Life,  Pets

The Office Fish Tank

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The promo picture. We’ll see.

I’ve been talking about doing it for months, but, in the last few days, I’ve spent about $200 in getting all the stuff together for a fish tank for my office.

And this is in the nature of experiment. I want it to be a truly awesome fish tank.

I’ve done a lot more reading and information gathering than ever before in terms of aquariums, and I’m going to document the process a little bit. Some pictures and video, not that I promise to post anything, but I want to keep records to see if I’ve actually learned anything. There are no fish yet. It’s actually not even set up yet.

I picked up the tank on Friday last week, a very cool one, the Fluval Flex 9 gallon which has some funky lighting, a lot of integrated filtration, and curved front face. I unpacked it to the top of my filing cabinet yesterday. Today, I’m taking rocks, and driftwood, and sand to work. In between running two training seminars and regular stuff, I am going to do the Aqua-scaping of the tank, deciding how I want things arranged. After that, and probably tomorrow, the plants. The process involves:

  1. Disinfecting the rocks I’ve chosen with boiling water and rinse any debris off. Taken care of already.
  2. Soaking the driftwood to reach out some of the tannins, which will be in progress within a few minutes of my arrival of work. I’ll change the water several times while I’m there, and maybe let them soak overnight.
  3. At that point, I get to arrange the rock and maybe the wood in the tank. Having something vague in mind already, I don’t expect to do an awful lot of rearranging once I’m there. I picked things to fit my approximate mental vision of how things look.
  4. Four, a quick rinse of one bag of two bags of substrate that I bought, a black sandy aquatic soil designed to help plants do well, then will add that to the tank.
  5. Add the introductory fertilizer to said soil
  6. Six, unpack and plant the plants. It’s a relatively small tank, the interior dimensions, length by width by height, running in the sort of 30 to 35 cm range. It’s not far from a small cube, and it is only 9 gallons, so when I made the decision to do a heavily plant tank, there was a lot of reading about foreground, midground, and background plants. For the size the tank I’m doing, I don’t think there’s an awful lot of midground so I’ve selected some easy to care for specimens, I’ll put details in later, for foreground background, with the idea that both will spread over time. I have a combination of three different plants to grow to some significant height along the back. At least one of the background plants, a beautiful little red one, will shoot out roots from the sides to glom onto whatever surfice it can, so the Dragon rock and driftwood will be helpful here, as well as to help anchor some of the creeping stuff in the front of the tank.
  7. Gently fill up the tank from the rear to avoid disturbing the substrate too much.
  8. Let that sit for several days for the plants to adjust.
  9. Turn on the filter and let the plants grow for a week or two or three.
  10. Only then do we think about adding fish or invertebrates to the tank.

And I say fish or invertebrates, because I actually plan to have both. The I’m thinking half a dozen brightly colored shrimp, or maybe transparent Ghost Shrimp, because they’re kind of cool and very easy to take care of. These, paired with an single large snail, and considering the plants, will keep things very clean and minimize the amount of actual vacuuming I’ll have to do. The idea is that this is a relatively low maintenance tank. There might be a small school of Corys in the mix as well.

The main fish will probably be a single species school of something that actually likes confined areas, because it is only a 9 gallon tank, but I haven’t decided on them yet, either.

In approximate order, and probably spread a week or so apart each: the shrimp, the Corys, the snail, the school.

At this point, I hope the vision in my head is what reality comes to look like. While I’ve learned a lot more in the reading and research I’ve done in the last few weeks than I ever knew about keeping fish before, there’s still a lot I don’t know. Honestly, considering the low level of crappy equipment we used to use on a regular basis, I’m not certain how any of our fish lived longer than a week, and we had some live for several years, most notably my giant pleco, who was one of the first additions to our first tank before my wife and I were married. We brought Frank with us when we moved from Toronto and my son still remembers him. My oldest daughter might, too. He was 10 or 11 years old when we lost him.

I’ll put some pictures of the process up in the next few days, but I’m going at this slowly, so it’s probably going to be after Christmas by the time everything is in place and swimming.

And I haven’t even mentioned things like water testing yet.

There’s a lot more to keeping fish then just throwing some water in a bowl, you know.

Be well, everyone.

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