22nd March, 17.
I dedicate this journal to all those people who would love to keep a marine tank and also to all of my lost fishes ( RIP ) & also the money that accompanied them.
This hobby is surely a race track for the rich. I have heard some stories that talk of expenses big enough to help procure an apartment flat or two.
Now, does it have to be that expensive ? Well, ... I guess its like sports cars. NEED FOR SPEED. Both can crash. But, no. Even the poor can own cars. It doesn't have to be a reef tank for me to call myself a saltwater hobbyists. Yet, who wouldn't like to stare at one. We all do.
Keeping in mind all the limitations that fate and nationality has gifted us with, my first idea told me to have an anemone tank. This way I could at least enjoy its symbiosis with clown fishes.
But, what if I could not afford even that. Then it would have to be a mere fish-only-with-live-rocks tank.
My humble submission is that that is what I did and I can live with it for ages to come. When I come to think of it I wonder how different had it been when I kept cichlids and others, except that now I have fancy rocks to pile up instead, coupled with fancy white sand.
I like intense colouration. And, when those colours danced about before my eyes it was awsome a feeling. Just a little coralline algae would be like a pinch of salt.
In July, 2015, I went and got a 30 gallon square tank with height equal to half it's sides from Buroda. Finish was beautiful. It was to have a moveable little in-tank-sump in a corner for a tiny skimmer, a powerhead to pump out water for the top filter with cotton pads and even a thermostat when needed, to fit in.
Then came 10 kg of live rock to sit on the bare bottom for the next one year in the company of a skimmer & a power head only. Kepping those running is crucial to keeping the tank alive, even if it has nothing in it.Then 10 kg of live sand from Redsea followed to cover half the shame of my bare bottom along with 10 more kg of dry rocks. Another few months of macro-algae hunting until "letsplay" offered to give away some. Even then, my algae lump had to be fed sunlight by the window in a mug of tank water renewed every day. My tank was sitting on the floor without any direct light except for the ambient light of the sun. I am guilty of unintentional murder of a tiny brittle star from the chaeto algae. Without noticing it, I went and put the algae in the water. I should have drip acclimated. And honestly, I had no idea about the star. You should visit a saltwater hobbyist's tank in person first. That is very important. But, not enough. As, an inexperienced eye will miss out on the important aspects that need to be noticed. Repeated visits along with the hobbyist's tutoring will push you down the right path.
All this while my tank was having those beautiful nuisance algae, the browns, the greegreens, the maroon/red. I had to switch over to an RO water system. Deionizing resins are no where available. And, recurrence of algae continued and it kept covering my sand. It also kept blowing about if I didn't place my newly arrived wave-makers in the right spot & pointing at a direction that would prevent a sand storm.
When I noticed that my coralline algae wasn't spreading I knew that my RO water was preventing it. I searched and learnt that my RO water had a lot of nitrate and phosphate. Basically, these two culprits prevent the purple algae from growing. So, I needed Phosban from Seachem to strip PO4 from my tank. Rowaphos is said to be better but too expensive for me. Phosban made a noticeable difference. The water was very clear and tiny spots of coralline began to showup at a few places. The Phosban bag was first placed inside the tank right in front of a wave-maker so as to have the tiny white particles that resemble tiny stone chips to tumble about in the bag as, I was wanting an aggressive removal of phosphate.
I also bought a Hailea chiller graded for 150 gallons. Picked it up from the office of indohobby.com at Rs. 20,000. Took a bus to return home with it.
Now, 18 months had passed counting from the day I got my glass box. No test kits yet as, I wasn't in any hurry to start a show. But, I got a new Flat for ourselves. Everything had to be shifted and a table for the aquarium was really necessary. Had one ordered to be made from a local guy, who earned his rice by making collapsible gates & such, out of wrought iron and it costed Rs. 1700 or so. Do not use the ones we see at Galiff Street. Their tanks are tiny. Keeping books and files is fine but not an aquarium. I had to change my mind with that & get a decent one.
Now time for the lights. I got a thick-wired, 2ft by 1ft net, the ones that have 1" gaps & placed it over the tank hanging it from an L-shaped iron structure welded on one side of the table rising up the tank's back & bending at 90° to reach the center of the tank to have a light hang like a pendant or whatever. Got three led Syska bulbs, two 3watt & one 7watt, from Chandni, to add to the overall brightness (for the human eyes). I was also very anxious regarding assembling of my Cree Led fixture with its adapter, dimmer and a fan fitted sink because I am as dumb as a wall about technical stuffs. The fixture was supposed to have one 430nm, three 450nm, two 470nm, one 490nm, one 660nm & two 7000k epileds. After the wiring it was put over the tank. Bought from kiwilighting.com at Rs. 4000 approximately via PayPal, no extra charges for international shipping, wow.
