Aquarium Needs

mgecaOctober 7, 2008

Hi - we have two goldfish types, 6-7 inches and full bodied in our pond. For several reasons we will bring the fish inside for the winter. We've been convinced that a long, low 29 gallon tank will do the job.

We are getting conflicting information on the rest of the needs. We thought a filter and an air pump were needed, but one salesales person said just a filter. Are air pumps built into filters (she couldn't answer that)? No answer to this was found on a search.

Otherwise, I hope we are good to go here.

Thanks - Mike

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As you may already know, Goldies are cold water fish and as such, need far more dissolved oxygen in their water than do warm water tropicals, so the pet store is typically; feeding you only so much BS.

Two +6" full bodied Goldies also need a much larger tank than 29 gal., regardless of configuration, although long and low is always better than high and deep, but those two fish equal the bulk of several hundred Guppies, or more.

If you have a place to keep one, a 55 gal. is a far better choice and you will need a good air pump as well as a heavy duty filter, rated for a tank at least 3 X the size.

Regardless of the tank, and ESPECIALLY if you do keep them in a 29- If you haven't yet bought your filter, go to the Foster & Smith website. They have Emperor's on sale right now and an Emperor 400 will give you more bang for the buck on a tank with fairly large Goldies than just about anything else on the market.

The 280 is also an excellent filter and would be fine for your tank with tropicals, but Goldies need far more filtration and for only $8.00 more, a 400 is more than worth it.

For an air pump, check out for a Dolphin 4 Star- another most bang for the buck and with a splitter, you could run a single line from both outlets and give the fish all the air they need- and then some.

Keep their tank in the coolest place in your home, feed very lightly and with a good water change weekly, you will have a clean, healthy tank and very happy Goldies.

In case you really do want to find what you are missing by buying fish supplies in pet stores, see the following:


Also, if you do decide to go with that air pump, order an extra diaphragm with it. It's the best less than 3 bucks worth of always having a working air pump insurance you can get.

BTW: One of the neatest things about the Emperors, is how easily and cheaply you can make your own replacement cartridges.

All you need to do is take a dirty one, cut off the fabric, wash the frame and lay on a fresh pad, holding it on with rubber bands.

You can buy the bonded filtration material from many web sellers and if you can find a roll in 8" width it's extra easy; just cut every 6" inches to make pads to fit the frame.

Good luck. I keep humdreds of tropicals, but my pets, the ones that have names, are my Goldies- 14 very spoiled Wakin.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 12:11PM
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Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed response. It is what I need.

The tank size issue is bothering me. We have a very sturdy cabinet that will hold the 29 gallon. It is 38" long, the tank is 36". A 50/55 gallon aquarium is 48" long, leaving an overhang of 5" on each end of our cabinet. Depth front to rear of cabinet is fine.

That overhang seems dangerous to me. For a lot of reasons, switching cabinets is very low priority. For a few bucks and DW's design considerations I may make a bad mistake here size-wise.

I would appreciate any thoughts as the aquarium is new to me but I do know they are heavy and need support. Any way to deal with what I have, say 2x8 supports across the existing cabinet and all the way under the tank, other than going small?


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:33PM
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Mike: Are you reasonably handy with tools?

If so, cut 2 X 4's to make a frame to fit the bottom of the tank, with the 2 X 4's set upright. Add a cross brace between the long runs. All it will take is 2, very straight, 8 ft. 2 X 4's, a measuring tape, saw, drill, level and some screws.

Or, one good 8 ft. 2 X 4 and 3 short pieces of scrap for the ends and center brace. Most lumber yards/home centers have a bin where they sell shorts really cheaply.

That's all you need to support a 55 atop any sturdy base, even one slightly smaller than the tank. However, it's very important to get it dead level, so make sure you level the base.

Another hint about keeping big Goldies in an aquarium: If you don't want a bare bottom, use med. sized decorative river rock as a substrate. They are too large for bored Goldies to pick up in their mouths or get sucked up into a fairly large siphon, so you will be able to clean out every bit of muck that makes it's way down into them, every time you do a water change.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 10:31AM
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birdwidow - the frame is within my limited range of capabilities. No gravel/stones.

We are so undecided. I want the aquarium, simple amd clean and without embellishments because I like my fish and really question their survival in the pond. We have a small area 24" deep; the rest is shallower, maybe 1500 gallons, all built for much running water and with a definite idea of no fish. Familiar story.

DW was in favor of the aquarium but changed for reasons I don't understand. Cost and placement in the house I suppose. So she now advocates the pond. I informed her of costs for needed bubbler, heater and the risk to the fish, daily attention to the hardware's continued operation.

I have to accept there is a risk of shocking the fish in the move, if we make it.

I've done research on overwintering in the pond and feel this is problematic--mostly shallow, Zone 5b/6 with thick ice last year.

With more searching, I have found 40 and 50 gallon aquariums (aquaria?) that match the length of our stand. I assume going from 29 gallons to 40 or 50 is mostly beneficial in terms of oxygen for the fish?

I would appreciate any last comments you might have regarding overwintering in the pond and my assumption that increased volume is for oxygen?

You are most helpful. Our thanks. I figure about a month before doing something. I suppose I get over-anxious, but it is the lives of two living creatures in my hands.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 11:13AM
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It's easy to move fish from one tank, or in your case, pond to tank without shocking them in the least. Just fill the new tank with about 50% water from the pond, top off with fresh and let it run for a few days, especially if using a filter with bio capabilities.

Just set the bio foam, or wheel, as the case may be, into the old tank (pond) for a few weeks, then into the new tank when you fill it with the 50-50 mix and you will have an "aged" yet clean tank the next day. Breeders who maintain many tanks call it "Instant Tank Cycling" and it works, even for particularly delicate species, such as the batch of Loaches I set into an "instantly" aged tank several months back, all still thriving, except that the tank had been bone dry the day before they were released in it.

However, if your wife is opposed to your setting up a larger sized aquarium in the house, if you have a basement or garage where you can fit a small fiberglass stock tank or even an extra large, heavy plastic storage container, they could winter in one with no problems.

But they would still need filtration and air.

From your description of your pond, it seems more a running water feature than fish pond and with a 1,500 gal. capacity and running water, I can understand how only 2, 6 - 7" fish did fine in it without the usual fish equipment, but you are right- it will cost more to heat the pond and provide air and filtration for them out there, than it would to just set up winter quarters indoors.

Another option would be to use the 2 X 4's to build a frame around the size of a 55 gal tank, run some supports along the sides, line it with 3/4 ply, then set in a heavy plastic liner.

But easiest of all, would be a fiberglass stock tank. If you ask at a pond supply place, they would tell you where to find them, unless you happen to be in or close enough to farm country that you have a farm supply store in your area.

The two mfg. that seem to supply most of the tanks sold, are Agrimaster and Rubbermaid, and lest you fear- any tank sold for watering livestock is perfectly safe for fish. It would have to be. What drinks from them could just as easily be a +million $ racehorse, as a goldfish.

If that would work for you, perhaps you could sweet talk your wife into it by explaining that when not in use for wintering fish, stock tanks make great summer containers for growing aquatic plants.

If all else fails, you may just have to find another home for the fish, or perhaps a place that would keep them for you for the winter OR-

Let them go dormant and keep the pond free enough of ice to provide air and winter them in the deep part of your water feature and hope for the best, but that means you must start reducing their food, NOW, then cease feeding them altogether at first hard frost, until spring thaw.

However, only 2 ft. deep is kind of dicey.

Whatever decision you and your wife make, I agree: When we acquire any living creatute; we have a moral responsibility to care for it.

Besides, of all the fish we keep, Goldies tend to most get to our hearts. At least mine have, and it would seem that yours have too.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 4:39PM
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hi birdwidow - situation resolved...we are going with the original plan of moving the fish in and locating them on the stand-like structure. The size of the aquarium is yet to be decided, but you are right, larger is better. All details of planning, possible construction of a frame, etc. are ahead. At least I know where to put my energies. Quite why we took this little trip around and around is-- just life?

One selling point was that someone would have to tend to the pond everyday, checking on bubbler, etc. We had an unpleasant winter-running experience and have decided we don't want to be battling ice.

Site constraints limited the size and depth of the pond; it was intended to be a "landform" of symbolic value and fish simply didn't fit in the setting. But I have good water quality and clarity, the water turns over several times an hour, and the fish appear very healthy and happy. I haven't fed them in weeks and weeks.

And yes, they have reached me. They are never more than a few inches apart, looking at me, unless one makes a dash across the pond and returns. And they come right over to see me.

Your guidance makes me feel confident that the moves will go well and the fish will have the best situation I can offer. Your information was valuable to the decision-making process too; it is difficult to be a prophet in your own backyard (so to speak).

Thank you again.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:47AM
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You are very welcome. I'm glad you will be able to make use of what information I was able to offer.

I can see why you really didn't want to keep them outdoors. Maintaining that type of water feature in freezing weather can't be fun. Better to spend the time inside, in the wram, playing with your fish.

If you are planning on following my suggestion for that filter, order it while you can still catch the sale price and at the same time, have it soon enough to drop the bio-wheel into the pond to give it a few weeks to load up and be ready when you fill the tank.

One last thing. It will be tempting to light their tank, but with 2 fat Goldies and no live plants, unless you plan on a UV filter- don't add any more light than what the tank will receive from room light, or you will be continually fighting algae, because as low as you may set your thermostat the water will still be warm for Goldies, so they will be active and require daily feeding.

Have fun with your fish!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 12:16PM
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birdwidow - the best laid plans just when you have your ducks in a row. I went to order the Emperor but was told that I cannot have an aqua. cover with the hang-on filter. I assume a cover is important for keeping my wards in the water.

Sorry to take your time, but can you recommend a site, tutorial, whatever--or maybe I need go to the bookstore--where I can get basics. I understand about filters, air pumps, whatever, but putting them together is somehow not as simple as I assumed.

Or I am making the simple complicated!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:15PM
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birdwidow - I answered my own question well enough to me in the "a little knowledge" state of being. Some say that is an improvement.

Thanks again - Mike

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:43PM
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Check out the aquaclear filter too. I like how you can play around with the media. Or a cannister would give you lots of power to clean up after your dirty goldies:) I just got the classic eheim canister filter 2217 and it is fabulous and is rated for tank up to 164 gallons, so my 55 is nice and clean. Shop around, they are much cheaper then lots of cannisters but much sturdier then some cheaper versions...

I'm a ponder too luckily I have an area that is 4 feet so my fish can overwinter. I started with a pond and became an aquarium freak from it. You might be bitten by the bug too this winter. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 5:57PM
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May I assume that you figured out that the flexible strips at the back of tank hoods are designed to be trimmed out to accomodate hang on filters? Also, if that flexible strip of clear plastic ever dries or cracks, or you want to use a different hang on, you can replace the strip on the cheap, from Foster & Smith.

I won't disagree with evesta's recommendation of Aquaclear filters. Hagen makes good products, but for really churning out huge volumes of filtered water, I honestly don't think you can beat an Emperor 400, especially at less than $40.00. To equal the rate of turnover in an Aquaclear, you would need to increase your costs by at least 50% and those biowheels do more than establish and maintain beneficial bacteria, they also help oxygenate the water far better than the unbroken flow from any other hang on filter.

I also ageree that nothing will keep a tank cleaner than a good canister filter, but there too, cost can be a factor and the real bottom line in any tank, regardless of filters- most especially one with Goldies- is water changes.

Put a pair of big, round Goldies in even a 55, keep the tank in a heated room and you must feed them, because any water temp much above 62 deg. will keep their metabolisim in high gear and few fish will foul a tank faster than a well fed Goldie.

So for another tool to reduce your own work load, you might want to look into a Python, the hose that operates off of the water pressure from a kitchen or laundry sink faucet. With one, you could do a 50% water change on a 55 PDQ. Suck it out, then turn the knob on the Python and refill, adding the necessary amount of conditioner when it reverses flow.

The truth about any closed system, and that's what a tank is; is the fact that regardless of filtration, the fish are swimming in their own toilets, and toilets require regular flushing or the results will be fouled water and sick> dead fish.

Actually, with daily water changes, you can keep them with no filters at all, but that's not practical for most of us, so we use filters. The problem is that too many people buy into the nonsense that super filtration and/or additives can reduce or even eliminate water changes but it simply doesn't work, except as a ploy to sell products.

Almost forgot: If you do order your air pump from, check out the media he carries. Ken Menard sells high quality charcoal and ammonia chips for less than just about anyone else and that's what you want to use in the baskets. I use pellets in mine. They do the job and dont escape the basket to end up as bits of charcoal all over the tank.

If you don't want to bother making your own refills for the outer fabric filter insert, his replacements are evrey bit as good is not better than OEM, at a fraction of the price. Actually, with good water pressure to power off the crud, you can wash and reuse them a number of times, because you really don't need any charcoal in the outer cartridge. There is more than enough space in the baskets for all the charcoal and ammonia chips you need.

BTW: I meant to ask: have named your Goldies?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 2:16AM
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hi birdwidow and evesta - oh how helpful and what a range of possibilites and $$

Actually, I haven't figured much of anything out yet, never seen an aquarium cover, only know what live help at Drs Foster etc told me about filter and cover.

When I built my pond, I figured it would be my last big, hard labor project--3 years of moving lots of fairly big stone. I had neither space, energy nor long-interest in 55-gallon drum filters and all the stuff needed for fish. By keeping it simple and mega-aerated it about runs itself.

Then DW shows up with a 5-gallon bucket as I am relaxing by the pond; two fish, shaped like maybe a yellow perch--maybe comets, I have no idea. Having read the pond forum over the years I knew what to do to get them in the pond (dump bucket in!). But then I felt obligated to vacuum some, test water, put in some plants, feed. All the responsibilities I never wanted. But, the set-up seems to keep them fed and happy, water quality is just fine, good fish load.

Now, as I do an inside set-up to overwinter more safely than in pond, I can see that I can continue a water-based hobby (and water is very important to me on an intellectual and personal basis) that, as evesta predicts, the aquarium bug could bite me--no heavy lifting, so to speak and fish do fascinate me coming from a background on water. evesta, you have put the curse on me! A good one though. We'll see in the spring when my charges return to their seasonal home.

Name the fish? I swore I never would and that if I did I wouldn't reveal. Yes, I have. The larger is orange with white; the slightly smaller is a lot white with colored dots all over, looks like an old-time loaf of Wonder Bread.
Wonder had to be wonder, the other had to be related. So, it became sort of one name for two fish, separate yet together as they always are physically. What goes with Wonder--Stevie came to mind as a quick association. My fish share the name steviewonder, once in a while the name split. An oddity I suppose, hence the explanation. Never revealed but your kindness encouraged me to do it.

Shopping soon to start collecting parts. I read that filters also aerate? Adequate for aeration as I think of it?

regards - Mike

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 9:38AM
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You will have to be careful, or when you put them back out next spring, you will have an unused tank and the urge to get more fish to live in it, leaving the Wonderkids with no place to go next fall. (LOL)

Yes, it's true that a power filer can aerate and different power filter designs do it better than others, but only to a degree. Given the right filter, warm water fish and a light load, no airstone is really necessary.

However, Goldies kept in warm water need all the extra air that can be provided for two important reasons: Water holds less dissolved oxygen for every degree in temp. rise and carp are cold water fish that when kept in water above 62 deg. are prone to oxygen starvation, so they need the most oxygen you can give them.

They did fine in your water feature because of all the exposure to air the water received as it tumbled through it, so 1,500 gals of water continually circulating, plus the tumbling action kept it very well aeriated.

With a powerful canister filter, you could get away with no airstone, but I got the impression you didn't want to get into big pressure filters, so suggested the most effecient and bang for the buck hang on power filter and air pump I know of, to keep the costs to the minimum, but if money isn't that great an issue, the ultimate in simplicity for your fish in a 55, would be a canister filter with a built in UV, discharging through a spray bar, with the intake set at the bottom at one end of the tank and the discharge at the top, at the opposite end.

If that appeals to you, then go with a canister rated for at least twice the capacity of your tank, add a spray bar to the discharge, and you will have an all-in-one sysyem.

But you will still need to cut out space in the back of the tank cover for the hoses and- water change no less than 50% weekly.

However, a canister does have another bonus use: attach a long hose to the outlet and it will pump your tank out for you, but you would still need a means to replace it with fresh, or haul buckets, so even with a canister, I still recommend the Python as the easiest and least messy way to water change as much and as often as you will need to in order to keep your big fat Goldies healthy in what for them, will be a minimally sized tank.

