So I observed, patiently, pH, KH, GH, NO2/3/4 testers in hand for the fishtank to go through its normal nitrogen cycle, get my bacteria going again, and stablize. Pop went the ammonia, then down they went. Up with the nitrates, down they went. Algae formed. Everything going according to plan.
Went back to the fishstore, and bought a bunch of plants, a new net (my old one had ripped through), several new fish, and some black backing for the tank. Got home and began the slow process of getting all that stuff into the tank. By the next morning, everything was in, and everyone was adjusting to their new surroundings.

The black backing looks awesome. So much better contrast to everything in the tank. I honestly wasn’t expecting the effect to be as dramatic as it is. When you’re looking at the tank, it looks … I don’t know, honestly … like there’s nothing behind it. It also covers the generally unsightly power cables and air tubes and whatnot that hang down the back of the tank. All insivible now. I’ll post some pictures of the individual elements in the tank sometime soon.

The only remaining piece is actually something I complained about on my old website (before converting over to WP and blog-style page) that never got translated through to this format. I had previously purchased this special type of wood for the tank, which the fishstore had called ‘African root’, apparently some sort of swamp-land type water-rooted tree. As a result, the roots were naturally waterlogged, and would sink to the bottom of the tank without being weighted.

For those who don’t know, getting good wood to put into a tank is actually not so trivial as you might imagine. Ideally, you want to use driftwood. Stuff that washed up on shore after having been waterlogged in the freshwater (or ocean, if your tank is saltwater) already, and has been thoroughly soaked through. After a thorough rinsing (assuming you trust the source water it was found in to be free of bad living elements), you can put it in the tank and use it for decoration or whatever. I’ve seen people who’ve used wood to offset areas of the tank, or even in one case, as a ‘mount point’ for a low growing plant (think moss). Depending on the wood itself, it can also be pretty aesthetically pleasing all on its on.

Ok, so back to my African root. First, its goddamn beautiful. The one side is relatively smooth and looks like… well, a root. On the other side though, it is full of small holes, tunnel, and crenelations of all kinds of sizes. It looks great, makes for great places for small, threatened fish to hide and feel safe, and serves as an easy mount point of plants or other things. So whats the downside? Well, the stuff I had purchased previously leeched a sort of brownish tint into the water, making the whole tank a sort of dull yellow color. Ugly. Really really ugly. So ugly, in fact, that I grew very discouraged with the tank and gave up on it.

So why, you might ask, did I bother to buy MORE of this whacked out wood? Well, because I was assured by the friendly salesperson that the piece I was getting had already been in one of their tanks for 2 months, and wasn’t leeching anything into the water. Yes, their tank was clean and not that feared yellowish tint I’d come to hate. But they also have constantly cycling water. Maybe I’ve been suckered again. In any case, the big ‘ol chunk of wood is outside in a cooler full of water, where it will sit for 24 hours (at least) to see if it starts leeching that angry angry color back into the water in a ‘test environment’, if you will.

Not much to do after that except enjoy my once again lively tank. I’m really pleased its going again. I truly did miss having the tank going and active. Its very relaxing to just sit and watch the fish go ’round. Soothing.

Ah, two other things occur to me as I wrap up this post. First, it was astonishing how quickly the plants in the tank took over consuming the supply of CO2 and nitrates the fish were producing. Normally, algae will remain in a tank in small amounts. 24 hours, and there was not a trace of algae. The plants are either consuming all of the available viable ‘plant-food’ type resources in the tank, or a persistent enough form of algae just hasn’t formed yet. Eithe way, I’m going to enjoy the absence of it while I can. Algae has utterly ruined my tank efforts in the past, so I’ll be tremendously pleased if this lasts.

Second, I need to go back and research how long to leave lights on. I have completed forgotten some of the basic tank care routines and feeding stuff. Shouldn’t take long to find though. The Krib should still be around to hold my hand.

As I said, pictures to follow in the gallery once I get off my ass to snap some…