Chapter I The Flood
Do the “Cichlid’s” of the 70’s know that they did not have the good life? Mine bred like bunnies back then. I even sold the fry for a quarter each to the “LFS”. I also could buy a gallon of gas for each fry I sold. Try that one today-hah-not a chance! Are there any cichlids from the 70’s still around or did they suffer from the “Jerry Garcia” syndrome, and OD? (Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll). Sex and Rock, I figure the fish had a 50/50 chance. OK where was I? “CARRROLLLL”.
OK, I got sidetracked, back to the good life, in the 70’s. I made “UGF’s that moved a lot of water per hour. I also used Silent Giant air pumps to do something that I can’t remember. (this is a fact of life at 52; just wait-your turn is coming!) My fish seemed happy, they lived well, they ate well, and they had a lot of good sex. This was the “Make Love Not War” era, so sex was OK. I know it was OK because my wife at that time was having a lot of sex, just not with me! God rest her soul. So we got divorced and I got out of fish in the middle 70’s. Them I got married again in 1981 to Carol. The cichlids weren’t the only ones having fun! We had a little girl in 1983. In 1987 we tried to have the 1.6 children that “THEY” say the average American family has. (who are “THEY”? Have you talked to a “THEY”? Where are “THEY”?), anyway it can’t be done. I told Carol that she only had to carry the second one for 5.4 months and we would have 1.6 children. Nope, full term 9 months, 2 daughters. Stick a fork in me I’m done.
Are you wondering what any of this has to do with “African Cichlids of Lake Malawi” (this happens often at 52), don’t laugh; I told you up there, it’s coming to a brain close to you, soon.
Fast forward to 2003, Christmas Day, There is a big box next to the tree. I am thinking OK, my family listened to me. (does not happen often at any age) They got me the air compressor. Right size box-measured it, about the right weight for an air compressor. Yes I did, in middle of the night. Did I mention that I HATE SURPRISES? I just had a thought, (finding them after having them is the difficult part. Damn where did it go? “CARRROLLLLL”)
The kids are waiting for Dad to open the big one, I’m thinking: air tools and paint guns here we come. Did I mention I hate surprises?
It was not an air compressor. It was and is a 29 gallon all glass aquarium kit. I had no idea, and they had no idea what they had just created. “Monster” is the buzz word around here. It has been 30 years since I had aquariums. Like “Ruffles” potato chips-bet you can’t eat just one! So I told my family this is really neat, and “you guy’s did your home work and bought the Hospital Tank first." You should have seen the looks that one brought. “It is always good to get the infra structure built before you start the population”. 3 girl’s looked at me and said absolutely nothing. Have you ever experienced a moment like this? Doesn’t happen often! I still cherish that moment of silence.
So my family had their own ideas of what would go in the tank. Plants, (“WHAT? Wait a damn minute”), and, “nope, stop right there”. We don’t even have it out of the box yet. I was still cherishing that fleeting moment of silence. “It’s my tank and I will put “African Cichlids of Lake Malawi” in it. “ NO PLANTS”. Wrong. Carol got plants. They did not last long because the pH was too high for them to survive. Did I mention that some times I keep my mouth shut? (didn’t happen often at 50).So we cycled the tank and went through a lot of 10 for $10 Cichlids that lasted about 1 hour longer than the “Guarantee”. (More on this in a later chapter)
The “Itch”, (not ich) started on Jan. 7 2004, I was surfing the web looking at everything I could find on Mbuna. I found a group called “MCH”. Holy Cow what a great web site. I asked permission to be accepted into this “Larger than Life” Organization. I was accepted, after much negotiating and BRIBERY. (More on this later) Once in, I started asking questions about UGF’s and Silent Giant Pumps. Silence - not a word - just laughing that I could hear in the background, no easy feat on the web. If not UGF’s and Silent Giant Pumps then “WHAT”? “Sumps, fluidized bed, (I used to have a water bed-does that count for anything?) Bio-wheel, bio-balls, refugium (an aquarium under an aquarium, but you don’t get to display it?) Canisters, protein skimmers, (don’t fish need protein?) and God knows how many more.
There is a section at MCH called HOBBYIST GALLERY Have you noticed that they give a SCORE to the tanks in this section? A 29 gallon tank is not big enough to duplicate the “LAKE MALAWI” bio-tope, thus would not impress The Doc, The Tech, or The Diver. “CARROLLLLLL, the tank is not big enough”! “WHY”? “CAUSE I SAID SO”
So I go out and buy a used 125 gallon all glass aquarium from a friend who is getting divorced and out of fish. Sound familiar? This tank came with a SUMP filter. (yes I have heard that these used to be good for salt water - see refugium). Do you think the fish know that we can’t make up our minds about filters? It is now March of 2004 and I am bringing home the Big One. We rearrange the furniture in the living room. Have you ever heard the term Silence is Golden? Me neither. A spot is agreed on and I am setting up the tank for testing. I level the stand, then place the tank on it. OK, let’s put water in it and see if it leaks. WOW, a small swimming pool in the living room and it does not leak. So I set up this sump tank and pump and start pumping water up to the tank and it flows over the glass over flow box that is inside the tank and back down to these bio-balls( I don’t know why they call them that either) . The water passes (trickles as in wet/dry, no not a vacuum for your garage) over your balls and is pumped back up to the tank. I just got water in the tank and my balls are already obsolete. I don’t know, ask Them! Anyway it all seems to work OK, so after 30 minutes or so I turn off the pumps and start to leave the room when I hear this “sucking and gurgling sound” (UGF’s don’t make sounds like this) I turn around and see the carpet changing color and my socks are getting wet “ CARRROOOLLLL, HELP THE TANK IS BREAKING APART” I can’t find the leak, the water is dropping and then it all stops. Silence is truly golden at a time like this. We look all around the tank and still don’t know where the water came from. Then I open the doors to the stand and the sump is over flowing. Who would build a filter that does not have a backflow protection device should there be a power loss? Somebody who knows more about the depth that the return tube can extend into the tank. Only once will you do this in your life. (if your married anyway) because you have always told her the house was hers and the garage is yours. The money you were going to use to buy the next tank is now being used to put new carpet in her living room. All of this could be avoided if the makers of these pump and filter contraptions installed a simple backflow valve in the pump head like the rest of the world does.
The moral to my story is “Do the fish really know the difference”? And this is the kind of stuff that happens in my world so we are going to entertain you (we hope) with what it is like to be around this Cichlidiot. Never a dull moment as I try to upgrade from the days of the horse and buggy.