Fish And Corals Are Living Things Damn It!

Mandarin Fish
June 2012
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Fish And Corals Are Living Things Damn It!

By Peter Loa

So you think you have it all planned out, the budget is set, a tank/size and location has been chosen and you may even have named your soon to be bought “nemo” fish.

That’s what I thought at least, but in hindsight, I wished that I would have taken extra steps and research which would have taken my current setup from GOOD to GREAT…

Not that there is anything too wrong with my current setup, fish and corals….okay most corals ….are thriving and the tank has added a much needed visual appeal to my living room but here is what i realized thus far and I hope this short read may help new aspiring aquarists out there…
Mistake number 1, I failed to find and understand the importance of a local or more importantly a knowledgeable and well stocked aquarium shop. Having one local is such a bonus point, lesser of a stressful journey for “nemo”, in the event of an emergency like needing pre mixed salt water / RO DI water and during holidays with the family when you need someone to look after and/or check up on the tank.
Just because a shop stocks high end equipment does not mean that they are the best for you or your wallet, you should expect that the staff themselves have had some personal experience with the products and setup that you are aiming for, be it marine or freshwater.
Start a tank journal with that fish shop that you have entrusted, you will come to learn that each tank will have it’s own characteristics ranging from the evaporation rate to several other factors such as how often one chooses to do water changes.
Starting a diary will not only save you time in reminding the staff about your tank, tracking your tank health and such but it can also simply help them factor in compatibility of your next fish or coral purchase based on what you already have in there and your tank’s water parameters.
When the cycle was completed and live stock was added, I had red strings on my live rock and gravel which I later found to be a mild red slime outbreak.
Here is the difference between a knowledgeable aquarium and one with not so knowledgeable ones.
The latter advised me to purchase a what seemed like talcum powder medication and when asked how I should use this, there was a simple “just follow the instructions mate” which was a fair call but I wished she had bothered to ask what species of livestock I had or what was my tank size etc
So thankfully I approached the much more knowledgeable shop which asked all the above questions and more importantly what was my next plan for the tank, after a lengthy discussion, we came to the conclusion to try increasing circulation first and this meant purchasing a TUNZE Turbelle Stream pump, yes it seemed much more expensive than the medication earlier offered but in the long run, I would have needed it for the types of corals I planned to keep and the increased circulation along with reduced lighting and a bit of siphoning, got rid of my problem without the need of adding any medication and potentially putting unnecessary stress on the live stock or worst, harming their health.
Mistake number 2 for me at least was that I bought a not to be mentioned brand name “all in one tank”, 134L in capacity and an included cabinet which I thought was suffice and it was for a mere 8 weeks.
It was the bees knees as far as price was concerned so I thought, it had an inbuilt protein skimmer, heater and awesome lighting.
The awesomely adequate lighting system meant my tank was heating up and evaporating, the fact that my house heats up like a sauna during summer was no help.
This was where I learnt that a chiller would be needed, which was fine but here’s the thing, the included cabinet was too small a fit for an efficient chiller to go in…after a earful from my better half about the “messy looking” beast of a chiller next to the tank, I realized this chiller would only function with an efficient pump….this may just be me being a perfectionist but all of a sudden, my sexy all in one tank had an unsightly pump in it, huge hoses being squished and cramped under the hood.
So can you see where research would have played a huge part in all this being avoided? I would have been able to custom made a much more sexier tank with a useable cabinet housing a sump (discarding the need for a chiller) that could double up as a refugium.
I could go on for another 3 pages about how the lack of research has caused me grief, one of which was not using a stop flow valve between hoses for the above mentioned chiller...lets just say I ended up mopping the floor and unintentionally bathing the dog in saltwater when I had to dismantle it a few weeks ago …but I am sure by now you have picked up the essence of this article.
It is not as simple as walking into an aquarium shop and purchasing what you see now or what you are being shown. Factor in too among other things how much live stock you wish to keep, the equipment needed to sustain them and redundancy measures. Remember, they are living organisms.

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