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NaM…Day Four


I have an appointment to meet Sharon and Joan for my first ever manicure/pedicure. This wasn’t just an indulgence, but another Necessity: My fingernails were an absolute mess from all the stuff I’d been doing outside, and I thought I’d go check the place out, because someone I know has feet which could use some serious TLC, and this someone doesn’t trust people to mess with said needy feet. Joan and Sharon had set this up and I decided to go with the gang and check it out.

It also meant getting up at the crack of, after getting to bed sometime between 2 and 3 am, because before manicures happened, I had to get the tank’s “extras” up and running, and check out all the chemistries one more time. (I didn’t want to be putting fresh nail polish into the tank.)

Chemistries were spot on. That was good. Then it was make more salt water, bring the level up and get the topoff system going.

The topoff system is a 30 gallon or so garbage can with pickling lime in the bottom that slowly dissolves into those RODI created H’s and O’s to help stabilize the alkalinity in the tank…I think. Is that right Carolyn? Anyway, I just knew that the RODI water that was in this bucket was compromised, which meant it wasn’t going anywhere near my now-healthy tank! So…more bailing. But that was just work. I get the fresh pickling lime into the bottom…then more bailing.

A word on all the bailing. Normally, you’d use a smallish pump to move the water around, but my understanding was the small pump was dead, and there was no hose that fit my Killer Mixing Pump. Besides, it would blow stuff around too much. You don’t want to stir the sand bed or the pickling lime. And as for syphoning, bailing was much faster.

Now, we get into the fun stuff. Reattaching all the widgets. (Easier in a computer, I’m here to tell you!) As a reminder: this is what I started with:


Manuals? Nope. Nowhere to be found. Thank goodness for the internet. First, the protein skimmer. I knew this hadn’t been working properly before Carolyn left, so I thought I’d see if I could make it work right while I was at it. I got to looking at all the configs and they all had the skimmer’s body down below the water level of the sump. If you look at the “before” picture, you’ll see Carolyn has it above the sump, supported by Plastic Lighting Grid (PLG).  Hmmm…  How can I get it down into the sump like it shows in the manual? Putting it on the floor would make it too low, and as for putting it outside, (a) that’s asking for disaster if a hose fails and (b) there was no place to put it. So…in the tank, but raised. And it has to be level. What have I got to make a platform with?

Ha! Necessity and invention again. I knew we had more of the PLG (I didn’t want to destroy the piece cut for the top of the tank in case I had to go back to the old system) so I went and began cutting pieces to make a platform.

Whoops! Breakfast! Back later.

Yummy! Lessee…where was I. Oh, yeah. Pieces cut, how to stick them together? We have some aquarium cement around, but I didn’t want to wait. Hah! Good old fishing line. I always have some around the house, primarily for hanging decorations. I also, for once, knew where it was. So…I stitch the grid together with fishing line, level the stand and prop the skimmer on it. I won’t bore you with the details of getting that think operational, but let’s just say…it’s cranky.

Now…the phosban reactor. Again, thank goodness for the internet, because I had no manual otherwise. When I started, it was just sort of lying in the tank. Reading the manual, I realized it needed, badly, to stand upright in the tank. The water enters through a tube in the top, runs down to the bottom, then bubbles up through the medium and back out to the tank through another tube. Thanks to the length of the connecting tubing between the pump and the reactor, the reactor couldn’t stand up properly. Well..that was easily fixed.

I cut the tubing.

Wrongo. Unfortunately, the connectors on this contraption are rotten! The hose just popped right off as soon as I turned the expletive deleted pump on. I tried every orientation, and nothing held that sucker in place. So…I started rummaging through the stash of unidentified bits and bobs, looking for something remotely like a clamp that would be safe down in the water. Low and behold, I found something that I think is actually a little hose clamp and low and behold, it was the right size.

Mischief managed.

Just in time to run off to AD to have my water checked and (hopefully) bring home my little Hiro fish.

Particulates were good, but, of all things, the salinity was high. Not badly, but more than would make little Hiro happy. Good news: easy fix, remove some of the salt water and replace with fresh.  Bad news: yet more bailing. More Bad News: our salt meter needs calibration. But, Kevin said I could take Hiro-san home with me! Yay! So, I load Hiro and a nice big bag of fresh sump-weed into the car and head home to bail.

Got the salinity down. Let Hiro-san out…and no fights. Not even with Houdini, our other blenny, a Starry Blenny. (Always a danger.) He didn’t even go hide, but was out and about, propping on rocks just like he was supposed to do.

Minolta DSCYay! Everything’s perfect! Just barely in time to change clothes and run to Foxy Nails to meet Sharon and Joan. And, boy, was I ready for that massage chair. Not to mention an amazing foot and hand massage. It was a pretty cool experience. Just because, I had them put a pretty little flower on my big toe. Still have it! (Go ahead and laugh, Carolyn!) The nail polish didn’t last two days. Not with what I was putting it through.

Minolta DSC

Okay, I get home, and tackle the Problem of the Downflow Hose. As you can see from the pic, it has been supported by a crazed web of rope for two years now. Here is where I truly regret not having a photo record. Don’t know what I was thinking. I tried everything. Changing the configuration of the rope, tape, even making it a little “hammock” out of my largest laundry bag (you know, those webwork things you can use in the washing machine that make hard little soaked rock tangles of everything in them?) Minolta DSCThat was funny…but durned if it wasn’t the best solution…until…I noticed a dead phone connection with wire attached tucked up in the air-conditioning ducting.

Hmmm….my whole problem had been trying to get something around behind the ducting. I began pulling…and low and behold, wound up with a nice strong wire running right where I needed it! I tied that sucker up, trimmed it, and now it’s nice and tidy!