The set is yet to receive its finishing touches as you can see in how untidy a manner it lies, from the image link above.
Before setting up the Cree-epileds I had my first fish in the month of February, 2017. It was a pair of ocellaris clowns/false percula along with an orange tail blue devil damsel. Clowns were 500/- each & damsel was 750/- ( the female devil damsels were 500/- each). Came home, started drip acclimation with a white pipe that we use with air pumps in our goldfish or cichlid tanks. I had earlier used multiple knots to reduce the flow to two drops a second with success but that knot practice is what brought doom upon my fishes.
First of all, never drip-acclimate without a stopper to control flow rate. Knots usually loosen, resulting in water rushing out through the pipe & not in drops. The aim is to slow acclimate. If done quickly, the sudden salinity change will kill the fishes (but, one clown of mine managed to survive). What happens is, sellers stock their newly arrived (thay claim to have acclimated and quarantined all of their fishes for a few weeks before venturing out to sell them) in saltwater at low specific gravity (SG) as compared to reef aquariums. My tank for instance, though not a reef tank but I was aiming for an anemone only with clowns tank, had its salinity, as read by my cheap hydrometer, at 1.026 SG. and the seller's water was at 1.015 (the seller claimed it to have been at 1.020 SG though). After the two deaths, I decided that it was of no use keeping my salinity at 1.026 as, I wasn't going to have even the anemone I wanted. Too risky at this juncture. No test kits, no calcium reactor, no phosphate reactor, no nitrate reactor, no magnesium reactor, no big skimmer (the 7000/- stuff at least), only 30watt cree fixture & tiny Syska bulbs...
In an event of anemone death, the whole system would crash. Though a poor man's car, a crash is a crash, and it hurts a great deal to loose even a 500/- fish.
Alright. Went and got an orange tail blue devil damsel again but, this wasn't orange enough, just a few yellow lines on the tail with the lips, chin, throat, belly fins all yellow. The lonely clown now had a mate, they got along fine.
Now, I got a royal dottyback costing me 1000/- after about a month. The devil showed its true self and kept chasing the dottyback away and poor fish took refuge near the digital thermometer. Went for work next day. Returned home and dottyback was heavily injured on its tail & back finage. Tore out the tank to get the damsel out. Never thought of keeping a net. It took a lot to get hold of it with a mug. Kept it in a big bucket with water prepared and mixed with the tank water in order to adjust the salinity to be at par. Work. Home. Found the dottyback had gone completely inside a tiny crevice under a piece of rock prior to which its tail & hind part was visible. It must have been breathing normally at first. As time went by, the fine sand grains must have caused difficulty in breathing and so it crawled forward & went deeper into the rock crevice. The more it went in the more suffocated it got resulting in death. When I took it out, there was sand grains blocking its mouth ang gills.
Lessons to learn regarding introduction of a new fish are, always separate the attacker by isolation to let the new fish get comfortable or the new fish be put in an acclimation bag. If damage is done to the new arrival, bring it out and place it in a bare bottom tank or large container with a place for it seek cover like a rock, or PVC pipe or whatever. Do not introduce any substrate in it. Treat it if needed, feed it until recovery. Feeding garlic or food based on it is good for the fish & you. Reintroduce as above.
23rd March, 17.
For feeding my fishes I wanted New life Spectrum. Wasn't available so, had to order for Ocean nutrition, formula one @ 700+ /-. Its not bad given the claim of the contents in its formulation. The added garlic is what I like the most about this food.
I think the engraved markings on base of the formula one container should be checked during purchase.
Usually one or two granules at a time are served to prevent wastage. I have noticed that my blue devil (1 & half inch long) can go on & on no matter how much I gave it to eat but, the clown (little less than 1 & half inch long) becomes disinterested after taking 3-4 granules at a go.
The clown seems to regain its appetite after about half an hour. And, I forgot to mention that I have put a plastic net (used on windows to keep away mosquitos) over my tank.
24th March, 17.
My problem fish the devil damsel was shifted to a bucket and it stayed there for four nights. Since I had no acclimation box, I went and made a temporary one out of the above mentioned plastic net, sewing the edges with cotton thread, to house the damsel in my tank. Since it will be 10 more days prior to the arrival of a new dottyback, I therefore decided to not have the damsel stay in a bucket for that long.
Here's the link if you wanted to take a look at the diy amature acclimation box.
The damsel is active in its prison box & gobbled up food but , the sight of its confinement is making me feel really bad. And, it has to stay in there for 14 more days, 7 days prior to the royal dottyback's arrival & 7 after that. Honestly, I never liked this fish & would rather get a royal gramma whose purple coloration was less vibrant compared to the dottyback's, but now I am in love with it due to its candy-purple & the yellow.
For now, that's all friends.