BTW: Another reason to avoid lights over a Goldie tank kept in a heated room is the heat given off by the lamps, even florescents, but if you had a UV light in the filter to kill algae, you might want to check out LED lights, which would give you bright light with no heat. You don't need the hugely expensive ones now being sold for extreme reef tanks. Any innexpensive LED strip light sold in at your local home center would do.

Options, options. They are near endless, so I hope I'm not giving you decision making headaches.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 11:55AM
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birdwidow - an interesting comment on fish going to their summer water resort and leaving their apartment vacant. I could go development and erect another fish domicile near-by. I suspect the approval process may be arduous though. Let the winter prove out the value and merit of good tenants.

But then, for whom does one plan in a new tank--now there is the options, options headache! And months ahead of myself while I try to prove I can be a salubrious landlord.

I have a true naive newbie question. Option is less a problem now than opinion (not questioning yours, just looking for information). It has been suggested to me that my fish would do fine in a 20-gallon tank, a 29-gallon tank, and best in a 50-gallon tank.

It strikes me that an aquarium for my use is sort of a mini-pond--good filtration, air, keep it clean, change the water regularly(also a variable in % and frequency).

I assume, and here is my request to you, that a larger tank, with more water, provides more oxygen, lesser challenge for keeping good environment, of course room for fish to swim--and horizontally.

If I buy a 29-gallon, 36" long tank, I know what I have and that I must maybe maintain more often? Obviously a 50 gallon tank 48" long is a great improvement for space, keeping clean, oxygen etc. And I build a base. But I have found a 50-gallon tank 36" long, which fits my stand, no base (which I can build no problem).

What is my downside? Water volume should provide all the benefits of 50-gallon volume, just allow for less movement for Wonderkids (nicely creative, by the way lol).

I want to avoid the problem of the impersonality of these messages--I really only want/need to know more about this equation--I intend to go in the direction(s) you have generously suggested, but when I look at the set-up, I need to be able to explain to the co-host why this, why not that, that's the optimum that the money got for the fish and our pleasure, why a $60 tank, not a $40 tank, just for example. Curiosity, way I am built.

Time to start getting serious about the search, get everything in order and acclimated. Based on your good suggestions putting together the pieces will take thought but is now do-able I need to read more about the Python, see if it is long enough for the long run from kitchen to tank.

Thanks - Mike

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 12:47PM
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Well, it always does come down to the $'s; doesn't it? Given enough of it to be able to afford to blow it on toys and you could have an aquarium to rival what you can spend days exploring in Baltimore or Boston.

A 50 gal. (AKA 50 breeder) would be as good for the fish as a standard 55 and if you can use one on your stand with no need for braces, go for it. The greater depth and height will make up for the lesser length nicely. They can swim in wider circles. Just use a powerful filter and long airstone.

Yes, the smaller the tank in relation to the total load of fish dictates the amount of filtration and water changes necessary to maintain them in a healthy condition. However, it's also important for you to understand that the crowded tanks in pet shops are invariably filtered with flow-through systems that include continual draining and additions of fresh water. So what you see there is not what you would have at home.

One of the oldest and most erronous notions regarding the number of fish to the gal. in aquariums is related to length; the old 1 gal. per inch of fish nonsense. NOT TRUE. The factor to consider is TOTAL BULK.

Think of each of your big fat Goldies as about 200 Guppies, because that's what they pretty much bulk out to be, then go back to the pet shop and ask how large a tank you would need to house about 400 Gups.

To wit: the heavier and bulkier the fish and the cooler the water they need for dissolved oxygen, the more gal. they need to retain it and Goldies are not only cold water fish, they are by nature, filthy. They are pretty, easily tamed, long lived and fun to watch, but filthy. They can't help it. It's just what they are: carp.

So it really boils down to how much time you have and are willing to devote to water changes. If you are willing and able to do a 10 - 15% change daily, the fish would be unhappy, but if it came to it, could survive in a 20.

One of the great TRUTHS about keeping fish in what is a closed system, is that a 10% daily change is superior to a 50% weekly change, because in 7 days, the 10% equals 70% and a partial toilet flush daily beats a heavy one weekly. But most people simply can't do it daily, so the 50% weekly has to suffice and if the filter is kept clean and the tank isn't overloaded, it works.

However, the TRUTH about GOLDIES, is- give them as large a tank as you can and if that's less than 8 - 10 gal. per inch- drain them down to their dorsals no less than once a week, and why the Python would be a lifesaver for their landlord.

You can buy the Python in 25 & 50 ft. lengths, but with the addition of more hose, available at most any home center, as long as the extra has the same both in and outside diameter as the Python hose, it can be as long as you want it.

Also: You don't really need a hood. A glass cover would do and you don't even need that. As I keep them in a greenhouse and have what lights I do use suspended above them, I "cover" all of my breeder and growout tanks with the white plastic eggcrate sold for recessed light fixtures. It's cheap, easy to trim to size, cut out for hoses and cords with a small coping saw, is rigid, so it sits securely onto the ledge at the top of the tank rims and allows maximum air exchange- all while preventing suicidal leaps.

However, it also allows greater evaporation and requires frequent topping offs between changes, but with only a single tank and 2 quart pitcher, if you decide to go that route, it shouldn't be an issue for you and if your tap water isn't loaded with chlorene and heavy metals, adding a quart or so a day straight from the tap to a 50 gal. tank won't harm the fish. Otherwise, keep some water conditoner near the sink and add a drop to the pitcher before you fill it.

Oh yes: When you go to move the fish, try to avoid handling them as much as possible, especially as they have become so much larger. If you can drain your water feature to the point of leaving the fish trapped into a very small and shallow area, chase them into a bucket instead of netting them. Two people are necessary, one armed with a couple of plastic storeage container lids to use as a funnel, the other handling the bucket.

Square buckets are great for that use. Set the bucket on its side in the pond, chase the fish into it, flip it upright, slap on the lid, and the fish can be transfered with every scale untouched and intact, along with the slime coat so vital to it's health.

I've had the time to respond to all of this because I'm laid up. I zigged whan I should have zagged last week and an old horse who lives to eat came charging into the barn for dinner and knocked me flat, not realizing his old 1,000 lbs. will overwhelm my far older 130 every time. After near 70 years of messing with horses, I ought to have known better, so I'm not as smart as you seem to think I am. But now, it's time to limp out to the greenhouse and do some water changes, because the fish can't live if I don't and they are trapped in prisons of my making.

BTW: It's coming onto the Ides of October, soon to be followed by winds of November, so perhaps it's time for you to cease planning and start doing?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 1:18PM
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hi birdwidow - say, I hope you aren't too upset that I implied you are smart. If you will settle for knowledgeable, I will stop trying to be a nicer and more polite person than I am LOL

Wow, getting in a collision with a horse sounds pretty tough. All I know is they are very large and temperamental. Sorry you are laid up. Such incidents are harder as you age. I am retired and find myself with projects beyond my current energy level. Aquarium sounds good. I do hope you are on the mend.

Horses have always fascinated me, the fact that different types of people practically lived on their back and even urban dwellers kept them. I have a project going on that should require me to learn more and take a ride or two, especially about tack and horses etc in the late nineteenth century. Our local riding schools want to raise equestriennes, not have seniors fall on their head. I wonder if there is a horse forum.

So, you are right, time to take action. It is a delicate act to balance $$ and wishes. I went back to the local pet store (I prefer to shop local) and the staff is just useless. That took me to Walmart, of all places, where they offer a 55-gallon Tetra kit (my frame building size) complete with top that has light and uv light, a 20-30 power (whatever that is) Aquatech filter, extraneous goodies. It says on the box ideal for tropical fish and includes tropical fish food. I can't imagine it can't be set up for our carp with air pump, vacuum, Python, different filter. A bit pricey, I thought, but perhaps all the parts add up.

I'm leaning that way right now but expect to make one more foray to a more distant chain pet store since Walmart is hardly local.

I believe I have all the ingredients in mind now for a functioning aquarium, good information on care and maintenance.

Thank you. Any further thoughts and opinions are welcome.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 3:33PM
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hi birdwidow - just an update from your assistance

We bought a 55-gallon long glass aquarium with the usual top (two pieces as there is a cross-brace across the middle). I will make a frame either as you described or as my partner suggests--a thick, rigid panel underlaying the tank. Need to get thoughts on that approach.

I had located a 50-gallon acrylic tank that appealed for the weight, but took what was at hand as fall closes in rapidly.

Bought it locally--finally got someone's attention at the shop and she was very nice, gave me a very good price.. I looked at their filters etc and intend to go with your recommendations to finish this up. She was quite knowledgeable and helpful, and I could measure what she knew by what I have learned here.

Thank you for all your generous help, banter aside. Enjoy your aquaria, mend well from your horse encounter. I welcome any parting thoughts, of course. As we watch the Wonderkids in their second home, I shall think in appreciation of how they got there.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 12:20PM
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Thank you for your kind thoughts. I've been messing with horses for close to 70 years and been involved in more than a few horse wrecks, so getting knocked flat on my behind to land under one with no harm to show for it but a bruised ankle was a minor bump.

You really DO need to support the tank equally along ALL of the bottom frame. If you don't, just the slightest dip at one of the overhanging ends will cause the glass to crack. However, you don't really need 2 X 4's.

2 x 2's, with a reinforcing piece across the middle front to back, with a piece of 1/2" ply attached to it to serve as a flat base for the tank would serve just as well. Just make sure to get the base perfectly level before you fill the tank.

If you can't get it absolutely level, lay a piece of 1/2" thick styrofoam sold for wall insulation atop the ply, under the tank. You can get it cheaply at any home center. As the tank fills, the weight of the water will apply greater pressure to the low point and it will level out. The foam trick is how the pros prevent any tanks larger than about 50 gal from developing stress cracks. But it won't correct more than about 1/16" so you still need to get the base as level as possible.

Now order your filter. Quick- before it goes off sale.

Good luck, and have fun with your Wonderkids.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 11:59AM
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birdwidow - sorry to seek more of your time. The info on the frame is perfect-thank you. The filter and air pumps are done deals. Funny, several people have told me an air pump isn't necessary as the filter moves the surface water which is what goldies require. I'm too conservative with my fish to accept that.

There will be no gravel, probably just a few very colorful and rounded granite cobbles placed around, less than 2" diameter, easy enough to nudge and clean?

For vacuuming, do I need a separate tool or is this part of the Python operation (about to order)?

Food - flakes, pellets, other? Or did I forget your advice?

Water company has switched to chloramine. Never bothered them in the pond but I need to treat when I clean, top-off etc?

Ah the details and the lingering skepticism for store personnel.

I must say, your equine encounter sure sounds scary to me. I have seen enough westerns (reliable sources) to know what being under one of those animals can mean. Does the horse respond to your words, stop moving, or is it just how Lady Luck plays out the hand? I'd like to do some riding but I guess it is too late at my age, which is just a bit less than yours.

That seems to be my catalog of questions. All the potential parts are located, I just need to know how to put them together for a safe and healthy environment for the Wonderkids. That name, by the way, is now in use. Thank you for that, and thank you for all your good help.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 12:56PM
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The Python is a syphon, except that you won't need to suck on it to get it going and any rock too large to be taken into the hose or moved by the pull of the suction would be fine. In fact, you could have some fun with some small boulders with interesting colors/shapes. Not real large of course, as you don't want to crowd out the fish and no sharp edges, but there is no reason why you can't decorate the tank for your own viewing enjoyment. The fish will have something to distract them too. Goldies love swimming around objects.

You could also add a decorative background for the tank. They are plastic, and are taped to the back of the tank, but if you do, it's best to do it before you fill it and seal the edges all around to avoid any moisture getting between it and the glass, which wouldn't harm it, but would distort the pictures on it.

If your water supply has chloromines in it, you will need to use a treatment/conditioner to remove them and for that, check the label to make sure what you buy removes more than simply chlorene and because of the amount of water you will be treating, buy it in a large sized bottle.

FOOD: Avoid flakes. They will hasten the fouling of your water and filter. Feed small pellets instead. The single best food I've bought for my own Goldies is Red Shrimp Meal in small size, really intended as food for baby Koi, but the Goldies love it and it really does bring out intense color.

They also love finely chopped greens, particularly the dark Romane and chopped up fresh peas. If you buy fresh oranges, give them a slice and they will nibble at it for hours.

To give them leaves or orange slices, you can use one of the all plastic clips with suction cups sold for that putpose. Then also treat them to a slice of Zuccini.

My encounter with a horse that was foaled into my lap 35 years ago did not frighten me in the least. My only fear was of being seriously injured and alone because while he would have stood by me all night if necessary, he couldn't call for help.

However, once he realized that the something his shoulder had brushed against, that was now on the floor under him was "Mom", he stopped dead in his tracks and didn't budge until after I had worked myself into position to use his tail as a climbing rope to get up, then told him it was okay to proceed into his stall.

Actually, even with no nudge from a horse, I can get down anytime, but am at an age when getting up with no assistance is becoming more and more problimatical. LOL!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 4:33PM
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hi birdwidow - I hope you are well, recovered from your horse incident. Also hope you are out there and reading posts.

Also hope other aquarium posters here chip in with any advice to help make my first aquarium a success for the two goldfish that we have.

Everything is set to go into the final stages here. The aquarium is set up (bought a stand as we decided to keep the existing stand available for other use), seem to have all the filters, pumps, Pythons etc necessary.

A couple of follow-up questions. I cannot find the food you use--googled for brand, content, etc. Some say just use pellets for pond, I wonder about their diet in thia more contained setting.

The plan is to pump pond water into the aquarium rather than carry and spill 55 gallons in buckets. I will leave some room for any displacement by the fish and then top it off. I'll run the whole thing for a few days to allow water to change temp, all the ususal.

Then, with luck, net out the fish and place each in a 5-gallon bucket of pond water, bring in by the aquarium and let the temperatures in bucket and aquarium equalize, more or less, fish in, cover on, fingers crossed. BTW, the aquarium is in a dark corner with no direct sunlight.

There are two outlets on the pump--isn't it necessary to get a couple of airstones?

Have picked out some very colorful water rounded stones of Canadian glacial glacial origin, different sizes, for a tableau that can easily be cleaned.

Lastly, if it ever is necessary to do something in the aquarium, can one just reach in without harming the wonderkids, should gloves be worn, tongs?

So close, so ready to shut down pond and enjoy the fish.

Thanks, as always.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:24AM
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Hi Mike,

Glad to hear all is coming along well.

DO NOT let the fish sit in the bucket IN THE HOUSE to equalize temps. Get them into a bucket, put a lid on it and leave it outside. Then- pump the water from the pond and bring them in to release into the tank.

The water in the tank will then be the same temp as both the pond and the bucket(s). It will take many hours for 55 gal. of water to warm up to room temp and as it does, the fish will have far more time to slowly acclimate to it. With acclimation to a temperature change of more than a few degrees, the more gradually the better.

Keep in mind that the water you will be pumping from the pond is already cycled, so you really could get by not bothering to leave it in the tank before you indroduce the fish and with regular water changes, the fish will do fine. For Goldies, no amount of fresh, conditioned water is too much.

If you can avoid netting them, don't. Try to herd them into buckets instead, to avoid disturbing their natural slime coats.

Even better: If where they are swimming is the deepest part of your water feature; why not drain it down to that point, THEN pump the water to fill the tank?

If you leave the fish stranded in just enough water to cover their dorsals, herding them gently into buckets sitting sideways in the pool should be a pretty quick job. Once they enter the bucket, immediately flip it upright and take it and the fish into the house and release it/them into the tank.

RE: Hands in water. As long as you haven't anything on your hands or arms that would be harmful if released into the water, such as soap or lotion residue, there is no harm in working in the tank bare handed. Most all of us do.

I know that many salt water reef tank keepers use long gloves, but these are Goldies, not super sensitive live corals, so don't worry about it.

The object of buying a powerful air pump is to have air to spare, so no, not 2 airstones. One large one connected to a single air line leading up to a T connector. That way all of the air coming from both outlets will be fed into that single line to the airstone and with Goldies, the more powerful the air being fed into the stone the better.

A long stone, that runs the full depth of the tank, set alone one end would be perfect for them, as it would set up a flow at the top and keep the surface a bit agitated.