So…to recap:

changes to date

A: The now-sunken skimmer
B: the crate-support
C: the Phosban reactor, standing upright
D: the board beneath the tank and pump, making the top level
E: something I forgot about: barriers made of plastic crosstitch material to keep fishies from getting into the big pump and demising.
F: The Pump the started it all.
G: the tape marking the water line
H: another thing I forgot to mention: Doors that close because everything’s neatly tucked in back!
I: The top-off hose, which now goes into the PLG that is actually supporting the lights. This way, it doesn’t have to be clamped in place with a yucky paper alligator clamp.

Isn’t it beautiful? Already for Carolyn’s return.

Or is it?

Ja ne!

Ja ne!

15 comments to NaM…Day Four

  • OrionSlaveGirl

    Jane, I’m crushed. Crushed & hurt! You talked about your pedicure but not a WORD about mine! *sniff*

    After all, people were taking photos at Worldcon, and Friending me on Facebook based solely on my feet! And this time, not a pressure dressing of tp & duct tape anywhere in sight. (Hint: I have pikkurs, if anyone wants to see them. :tongue: )

  • emilyrln

    Wow—as a fix-it sort of gal in a fix-it, renovate, et cetera sort of home, color me impressed! And as someone who jealously guards her sleep, color me horrified (chalk white)! Sounds like a job and several halves!

    • Jane

      Sleep before the tank was running just wasn’t an option. If I hadn’t gotten this going, I’d have had to use the Killer Pump (which compared to The Pump is a woosy) just to get the water in the main tank circulating and aerating. I think we have a bubbler around somewhere which would have helped.

      And I love building and doing stuff, too. That’s why I have all this goofy stuff around! :whistle: I have all the tools to do some real woodworking now and no time!!!!

      Gotta get my covers done…. 🙂

  • Dang! I think you have permanently scared me off fish tanks of any sort, even the fish bowl with goldfish.

    • Jane

      Honestly, it’s not usually this crazy. We’ve got quite a complex system, with the sump downstairs and the main tank in the upstairs living room. We ran two hoses (all it took really was drilling a hole in the living room floor right behind the tank) between them so all the messy work is downstairs. The stuff they have now, even for a marine tank, makes it way simple, once it’s established.

      As long as you keep the water quality up.

      We let it lapse and this is all fallout from putting in bad water. So far (knock on wood) we’ve lost no specimens as a result. A few “heads” off of corals, but they’re just floating around loose now.

      Fresh water tanks are a breeze. And they’re so cool to just sit and watch. What’s really fun is when the fish recognize you. (being the Food Source seriously helps!)

  • kokipy

    I vote for you to be at flight control for the next Apollo 13 mission, or whatever. That is amazing. I did not understand a word of it, except that you were the hero /engineer/dark magician on the spot. I do recall that CjC suggested over in the other place that it was fairly simple for one of rudimentary intelligence to master a fish tank. So very not true! I myself have a Harvard law degree and this is all very far beyond me. One is so happy that lovely little blenny found its way home.

    • Jane

      Wow! Harvard law!!!! I guess I knew that. I’m sure OSG mentioned it. But…wow. Color me impressed!

      It really was a case of making do with what I had available. These things never ever ever happen during the day when you can actually get help. Law of the Universe, you know! :wassat:

      And they really aren’t difficult these days. And I had a 30gal tank years ago that was amazingly stable and easy to keep. It’s our setup that is the challenge. It puts everything down in the basement, which makes it nice and quiet in the living room (except for a very pleasant gentle sound of running water and the occasional noisy fan…tho I think I’ve solved that, too, in the upcoming days’ adventures.) But it means a whole second tank and a very large pump that absolutely must be kept running. Smaller, self-contained tanks you can easily change out the pump.

  • Pence

    If you are using monofilament fishing line to hang ornments be warned that it deteriorates with exposure to ultraviolet. A friend had her extensive collection of brass ornaments hanging across a bay window (which had some sort of filtering tint too). They all let go at once, kind of like the incredible one horse shay. I was visiting at the time. It was interesting.

    • Jane

      Whoa! that must have been … exciting! Thanks for the warning. I’ve had crystals hanging in the kitchen window for ages and never had a problem (I love the rainbows they make all over the walls…) But I’ll definitely keep that in mind. Mostly I use it for a handful of weeks around Christmas, and for other things that aren’t constantly exposed to sunlight…but that’s a really good thing to know.

  • Many moons ago in another lifetime I had a seawater tank, but in a small 30 gallon tank. I like trigger fish, and had several varieties. I had a heck of a time with evaporation and the thing would crust up fairly quickly. Having to seemingly constantly work the salt water and pH got to be too much and I gave it all up. The contraption you have is far beyond my understanding, it would require a “show me” in order to cross the membrains I think.

    You both continue to astound me with your energy and determination! :biggrin:

    • Jane

      It’s funny…when we were down in Oklahoma, I had a small stretch 30 reef tank and it was the most amazingly stable little tank. I loved it. Had a few corals and some small fish, and it just never had a serious problem. The other two tanks we’ve had, the big one down in OKC and this one, are constant challenges, tho this one is much easier, thanks to advances in the hobby. PH and salinity is all handled automatically. The occasional check if a specimen gets pissy, but mostly it’s been trouble free. This was just a cascade of events due to waiting far too long to get that filter changed.

  • kokipy

    This plus Regenesis so make me want another fish tank, even with the work. But I need to get the house moved [tomorrow] and the cats, children and husband settled in before I can even think about it. Maybe for Christmas…. But this time I’ll ask that it be MY gift, as I am the one who wants it.

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