Water change system! …and other updates

I’ve finally assembled and tested my water change system… and I like it.  It’s going to make life much easier.

This isn’t an automatic water change system… I’m not that engineering-savvy, nor do I have the money for an automatic system. This is just a little simple plumbing to make doing water changes considerably quicker and easier, especially since there’s no water faucet or functioning drains in the basement (where my fishroom is).

About 24 hours before a water change, I run a potable water hose from an outside faucet into the fishroom (I make sure to flush out the hose into the back yard first).  I use the hose to fill up a 40-gallon Tuff Stuff stock tank.  I treat the water with Prime and switch on a standard aquarium heater to heat the water up to tank temperature.

On water change day, I use a clear PVC hose equipped with a ball valve (for easy shutoff) and a squeeze-bulb siphon starter to siphon water out of each tank.  The end of the 20-foot hose empties into the backyard (at some point, I’m sure I’ll add another 10 or 20 feet to get the discharge farther away from the house).

Another PVC hose — for use with clean water only — runs from a small aquarium pump in the stock tank to another ball valve and a small nozzle.  I can partly close the ball valve to reduce flow for small tanks.  It’s also useful to shut off the flow when filling tanks below the stock tank’s water level, since I’ve effectively got a siphon going at that point.

A single filling of the stock tank — 40 gallons — can provide enough preheated, pretreated water for a 50% water change on a 55 gallon tank and four 10-gallon tanks… and I never have to haul a single bucket.  Not too shabby, although someday (if all goes well) I’ll have enough tanks in the fishroom that I’ll need to have two water change days per week.  Either that, or add a second stock tank.

In other news…

I was hoping to get a new tank set up today, but it didn’t quite happen.  I really ought to do more maintenance work on my existing tanks before setting up anything new.  You can see for yourself that I’ve been a little neglectful lately:

IMG_8138 (1280x853)

My 55-gallon tank is showing some serious ammonia readings, but it’s also starting to turn yellow with tannins from the driftwood.  A good bit of biofilm is building up down low in the tank, so I’m starting to colonize it with MTS kidnapped from the kuhli tank.  From experience, I’m pretty sure they’ll be okay with the ammonia levels (there has already been one snail crawling around; he must have hitchhiked on the anacharis).  Hopefully they’ll munch on the biofilm and build up a snail army.

IMG_8140 (1280x762)

Speaking of the kuhli tank, it’s starting to look… well, a bit overgrown.  Most of the plant mass is java moss; a lot of it is anacharis, and there’s some java ferns buried in there somewhere also.  My loaches probably don’t mind — they can move around under the ball o’ shrubbery — but I really need to thin it out.  There’s a little spot algae growing on the front glass, too.

The algae in the loach tank has nothing on the algae in the gammarus tank or the platy tank.  I don’t want to mess with the algae in the gammarus tank too much — it’s just more food for the inverts — but it is starting to block my view of the anacharis tangle and the Nymphaea lilies.  I’ll clean off the front glass eventually — probably after I get my new shipment of gammarus from Fish Gobble.  (I finally broke down and admitted that one surviving shrimp isn’t likely to get a thriving colony going.)

The platy tank is in very sad shape.  I’m trying to get some anacharis started, and it’s slowly showing signs of growth, but I’ve never had much luck with plants in the tank.  There’s a pretty serious buildup of diatoms and spot algae on the glass.

In fact, the only non-messy tank I have at the moment is Macbeth’s tank, and there it’s the fish that’s looking shabby.  He’s become an expert tailbiter and is trying very hard to spoil my chances of ever getting another good photo of him. Raising the water level seems to help, and I’ve replaced the plastic plant I originally had with a silk plant.  He’s still pretty ragged, though.

Well… that’s the current state of my tanks.  Thanks for stopping by!