If you plan to keep the pump below the tank, you must use a check valve to prevent any water from syphoning back into the pump but with a T connector, you only need a single check valve, attached to line just below the T.

To make the connection, cut two pieces of airline about 6" long. Connect them to the outlets on the pump, then to each side of the T. You want them long enough to curve, not bend or kink.

Run a very short piece of line from the bottom of the T: just a few inches is enough. Then connect the top of the check valve to the bottom of that short piece and the line into the tank from the bottom of the check valve.

If you plan to set the pump above the top of the tank, there is no no vital need for a check valve, although it's always good insurance.

RE: The pellets. I buy mine from Bonnie the Koi Lady. You can contact her at:

Tell her the lady in Illinois with the Wakin sent you. She will know who you are referring to.

Ask her if she still has any of the small sized Red Shrimp Meal pellets on-hand. I bought some of both her small and medium sized, but find the small size is more readily accepted by fish less than about 10 inches long.

The "trick" of feeding Goldies is particularly simple with pellets, because you can drop them into the tank a few at a time until the fish stop eating. Then remove any uneaten ones and resist the temptation to feed tham again that day.

Or, give them just one or two pellets in the morning and again at night.

Just DO NOT OVERFEED THEM. If you do, you will pay for it with bloated fish and a quickly fouled tank.

Do come back and let us know how they do. With such a loving "papa" I'm sure they will thrive.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 6:31PM
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High again birdwidow,

Loving "papa" alright - I feel like one of those cliched over-anxious fathers-to-be pacing the waiting room in those old 50s TV sitcoms!

Thank you so much for the advice on transferring the fish. I would have done it wrong based on something I probably mis-interpreted elsewhere about these transfers. It will be a bit of a challenge getting enough water down to nab them while leaving enough to pump a goodly distance to the tank. This will all in all be fraught with opportunities for me to make a mess!

Main purpose in responding now is to seek clarification on the airstone. I understand all the principles and hardware. But I am not certain about your recommended placement. I do have the pump you recommended. Are you describing the placement as vertical in a corner, or along the bottom on the shorter front-to-back distance, or quite long on the bottom of the long length/axis side? Along the bottom can be either 13" (approx) or up to 48".

I have no tubing, tees, checkvalves or airstones yet so I can set up any way.

Lastly, will the Wunderkindle require any slimecoat treatment?

I am surprised with the limited food amounts but it makes sense.

Oh yes, getting it level and insultation if needed. Under the tank at low points, all along the tank and let the weight crush it level, under stand feet?

Next weekend I think--make final prep, make sure my pumping is realistic, final supplies. Honestly, I was pretty good at some things, obviously not anything practical! Until then "papa" will be pacing that waiting room floor wishing becoming a senior hadn't brought extra anxiety with it!

Thanks for the great help again.

Cheers - Mike

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 10:30AM
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Given enough volume of air, the placement of an air pump is irrelevant. However, if set above the tank, the less it has to push. (Newton was right. Gravity wins.)

Also, if set above the tank, you can eliminate the check valve if you don't want to bother with one, but that's why I recommended the pump that I did. It's got plenty of guts to produce lots of air, even if you end up setting it down on the bottom shelf of your stand.

As for the airstone; one of the cheap long ones will do just fine. Eventually, all air stones clog and/or start to crumble and after wasting lots of money on fancy, supposedly "forever" stones, I ended up just buying the cheapies and replace them when they start to release less air.

You will know it's time to replace an airstone when you rinse it under a stream of tap water while going over it with a soft brush, and bits of it fall off.

The 10" length is perfect for a 55 as it will fit nicely along one end sitting front to back, and as the bubbles rise up along the end wall, given enough air pressure, they will flow along the surface of the water toward the other end.

You may need to use a few airline holders with suction cups to keep it in place, as the fish will likely bump it and/or the airline around. Otherwise, the long stones will set on the bottom. But that would be a good location for a few of your little boulders. Push a few against the edge of the airstone and it may be all you need to keep it in place.

If you drop the food pellets right above where the bubbles come up, they will get pushed away, forcing the kinders to chase their food a bit and that's good. It will give them something to do.

RE: Slime coat replacement. If you don't do anything to damage it, you don't really need to do anything to replace it, but that's why I try to avoid using nets whenever possible, especially with larger fish, as their sheer weight pushes their bodies into the material when the net is lifted up from the water, so when I need to catch any of my Wakin I use a long, soft sock net.

Once the fish is in it, I pull the top of the net frame above the surface, then slip a bucket under it. The fish stays in the net, but in the bucket.

So if you are nervous about trying to just chase them into a bucket, get large deep net. Most any store that carries pond fish supplies should have sock nets.

There are many different brands and types of water conditioners on the market, but I personally prefer Stress-Coat. Even though your water has already been cycled in the pond, add some to the tank after you move the fish, then whenever you change or add fresh water.

That will also address the issue of slime coats on the fish; just in case.

Retirement is great! It's old age and creaky joints that tends to spoil it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 1:11PM
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birdwidow--for me it seems to be creaky head. I'm back briefly. Everything seems to be in place and close to ready to go. Waiting on aqua background but not holding because of it.

I took the water temp today with one of those aquarium digital thermometers and it read, reliable or not, 45 degrees, not really a surprise I suppose.

I know these carp like cold water, but I am wondering if it is too cold to make the move. All I do know is not to feed them, which hasn't been a problem for months now. Do I need to jump on this now or will waiting one more week be OK? NoIndian summer yet.

Bonnie is out of the food until January, offered some med food. I think I'll just go with the sort of generic pellets I used before, just a couple per fish a couple times a day is what I read. She didn't get your identity as Lady from IL with Wakins.

I had a strange dream about my fish gasping for air, dying then reviving when I showed up. Of course, they were in a salad bowl. Creaky head and anxieties.

I didn't expect the water to be that chilly. I can handle it if the fish can.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 3:12PM
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Bonnie was either being overly discreet or suffering an early onset senior moment, but no matter. If you want great food to color your fish, you know how to find her.

If the tank is set up and ready to fill, why wait? Just pump the cold water from the pond into it, crank up the filter and air pump, grab the fish, dump them into the tank and they will adjust as the water slowly warms to room temp.

Actually, the colder it gets outside, the greater the difference between the pond water temp and eventual temp of the tank, so sooner would be better than later.

Once they are in room temp water, they will be hungry and need feeding and as you haven't been filtering the water in the pond, after it's been in the tank a few days, it wouldn't hurt to do a partial water change. The Python should make that chore fairly quick and easy.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 10:24AM
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Hi ya birdwidow,

Well, the deed is done! And I have mixed feelings. After numerous extra runs to the pet store, everything came together. Filling the tank with a pump in the pond was a breeze. Capturing the fish was surprisingly easy. The water temp is slowly climbing from about 52 to 60.

The filter seems just fine, the bubbles are not what I expected but with distance of pump from the tank and friction I'n not surprised.

The fish are still alive but quite spooked. They seem larger than when they were in the pond--all the refraction etc through water--which also could mean they appear larger. It is a 55 gallon tank, long version, but it seems so narrow (13").

The Wonderkids are glued to each other for the most part, one of their endearing traits when in the pond as well. One is not so handsome when seen like this, the other is far more attractive--but they remain the Wunderkindl!

Maybe I start feeding them tomorrow, just a few pellets couple times a day? The downside is my Python is an enigma so fall. There appears no way to attach to fancy kitchen faucet. I do have other options that involve outdoor forays--adaptation is a trait in the human species, so to speak.

Been difficult with Bonnie and food--had to sign up for PayPal and now waiting for approval of credit card. She is patient. All she has is medium right now but I am trying a pound.

I hope to capture the fish on camera soon and post for some identification as to type.

So, a barebones aquarium really yet it took some effort to pull it together as a first-time. Your guidance made the difference.

In gratitude and probably more to come,

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 11:05AM
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Hi Mike,

Lots of Goldies look different and often better when viewed from above, but then they were originally bred to be pond, not aquarium fish. Housing them in transparent containers, regardless if (ugh) bowls, or tanks, is a relatively recent development in hundreds of years of keeping them.

My Japanese import Wakin are a perfect example: Lovely from above, rather odd looking from the side. Not only have they an unattractive side profile shape, their otherwise carefully bred for and selected top markings are on many, detracted from when seen from the sides.

I'm sure your kiddies will settle down after a few days. If you consider what a shock it must be to them, to be suddenly living in what to them must be highly confined quarters it's no surprise they are a bit upset. They will get over it.

But do keep in mind that given pond living, even if only in summer, most Goldie's will grow to at least a foot in length. A photo would be nice. If nothing else, it might give us a clue as to what type they are and hopefully be able to better predict their eventual size, both in total length and girth.

The depth of your tank is standard for a 55, and why I wrote that if you had a chance at a 50 breeder, it would do very well. They aren't as long as 55's, but deeper front to back.

However, if the kiddies are able to turn comfortably in the 55, they will, and swim back and forth.

If you have a means of mounting a small shelf on the wall just above the tank and keep the air pump there, you should have tons of bubbles. There may also be a hole on the bottom or back end of it, to which you could connect a hook and then just hang it off the back of the tank. If you do, use only a stainless steel one.

I have also seen where people have taken coated wire closet baskets and rigged them up to hang on tanks, with pieces of soft foam shelf liner on them to hold the pumps in place. Lots of options. Just use your imagination and play with different notions and one or another will work for you.

My husband fitted all of my air pumps with SS eye bolts, so I can hang them just above my tanks. I have two huge blowers, both of which can run dozens of tanks, but the noise from them eventually got on my nerves, so they are parked; replaced by a collection of Dolphin 5's, that have holes on the bottom plates with space inside to hold the nuts.

If the med sized pellets prove too large for the kiddies and they may not be, just break them up, or and perhaps even better- let them soak long enough before feeding them to soften them up and allow them to sink. A lot of Goldie experts caution against floating food, as the fish are greedy and gulp the food and air at the same time, which can lead to bloat, so soaking it before feeding to have it sink immediately after being placed into the tank or pond is reccomended.

Sorry to hear the Python won't fit your kitchen sink faucet but that shouldn't be an issue with a laundry faucet. Or, don't you have one? If it turns out you can't use the Python, which would be a shame, there may be another option to avoid hauling buckets.

I presume you have a submersable pump. Do you also have a place that maintains the same or close to the same temp as the room in which you have the tank, where you can keep a sturdy 32 gal. or larger garbage can full of fresh water? If so, just fill it with room temp water and use the pump with a hose attached to drain the tank to a sink or bathtub, then again, to pump the fresh water from the can back to the tank. Or, if you can be sure of having no soap or cleanser residue in the bathtub, use it instead of the can.

If you have no indoor faucets to which you can attach a long hose, I suppose it would be a problem, but I believe that most kitchen faucets have removable ends that contain the screen diffusers and the Python should have come with adapters, to allow connections to them.

Perhaps that is what you would have to do to attach the Python, which would in the end, be you easiest means of doing quick changes without slopping water all over the place, not to mention straining your back carrying buckets. If you can use it, just adjust the temp to close to the same as the water in the tank before you start refilling.

BTW: That "endearing trait" of swimming together is the best your 2 otherwise schooling fish can come to their natural behavior. My 14 Wakin often resemble a school of oversized red and white anchovy.

If you want to give them something to distract them, you could have some fun with some short, large diameter pieces of PVC pipe. For whatever reason, Goldies seem to love swimming through things. When we replaced a stretch of old clay drain tile in one of our fields a few years back, I was able to rescue a bunch of the old, 14" dia. heavy clay tiles before they were broken up by the backhoe, planning to use them as planters and did, but now, 2 of them sit in the bottom of the pond, where the Waken chase each other through them.

Next year, all of my Wakin should be large enough to allow me to not only take a dip with them, but to bring my hand reared pet duck in with me. Swimming with her- is a total gas.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 7:10PM
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Hi birdwidow -- well, the deed is done and I sort of regret it, the fish seem so lost and forlorn staring out the end of the tank side by side, ready to be free. I almost wanted to put them back in the pond except a simple aquarium was more expensive than I imagined.

I missed your comment on the breeder tank I guess. They can turn but when they get side by side they jostle one another a bit. I did put some nice stones in but had to take them all out as the fish kept bumping into them--hard sometimes.

Now they are really stuck together - did you know that a group of goldfish is called a troubling? Like gaggle or pride or whatever.

The python does attach to the kitchen sink upon further investigation. I will try it in a few days although the tank doesn't seem dirty. The filter intake is covered with mulm though. The fish and I need to settle in. I am feeding them only a few pellets from the pond diet, twice a day, and they seem fat and happy, although every time I go in aquarium room I steel myself for finding them belly-up.

I hear various opinions on gravel; some say no, but others say the waste collects in the gravel and the Python is designed to take of that, best way to clean tank. Any sense to that?

My other half is really into the scene, is constantly adjusting something and wanting to add rocks. This is good but keeps me busy dealing with rocks.

I will try to get some pics and post--the usual glare-relection problem. The bigger one is pretty plain but the other is really marked nicely.

Now, this pet duck! I can imagine swimming with a duck is interesting. Not something I heard of before tho. They are interesting creatures and can be quite tame, I know that. Are they small fish eaters or vegetarians? You are saying your fish will be large enough to avoid fate? Where does this duck hang out if not swimming with you?

Last - finally connected with Bonnie and paypal and have some food on the way. Will the fish be OK with a change of diet or do they need to get hungry first?

Pics soon


    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 1:12PM
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Rocks or gravel in an unplanted tank are really far more for the asthetic enjoyment of the keeper than a benefit to the fish, but if you want to use gravel, be sure it's too large to get into the Python hose, because it will have pretty strong suction and if you have any pieces of gravel just small enough to get into the hose, but too large to pass through it, it will clog it and be a devil to get out.

I've ruined more than a few lengths of drain hose by misjudging the size of the largest bits of gravel.

Large, smooth, oval river stones can be an attractive substrate in a Goldie tank, are too large for the fish to pick up in their mouths and can be shoved out of the way of the cleaning hose, but a bare bottom will always allow the filter to more easily pull in the mulm- which is exactly why you want a powerful filter.

If you already have a lot of mulm on the filter intake, it's time to turn off the filter, clean out the intake, rinse off the fabric pad and do a 50% or greater water change. NO amount of clean, conditioned water is excessive for large Goldies.

Keep in mind that while the water LOOKED clean in the pond, it wasn't being filtered and what was okay for the fish in such a large volume of moving water in your 1,500 gal. water feature isn't in only 55.

All of my pet ducks were hand reared from hatchlings and firmly imprinted on me, so yes, they are exceptionally tame and confiding, but one of them is a special favorite and is paper trained, so is allowed into the kitchen, whereupon she immediately heads for the refrigerator to beg for lettuce.

She is a Buff Oppington and like all other domestics bred from mallards, primarially a vegan, but would go after fish small enough to swallow whole, although all of my Wakin are far too large for that, but as they get closer in size to the duck, I'm presuming they would feel less threated by her presence.

I've been swimming with my pet ducks for years but of all of them, she is the one who paddles up to me, then insists on using me as a floating dock. She does it particularly when I'm floating on my back where she settles onto my chest and burbbles at me. She quacks when she wants attention or is calling out to me, but burbbles when she is just contented; a sort of duck nattering.

Like all of my hand reared ducks, she learned how to be one with me, in the bathtub, when she learned to swim, but when she isn't visiting in the house begging lettuce and terriorizing the cats, or following me around in the garden or swimming with me out in the stock pond, where she thinks chasing horses is fun, she lives in a duck house, set in our poultry yard.

A Trouble of Goldfish? That's interesting. I've always thought that any group of fish of the same species was called a School, or Shoal although when they have been herded into a tight bunch by predators, hapless sardines or anchovys are called Bait Balls.

I partularly enjoy what the Brits call a flock of larks: An Exaltation.

However, my dear little duckies aren't a flock. They are a group of small feathered beings, all individuals, each with their own personalities, all of whom know and answer to their own names, and all of whom have their own particular voices. When one of them gives voice, I know who it is. It's just that one of them has made it very clear that she thinks she is a Personage of Great Importance.

Considering the Vet bill when she suffered a prolapse of the cloaca that required surgery, I suppose she is right.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:24PM
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hi birdwidow - what a charming accounting of your life with ducks. I do recall a certain domesticity from my only experience. When I was very young, 5-6 little ducks appeared from nowhere in a pen at our lakeside summer cottage. Every morning my mother let them out and they went right to the water, messed around, and did their day's work. Around dinner time my mother called them to no avail, put on hip boots and went to a near-by marsh where they were doing ducky things, herded them home. I never knew if the ducks were ostensibly for me but a distraction for my mother. And then there was the thought that my father wouldn't shy from eating them. One day they were gone, with some reason beyond my memory.

