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Year of the Tiger

Aquarium progress

March - Pete Fairhurst

A close-up of a blue
It's been about 9 months since I first setup the tropical aquarium my family bought me for Father's Day 2021, and quite a lot has changed in the last three-quarters-of-a-year.

After initially setting up the tank with an impressive bubble bar, which created a lovely curtain of silvery movement, I later found out this over-oxygenation was likely the cause of my plants quickly dying. So that came out and a lot more plants went in (to keep the water's oxygen levels high).

With an influx of new plants came a new problem: so-called "pest snails." These things likely came in as eggs laid on the leaves of the new plants, which are hard to spot. They're even more difficult to get rid of once the snails themselves get a foothold. The natural solution? Fight snails with snails - specifically "assassin snails" - which set about digging up and eating any and all newly-laid pest snail eggs. Meanwhile I regularly fished out any grown pest snails with a small net, and sent them to the Land of Loo.

It took 3 attempts to establish a stable Taiwan cherry shrimp colony--and by "stable" I mean they now reproduce like rabbits. Their high numbers don't seem to be a problem for the ecological balance of the tank though.

Sadly, as seems to be increasingly common, my cardinal tetras all seem to have come bearing "tetra disease" - a highly varied spectrum of symptoms that cause different mutations and ultimately kill the individual fish. I've suddenly lost 4 of the original 7 in the last few weeks alone, which has been difficult to watch - especially when the cherry shrimp get involved in cleaning up. They don't thrive in groups under 6 in number though, so the remaining 3 will be under increased stress with fewer tank-mates. This will need remedying quickly if the remainder are going to stay (relatively) healthy.

Which leads me to Haku, my mischievous and often-sassy blue Betta. Whilst he remains active and curious, I've noticed significant deterioration in his dorsal fin over the last couple of months. Bettas commonly suffer from a nasty illness called "fin rot," which is a fungal infection that eats away the delicate tissues of their fins. Particularly bad infections can even attack their bodies, causing serious illness and death. I'm not sure this is what Haku is suffering from, but the tank has been dosed with a natural anti-fungal mixture for the past week just to be sure.

I've been changing at least 25% of the tank's water every week now for many months already, treating it with tap water neutraliser each time, so I'm hoping it's not a dirty or dangerous environment that's caused the deterioration of Haku's fin. I think this means that water condition is the next thing to get more of an accurate understanding of though, as sticking with guesswork is likely just going to kill more fish.
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