Chapter 3 - Big Bad Rocks
My mind had a change of heart. It has decided, without asking my permission by the way, to go back to the beginning and save last months disasters for a later date. So, it has been 3 months ( boy time flies when you don’t have clue what you’re doing ) since I wrote about the flood , My mind thought this was a good time to talk Rock.
If you are a fan of MBUNA you know that Rocks are as important as water quality in the Biotope aquarium. In fact if you look at my tank in the Hobbyist Gallery all you will see are Big Rocks and Water. OK, yes there are fish also, geez. Yes, glass and sand and a light hood, OK are you happy now? Good!!! Now where was, Yes there is a stand in the picture. Are you finished? Are you sure? Voices, do you hear them too? Now back to (Damn, here I go again, I hate it when I have to “CARROLLL “)
Not all Rocks are suited (Yes I know the ones in my head are too small to be seen in an aquarium) for a Malawi Cichlid tank. The first pile I chose looked good out of water but could not be seen in the water. Looked like the Amazon during the rainy season. Yes the River!! Yes I washed them first. I put them in the dishwasher, yes without soap, on the sterile cycle, yes I waited until Carol was gone for the day. Some times they blow up, yes the Rocks. Voices, I wonder if they have aquariums or just like to piss me off? I don’t recognize them do (The Voices) you? Once you have aquascaped your aquarium with 500 pounds of Rock that won’t work you have to remove them. Did I mention that Rocks that were dry when you put them in the tank are now slippery and slime covered on the outside, yet soft and chewy on the inside? (oops, that’s Oysters, yuck). So now you are bent in half at the waste standing with one foot on the step stool the other one waving in the air trying to find a place to land, your arms are extended to maximum reach and your fingers are under a 75 pound Oyster. (no it really is a Rock). It is at this point in time that I realize I am doing this with nobody else in the house. Yes I know this is a bad idea, but hell I wrote the book on bad ideas, just another disaster in the works. How is it that a Rock that went in the tank so easy now has your elbows pinned under the 12 inch piece of glass that spans the top of the tank, it is half way up and you can’t move your arms? Pain and sweat in your eyes as they bulge out of their sockets because that other foot is acting like a propeller and won’t stop long enough for you to get your balance back. At the same time your stomach has a crease in it from the edge of the tank and is holding on for its own life. You see your stomach knows that if you drop this Rock, and it bounces off the bottom and hits the front glass, chances are you will spend the rest of your life eating very soft foods out of a glass with a straw. My stomach refused to release itself until my lawyer provided notarized proof of health insurance, and a guarantee that solid food could be consumed. That being taken care of I was now free (not really) to finish the task of getting my arms and the Rock at least to the rim of the tank. Did I mention that this tank is 6 feet long and 2 feet high and 1.5feet wide? You guessed it, no leverage or room to work when fighting gravity. Oh, to be on the moon right now.
I put the Rock back down. OK it slipped out of my hands. Just a few scratches and a temporary flat line on the EKG machine. If you think this could happen to you, get all of your paperwork done ahead of time. What I ended up doing was build a ramp with some of the smaller Rocks and walked the big ones up to a point that allowed my stomach and my lawyer some time off.
The second pile of rocks were absolutely perfect. I was able to introduce the dither fish and cycle the tank and life was great, for one week. I drained 35 gallons of water and added my salts and buffer to 35 gallons of fresh water. I started pumping the fresh water in and the next thing I see is a tank full of non fat milk. (not 2% or even 1%) I can’t drink milk I can see thru so I know my fish are not going to be able to choke down their Spirulina Flakes. (Post or Kellogg’s)
I get on the cyber highway to the Doc with this problem. We agree that I must have lost my bio filtration during the water change. OK, give it a few days to start up, add some filter media from the Orphanage to kick start it and do another water change. BAM, non fat milk again. The fish aren’t dying and the water chemistry is not out of balance. So I give it a week. BAM-BAM (yes I know. BAMM-BAMM Rubble married Pebbles Flintstone) Where do you think I buy my Rock. (if you are under the age of 40 that last statement probably made you go find something else to do). Ask your parents, they will have the answer. (Pebbles Rock and Gravel)
Limestone is a very funny Rock. It seems that when it is in contact with water in the 8.0 to 9.0 ph range the surface will oxidize during water changes. When the new water passes over the Rocks the chalky oxidation washes off, and you get non fat milk. Here we go again, out with the old and in with pile # 3. Do you want to see what pile # 2 looked like on the living room floor?
I will also show you the water samples.
This is great, we get to see if what I send to MCH is what I saw when I took the pics, and if that’s what you see. Get it? Good, now if you looked at the pictures you saw a mess on the floor and 2 wine glasses. No my wine does not look that bad! Besides I make red wine out of Zinfandel grapes and nonfat milk is not allowed in the house. (Because nobody in the family is fat, that’s why) Voices!!
Now pile #3 is what you see in the Hobbyist Gallery. It is no longer pile # 3 that I see because when you get the water chemistry perfect you’re “Aqua Rabbits” (Mbuna) will start to have orgies 24 hours a day, every day. OK, I know that once the females have their mouths full (you know you’re not supposed to talk with you mouth full) they can’t get involved with the next orgie,but since the ratio of males to females is at least 1 to 3 for each species it seems that there is always a mouthful. Now this does cut down on the bitching about the sand not being vacuumed, the windows are dirty (that’s not dirt, its Plec food, and don’t talk while your incubating, didn’t your mother teach you manners?). OK damn little of the bitching! Damn, I “Carrooll”. Birth control, No, wait, Rocks, ok I’m back, now where was I. To get all of the orphans (they just don’t know it yet) out of the tank you must remove ALL of the Rock, and since you are into biotope Aquascaping( gee, so am I ), it has to be done constantly or the tank starts looking like a commune and no birth control. No two changes are the same. # 8 up next.
If you are a liberal open minded fishkeeper you can solve this problem by allowing same sex orgies in your tank. I think the Doc can confirm that it is impossible for these couples or trios to reproduce. (There are probably some people in San Francisco trying to figure out how to accomplish it anyway, and I don’t mean with fish.)
I know a couple of guys who think a predator fish would solve my offspring overload. They even sent me a picture of one. This Fish was so ugly I figured it would scare my Mbuna to death, not what I had in mind. I showed the picture to Carol and she left the room screaming and threatened divorce if I ever brought something that ugly into the house. (on second thought)
The moral this month is “Do it right and your back will never stop hurting. On the up side, the girls will love your Biceps” It’s all about the water. OK and some “Big Bad Rock”. Don’t even start. Damn Voices!! LOOL!! Don’t wish for something, “you just might get it”, and then what?
“Honey, I don’t think this house is………..” Voices, she hears them too!! LOL!!
P.M.S. OK, if you grew up in the USA and had a television in 1960 you watched “The Flintstones” on Friday night at 7:30 PM. They lived in “Bedrock” and Fred Flintstone worked for “Slate Rock and Gravel “. This cartoon series ran for 6 years. So now you know!!
P.M.S.S. Barney Rubble was Fred Flintstones next door neighbor and BAMM BAMM was his adopted son. Yes they were both married. Fred and Wilma vs. Barney and Betty
P.M.SSSS. Dino was their pet Tyrannosaurus Rex.