In any event, your recounting is fun reading. I think it would be cool to swim with something like that; in the bathtub, I don't know.

I got the fish food, they turned it down initially, but apparently got hungry later. Tank is overdue for cleaning, put off because I have actual work to do--excuse.

Question about my filter, same as your 400. It came with the water intake fitting that connects to the filter, an "intermediate intake," something like that, and an extension fitting that goes from intermediate intake down to the main intake. All assembled, it was too long to fit in the tank, even if I removed the intermediate intake.

I attached the main intake to the fixture that comes out of the filter. But this means I am taking in water only about 1/3 of the way from top to bottom. It occurs to me that the intake should be near the bottom and I need to cut the extension piece so it fits, taking advantage of bottom intake and intermediate intake, using everything that came in the package.

Am I right or does it matter? I don't like the intake so shallow.

I have a couple of good pictures of my fish to share next time around - they are elusive and not interested in good poses!


    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 2:56PM
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Hi Mike,

The imprinting of ducklings on human mamas is well known. What isn't so much is the fact that the imprinting works both ways. They get to you.

Did you know that a duck's beak isn't hard; just rigid and highly sensitive- and warm? Or, that few things in nature are as soft as the under part of a duck's beak? Or, that nothing will keep your toes warmer than a nice soft pile of duck down, with the duck still wearing it? Or, that when a duck wants to show affection to it's human mama, it will softly nibble on her (or him) as if it were preening itself?

And- that the ultimate sign of total trust, is to have a duck- a creature that by instinct bourne of millions of years of evoloution knows it's prey- fall sound asleep in your lap? I could go on, but won't. LOL.

Emperor 300 intake tubes. I quite forgot to mention that bit. Sorry. Yes, you are correct. You want the intake to be set as low in the tank as possible.

Cut the straight tube to a length that will set the tip of the strainer just above the bottom of the tank, but not touching it or it might raise it, and the round end of the intake tube must be seated firmly down into the housing or the filter won't draw. If you ever want to use the filter in another, larger or deeper tank, replacement tubes are available from many online sellers or directly from the mfg.

Also, one of the most important things you can do to keep a tank clean and healthy is to periodically clean out the filter. Too many think that all they need to do is replace the media and they couldn't be more wrong. Bio filtration is great, but let the bio-wheels do that bit.

Never allow too much muck and slime to accumulate in the filter or intakes or it will slow down the filtration rate and overwork the motors. Overwork them enough to run hot and they will burn out.

I would guess that virtually all power filter failures are due to motors being overheated as a result straining against filth, which is a pity because if treated with respect, the magnetic motors on modern power filters really will run just about forever.

Just swish the bio-wheels in a bucket of tank water and leave them until you are ready to restart the filter. Drain and refill the tank and for the time it takes to give the filter a through cleaning, with all that clean water, the fish will be fine.

The filter came with a neat little brush but it's not enough. You really need a bottle brush to clean out the intake tube. One of the handiest brushes is one that comes attached to a long spring, so you can get the brush end past the bend in the intake. Also, always disassemble the impeller housing, to clean the impeller, but gently- as to not bend any of the vanes or damage the shaft, and flush out the spray bars, to keep all of the holes open and maintain an even spray for the bio-wheels.

Take good care of your filter and it will take good care of your fish.

Yes, please do- post some photos.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 10:25AM
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hi birdwidow,

my, what an informative, passionate and welcome treatise on ducks. I never knew most of what you wrote. A duck's bill, a duck down foot warmer - rich stuff.

About all I know: there was a duck that laid two eggs and an orange. The ducklings hatched, looked around, and one said--"look at the orange-mama laid.

So, your advice on the filter is great (I have the 400), especially fitting in the extension tube. Will do shortly. The high location for the intake right now attracts everything such as food (they aren't eating the red stuff yet). The impeller housing I am aware of but haven't tackled yet. We did rinse and clean the filters however.

My problem now, aside from doing this, is my Python. It will take water from the tank and bring water from the faucet. I did a partial water change, went OK except the device won't suck up solids such as mulm, food bits, etc. Sucks the stuff into the big tube but no farther.

The tank is dirty and I don't know if the water is any healthier or not. I bought one with a 50' hose (actually need about 40', there being some extra). I suspect lack of enough water pressure to create enough suction. I should remove the excess tubing, if that is possible, and try again. I really don't like the looks of things and have no idea how to remove the solids other than manually - wasn't in the plans - no idea what that involves.

The filter does bubble the surface a lot; my airstone is a vacation destination right now as the fish tip it over, even with a stone on it. I have an affinity for rascals tho and the thing is sending up lots of bubbles.

How long is it safe to have the filter off for cleaning and repair? The bubbler? I think this filter question is important because I get antsy after about 5 minutes.

Pics soon, I promise, just busy with consulting projects welcome for the retired (not so happily!)

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Hi Mike,

If your Python won't pick up mulm, my first guess is low water pressure, but the oldest and still easiest means of clearing mulm from the bottom of a tank is to simply sweep a net along the bottom and scoop it out.

If they are knocking the air stone about, perhaps you could move some of your rocks next to it and if it's a long stone, you could even lay a few atop it. As long as it releases bubbles, it will be doing its job. They don't have to be in a perfectly even line.

If you do your filter cleaning along with a water change, once you have removed the filter and made a large change, they will be in very fresh water and be perfectly fine without the filter for as long as it would take to completely disassemble the filter and clean it.

Given enough fresh water, fish can live with no filter at all. We use filters because doing daily water changes sans others to do it all for us is simply impractical.

In the old days, before filters or even electic motors to run them, when there really were households in which every resident Upstairs was supported by an army of servants Downstairs, that's exactly how they kept decorative fish and why I always stress water changes as the most vital aspect of keeping healthy fish in a closed system.

I'm reminded of a line in the old Hepburn/Bogart film Sabrina, in which one character on a vast Long Island estate was described as an old retainer whose only job was to look after a goldfish named George. As George was depicted living in a small garden pool without filter or airstone, we may assume his keeper faithfully fed him then drained his pool and refilled it- daily.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 10:22AM
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hi birdwidow - here are the pix. Gold one is about 8" long without tail; white about 6" without tail, as accurately determined with moving fish and moving ruler. Looking forward to information about these guys.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Those are very nice fish. The Spotted one is a Shubunkin. The other is a Pond Comet. I can't say if they are purebreds, but what difference does it make- they are both pretty.

Give them another season in your ourdoor pond, and they will pretty much double in size, but if you keep feeding those red shrimp meal pellets you will also see the orange tinted marking becoming deeper and richer in color, to blazing red.

Next year, you can get the bug completely and give the 55 to a nice school of something small, perhaps tetras, then set up a 125 for by then huge Goldies? LOL!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 6:36PM
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hi birdwidow--well, now you have me in trouble. When I mentioned a 125 gallon tank to house two giant fish, I was greeted with little encouragement.

When I designed and built my pond, it was in the only location available, had size and depth limits, no place for fancy filters. My desire was to create a "landform," less a pond and more a personally symbolic integration of water, stone and vegetation (not in pond). My mantra from the start was "no plants, no fish." Easier maintenance, no worry about what to do with fish in the winter (ah ha!).

The rest is history--so now that the pond is in hibernation and requires practically nothing from me, I have this what, piscene septic tank that requires care every day!

I hope to get the Python functional; I know about the old-fashioned way to keep it clean but my heart is set on new-fangled!

Thank you for the comments on the fish. They are still pretty spooked. I give them a very small bit of food once or twice a day and they don't appear gaunt. The 48" rather than 36" tank was the right thing. They can turn around and they like to sprint the length of the tank.

125 gallons? I could swim in that! Next winter, they stay in the pond LOL

This has been a great learning experience that I couldn't have had without your patient help. If I can find you, I will share some pics of my brilliant red Wonderkids.

I'm not saying good-bye here, just a thank you.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 2:02PM
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I'm glad to have been able to help and will check back for more posts from you.

But if the Kinders do grow in the coming summer to a size too large to be kept in your 55 next winter, do not dispair over it. As long as you start by backing off on the food as the weather cools, then cease feeding altogether at first frost and start with clean conditioned water, keeping an air hole open, either with a stock pond heater and/or bubbler, Goldies can be safely wintered under ice.

Or, if you are enjoying them so much in the tank, stop feeding them twice daily and just leave them in it. If fed very- VERY lightly, they won't grow so fast or get so large.

But they also won't grow more than about double their present size regardless of feeding and tank or pond size in any case, if that's any consolation.

Goldies have been bred for size as well as color, so while they are carp, they are also many hundreds of years of selective breeding removed from their huge wild ancestors and if maintained in your 55 on light feed, they may not get much larger at all.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:49AM
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birdwidow - a reality check needed--I swear my fish, comet especially, are developing yellow faces. I looked at the photos and they don't look that way. I am nervous about water quality and doing the best I can to keep clean and water fresh but not doing as much I would like.

Am I seeing yellow or just a pipe dream. Does this signal a serious problem or not?

Thanks for any thoughts - this isn't as fun as I thought it would be.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 11:05PM
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White or white faced Goldies often develop a pale golden tone on their lips and around their gills. As long as they are feeding well and you keep their water sparkling clean, they should be fine. Try offering them some fresh dark greens though, just in case they are suffering from some form of vitamin deficency, but I really doubt it. It could just be the red shrimp meal starting to intensify their natural color, which it will.

But Goldies love some fresh foods anyway. They are not purely vegans and why that red shrimp meal really does contain meat protein. Very few species of fish really are totally vegetarian, particularly Cyprinids and given the oppportunity, Goldies, like other members of the Cyprinid family feed on whatever live foods they can catch and swallow whole.

Meaning: the next time you have raw shrimp onhand, offer them some chopped up bits of it. If cut to a size no larger than the pellets, they will likely gobble it up PDQ. Or, the next time you visit the pet shop, check out their frozen fish food. If they carry Mysis shrimp, one little cube a few times a week for both fish would be an excellent suppliment to their diet. There is also a frozen Goldie food available now, that contains both meat and veggies and may be even better.

Many Goldies enjoy bits of green peas, but few will eat them whole. If you cut a pea in half then squeeze out the pulp, they should go for it. They are also fond of citris fruit, so if you also enjoy fresh oranges, offer a slice to them. The easiest way to feed that type of food is with a plastic clip made for the purpose that is fitted with a suction cup, to hold it onto the glass.

Some finely chopped dark green lettuce should also attract their fancy. I cultivate duckweed in many of my tanks and never have any extra, because between the ducks and the Wakin, every last bit I remove from the other tanks is eaten in a flash. Absent duckweed, finely chopped greens are a fine substitute.

My Wakin can also put away a large slice of zuccini in minutes. I feed sliced zuccini to my plecos and one day, thought to see if the Wakin would like it. They went into a feeding frenzy over it. However, before I feed zuccini, I zap it for about 30 seconds to break down the fiberous tissues, which seems to help them eat and digest it.

I'm sorry to hear you are having such difficulties with the Python, especially as I urged to you buy it and I know they aren't the cheapest item on the shelf, but if it does end up defeating you, there may be another option to prevent the need to haul buckets, and that would be a 35 gal. sturdy plastic garbage can. If you have a submersable pump that will move at least 500-600 GPH and hose long enough to reach a sink, you could use it to drain the tank, then refill from the garbage can pretty quickly.

Do that just once a week and by turning over the water better than 50% you should be maintaining a really clean environment for them.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 11:36AM
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hi birdwidow - well, things are coming together a bit. A couple adjustments to the Python and it is siphoning away solids, albeit reluctantly and not real thoroughly. I suspect it is a combination of marginally workable water pressure and the fact the sink and tank are at the same height, making siphon difficult. I think an adapter at a laundry tub faucet in the basement will solve the problem.

In the interim I bought an inexpensive vacuum device that runs on air from that pump and it is pretty effective. And the ever handy net. So the fish are in a pretty decent environment. Next is to cover the ends of the tank so they will settle in better, or so I am advised. They are quite something side by side looking out, their mouths appearing to be saying "help!"

They are eating well, like the red food it seems. When I put a little in the tank, it floats and they seem unaware of it. Trying to fit the filter better, probably will do so over the holiday. They are mischievious and work industriously to upset the bubbler weighted with some small stones.

Very nice to have in for the winter now that we are into a routine of keeping healthy. But, wow, by next winter they will indeed have outgrown this fairly expensive set-up. You are right, some other fish will have to occupy it. These kids can take their chances in the pond. I might be able to add a couple inches of depth for them.

I appreciate the dietary tips. YOu know, I have read all this information on the pond forum for a few years now, am familiar with what you say, but it just never sank in at the time I read it because I knew with certainty there would be no fish in my pond, ever, end of story! Maybe a zucchini for Christmas? We had them galore in our garden.

Don't feel badly about the Python advice--it is working and will do better as I adjust more. It is in fact one of the best investments just for the ease of water change and now will clean better too I suspect. I probably would have found something less effective on the net so your advice was right on.

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and I can truly say I am thankful you have come to my bumbling rescue.

I shall keep you posted through the period of continuing adjustment, if you don't mind. I am still anxious about sick fish, more I read about and didn't digest. But clean water and proper feeding (very light) should do the trick, I trust.

Thanks birdwidow


    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 11:42AM
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Hi Mike,

Nice to hear from you and know that all is now well with the Python. Yes, clean water and good food in the right amounts is really the most basic key to successful fish keeping. All else pales in comparrison and indeed, given the clean water and food, you could keep them with nothing else. You would spend your life changing water, but the fish would be fine.

You know, if you have a basement, some space in it you are willing/able to give up to fish and are still handy with tools, you could easiy construct winter quarters for just two large Goldies. Some 2 X 4's for framing, 3/4" ply for bottom and sides, heavy plastic pool liner and- a tank. Many people have done it. Or, if you can get it down there, a fiberglass or foam stock tank, the easiest of all, and a whole lot cheaper than any aquarium of comparable capacity.

As you now have a 55 and the accessories to run it, if/when you decide to give it over to smaller fish, you could have a lot of fun setting up a natural habitat species tank.

I admit that to be my own favorite type of fresh water tank. Most people want larger tanks for a few large fish. I prefer large, naturally planted tanks with large schools of little ones.

You have a wonderful Thanksgiving too. I have to admit that since I became the Grandma on whose house the entire clan descends for Thanksgiving, I have mixed feelings about it. One one hand, I'm delighted to see them all and on the other, am always relieved when the last one leaves and the post meal washing up is done and everything back in it's place.

It would be a lot easier if I really liked turkey. :>( LOL!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 10:32AM
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hi birdwidow--glad you enjoyed Thanksgiving. The equation is fun for the young and work for the elders. Great line about not even liking turkey. What do they say, the nice thing about grandchildren is they go home.

I want to tell you about my on-going experience. A few days ago I was ready to put the fish back in the pond if I could have figured out to ease the shock (I could have; a little bluster sometimes makes things better!).

The tank was getting dirty and I was having a hard time keeping up. The Python was failing me entirely, cleaning and water change both. It wasn't the fault of the Python, it was a serious problem with the faucet, trying to put a brass fitting into a plastic thread. The universal adapter I bought just wasn't suited to the situation. I used an air pump vacuum that was surprisingly good, and a hand net to remove the waste. But no water change without buckets, and that wasn't going to happen.

Meanwhile, I searched the big boxes for a solution to attaching the Python to an ancient brass faucet (no threads anywhere) in the basement laundry room while keeping an eye on the kinder. The water was clear, the fish were full of life day to day, eating away--I figure they are very healthy and durable creatures. Lots of aeration and the big filter (400) began removing matter great once I extended the intake to its proper depth.

I found the right Rube Goldberg connection and last night we siphoned. Whoa, with one end in the basement and the other on the first floor, everything was suctioned pronto and the water change was very quick. Wonderful - almost.

There are 3 laundry tubs, all dating to the 1920s it seems, all with two faucets, hot and cold. So it is hot water or cold water in the water change. The hot was pretty hot, the cold was pretty cold and I opted for the cold for these cold water fish.

