Never Been So Happy To See Nitrites

reefI’ve had a quarantine fish tank (QT) set up for a couple of months now since my Clownfish got ill back in April. After Tina the Clownfish got on the road to recovery and was moved back to the main tank I’d been trying to get the QT to ‘cycle’. This means that the tank water goes through peaks of Ammonia, then Nitrite and finally Nitrate. Ammonia forms when the fish waste breaks down in the water. Nitrite forms and takes care of the Ammonia and produces the Nitrate as an end product. Nitrate is removed by doing a water change.

The whole cycle should only take about 3 weeks but for reasons that only became apparent last week it just wouldn’t happen. I was getting pissed off with it because I wanted to get another Clownfish to quarantine but until the water parameters are right you can’t subject a fish to those conditions as it’d just get ill and possibly die. Even if it did struggle through in the horrid conditions it’d just be counter productive to put a fish in a quarantine tank that wasn’t perfect. It’d be like putting someone in a hospital and then filling their room with poisonous gas.

I tried everything. Added store bought bacteria/filter start stuff, added a pinch of fishfood every day even dropped a prawn in the water which would break down causing Ammonia. But all I ever got was a high Ammonia reading and no Nitrite or Nitrate. It became the cycle that would not cycle and I moaned about it every day and became grumpier every weekend that passed when the tests on the water showed I still couldn’t buy another fish.

Last week I made a last ditch effort at trying to get the QT to cycle by adding another large clump of dirty filter wool from my main tank and suddenly BINGO! Within 3 days I’d had an Ammonia spike, Nitrite spike and while both of those dropped to zero the Nitrates built up until finally getting washed out by a big water change. With perfect readings for two days, even after adding some fish food to test it, I brought home ‘Pedro’. A slightly smaller Clownfish than Tina – tank bred and slightly quirky with complete white bands on one side of his orange body but only partial stripes on the other side.

I decided to put both fish in the quarantine tank together as over the last week Tina’s nearly healed tail had started looking a bit shabby. This time, I’m not taking any chances.

Last night Wil and I were sat watching South Pacific. My mum had recommended I’d watch this particular episode because it featured a coral reef. As a reef tank keeper I love to see all these tiny pieces of propogated corals I have living large in the wild. I ‘ooo’ed when I saw the Yellow Tangs sucking algae from a large sea turtles shell and ‘ahhh’ed when a cloud of Dottybacks were filmed darting in and out of the coral reef. At various points there was just a background mumble from the narrator made ineligible by my eyes hogging all the sense receptors in my brain to just stare in awe at the seascape emerging across the screen. Other times I became aware of interesting facts such as ‘the South Pacific sea is so large that it takes several years for the current to complete a cycle’.  And that’s where Wil piped up….

‘sounds like our bloody quarantine tank’

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2 Comments »

  1. Lindy said

    Sweetie, you have a beautiful tank. Fish are such a great stress release. Nothing calms me more than watching them saunter back & forth across the tank. I go for the fresh water fish. Not so much involved in keeping the tank clean. Course, the easiest of all was the virtual reality fish the you can download on you computer.

  2. foxsden said

    Thanks Lindy… Actually, I have 2 freshwater tropicals and the marine tank. The marine is a lot less work to keep clean than the tropicals are. Although there is the initial mixing of the saltwater (if you choose to make it yourself – you can buy it premixed from the fish shop) – the rest of it is simple and I have nowhere near the problems with algae and muck in my Marine that I do with the tropical. Never imagined it’d be the case.

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