Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Marine diary chapter one

Red barred hawkfish, Cirrhitops fasciatus
Red barred hawkfish, Cirrhitops fasciatus

Ever since I can remember we've had a fish tank in the house and I was fascinated with watching the it from a very young age. One day when I was about 12 years old I saw a real Marine tank for the very first time and I begged my mom if we could have some of those fish! Of course she said, "NO, it's too hard and expensive!" Naturally I was disappointed but when she said "No" it really did mean "No". While living at home I've tried to change her mind about getting the tank on numerous times through the years but the answer was always the same. I vowed to myself that someday I would have a Marine tank and I would get a purple fish just like one of the fish I saw in that first marine tank.

The years went by and I finally finished college, got a job and finally my own place to live. I went 6 months in my own apartment without a tank to keep me company. It was the longest I remember being without any fish around and it was driving me crazy! After six months without a tank it was too much to take, so I decided to get myself an aquarium. It was December when I was finally able to save what I though would be enough money to set up a simple tank, so I went to the LFS and started looking around to see what they had. One of the very first display tanks that I walked by had that purple fish I had wanted so many years ago. Then and there I KNEW I was going to set up a marine tank and NOTHING was going to stop me!

The first place I went was to the book section and found a couple books that I thought would help me through setting up the tank and give me the knowledge that I would require to keep the tanks running smoothly. I wasn't going to be put off by my mom's assertions that a marine tank was too hard to keep as I had taken care of true cold water fish when everyone kept telling me it couldn't be done! How much more difficult could a Marine tank be? The first two books I got where "The New Saltwater Aquarium Handbook" by George C. Blasiola II and " Marine Reef Aquarium Handbook"
by Dr. Robert J.Goldstien.

Now when I decided to get the tank, I had only wanted to keep fish in the tank. I never expected to ever be able to keep corals. To me, corals have always been such mysterious, wondrous, amazing, fragile creatures from the depths of the ocean. So, even though I had a book about setting up a reef aquarium it was more for learning and admiring the beautiful pictures within. I read through both the books from cover to cover a couple times. After that I made up a list of things I thought I needed and proceeded to start looking around for the equipment and tank I was going to get. My list at the time was fairly basic an simple:

Salinity tester,
test kits (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, calcium, alkalinity and copper),
extension cords,
crushed coral for the substrates,
filter system,
live rock,
a couple new clean buckets,
water conditioner,
food, and a couple of small power-heads for increased water circulation.

Do you see the two things I was missing on the list that are kind of essential to setting up a brand new Aquarium?

So, having a nice little list made up it was time to commence striking items off the list. I was very pleased with myself for gathering most of the things I needed to get my tank up and running. Christmas came around and I was going home for the holidays and was ready to brag about how close I was to setting up my own marine aquarium. Once I got back home and settled in, I went into the living room and let out this HUGE curse!

Everyone in the house came running to find me staring at my old cold water aquarium that I was forced to leave behind when I moved out for college. Everyone kept asking me what was wrong what I sheepishly admitted that I just realized that I had forgotten all about having to buy a tank and stand! You would think it was such an obvious thing to need, but I truly had forgotten about that minor detail! I had NEVER had to by a tank in the past, I took if for granted that I would just be able to build my own tank and there was ALWAYS something to use as a stand!

My mom had planned on driving me back to Toronto for New Years but nothing would have been open for me to pick the tank up when she dropped me off. So we decided to come to Toronto a couple days sooner and look for a tank. I finally found what I thought would be a nice size 30Gal tank, a stand to go with it and an Eclipse Three Canopy system to fit the tank. We brought everything home and I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get everything set up. I would at least be able to get the water in the tank before the New Year began! WOO HOO!

My mom and I proceeded to get everything ready to set it up. We poured 40Gallons of tap water into buckets and containers I had purchase for the tank and added the chlorine remover. We got then tank situated where I wanted it, poured the crushed coral sub-straight in the tank, positioned the heater, got some extension cords to the tank and we were ready for the canopy system.

The canopy system I got was the Eclipse Three. This unit has a built in filter system with disposable carbon floss cartridges, and a bio-wheel. It was also the only canopy available at the time with dual fluorescent bulbs, which I new I was going to need to get the proper spectrum of lighting for the live rock to thrive. I was assured that this would be a great low maintenance canopy for a Marine tank.

When I opened the box to put the canopy on the tank, the worst was lying before me! The canopy was broken, not just in one small place either! I was broken all the way through one side of the canopy and was completely unusable! This was New Years eve, the stores were already closed and they weren't going to be only for a whole TWO days! I was heart broken! I had wanted the tank set up with at least the water running in it so badly before the new year that I was fit to kill! Why hadn't we checked the canopy in the store to make sure it was all right? Why did this have to happen to me when I wanted it so badly! This was the first major purchase I had made for myself and it meant the world to me. I couldn?t face starting off the New Year with this one last thing that I had waited so long for left unfinished! The only thing I can say, is that my mom was there to calm me down and attempted to explain it wasn't the end of the world. That she would stay a few more days so we could Go Back to the store when it opened and exchange the canopy for a new one. That I could make getting my very own Marine tank up and running as my New Years resolution, and that nothing will be able to stop it ever again! My hopes began to swell and I was able to face the New Year with a new determination!

January 3rd 2000, we went back to the store with the broken canopy in hand hoping to get the new one and be on our way once again. We showed the owner the broken canopy and he readily took it back, but informed me the other one that he had in stock had already been sold. He was expecting another shipment at the end of the week and I would be the first to get one from him. I was disappointed, but for some reason I still felt ecstatic about getting the tank up and running. I decided to use the time doing some more reading just to make sure that I had everything. My mom had to go home that day and she was a little disappointed she didn't get to see the tank with all the filters and everything running. However, she knew next time she came down she would see my pride and joy up and running and this time with at least one or two fish in it!

Thursday night I decided to get the saltwater ready for the canopy and filled the ? full, since I knew I was going to need room for the rock I was going to buy and room for the filter; I could finish topping off the tank afterwards. I used the extra power-heads to keep the water circulating. The end of the week came and the storeowner dropped the canopy off at my place (as an apology for not having a good one in stock when I was there). I got the canopy on the tank and the filters turned on. Finally I was ready to start adding some life to the tank after 10 years of waiting!

Michelle's Marine Diary
By Michelle Stuart

*Chapter - one:
Making a start.

Chapter - two:
Finally set up,

Chapter - three:
Cycling the tank,

Chapter - four:
Oh no, algae.

Chapter - five:
The importance of acclimatizing

Chapter - six:
Making some adjustments

Chapter - seven:
The rocks are alive

Chapter - eight:
They're just sleeping!!!

Chapter - nine:
Just one more fish

Chapter - ten:
Pure water

Chapter - eleven:
War is declared

Chapter - twelve:
The art of skimming