As I filled (50% and dechlorinator) I monitored the water temp. It started around 66, and by the time the change was done the temp of the water was 54. And the fish seemed as happy as, well, clams... I feared the drop in temp would shock them but apparently not. Carp are nearly indestructable as I recall from experiences too many years ago.

I don't want to push my luck, however. It is highly problematic if I can fashion a mixer connection between two faucets, but I am going to try. What do you think of this temperature difference during the water change? Would I be better changing less volume more frequently or am I OK as is (went nearly 3 weeks, will do better now))?

I am getting another bubbler and airstones for my pond today with the intent of keeping an opening where I can measure the ice thickness. Loads of people tell me I can keep the fish in this pond no problem. Of course, the ice thickness will be a function of the winter's temperature regime. Last year was bitter cold and after a disaster trying to run my pond in it and failing, I felt the ice must be thick.

Once I can establish some baseline, next winter might be a pond winter for the little mess makers. But, we so enjoy watching them, even some interaction (like feeding time!) that having them back is tempting. Practically, I then have an empty 55-gallon tank and all the extras to use. And if we need some huge tank for the growing fish I'm not sure spending the money is high on my list.

Anyway birdwidow, my update, welcoming your comment. I find the aquarium much more work than the pond has ever been, without the landscape and sense of serenity (blasphemy on this board!!-sorry), but there is indeed a really special quality--maybe my fish are too large for it?

Looks great, fish seem real healthy and happy, finally resolved my water change issue, still scratching my head a bit.

Hope you catch up with me here

Holiday greeting,

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 12:39PM
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Holiday greetings to you too. I am thrilled to report that by Saturday morning following Thanksgiving, the last of the turkey, stuffing, gravy and sweet potatos were gone. Our son and his wife enjoyed the goodies bag.

Dinner Friday night following my labors of Thursday was Chinese take out, but the next evening was a huge spread in downtown Chicago- a Greek feast at a great place for my favorite Greek dishes that I could make at home if I were feeling truly ambitious, but prefer to have served up when I don't have to do the washing up.

By Sunday, I was back to being chief cook and bottle washer. (Sigh)

RE: Cold water. It's not that the colder water bothers the Goldies. As you noted, they were invigorated by it, but probably more by the infusion of oxygen, but too quick of a temp. change could be too much and if you can't get a proper temp from your laundry faucets, a simple fix might be simply a few jugs of (treated) hot water that you add a bit at a time to the tank as you fill it.

But come next fall, if you want to winter them outdoors, do consider the flip side of it. Depending on the depth of the pool, it might mean running a pump, filter of some sort, an airstone and probably a pond heater to keep them alive, then add to that your need to be out there to monitor it all at least once a day, regardless of the weather. Snow, wind, sleet....

It takes some depth to safely winter pond fish and possibly more volume of water than your pond holds. Even if the fish are dormant, they would need several hundred gallons each to make it without any water changes all through fall and winter to the first real thaw.

Frankly, sans a real fish pond as opposed to a water feature to which the fish were added as an afterthought, the easiest solution for you next winter is still a large plastic stock tank in the basement. Or, a good sized plastic kid's swimming pool. Or, a pop up kid's pool, so it could be rolled up and stored when not in use in summer.

Whatever you decide would work best for you next winter, plan on giving them at least 125 - 150 gal. of filtered, or 300+ if not.

BTW: Smaller but more frequent water changes are ALWAYS better, regardless of temps.

But with Goldies; as long as the water is properly conditioned before you pour it in the tank- there is really no such thing as TOO often.

I have my young Wakin goldies in a 140 in my greenhouse right now, with a truly huge (pond sized) filtration system plus a 35 watt UV, but because there are over a dozen of them, I drain that tank down to their dorsals weekly. They also get topped off daily. The tank is covered with plastic eggcrate, the planels used for recessed lights, so if any get overly enthusiastic chasing food, they can't take any suicidal leaps, but it allows evaporation. That's okay. It helps keep the air moist in there, so my big gardenia is blooming like mad.

But replacing evaporated water is NEVER a substitute for water changes. At best, it dilutes the ammonia buildup in the water, so I might top off the Wakin when I go out to feed my tropical tanks first thing in the morning and still do a massive change for the Wakin later that day.

So the key to healthy tanks and healthy fish remains what it has been since the Romans kept their fresh dinners in ponds in their atrums over 2,000 years ago: water change- water change.

Do it often enough and you don't even need filters. But for anyone lacking the energy to do it often enough to not need filters requires something else the Romans and their later decendants, the Victorians, with their glass greenhouses and fish tanks had in abundance; a seemingly endless supply of servants to tend the ponds and tanks.

We have to settle for technology.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 1:30PM
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hi birdwidow - glad to hear Thanksgiving was a joy for you. I think it was the first multi-cultural holiday in this country--the Anglos and the Natives. Your Chinese and Greek are a contemporary expression of the tradition. Like you, I enjoy Greek food very much.

Politically, your governor is the contemporary expression of a different tradition in Chicago and Illinois (unless he is your son or nephew, in which case he is...?).

There is no doubt in my mind that you advocate water change, or so it seems! Now that I have the connection issue for the Python resolved, doing smaller and more frequent changes will become the practice. I do condition and treat the water when I do the change. I need to test water quality more often. I am working on the connection of hot and cold in the laundry tubs and feel I can do it.
Hopefully, smaller changes will mean less cold shock until I do it.

Next winter? I have about 10 months to think about it. My hesitation about putting in a "pond" in the basement is a bit of out of sight, out of mind and the lack of opportunity to really see and observe them in their "cuteness." All to ponder.

I am trying to gather information about my particular pond and ice thickness and what I would need should the kindle spend the winter semester in their dorm. I am 14x10, approx 1500 gallons, good area 2' deep. Lots of time and the winter to make observations.

Your brief history of fish keeping is nice. Whatever the Romans ate, at the top of the social strata, most likely didn't come from what they knew to be a highly-polluted Tiber. Perhaps their little ponds held imports or were thought to be places where the fish cleansed themself? Of course, they buried dead fish for a year to make some fish sauce to stimulate their lead-deadened taste buds. The ordinary non-citizen no doubt ate whatever was at hand.

As for the Victorians, our house has a full suite of servants quarters, but everytime I go there, there are no servants to be found. Being reluctantly retired, there is mention of my role filling the void here, but I refuse to wear the little dress or apron. So far. Forgive me - I am just in a light mood today.

You have me hungry for good Greek food here in the culturally barren hinterlands. A trip to Pittsburgh needed in search of Greeks bearing food.

Hope to hear from you soon.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 4:33PM
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Hi Mike,

RE: Food. I was born and raised in Chicago, so was introduced to and learned to appreciate ethnic foods early in life. Then I married and moved to a farm just far enough from the city to be in the country, yet still close enough to easily get into town, so I really have had the best of both worlds; fresh laid eggs for breakfast and dinner in town, followed by live opera.

But in my professional life, I visited virtually every country on the planet with an airport that could land a 747 and learned to enjoy them even more, so the proliferation of various ethnic flavors now available make indulgence even easier, especially for one of my favorites; Japanese.

There are now many great sushi joints in and around Chicago, but when I want the really good stuff, I haul up to O'Hare to the sushi bar in the hotel where the JAL crews layover.

RE: Politics. I may have retired from the air transport industry and become an Illinois polititan, but am a local, not state official and well out of what had been Blago's Congressional district, so have never had to deal with him. I didn't support him in the Primaries either. A man I did would be a good choice to fill Barack's Senate seat, even if only through the current term, but Roland Burris is now living peacefully and I expect at this point; gratefully- out of politics.

If we could talk ex-Senator Peter Fitzgerald into declaring himself an Independent.... The man who couldn't be bought and gave us Fed. Prosec. Patrick Fitzgerald could have a lot of fun in Washington, especially if he was free to decide whose caucus best served the interest of the People, but he too has left the political arena. Pity.

RE: Goldfish. I hate to tell you this, but only 2 ft. deep in your climate is not going to support live fish through winter unless you heat the pond. It would however, be a great place to store them frozen, ready for the pan.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:00AM
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hi birdwidow - Chicago is quite the city, no doubt. Cultural activities are many, the food notable. It is one of those old time big cities where prosperity and the continuing search for identity made it special and enduring in the face of great changes in the past few decades. We have a similar situation/relationship with Pittsburgh, about 30 miles away and accessible with a pretty fair cultural life of its own. I am writing a novel and a couple of years will be set in Chicago, although in the 1880s. Or I am trying but in fear I will find a job that doesn't allow me the structure I need to continue. If I can find a job!

I surely meant nothing personal about Illinois politics, although things do speak for themselves with a bunch of disgraced (do politicians ever feel disgraced?) high office holders. Last number (6?) of governors, isn't it? Daley, quite an honor role. Of course, it is not confined to one place--I think of Pendergast in Kansas City, Erasmus Corning II, mayor of Albany for over 40 years (where I lived for five years and the stories are legion), on and on. "Blago"is just so strange...

Sounds like quite an interesting career with a touch of jet lag--or does one become accustomed? I once saw this, maybe on a poster in grad school - "The world is a book and he who does not travel reads but one page." I have forgotten the origin.

I won't speculate on the nature of your specific occupation in the air transport field-one like me who was self-employed in a little corner of the world, is always surprised at what people actually do in the real world.

Thanks for your ideas on goldfish in the pond in the winter. There obviously are varying points of view. The general consensus on my pond forum is they will be fine in this pond. Yet, one reads that greater depth is better--but I think that is for koi.

I do enjoy them in the tank, they are quite hardy and seemingly content, but if they grow a lot over the summer, I will have to make a decision. The big tub deal really doesn't do much for me for some reason, altho I guess if I just considered it a mission of mercy protecting them I could accept it. No buying another aquarium and stand--lots of money spent already.

I am looking into the "in the pond" option. I have set up an experiment to see if I can keep some ice open and to measure the water depth and ice thickness as it develops. One activity is a 4" diameter perforated pipe with an airstone in it, presumably to keep water moving so I can measure the water depth in the pipe. I installed it yesterday and it is frozen inside the pipe today. Oops, so much for perceived basic physics and finger crossing. The other is a block of styrofoam anchored to the bottom with two air lines and airstones dangling beneath. So far it is keeping a large hole open (it is 1 degree) altho the standpipe is frozen, as noted. Another, "we'll see."

Every winter is different of course, and while I personally don't want a real cold winter, the pond set-up begs for it so I can have reasonable information.

Kindersicles are to be avoided. Plenty of time for things to go awry under my hamhanded guidance. If they say something is foolproof, I say; call me, I can fix it!

Still, it is just an elaboration of my pond fixation. If everyone else is using bubblers, then I want to play too. I enjoy being out and doing something (not snow shoveling)in the cold - grew up in it in a snowbelt at the end of one of the Great Lakes. And I still have too much time on my hands.

birdwidow, may you have a happy, joyous holiday, make a wish or a prayer, matters not, for Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 12:18PM
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Mike, a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and yours.

My career reads far more glamorous than it lived and while jet lag was a part of it, I did get to see the world, so no complaints, other than my having lacked the time to really see much of the countries I visited beyond major airport cities. But among my memories are those of walking on the Great Wall, eating Fugu in Osaka, crashing the party at the American Embasy in London on the 4th of July and being kissed by a handsome stranger at the top of the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day.

BTW: If your ever want to have some real fun in a foreign country, just be in its capitol city on the 4th. All you need to get in to your own party is your passport and being haughtier than one of fresh faced uniformed youngsters standing guard. As I couldn't get younger, I decided to practice becomming an imperious old lady and by gum- it worked!

Interesting you should mention Pendergast, a crook whose political machine produced one of the most honest presidents we have ever had, but there is little love lost between Blago and Hizzonor the Younger and Obama avoided both of them as much as he could, although he had to play the game to some extent. Anyone who wants to win an election to higher office in Illinois has no other choice.

I currently hold a local elected office myself, but ran as an Independent, so am free to ally myself with whomever I believe is worthy regardless of their party affiliation. It's a wonderful feeling of freedom.

RE: Fish and shallow pond. I didn't suggest you couldn't keep the kinders in it over winter, only that to do so would require a heater and airstone, which means an air pump, both of which would require continual care- in snow, sleet or bitter cold. Bubblers alone may work in large, deep ponds, but without a heater, one week of deep freeze and your little puddle could be a solid block of ice, even with a bubbler.

Don't give up on your novel. You are never too old. Think of Helen Hooven Santmyer, and be inspired.

I can't believe I did it, but last week, I found what is surely one of the cutiest little Goldies I've ever seen, so I bought it. It's still a baby, about 1- 1/2" so is currently in a 10 with an Eclipse hood.

It's a red and white Ryukin with a solid silver-white body, red over it's head to the gills and solid red fins. I haven't kept a Goldie as a house pet in years and as long as I don't overdo the food, should eventually be able to house this one in a 29. If it outgrows that, it can go into the pond, but I'm hoping it will stay smaller, so I can keep it in my office and teach it some tricks.

Meanwhile, its chasing the air bubbles created by the force of the outflow from the filter. Or, it just likes to swim upstream and drift down on the current. If it continues to exhibit this behavior, I may just name it Otter.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 11:29AM
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My word, birdwidow!! Was that you on the top of the Eiffel Tower that time with me? lol

YOu are right about HST but it took the distance of time for a fuller appreciation of his abilities. I remember him being villified for many things, the firing of MacArthur a high crime and treason.

Blago is giving Illinois a real ride in the news and apparently causing some serious problems by his own inaction or others disinclined to give any support. You mention Daley the Younger. What about Jackson the Younger? If he's dirty it might smear a preceding generation's accomplishments with suspicion and innuendo that people always have ready against certain types, classes and individuals. Moving on to aquaria...

I have set up a bubbler test in my pond to see what I might see in terms of keeping an opening in the ice. Of, course, it is in the 60s now and an atypical winter will give me no information. I have a big air pump in a Rubbermaid box and two airstones dangling below a styrofoam island. Really affected a large area when we had a cold snap, but everything has been mild.

Your affection for your fish is so evident and very nice. I never thought about the appearance, the aesthetic, of a fish before this. Some trout like cutthroat are striking, some other species for their size, configuration, but that is it to me. I grew up on Lake Ontario, the fish were meals if caught (some say there is nothing prettier than a big bass breaking water)--but this is a different aesthetic.

I have seen tropical fish, aquarium fish, and found them "pretty" but only of passing interest--knew nothing and had no desire to learn. Now is a different story. Prowling the local pet store has opened my eyes to the possibilities for an aquarium. Where that leads, who knows? But you give me a sensitivity that was absent and that is great. A more contemplative and less taxing hobby or endeavor would be good for me, slow me down and perhaps provide me with thoughts and inspiration for a better life and more creativity.

Now the Wunderkindle. I cleaned the filter last week, and for some reason it really stirred up the fish. They raced around willy-nilly, bumping into the tank walls, gone wild, manic and it escalated with each step of removal, cleaning and replacement.

When I was done, I looked at them. Normally they sit very close, side-by-side, tails pointed diagonally toward the far corner of the tank and facing me looking needy or something. This time they had their noses in the corner and were pointing their tails toward me. It was comical, like they were pointedly ignoring me for the disruption or maybe not wanting to see what I would do next?

It soon went from comical to scary. The Shubunkin started swimming tilted to one side maybe 45 degrees. Then started swimming nose down along the bottom. Then the comet did the same but not as exaggerated. It was in the evening, no pet store to call, no medical supplies on hand anyway. So I tossed in a dose of stress coat stuff, figuring maybe it was stress.. Nothing else to do. They seemed better (and frankly I don't know if what I saw was anything other that a fish goofing around) by bedtime, seemed not to be exhibiting that behavior. I was ready for anything in the morning and what I got was two normal acting Wunderkindl!

I really thought there was a chance they would die during the episode and I realized how I felt about them--fish fer cryin' out loud--and it was a positive and enriching feeling. YOu told me it would go beyond just a neutral feeling and now I know what you mean.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 3:57PM
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That's a pretty odd reaction to filter cleaning. Did you float the bio-wheels in the tank while you were cleaning the filter, to maintain the bio load in them?

I'm asking because there are two schools of thought on cleaning power filters:

One is that we should clean the filters in tank water only, to maintain the beneficial bacteria that builds up in them, the other; that the physicial housing isn't intended to be a biological filter and should be kept as clean as posssible, to facilitate the movement of the water through it.

