rockwork, and we need to start unbuilding the main tank WITHOUT stirring its sandbed, which is incredibly bad juju in a marine tank. That’s where, once we start to move, we need to have our wits about us and hours when shops are open to work in. So since the fish store doesn’t open until Wednesday, we’d be crazy to start this going— without recourse to them for additional rock, to take the fish I want to get rid of, to take the coral I want to trade in, and to be open and able to provide things I forgot to get.
So tomorrow may be a day off from this, except for connecting up the new drain line and pulling some of the old hose up to give us more maneuverability with the elephant-dance above. We’ll later cut it off, when the ability to go out from the wall is less important.
We screwed the bulkhead connectors in last night. Never try to put teflon tape on a bulkhead connector. It took an extra 30 upside down and backwards minutes to figure that out.
Today we install the power strip for the lights. We moved the two tanks side by side.
We drill a pipe with large and small holes to serve as a water-distributor down deep in the tank.
Having proved the downflow [drain and refill] box holds water, we are safe to add water. But we don’t.
Jane has prepared new plumbing for the basement. We are going to pull up the spaflex drain line [downflow] instead of cutting it, so we can, when it’s time, just cut it to appropriate length and move the new tank back to the wall.
We have put eggcrate in the bottom of the tank to prevent rock points from contacting the bottom glass.
Next step involves our base rock, some of which is live, and washing 100 lbs of dusty sand out on the driveway.
Also constructing a ‘pot filter’ for the 54g tank, to keep the fish safe until the new tank ‘sets up’ and is able to handle their waste. We have very tiny fish, except for the one I’m trading in, so they won’t put much bioload on the system at all.