Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My new hobby: An Aquarium Enthusiast

I have always wanted to keep an artistic beautiful looking fish tank. For long, I was resisting the idea. The only inhibition, though, was the sad event of fishes dying. And the thought of the hassle to go through when/if I move to a different apartment. But I found myself increasingly reading on and on about aquariums. After a lot of deliberation and more than a month's research, I finally dived into this new hobby: Nurturing a Fish Aquarium.

Day 06 From My Fishtank

Day 09 From My Fishtank
After I yielded, I thought of just growing aquatic plants, i.e. to do Aquascaping, as they call it. But I figured that would be a little difficult to achieve without keeping any other kinds of life forms. So I started with hardy ghost shrimps. But soon I was tempted by beautiful fishes at pet stores (which I visited umpteen number of times, and still do!). I hate the idea of removing poor fishes from their natural habitat in river and trapping them in small tanks, but I felt that I would definitely take more gentle care of them than pet stores do. And so, about 8 weeks (2 months) back I dived in, and I'm more than happy I did! So much so, I even purchased a much bigger 30 gallon (110+ liters) tank. The larger tank is waiting to be up and running.

My set up looks like:

  1. 10 gallon (38 liters) tank (with filter and heater)
  2. Regular gravel, 5lbs
  3. Fish Food (4 varieties!)
  4. DIY Carbon-dioxide diffusing system
  5. 2x15 watts daylight CFLs (light temperature: 6500K)
  6. 1x15w Phillips Plant Light (light temperature: 5100K)
  7. Seachem Fluorite Red Gravel/Substrate, 15lbs
  8. Stress Coat (de-chlorinator)
  9. Stress Zyme (contains live bacteria, and helps develop biological filters)
  10. Aquarium Salt
  11. Flourish Excel (Liquid Carbon)
  12. API Leaf Zone
  13. Seachem Flourish Tabs (to stimulate plant growth)
Smooch From My Fishtank

  1. Pair of Balloon Mollies (they are fun to watch!)
  2. Pair of Sun Burst Platy
  3. Pair of Chinese Algae Eater
  4. Pair of German Blue Rams
  5. 4 Ghost Shrimps
  6. 1 Gold Gourami
  7. 1 monstrous looking (but great) Pleco
Plants (I hate artificial plants, so I have some live ones):

  1. Rotala Magenta
  2. Pearl Weed
  3. Java Moss
  4. Moneywort
  5. Corkscrew Vallisneria
Vallisneria and Mollies From My Fishtank

A few days back my Sunburst platties spawned and I have a few fries in a separate tub. It is amazing to watch those rice-grain-sized mini-fishes run around :)

What I could have done better:

If I were to go back in time and redo the tank setup, a few things I would do/correct:

  1. Reduce plant substrate: I should have used half(7-8lbs) of what I currently put(15lbs)
  2. Cycle Longer: I should have waited more than 2 weeks before adding fishes
  3. Siphon out poop: I never realized my fishes were pooping so much that it was not getting broken fast enough into plant-consumable elements. I should have used siphon to clean the fish-poop from gravel right from the beginning.
Face-to-Face From My Fishtank

It took me more than a month's worth of diligent hard working to get the tank to the current state. And probably another month to fine-tune it. But with experience you can do it in a much shorter time.

Day51: Full view of tank From My Fishtank

There are zillions of websites and articles by aqua-enthusiasts, so I won't bore you with technicalities right now. For the interested readers I'll post a detailed instructions(probably with video!), how-to, and some tips on my homepage.

But, if I were to write a short instructional summary, I would tike to highlight a few cardinal rules that you must adhere to before starting your own tank. A little pain, effort and restrain in the beginning will serve you well in the long run. In fact, you can even pledge before someone so that you are more likely to live by them :)

  1. Patience
    • As with almost everything else in life, patience pays off. And esp. true with mother nature, for you cannot cheat nature (at least in most of the cases), you have to have patience. I can't emphasize it more
  2. Research
    • Visit fellow enthusiasts, pet stores, read-read and read (RTFM in computer jargon)
  3. Cycle the Tank Properly
    • NEVER put fishes just the day you setup the tank. Invariably they will fall sick. Give about 3-6 weeks of time before populating your tank.
  4. Keep it Clean
    • Changing just 10% of tank water weekly is right way to keep the water clean
    • Always dechlorinate tap-water (using chemicals and keeping it in a container overnight)
  5. Experience
    • Knowing at least one person who has kept fishes for long enough, helps. And reading ALWAYS helps.
  6. Kindness
    • Please be kind to your fishes. Give them good environment to live in. And don't overfeed them
  7. Spare/Quarantine Tank(s)
    • Get a cheap tank to quarantine your fishes and treat them when they fall sick. Never treat fishes in your main tank. Also, it is a good idea to quarantine new fishes for a week before moving them to the main tank. NEVER add the water you got your fishes in to your main tank
  8. Lighting
    • You will have to research a little more than an average joe if you want to have good plant growth in your fish tank. In short, 2-3 watts/gallon of the right/full spectrum is good enough
  9. Time
    • Last but not least, I want to caution you that fishtank will take a LOT of your time! Well, not in terms of maintaining it. Once it is set up, there is little to do: daily feeding and weekly water changes. What you will eventually find yourself doing is endlessly observing these cute little beings horse around for hours! I spend well over half an hour daily watching them. And still I can't watch enough of them! If you are an idiot-box addict, this will cut off some of time you spend in front of that that BS-blasting contraption. So be prepared to spend time watching them. And trust me, that is the most FUN part!

Here are some resourceful links:

  1. See my tank transform from day-00 through day-51, my fishtank album
  2. Vishal's 30gal tank
  3. Very Resourceful site for setting up your first tank
  4. Beginner's FAQ
  5. Nitrogen Cycle
  6. Planted Aquarium, lots of resources
  7. Some gyan about lighting
  8. Lighting

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Half Moon and local park

Beautiful Half Moon. Now I want to click full moon.

Half Moon From Idylwood Park

Rest of the photos from few minutes trip to nearby Idylwood Park.

Album: Idylwood Park near Lake Sammamish

Photo Credits: Atul Talesara

Model: Canon EOS 30D
ISO: 400
Exposure: 1/400 sec
Aperture: 6.3
Focal Length: 200mm