I'm of the clean school, as it's too easy for power filters to slow down then stop altogether as they become coated then cloged with muck and once that occurs, unless caught very quickly and the power turned off, the motors burn out.

So my experience has been that as long as power filters are kept clean and free of the friction induced by excess muck, they will pretty much run forever. However, as long as they are never washed or allowed to dry out, the bio-wheels on the Emperor's serve as biological filters, so I swish them in tank water to rid them of any excess muck, but never actually wash them in tap water. I also use a soft brush on the plastic ends, to make sure the spindles remain clean, as they must be able to turn easily.

Regardless, the two parts of every power filter that really must be kept very clean are the impeller and for that, warm water, a very soft brush and careful handling to prevent breaking the vanes or shaft, and the uplift tube, because as muck accumulates inside of it, the flow becomes constricted.

If you believe the fish reacted badly to a big water change concurrent with a filter cleaning, it's an easy issue to avoid. Just clean the filter a day or two before or after you do a water change.

I use box filters in my breeder and baby tanks and they are throughly cleaned between each use, as I have enough of them to allow me to have clean ones, already filled with floss, charcoal and zeolite on-hand and ready for use at all times. So when they are removed from a tank, a clean one is immediately installed and the dirty one is emptied, dumped into a tub of bleach water to soak clean, then rinsed and set out to dry.

But those tanks are also filtered with air driven sponge filters that are squeezed out to clear accumulated muck only in a bucket of tank water, to maintain the bio, so in essence, they are receiving the same filtration as they would if being filtered by a combination mechanical/biological unit like the Emporer.

BTW: I enjoy my fish very much and try to give them the best care as I can, because I believe we are morally obligated to do so for any living creatures we keep confined and helpless to care for themselves, but do not become emotionally involved with them. I save the heartbreak of loss for the cats, ducks and horses. Kipling was right of course, but hearts aren't torn only by dogs.

I could tell you a few things about the people mentioned in these posts, because I happen to know them all personally, but not here, on a public forum. However, just knowing someone because you happen to be involved in the same social/political activities; directly or indirectly, isn't the same as being in bed with them.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Happy 2009 birdwidow,

Hope you are happy and well in this new year. I never, in my wildest dreams, ever thought this time would come--too far away back then.

All is well with the wonderkids and the aquarium. They seem healthy, maybe even happy enough. They do have their appetites! The filter you recommended is really super and does a marvelous job. The Python too since I got the plumbing situation under control.

I trust you know I was never making personal comments about politics and people who engage in or that the commissions of some draw the rest into the strange bedfellow category.

I have been watching with interest the drama unfolding in IL. It must capture anyone interested in politics or unusual behavior. What will impeachment do. Blago still has the upper hand in this drama in the sense he can avoid and delay and prolong no matter the desires of the state legislature. To a limit of course. Political processes are slow indeed.

I do have high hopes for our president elect but realize the magnitude of problems and the likely foot dragging of Congress will delay a lot of what we need accomplished. But one hopes for no corruption or venal behavior at least at the highest levels. Transparency seems an overused word now, but it does mean different from what we have had.

All of this activity and our general exchange has me thinking about politics and corruption and how universal in time and place it can be beyond Pendergast or Tammany Hall and even the US. The Romans suffered corruption at times; who was the first corrupt politician/leader? Lost in the mist of time.

I recall Lord Acton's comment that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Who said power is the greatest aphrodisiac? Kissinger?

To me, corruption is the mis-use of power. Small-timers only go after money; big timers look to ruin the human spirit.

Put those ideas in my aquarium and see if the fish bite! In any event, hope this does indeed find you well.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 5:18PM
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As you may already know, Goldies are cold water fish and as such, need far more dissolved oxygen in their water than do warm water tropicals, so the pet store is typically; feeding you only so much BS.


Old thread but one comment on above - cold water holds more dissolved oxygen then warm (and all fish need dissolved oxygen)... regardless of temp. Not sure if reading it wrong but just making sure, lol. (background in biology)... also another way to clean mulm off bottom is gravel vacuum. (didn't read all of above so sorry if repeated). Best Sherry

"Dissolved oxygen gets into water in the same way that water gets into air; oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, whether photosynthesis occurs underwater or in air.

Oxygen also moves directly into water when that water comes into contact with air. Water that is moving, as in a river, stream, or over a waterfall, comes into contact with more air than still water does, and so moving water has more dissolved oxygen in it.

Warm water, just like warm soda, can hold less dissolved oxygen than cold water can. This means that dissolved oxygen varies through the course of the day, and along a stream where the stream moves in and out of sunlight areas."

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 3:41AM
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Sherry, we don't seem to be in disagreement on the subject of dissolved oxygen and you are also correct in stating that fast running streams have more oxygen in them than still ponds, regardless of the climate. It's why learning the native habitat of any fish is important before setting up a home for it in a tank, because each species has evolved to survive in a fairly specific type of invironment.

Fortunately for Mike, he is keeping carp, so his Goldies will do quite well for many years in conditions that would cause a cutthroat trout to belly up overnight.

Mike was moving a pair of rather large Goldies from a small outdoor pool, fed and continually replenished by a 1,500 gal. water feature to an indoor tank, but was not prepared to get into huge and expensive pressure filters, so I urged him to keep the tank in as cool a place as possible in his house and buy a filter rated for a much larger tank then he would have, that would serve multiple purposes.

Ergo; the Emperor 400 on a 55 gal. tank. Innexpensive for the performance and it will filter both mechanically and biologically, while concurrently, oxygenating the water as it splashes over the bio-wheels. Add the large airstone and from his last response, it seems to be working.

But I believe he has also come to understand and appreciate the need for continual water changes, because oxygen is only one factor in maintaining a healthy tank and even carp don't thrive living in sewage.

MIKE: The bets are on that Blago will be out before the Daffodils are up. Only one member of the House didn't have the balls to vote to impeach. I'm betting that the number of Present votes in the Senate will be greater, but that won't change the outcome.

Meanwhile, Roland has set himself up for a fall in two years, as every D with ambition will be after him in the Primaries. By accepting the appointment, he has embarassed the Party and that's never a safe thing to do if you want it's support in any state, let alone Illinois.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 9:43AM
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hi birdwidow - an interesting exchange of information. I have been engaged in discussions with real experts on oxygen, bubbles, water quality etc. I grab the concepts but the real science escapes me.

In the final analysis, I feel comfortable with leaving my fish in the pond next winter. My experiments with a couple of home-made bubbling set-ups proceed with a so-far so-good attitude and some prayers for prolonged cold weather for the worst case scenario observation.

My mind isn't totally made up; waiting for more info. My pond, by the way, in which the wonderkids reside in high season is 14x10x 2-2.5' deep. With two pumps and two broad streams over high falls, roughly 10,000 gph of water circulates, turning over the pond 6-7 times per hour! Iknow that sounds outrageous, but the thing was designed to be a rough and ready stone and moving water landform. Now I have sufficient oxygen for the fish, I would say. And they love swimming into the water falling into the pond from the falls--a little shower before breakfast.

I have some background with the temperature/d.o. question. In an earlier incarnation I was hired to study an endangered trout species stream and try to predict the potential impact of a proposed small pond. The pond was in the open, the stream ran almost a mile in the shade until the endangered classification no longer applied. The issue, in the eyes of the state of NJ, was if a pond with warmer water would affect trout habitat in a briskly flowing stream. My science guy concluded it would not happen, permit granted, my first pond! Details are long gone, if I ever understood them.

I so like my fish, the Emperor is the best thing I could have for fish health, the Python does well. There are a few scattered small stones on the bottom that the fish enjoy re-arranging, but no gravel to vaccuum. Whilst I may have been slow on the pick-up thanks to limited knowledge, you have me on a routine of maintenance that seems to have the kids in fine fettle. I do feel sorry for them in such a confined space for their size and it leaves me with much to think about in the coming months, including further investment or not. As you said recently, one does one's best, the Fates direct as they will, feeling badly over a loss is not the same as some emotional experience. You said it well, better than I.

I think what is so interesting about Blago and all is that the state is identified with Obama and a projected squeaky clean image in sharp contrast, and when there is mud being splashed there are always some to direct it to there own end. The federal connection with Burris continues to keep the Illinois drama alive on more than one stage. The Longs in La managed a traveling circus like that, I can't think of any others now.

Every level in life has corruption, greed, venality. Big Wall Street CEOs surely lie, cheat and steal from the public; public servants take bribes, you know what I mean. Fortunately, in my pollyanna view, most people are decent and honest...of course their hand isn't near the till and 60 Minutes isn't at the door. Enough.

It isn't wise to believe everything one reads on a public forum as there are plenty of experts in their own minds who contribute dubious information. As with anything, thought, double checking, and a confidence that develops with people is what matters. I will never understand all the water chemistry, fish medicine, or when I do understand it I will forget it.

So, by virtue of my wife bringing home a surprise bucket with a couple of fish I try to deal with my lack of knowledge by asking and enjoying the wonderful benefit of meeting nice people. Pretty good deal.

Interesting what you say about Roland as a sort of sacrificial goat, or at least perceived to be vulnerable because of Blago. Elephants have long memories--Donkeys too. It also will be interesting in NY as far as replacing Clinton. The governor has some powerful political forces pressing on him. My guess is he too will offer up a two year compromise and let the Kennedys and Cuomos and Bloomburg fight it out away from his doorstep. I don't like the current sense of entitlement that is expressed by some families (as was mentioned with Clinton in the primaries). Bad enough we can't seem to vote some of them out let alone put in more who believe it is their right to be there.

I was a real liberal politically and socially but as time and the pendulum passed by I was a moderate, now registering as a dinosaur.

The kids said to tell you high, the housewarming gifts you arranged make them right at home and comfy.

All on topic because politics is fishy? Not personal, just lighthearted, birdwidow.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:55PM
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hi birdwidow - hope you are still out there and doing well in this chilly weather.

I decided to do a water change last week although I was alone--normally two of us keep a watch on things since the faucet is in the basement and the aquarium 50' away upstairs. Never a problem so I decided I could do this--not rocket science. Making the long short, when I went downstairs checking out the connection, and dreamily looking at my shop, I heard a noise from upstairs. Yup, I had let the tank overflow--there was quite a puddle on the floor and I finally figured out what to do (concede it was rocket science to me). When I saw the overflow I immediately turned off that valve that is near the end of the tube. It flashed through my mind that the valve is not supposed to be closed more than a minute. Well, that time elapsed easily as I scurried about. Then, I heard a noise in the basement, rushed down to find that the closed valve caused back pressure and the nice arrangement I made for connecting to the threadless ancient faucet blew apart and for a short time water was finding its was to the concrete floor.

Is it possible that fish laugh, because I thought I heard belly laughs from under the water.

Now I recall why two of us undertake the water change--because one of us is me. The fish were unfazed, seemed to be enjoying a good matinee entertainment.

Your governor has an interesting approach to defending himself. Go down swinging isn't a bad approach. The guy is cunning and probably "disturbed," it seems. I hope you have good seats for the theater unfolding.

Ever do something clearly avoidable but you didn't?


    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 4:44PM
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"Ever do something clearly avoidable but you didn't?"

Well, 48 years and a few months ago, while engaged to a very fine fellow of whom my parent completely approved, as his did me; in fact, the four of them rather manipulated the courtship and engagement- I met and fell madly in love with another young man and 10 days later- eloped with him.

But it turned out okay. I'm still screwey in love with him, even if he's become an old poop.

Then, about 10 years ago, when friends told me they had circulated petitions for me, I failed to immediately move out of state and thereby render myself ineligible to be elected to office in Illinois.

Of the two avoidables; agreeing to stand for office, risking the likelyhood of winning was totally avoidable. Marrying the tall blond probably wasn't. If I hadn't, I'd still be regretting it.

Blago's brains moved down to the reigon of his crotch at pubity but it seems now obvious that they never worked their way back up beyound the level of the pants pocket where he keeps his wallet.

Being married to Mell's daughter didn't help either. I recall what Daley said about Mell when they were opponenets in a primary, before Daley was elected, but can't repeat it here.

I did name the little goldie Otter. Cutest little thing! It still swims up the stream from the force of the filter outlet, then rides it down, like an otter sliding down a snow bank. Good exercize for a potentially very fat little fish. I put one of my juvenile dwarf BN plecos in with it and they vie for the slices of zuccini I give them, attached to a suction cup holder.

Have you offered any fresh veggies to the kinders yet?

I completely understand why your wife is very likely reluctant to leave you alone in the house, for fear of what you will get up to in her absense. She may not SAY it, but being there myself.... LOL!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 7:47PM
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aw, birdwidow--that is one of the sweetest stories, how lucky and fortunate you both are. True love conquers all, they live happily ever after. My wife just loves stories like yours, a romantic at heart herself. Even if I have become an old poop too!

Whatever motivated your friends to arrange a petition must have been well-thought if you have been successful in politics for a decade. There was someone in my family who was very civic minded and held several elected positions, including mayor. Their household was a beehive of activity all the time, very interesting to observe and I held him in high esteem for the time and energy he spent on behalf of the community residents. So not all politicians are sleazy and corrupt.

What a great line that Blago's brain can't rise above his crotch any higher than the pocket in which he keeps his wallet! I just read he will be giving a statement at the legislature today, not testimony. Maybe he will claim to be not guilty by reason of mental defect (watching too many cop procedurals). The fact of the defect probably would be believed. What's that old one--child who murdered his parents throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan? This is chutzpah.

I also notice a mob trial winding up in Chicago. Talk about a venerable institution in the Windy City (and NJ where we lived for 30 years).

I have not fed the kinder any veggies, simply have forgotten--shame on me. Two fish who don't reproduce (far as I know) are a blessing. Two fish who are so incredibly tough as to survive he are a double blessing. Although I do take good care of them.

My wife is administrator of a nursing home and thus works some pretty long hours--the place never closes and she has staff and residents totalling about 250. I should move in so I could see her more often! So she in in no mood to cut up zucchini or blanch lettuce.

I would do it if I knew what to do and if she trusted me. Unfortunately, it isn't so much what I might do in her absence that worries her; it is that I might slip my hobble and get near sharp objects, hot stove, flooding waters and the like.

In the dead of winter I have been writing proposals for warm weather outdoors projects. Like being laid off from a job where, when you go back to work, you don't get paid for three months. I'm getting too tired and cynical to think about saving the world, if I ever did any little patch of it.

I do have a line on a job and am very hopeful to slip the hobble big time and be amongst people again. Totally not what I ever did in my self-employment career but that is fine--a second career to refresh me, weave in those consulting projects as they come along. Probably still won't be allowed near sharp objects and Pythons!!

We have a winter wonderland and I love it having grown up on the business end of one of the Great Lakes. Especially having a robust young man down the street who shovels reliably.

Otter sounds like a character. The kinder do odd things and really get all in a dither when I show up. Usually just sit (what do fish do?) side-by-side an inch apart and hang out. Their water, by the way, is always in the mid-60s and I only turn on the light for the evening, and when I push the button they dash about recklessly, running into things.

A warm story on a cold day--I appreciate your sharing it with me.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 10:19AM
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The headline in this morning's Trib reads: "The Defense Doesn't Rest." Blago will go before the Senate to give closing arguments.

What a crook- er- crock!

Ah well, Pat Quinn is a straight guy. Too straight to keep the office beyond Blago's term though. The usual list of suspects are already circling, like vultures smelling dead meat, lining up for the 2010 D Primary and nobody should hold their breath on Roland Burris holding that US Senate seat beyond its current term either.

Ro is fairly clean as IL Pols go, but he let his outsized ego lead his brains on that one. If he had declined and let Blago appoint someone else, he could have used his having declined on the grounds of moral principals as one H of a campaign point and would have a better chance of challenging for the seat in two years than he will of holding it.

I like Pat. I don't know anyone who knows him who doesn't, including Barack, except that Barack is young, dynamic and energetic and Pat is a older, quiet, almost shy man, who simply believes in doing good, then does the best he can.

In private, the President of the IL Senate has a terrific sense of humor and can deliver a punch line with the best, but must now keep a straight face and serious demeanor in what is surely a riotious senate chamber. I can hardly wait to attend some more private function when Cullerton shows up, to give his own inturpretation of the goings on.

RE: Veggies for the kinders. Mike- if my near 80 year old farmer can learn to cook a perfectly steamed pot of rice, you can learn how to cut up and zap a bit of zuccini for the kinders.

