Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cleaning the Fish Tank

There are other residents of Dave's Home that need taking care of besides kids. This morning it was time to clean the fish tank.

Dave's Home has a corner nook that, when I moved in, seemed like a good place for a fish tank. I found one from Tenecor that fit perfectly. Maintenance was a concern, though, especially all the draining and refilling every couple of weeks. I didn’t want to have to drag a hose from outside into the house, and I couldn’t imagine doing it with buckets. Instead I cut a door in the back of the medicine cabinet in a bathroom that shared a common wall with the fish tank nook. Then I cut a few holes and threaded air and water hoses from the tank into the wall space between the nook and the bathroom.

Now when the tank needs filling or draining all I have to do is attach the hose to my bathroom faucet!

The first step in cleaning the fish tank is to scrub the algae and other dirt off the inside walls of the tank. I do this with a magnetic scraper called Mag Float, and then with a more conventional sponge on a stick.

The next step is to suck as much crud out of the rocks at the bottom of the tank. I start siphoning the water from the tank into the bathroom sink, and then use this suction and a wide, clear tube as a kind of water vacuum. In the photo below you can see the rocks being sucked into the vacuum tube.  I remember watching my dad do this when I was a child, except he had to continually pump his water vacuum using his hand.

After vacuuming, about one third to one half of the water in the tank is down the drain, and it’s time to start refilling the tank. I am lucky that my current fish are tough and don’t seem to mind living in a tank partially filled with fresh tap water. More sensitive fish require de-chlorinated water.

I do treat my water by adding a little bit of salt, and a pH balancer. My fish are freshwater creatures, but I’ve been told that a little salt calms them and keeps them healthy.

While the water is refilling, I clean the filter material that the water flows through as it enters the main biological filter that is built in to the tank. These filters include a large pore sponge for catching big particles, a small pore sponge for catching little particles, and a carbon pouch. I also clean the water distribution plate that evenly drips water over the biological filter elements.

Finally, after wiping down the exterior acrylic, the tank is at last clean! The fish say, "glub glub," which means thank you, Dave!