7/29/11

On Speaking Preemptively and the Care and Keeping of Certain Fish, Also Birthdays

Well, the fry have been moved once again because, despite my high hopes, two or three have gone missing and I am now down to nine or ten fishies. They are too large now to be eaten, so I can only assume they have gotten filtered to death. They are now right next to the 10gal in a small 1gal with an air pump and some plants. This makes observation of them much easier, I must say, but it is much harder to regulate water conditions in the smaller tank because any changes made will affect the whole tank immediately.
I need to get a salinity test.
Mollies and platy are brackish water fish, which means they live in water with mild salt content, typically fresh water rivers, near where they spill into the ocean. Mollies can live in water with salinity levers much higher than that of sea water, and they can also tolerate totally fresh water, but are happiest in somewhat salty water. Platy don't like a lot of salt, but can survive in fresh water. This is nice, because having some salt in the water helps discourage certain types of bacteria and fungus that could cause serious harm to my fish. I found the happy medium with basic aquarium salt (not aquarium sea-salt), at about a tablespoon per five gallons.
The one-gallon tank is harder to estimate because I am bad at math. I keep three old milk jugs that are each filled with water and a specific additive for the tank, which I use when I do partial water changes. One is mixed with salt, because adding salt directly to the aquarium isn't very helpful, nor is it particularly good for the fish, who are likely to try and eat it as it dissolves. One is mixed with a clarifying agent, which helps coat small particles so that the filter can pick them up easier. The third one is water conditioner, which removes chlorine and other bad chemicals from tap water.
Both types of fish like their water pretty hard, with a Ph between a 7.6 and 8.0 (Goldfish are typically kept around a 6.8-7.0). I usually keep it around 7.8, and I clean the glass fairly regularly to keep calcium deposits from building up. The 10gal ph is currently around 7.6, because I just did a water change and that throws it off a little. It'll recover quickly. The fry tank is around a 7.5, and there is unfortunately little I can do to fix this in a short-term situation. I have to try and raise the Ph very, very slowly because sudden changes will likely cause all kinds of stress to the fry and kill them all off and then Colleen, who just spent some good money getting a tank and all the things she will need, will be very upset with me.
I have been doing daily water changes, adding about 1/8 tsp of salt to 1/2 cup of water and changing it out, and hopefully that will help.

For now, the big fish are all doing fine, and Sanguine the platy is getting a very round look to her. It's likely she'll have babies in the next two or three weeks. Percy is growing in size again as well, but this is typical of mollies. They retain sperm for up to six months, and will have babies about once a month until they run out.
As for the fry themselves, they seem to be doing fine. I asked around online and found out that while most mollies tend to have babies that retain their color characteristics, because all colors are the same species and most mollies are so interbred, it isn't unusual for them to drop fry that are a totally different color than themselves. Most of Percy's babies are dalmatians, with one or two silvers. There are a few darker ones that I can't quite tell what they are yet. There's also one that may be a "gold dust", which is just another color with golden overtones. And, interestingly, there's a dalmatian that has some gold spots on its right flank.

And then there's Bruiser. I used to call him Gimpfish, but his name comes from a spot directly under one eye that makes it look, well, like he's got a black eye.
Before I noticed the spot, I called him Gimpfish because he seemed to be unable to swim properly. He was constantly vertical (as in the picture), and he had to really work to get himself off the bottom. So I looked around on the internet, to see if there was some kind of deformity or illness that caused this.
Many kinds of fish have an organ called a swim bladder, and it's essentially an internal balloon. They use it to regulate their buoyancy, and when they can't regulate it, they lose their 'balance' and will often sink to the bottom or rise to the surface and be unable to move from that level. This can be caused by a genetic predisposition (inbreeding leads to this), constipation (I didn't understand that either), or a bacterial/internal parasitic infection.
I'm going to isolate Bruiser in the breeder net in the big tank, where I'm sure of the water quality. The process of determining the cause is by eliminating the possibilities. Start by fasting the fish for 2-4 days, and then feed them softened, peeled, and smushed peas. This supposedly will help relieve any constipation. If that doesn't help, try a low-grade antibiotic treatment, followed by an anti-parasite treatment if positive results are still lacking. If all of those treatments still fail you, many people suggest taking the fish to the vet and asking for an x-ray, because it may be a genetic defect within the fish and the "kindest thing to do would be to euthanize the fish."
I didn't realize it, but there's a process to fish euthanasia, too. I always just assumed you flushed them, although the water companies and hard-core 'aquarists' frown on that because it can put harmful bacteria into the water system and cause local wild fish to become sick.
Bruiser is still very small, so I doubt I'll be taking him in for x-rays. Even if he was large, I don't think I want to put out that much money.

But enough about fish.

My birthday is in a week and I just keep forgetting. It feels like half our staff is off next week, so the people who remain are getting extra hours--I work 39, and nearly got ($13.13/hr) overtime except that someone from another store got a hold of us and said he'd pick up some hours. Sigh. I work 9-5 on my birthday, which kind of really sucks, but I'm going to use the money I made that day to buy myself a present.
Sunday the 7th my family is coming over to hang out, and Patrick wants to make my cake. Kelly will be coming over as well, because later Sunday night the two of us will be throwing our stuff in the car and heading down to Wildwood until Thursday. It's our summer vacation, and even though we'll both be totally broke I think we need the time to just do nothing. I told Patrick that even if he gets me nothing for my birthday (which I understand, he just put $550 into his car), I just want him to ignore the fact that he's broke and enjoy some down time with me. We pay rent on Monday, and then I have to go grocery shopping later that week.
Kelly will be here for those five days to take care of Kobold while we're gone. She'll be going away to college in a matter of weeks, and will be taking one or two of my fry to keep her company.

Otherwise, life continues as normally and peacefully as ever. I hope your weekend is a good one. Ours will be hot. Again.

"Love is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope."
~HK-47, assasin droid from Starwars: Knights of the Old Republic

2 comments:

Roxie said...

I had no idea fish were so tempermental. You're getting to be quite the expert!

Happy, happy birthday! Happy camping. Get photos?

Donna Lee said...

Wildwood here you come! I am always envious that you get to spend some downtime at the shore.

Fish are a pita. I think they're way more trouble than they're worth.