Hie thee to your local pet shop and buy one of the all plastic veggie clips sold for the purpose, which is to hold a piece of food against the glass, as the kinders, lacking hands or sharks teeth to grip, must have it held in place for them to be able to nibble on any food too large for them to swallow whole.

Buy a nice big fat and firm zuccini. Slice off the end, then a piece about 1/2" thick and set it in the microwave for no more than about 15 - 20 seconds, depending on the power. As a guide; a 1,200 watt microwave at full power will do it in barely 15 seconds: More, and it will be mush so if you aren't sure, hit it for 5 seconds, then more, a few seconds at a time, until you establish just the right length of time for the size of the slice.

You don't want to cook it, just soften up the fiberous tissues a bit for easy digestion. Let it cool, put it into the clip and stick it onto the glass inside the tank with the attached suction cup.

It won't take long for the kinders to investigate it and being Goldies, taste. Once they do, there will be no holding them back. Use the clip to treat them to a slice of orange occassionally too.

To slice: Hold the zuccini well away from your fingers. If you lay a finger in the direct path of a sharp knife, it will slice your digit as neatly as it does the veggie.

Can you remember that? Good. You are now a reasonbly well trained house husband/kitchern scull as well as loving and caring fish papa.

BTW: The single most vital need of any woman with a full time job, house and husband- is either a live in maid- or a wife.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 1:15PM
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hi birdwidow - quite a public meltdown, I wonder if more will be heard from the ex. His type of disorder goes long and deep. I still say I feel a kind of sympathy for people who are lost like that.

Re Burris, maybe at 71 he is just happy to get a brief time in the sun--altho some senators are (or were) in their 80s and 90s playing power--and by-pass the uncertain of a future run.

For the zuccini, should it be peeled before feeding? I'll be near the pet store tomorrow and get a clip or two and give it a try. Always have oranges around, guess I could blanch some lettuce.

Once I get the stitches out of my finger from cutting the zuccini (I misread what you wrote I guess) I can type better.

Time to clean the filter--everything ready to go except the fish stroking when I rattle their cage, so to speak.

Just measured the ice in my pond - 5" - the kinder are here to stay for awhile it seems.

You're right naturally, about a working woman needing a wife. Story--many years ago as my business was expanding, I sought advice from a group called SCORE--Service something of Retired Executives. Core of their wisdom--the biggest mistake is trying to hire someone who is myself. Doesn't exist but the search is trouble. When my wife was promoted to administrator of her facility, she was faced with some hiring, among other things to replace herself in her previous position. As we talked, I realized she was hoping to hire herself, so I told her a story from the past. Moral of the story? If she needs a wife I hope she doesn't look like me.

Best, Mike

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 2:14PM
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SCORE: Service Core of Retired Executives.

No, don't peel the zuccini for the kinders, just take a 1/2" slice off a big fat one and zap it for a few seconds. The skin will actually help hold it together and they may nibble on it too, although Goldies generally only eat the fruit.

I keep some Plecos in with my Goldies and between them, they eat it all. The Goldies eat the center and the Plecos the dark green skin.

BTW: Do peel a piece of the firm, fresh zuccini. Then, slice it raw into a nice salad to serve up to your lady when she comes home, tired and hungry.

I expect that more will indeed be heard from and about our Ex and possibly, his spouse.

The very fact that Fitzgerald actually took out Fast Eddie should have been the largest red flag of all to Blago, but as it has been noted: Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 2:32AM
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hi birdwidow - what a show. I got the clip, found we had some cut-up zucchini and put it in the aquarium. The fish were comical. They cruised around as tho nothing was different then began swimming under the food with their eyes looking up (do they have a sense of smell?). Then started swimming a little higher up. Finally the comet approached the zucchini and turned and bolted as only a fish can do--looked like he had turned a corner and come face to face with Blago himself! This went on for a while but I never saw the shubunkin go there as I was distracted by a phone call and when I got back to the tank the skin was on the bottom and the fruit/meat was gone. Time to get a full zucchini and some other food. I bet it won't take many times of being shy before they know exactly what is up and will go right for the brass ring like they do in the pond. Piggies indeed.

It is premature to think about returning them to the pond, but I do want them to be in their more natural habitat with lots of room to roam. How then will I feed them this supplemental food, a little gantry hanging over the pond? a hookless bamboo fishing pole? I can't see tossing in a zucchini and leaving rinds all over the pond. Or just other greens? BTW, I am using Bonnie's red food and they like it.

Come spring I need to start thinking about adaptive re-use of the not-so-cheap set-up that I have, some minimum maintenance inhabitants that won't get sucked into the filter. I'll be seeking advice later.

Well, it is quite a show Blago is putting on. I had forgotten about his wife, quite a rough hewn piece herself. Are you seeing her on your end, more locally? Ya gotta admit Blago is shameless, going so far as to be on Letterman, I think. One analysis I read says his credibility and welcome are fast wearing thin. Hijacked, he says. Let's not forget mutiny and forced to walk the plank.

You are in a unique position to observe and discuss all of these goings-on. When you were "petitioned" to reach your present position could you have known you would have a seat at such a wonderful performance? Surely more than a local functionary as close as you seem. I admire accomplishment a great deal and all that goes with it.

Your position near the goings-on is far more interesting than searching through applicants for wife's wife. Oddly, the description she gave me to look for sort of sounded like me, but of course this must be coincidence!

In the course of following my chosen route, I too learned about the power of human stupidity- I struggled against those who willfully violated cetain laws, those who did so out of self-proclaimed ignorance, was offered significant bribes that I flat out refused not knowing I was being recorded as part of an FBI investigation and sting of the high-level politician in question who ended up in prison--mercifully without any help from me but I got tons of work from the new regime--some payback less for honesty than for being a part of opening the door to the new regime? Venal is venal.

Phew, memories best left unexcavated.

Different foods for the kinder coming up, will be reporting back on their behavior.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:54AM
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If you just tossed a hunk of zuccini in the pond it would float and the kinders would become so frustrated, they might think of trying to grow shark teeth, just to get at the zuccini, then you.

As my "pond' is actually a 500 gal. fiberglass stock tank, I can use the suction clips on the walls but what works as well is a weight, and once my own kinders and their sucker mouthed companions became large enough to put away an entire zuccini in one day, I experimented with an assortment of weights and ended up using a long 1/4" SS carriage bolt, 2 SS fender washers, a SS nut and a length of twine; thin but strong braided nylon, tied tightly around the head of the bolt.

I slip one of the washers onto the bolt, run it through the zuccini lengthwise, then the other washer, secure the nut and just drop it all into the pond, where it lays on the bottom, then use the string to haul it back out without the need to dive in for it.

However, I run a massive pond filter system too, so am not as concerned about bits of left over zuccini as you may be, but a long handled net should allow you to clear out any scraps with dry arms.

After coming to realize that the easiest way to use the bolt/washer/nut combo was to have the bolt no more than about a half inch longer than the zuccini, or piece of a particularly large one, I bought more bolts in different lengths, tied them with the nylon twine as well and as they are all the same diameter and threads, the washers and nuts fit all, so I can buy the firmest, freshest zuccini in the bin and not be concerned by it's size.

Each bit of steel weight must be SS only of course, that before use should be washed in very hot water and ammonia, then rinsed in more hot water, to remove any trace of oil or other nasties that might be on them.

One of these days, my Wakin will big enought to move the zucinni anyway, but I'll address that issue when I get to it. Perhaps longer bolts and additional washers, for extra weight. Or, and perhaps even better, I'll fill some plastic containers with concrete and stick the bolt heads into them, with SS eye bolts for the twine. We once used a coffee can to make an anchor for our canoe that way. It worked.

Yes, some memories are best left unexcavated.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:06PM
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hi birdwidow--the fish have gotten noticeably bigger, no doubt gradual and not seen until the right view came along. As you said, some good growth over the summer is what we hope for.

I cleaned the filter today and got a surprise when I decided to change the filter pads. I had ordered a box of 4 from the Drs when I got the filter. I opened the box today to discover only one frame and three replacement pads to go in the frame. The one piece replaceable pad has charcoal built in and is touted as a one-piece total filter element--slip this sort of tufted bag in the frame and that is it. As you know, the Emperor 400 has a separate charcoal container.

I inserted one of the new filters but filled my charcoal containers as well. My other original solids filter was just too beat to put back in so I filled the charcoal thing and put it in alone on the one side.

I hope to find true replacements, the originals and install. In the meantime, I believe I will be fine for a while? Any cautions? BTW, I could have bought all of this in our charming local pet store instead of on-line as I discovered too late. They have "stuff" everywhere, prices comparable to on-line and no shipping of course. And there is a Petco going up half a mile away. A knowlegeable, friendly family enterprise of 20 years--I hope they fare alright.

As it says on the National Archives, "Past is Prologue." As the cabby explained the meaning to a foreign visitor, "it means you ain't seen nothing yet).

As my other (better?) half always tells me, forget the past, that was another life, look forward. That is so hard when a lifetime is devoted to looking back. But she is right--but excavating, even the best left alone, is a real tug of war for an old archaeologist--who is well advised to give it up and look to the life ahead, create rather than dig into others' creations. Painfully I have to admit she is right. So maybe the past is prologue for me at last?

So what do you think about this filter situation--I always feel original equipment is normally desireable.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 1:57PM
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One of the neatest things about the Emperor filters is how easy it is to make your own, actually superior for the purpose replacement cartridges on the cheap and why I deem them more bang for the buck than any other HOB (hang-on-back) power filter on the market, bar none.

First off, you don't need more charcoal and zeno than what you can load into the 2 baskets that sit closest to the bio-wheel. The outer frame needs only to trap solids and for that, all you need is the top, flat edged half of a media basket, a roll of bonded filter media, a marking pen, a ruler, sissors and some rubber bands.

That's one of the reasons why I urged you to order a pair of additional media baskets when you did the filters. F & S is one of the few vendors that sells them and generally has the best price for them. Given reasonable care in handling, the baskets will last literally forever. You would simply have a pair of extra bottoms you couldn't use as the filter frame won't hold two complete baskets, but even with a thick piece of bonded media attached to it, the flat edged top fits into the space nicely.

You could also use the plastic frame from a used OEM replacement cartridge. It's a bit of chore to clean it out, but with a new blade in an Exacto knife and a bit of patience, it can be done. The trick, if you will, is to rinse the used cartridge then set it aside to dry completely, so it will release all of the old charcoal into a garbage can with just the swipe of a brush.

Start by cutting around the old pad, lift it up and shake the old charcoal out. Then, use the razor edge to carefully work around the edges of the frame, to remove all of the old fiber. As the fiber was heat sealed to the frame, some may remain, but it won't be a problem.

Then cut pads from a roll of bonded pond media and attach them to the frames with rubber bands. Just one top and bottom will hold it in place.

However, that OEM cartridge frame isn't as sturdy as the baskets and eventually it will bend then crack, which the basket parts won't.

I bought my pond meda in rolls and found the best prices for it by haunting eBay, but you may also find it at stores specializing in ponds. The media that I've found to work best is also the easiest to find and least costly. It's 2 part, with a coarse, white outer fiber bonded to a denser, usually blue inner one. When inserted into the filter, the coarse white part faces away from the bio-wheel.

The ability to trap solids before they can get back into the filter let alone the tank makes a huge difference and allows the filter to run at near 100% even when the tank hasn't been changed, but to do it effectively requires clean pads.

If you can find a roll of bonded media in a 12 inch width, it makes cutting easier and faster because all you would need to do is measure off every 8 inches, cut across the width, then cut that 8 X 12 inch piece in half. A pad cut to 6 x 8 inches will fit and it dosen't need to be perfect anyway, just fill the space.

Another frame option for you might be the 2 parts of that clam shell and until you can buy and cut more media, just hold the filled inner parts onto each one with rubber bands. That will give you the 2 you need for the present.

Another material that worked as a frame was heavy, large holes plastic needlepoint backing I bought in the craft dept. at Wal-Mart. I cut 2 of them to fit using an OEM frame as a pattern and they worked quite well to hold the bonded media in place, although I prefer the sturdier construction of the OEM frames for ease of handling, as I soak them in bleach water between uses and as long as they don't land on the floor and get trod on, they will last as long as the filter itself, so in that, I agree about OEM quality.

But I'm running so many tanks and filters I need duplicate equipment to allow me to switch, empty and drop into a tub of hot bleach water to soak overnight. In the morning, a quick rinse gets them as clean as new. Then I just lay them out to dry and the next day, refill and stack them up for the next round.

But for a single tank, rinsing out the frames and replacing the pads simply isn't that large a chore.

The whole point being though: you DO NOT need anything for the outer cartridge other than some means of holding a piece of bonded media in place, regardless if OEM, or a stiff bit of plastic with enough holes in it to allow free flow, cut to the same size as an OEM frame. As long as the pad is held in place, it will do the job and frankly, the 2 part bonded media sold for ponds does it far better than the single layer material on the OEM replacement cartridges.

Not to disparage Marineland, because they make some mighty fine stuff, but like HP, they make their money not on the equipment, but the overpriced replacement cartridges.

If none of the above appeals to you, just order up another clamshell, but there too, you don't need to spend a lot of money on refills.

Just cut up some of the lightweight, woven polyfiber padding sold for making comforters and set them into the clamshells.

Again- and again- You DO NOT need more charcoal and zeno than what you can get into the two baskets to keep any tank healthy, just clean media and water changes.

If you want to set yourself up with the ability to do instant changes when you haven't time to wash and refill, then buy duplicates. You don't even need to turn the filter off to make the switch. Just hold a small bucket under it to catch drips, drop them in, pop in the clean ones and you will have all the time you need to get to them, but the fish will have clean cartrdges.

BTW: Never use charcoal more than a few weeks. Once it's been saturated it's pretty worthless and if left too long, can turn toxic.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 11:35AM
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Thank you. I am familiar with some of the materials from pond filters that I read about. Perhaps you could clear up a couple of terms for me--I'm confused altho just in general, not your clear directions.

What is a cartridge vs a frame?

With this filter, what do you call the container that holds charcoal? Or for that matter the thing with the blue filter material?

I have two filters(?), two for each side. One has the blue material and a porous plastic back. The other is a plastic case that opens to put in charcoal.

Where does the blue filter go--front slot or back (back farthest from the bio-wheels, and which way (toward bio-wheels or away from) does the blue filter material face.

My instructions that accompanied the filter are vaguish about this. What I deduced was the blue filter material is closest to and faces the bio-wheel and the charcoal container thing is behind at the rear of the apparatus.

I don't recall how I thought that was right but my fish seem real happy and healthy and the blue material seems to be collecting everything I would want to see in my aquarium and more.

I gave the kinder a slice of tangerine yesterday and this time they were not at all skitterish about going right to it. They basically ate it right out of the "skin" containing the fruit, which I saw on the bottom and then was gone--maybe into the filter?

I have noticed that the comet, a little larger, is sort of the dominant fish. I haven't watched them enough feeding on fruits and veggies to notice if both are getting their fill or only one.

I owe you a big thanks for the advice on the filter. It is amazing how clean the tank is and how there really is no need to vacuum except when changing water. Before I put the extension tube on, there was a lot of fish poop; once I added that tube the tank is quite clean of solids.

You mention you have numerous aquaria. How did you get into it, presumably it just grew with your interest? I always think of these tanks as containing lots of pretty little fish (or the dread Oscar whose behavior doesn't interest me as much as beauty). I know there are freshwater and salt water tanks, heated tanks, whatever. The more I read the more interesting I find the whole hobby.

I guess if I am going to convert my 55 gal from the two galoots I need to decide what I might do to replace them; kind of fish, kind of environment, etc, what further investment or not, what level of effort and patience I might find within myself. I do take seriously the responsibility as steward for whatever I try to keep.

Then again, several months from now who knows what will be going on. Maybe I will be even too much older to learn all this? I keep thinking this tank is just too big and wish I could subdivide the space. We shall see--once I have categories of possibilities (freshwater, saltwater, warm water, cold water, tropical, Great Lakes(hmm)) I can start focusing in. Pond first priority though, get the kinder home with room to roam.

If I can get sorted out on the filter frames/baskets/cartridges etc and where they go, there's a good step forward. Don't know if wife trusts me with
X-acto knives, scissors, but saving a little money and having me do therapeutic things she does endorse.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 5:32PM
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Emperor 400's come with 2 media baskets; the 2 part gray plastic things, to be filled with whatever the aquarist needs for the fish they keep. In your case, for Goldies, just a mix of charcoal and ammonia chips (zeno), about 3 parts charcoal to 1 zeno.

