2016-03-01 12.09.11 1_mh1456791402973
My fish are still alive! Its been a challenge, as I came to realise I was woefully unprepared for this task and the pressure was on not to mess up regardless, with six tiny lives on the line. I have grown aware of the biological filter that exists in the tank, indeed everywhere. (Basically, the nitrogen cycle.) And that made me realise why a large tank was so much better. I decided to work with what I got though, still without funds to invest in a bigger tank at this moment, and set about learning how to make my fish tank a wonderful, clean place to live regardless.

First step: I  quickly got hold of a water testing kit. I then started doing small water changes every day, at which point I’d test what had come out the tank and record it. At the end of the week I’d log the values into a spreadsheet, and these then got transfered to a graph. I could make sure no values were at dangerous levels. And I could  compare this graph to one I have of the initial fish tank cycle and see how things were progressing.

Look, I’m an engineer. There had to be a spreadsheet and graphs.

I struggled, well I’m still struggling with the chemistry of all this but my sister is handily a chemist. During the first week of testing I sent my results to her to get them checked and she emailed me lots of tips. This weekend she came round to see me and she showed me how to properly prepare my test tubes for testing, carry out the test and interpret the results. It was fascinating watching my sister. This is a side of her I rarely see- serious and clever. I know my sister is those things, but around me she is, obviously, less formal. I couldn’t help but admire her. Chemistry is a foreign language that I’ve never understood even a single word of, but my sister is fluent.

These are my latest readings in the photo. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are all low. Finally. For a while, everything was pretty high, although not dangerously so (thankfully.) I’ve been using a mixture of boiled water and filtered water and it seems to be working. This week I’m decreasing the frequency of water changes and water testing, and the week after I want to repeat that but with more food.

Having fish is complicated and requires a surprising amount of effort. They are still adorable though. And it’s been fun investigating all this. Again, I’m an engineer. Problem solving and investigation are things I thrive on. I’m itching to develop my spreadsheet and watch my graph grow…obviously, I’m also pretty keen for my fish to stay alive and well too!