They also come with 2 disposable cartridges; lightweight black plastic with deep blue bonded filter "fabric" for lack of a better term- attached to one side and filled with more charcoal, that you DON'T NEED.

That black plastic thing is the "frame" I was describing, which really only needs to serve to hold more "fabric" in place.

The deep blue stuff is fine, but the double bonded type sold for pond filters is way better because it has a looser, coarser part and a finer, denser part, combined in one, (bonded) so will trap not only the larger gunk, it will also get the finer stuff. You would mount it to the frame with the coarse part out and fit it into the filter housing with the fabric facing away from the bio-wheels.

So the "frame" can be whatever fits into the slots in the filter housing that is stiff enough to hold the fabric, but of the types I've used, none has been easier to work with or sturdier than the flat edged top section of the OEM media baskets.

So if you are game to buy and cut up pond filter "fabric" spring for an extra pair of the gray baskets from F & S and don't worry about the bottoms you can't use.

$ wise, the cost of the extra baskets and a pretty goodly supply of the bonded media will be no more than about a dozen OEM replacement cartridges, after which, they will cost a bare fraction of buying them ready made.

If you are going to do it, the next time you are in or near an office supply store, buy a bag of size 33 rubber bands. They are the perfect size to fit the frames and you will need a bunch, because you will use 4 each time you change pads and never want to reuse them. The rubber degrades too quickly to trust them for longer than the time between changes and the cost is way too small to mess with stretched out, slimy rubber bands in any case.

If you want a visual of the bonded filter media I've described, see eBay auction # 250369227752.

It's not the best price and you can do better, especially with a longer roll. However, the 12" width is ideal for quick pad making. As I wrote previously, just measure every 8", cut across the width, then cut each piece to 6 x 8" and you will have pads to fit.

If you want to fuss and trim the pads to the slighly narrower at one end as the frame, have fun playing with sissors, but it's really unnecessary. A bit of extra on the sides does no harm. As long as the entire space in which the water is pumped back, first through the pads, then the media baskets is covered; that's all that matters.

The 1 inch thick 2-part bonded media by the roll is pretty standard, so search out the best deal in a size to eliminate waste, such as 12 or 24 inch width. Either would work; it's just less cutting with the 12".

If an inch thick seems too much to fit; it isn't. It compresses when wet. In fact, the media will be compressed when it arrives tightly rolled up, but will expand when unrolled and exposed to air.

When I cut a bunch, I store them in large zip bags and squeeze out the air before closing the bag, to compress it for storage in less space. They come out at first as flat as pancakes, but near immediately expand back, then thin out again when they are put in the filter and get soaked.

You can also reuse them. I usually get 3 - 5 uses from each pad by hitting them with water under pressure from the sink sprayer. I've even washed them to remove most all of the muck, then soaked them in bleach water, then rinsed, rolled them up, squeezed out the water and hung them to dry. You just have to be careful not to stretch them out of shape, but once the white fiber starts to fray and get really thin, it's time to pitch them.

Now does it all make sense?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 1:05AM
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birdwidow - yes, it is clearer now. Any lack of clarity is on my part, not in your descriptions and instuctions. I've gotten lazy and brought my brain along for the trip.

Interesting the charcoal containers are sort of redundant--actually makes me feel good about a little overkill to compensate for my potential misdeeds as keeper of the salubrious waters.

Many thanks for your patience and sharing.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 3:17PM
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hi birdwidow - are you still out there? Spring is arriving, although one remains cautious this time of year.

The kindle are truly fat and happy, having grown quite a bit while in winter storage. The shubunkin in particular has developed the most beautiful flowing, feathery tail and fins--a lovely fish.

Time to start planning for their return to the pond, the question being how to get them from aquarium water to pond water. Personally, I think a direct transfer would work fine, just a stop in a tub to let water temperatures more or less equalize. Into an aquarium water-filled bucket, into an aquarium-water filled tub outside, sitting until that water temp gets close to the pond water temp, and in they go, free at last.

They have been fun, pleasant. I left a hatch open the other night--the part that opens on the light assembly, and watched the comet try to leap up and out. Couldn't of course, mercifully, but it was a reminder of what carelessness can bring.

How are you doing? I think you had rougher weather than we did, perhaps colder with more snow. Is spring on its way?

Anyway, hoping to hear from you--as are the fishies who rely on you to protect them from my ham handed care!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:24AM
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Hi Mike,

Spring came, then seemed to leave, but it's still months past January, the trees are budding and the last frost was weeks ago, so we live with the off-on chills, knowing that this too will pass.

Meanwhile, we had a bit of a heatwave early in the week, so removed the solar pool cover from the greenhouse before it cooked inside, and of course; the next day, the temps plunged back down, but the heater kept it warm and as soon as it's above 60 deg. again, we will haul out the power washer and give the GH exterior a good spring cleaning before the sunshade goes up on it.

You are right to be concerned about any fish capable of making a suicidal leap from a tank. One of my Wakin did it last year and I found it on the greenhouse floor too late to save it.

As for transfering the kinders: It's not just temp that can shock a fish, but water chemistry, so mixing pond with tank water is a good precaution.

For their size, I'd use 2 buckets; 3 actually. Fill one with pond water and let it sit inside to come to tank temp, then drain the tank down to about 10 inches and chase each of them into an empty bucket right in the tank, add pond water to fill it enough for the fish to be able to move about and proceed as you planned. Let the buckets sit next to the pond until the water cools down to pond temp., then release them into it. But cover the buckets, just in case.

In just under two months, I too will be free at last, as my term will be up. But I still have an election to get through, although most of the work for it is done. Once all of the polls close and the ballots go to the County, I'm out of it, excepting only to turning my keys and records over to whoever was dumb enough to run for my office and be so unfortunate as to win.

Then I'll finally have the time to devote to bringing in a backhoe to complete the drain lines to my own pond, for my own kinders. After which they will live outdoors permanently. With proper filtration, and it has more than it needs, a dozen Wakin can live nicely in 500 gal.

Meanwhile, I'm in the process of setting up an oval, 350 gal. stock tank with a mud over gravel bottom that I'll plant heavily, dump in a pile of oak and magnolia leaves I collected last fall, let them rot for a leaf litter bottom, then add a few hundred red ram snails and by June, there should be lots of infusoria. Then I'll release 3 - 4 pairs of Red Line barbs into it and see if get babies.

What I haven't settled on so far, is how I'll filter it, but am leaning to using a 36 gal. plastic storage container filled with media and drilled through the top and bottom for hoses, as an overhead sump filter.

I was thinking of setting it up on a rack next to the tank, to have the bottom of the container just enough above the top of the tank for a gravity return, then use a big submersible pump with a sponge prefilter on the intake in the tank, to pump the water out from one end and return back through a splash bar at the other.

Or, just buy a very large cannister filter and not worry about equalizing the intake to the outflow, but I've never tried a DIY filter and would like to see if I could- and make it work.

Okay; table turning time: Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:38AM
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hi birdwidow - a tip of my hat to you for completing your term as a public servant. I think it is a selfless and theoretically noble thing to do (if done right) altho I am aware that the public you serve may not be as noble some days!

Spring is elusive here as well but the temperatures are stabilizing well above freezing and we have flowers coming up all over the place.

We have a take-apart small greenhouse that has never been used. I can't imagine a full-time structure, or maybe I am just lazy. Wife is the plant person and I keep exhorting her to use the greenhouse and the cold frame I built into a garden box. Me?...I know nothing!

Thanks for your guidance with the kindle re-location. I'm sure I will do the best I can as I understand the concepts involved and because the fish are tough, it seems. After a winter of experiments at the pond I feel comfortable with them staying in the pond next winter (caution me for mentioning the coming winter in March).

I have a question--you talk about drain lines to your pond, setting the fish up for overwinter. I'm not quite sure what you mean by drain lines.

Table turning? If I knew anything would I be here? Actually, sparse on facts but longer on personal philosophy. To me, the fewer the mechanical parts the better. As I understand it, there are pressure and gravity filters. The Emperor I guess pressure. Consensus seems to be that pressure is easier to clean, gravity requires some work to keep outflow clean. In my mind, especially for the volume you are talking about, a nice gravity flow as you discuss sounds good to me. There are several sites devoted to Skippy-type filter if you google skippy. I think you would just need to downsize. Simple (I love simple), little cost, clean once in a while.

That's what I know, sort of. Since I built my pond for rocks and water I gave no thought to filters. Plus, with only 2 fish in 1800 gallons and water turning over around 6 times per hour I see no need. I have a large skimmer for mechanical filtation. I have two 2" intakes on the pond floor, each in a wire mesh "lobster trap" to keep out fishies and clogging debris. I wrapped quilt batting around the traps and that cleaned up the pond of algea (some little amount)and the inevitable silt from being on a hillside. Clean within a dayI guess that is filtration. I can see what mechanical filtration is; biological I don't know--I guess that is part of the Emperor's job. Actually, I get it in the abstract.

They say the nice thing about a gravity set-up is that you can plant in it (is that right?).

My opinions - easy to put together, inexpensive, limited moving parts--I'll take that combo anytime. I have two pumps, no elaborate hardware or accessories and that suits a lazy guy who knows nothing and wants to keep it that way.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 4:53PM
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"knows nothing and wants to keep it that way"

LOL. We are of a like mind. If it's got fixed wings and an engine, I could probably get it off the ground and back down to a safe landing, but "don't know how" to operate a lawnmower and REFUSE to learn.

The drain I referred to will empty the pond, which is in fact, a 500 gal. stock tank that will be buried, so to use the built-in drain on it I'll need a deep trench in which to lay a long drain hose. I plan to house a dozen large Goldies in only 500 gal, so will need strong filtration and occassional water changes.

I'm shopping for the right petcock and handle for it now, as it will need to rise at least 30 inches to allow the handle to sit above ground after the drain is underground. The only other option would be a plastic petcock set inside the tank, but I would prefer to go with something sturdier, like copper, but then it would have to be kept out of the tank water.

However, in considering the filter for the other, smaller stock tank and after discussing it with my husband, I decided to just buy a good sized canister filter, probably a Fluval FX5 that I can use later on another large tank. Mainly, I'll be able to more or less set it and forget it until it's time to change the media and/or flush it out, while avoiding as much as possible, the need to fiddle with it.

I keep the bio alive in all of my tanks by use of foam filters and by putting a large foam pre-filter on the intake, I get bio-filtration and fish protection at the same time, as without the foam pre-filters, small fish can too easily be drawn into power filters and become fish meal.

I don't know about planting in a gravity filter though, unless one was set up as part of a multi-pond system, with one of them serving as a part of the filter?

My main need is to pull the water out from the bottom at one end of a large, oval tank and discharge it back at the top at the other, after it's been run through a filter and probably, a UV.

As to whether or not the scheme will result in baby Red Line barbs; only time will tell. We will start filling the tank by the end of the month and hopefully, have it ready for fish by June 1st. If I have any breeding success, the proof will be swimming around in there there by mid-September.

If not, the fish will have enjoyed a nice summer vacation in a planted, mud bottomed tank.

I believe I am "public serviced" out. The big 70 is coming up in another year and enough, is enough. My turn now.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 8:49PM
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hi birdwidow--some days I'm not sure if I don't want to know or am incapable of knowing. I do know how to run a lawnmower though--pay our teenage neighbor a few bucks every week!

It sounds to me like you are going with a set-up that is familiar to you--like a very large aquarium. Makes sense to stay with the familiar and generally predictable. You are planning a relatively small pond and I understand now about your need for excellent filtration.

I'm certain I saw a post on the pond forum about planting in a skippy--although the final outcome may have been "can't do it." I'll find it for you if I can. How about a marginal bog?

As for your drain, the valve will be like a gas or water shutoff in the street (those of us who live in town). My concern is, how will you prevent soil (which goes through gravel easily) from mucking up your valve. I can see a pipe covering the shaft, but how to encapsulate the valve?

Also, with the bottom you propose, do you think the material will soon clog up your valve?

I drain my pond through an overflow--a pipe through the pond wall (4" elbow facing up just above water level, looks like Sherlock Holmes pipe)that connects to the storm water drain. No matter what happens, the pond level is regulated by the overflow. Saves me from suits by my downslope neighbor. When I need/want to lower the pond I use a submersible utility pump.

Not sure where this is going other than description. Still, the question is can you set something similar up--a smaller elbow through the upper tank or an arrangement coming over the pond lip(I know there are good sealants) and have a submerged small aquarium pump (intake treated to prevent fishmeal) and drain as necessary through your buried line, skipping the valve?? I struggled to design mine, the greatest frustration being that I could not, despite maximum cerebral effort, figure out how to make water run uphill.

Lots of combinations. I may not be seeing your set-up or function/use clearly. Appreciating irony, you are opting for a gravity system while I am suggesting more mechanical.

I really want to fire up my pond--clean out a few leaves, install the pumps and cross my fingers. Simple, depending on what winter did that is hidden. But it is premature by a few weeks. Right now I am thinking about plants (I know, no plants, no fish), thinking I might do some colorful hostas is a shallow area--I understand they take to water like a fish takes to... Don't want to get carried away and sully my reputation, after all.

There's some thoughts, quick reaction. All I can say is that if there is an oddball, more complicated way to do it, sign me up.

BTW, couple of years shy of 70 is still a couple of years shy. I have a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks that will swing me away from mid-60 in the direction of 70. Oh well. So abstract for much of my life. So real but only if I think about it.

Some thoughts shared

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 10:06AM
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see "skippy vs bog filter" in the pond forum archives--lots of info on planting in these filters.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 4:35PM
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Thanks mgeca. I did check it out and have decided that anything that might take more time and/or effort to keep my small goldfish tank/pond clean and healthy than will a brodacious pressure filter discharging through a 36 wt. UV then out through a small spray fountain set in the middle of the pond- is too much.


I'm sorry. I posted a confusing description of two different tanks. One is a 500 gal., 2 ft deep x 8 ft. dia heavy fiberglas stock tank that came with a 1" threaded bulkhead set near the bottom.

To drain it, I plan on an in-line petcock fitted with an extention rod to take the handle up to at least a foot above ground, but the petcock mechanism would be sealed within the pipe. I know that type of water shut-of is available; I simply haven't found one, but also haven't yet done any serious searches.

That tank, or small pond, will have a bare bottom, with aquatic plants set into pots, so I'm unlikely to end up with a clogged drain. We will install it with just a slight tilt toward the drain and the first luxury assessory I plan on buying for it will be a pond vac, to assure my being able to keep it really clean with as little physical effort on my part as is possible.

With a floating heater and air stone, I will hopefully be able to winter the Wakin in it. If not, I'll just set up another large stock tank and winter them in our foaling barn, that is so tightly insulated and heated with 1,000's of lbs. of hay burning "furnaces" it rarely gets cold enough to lay ice on the surface of a 5 gal. water bucket.

I just know that I don't want them in my greenhouse again. They need a very large tank that takes too much space, denying me the place to keep the smaller tanks I want to use for my tropical's.

The other stock tank is an oval shape about 3 x 5 at the bottom, flaring out to about 4 x 7 at the top and 30" deep, that I will plant in mud over torpedo sand and pea gravel. It also has a drain set near the bottom, but I'll plug it and to water change, will run a long hose off the filter discharge.

That will insure my not sucking up any tiny fry, if any, or disturbing the rotted leaf litter bottom. For the length of time it will be in operation, in such a large, heavily filtered tank filled with live plants and so few fish, I'm not worried about excess mulm creating problems.

If the Red Line's breed and just a few babies survive predation, I will be thrilled and if not, I'll live with it and try something different next year; maybe Clown Loaches.

There is another option though, that with our 50th coming up next year, my husband surprised me by suggesting: Spend some the stashed cash our heirs don't really need and call in the pros, to have a larger, deeper, reinforced concrete pond installed, then just sit back and enjoy it before we both check out.

Then, after the heirs have planted us, they can spend the proceeds from the sale of a mortgage free house, with both a nice pond and greenhouse in the garden.

The older I get, the more tempting the notion becomes.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 10:41AM
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hey birdwidow--we surely are on the same page--the less effort the better is a good credo some of the time. You seem basically to be a fishperson (duh!) whereas many ponders are water gardeners and enjoy the slow-paced, deliberate art of planting, tending and wondering what happened. Some seem quite accomplished in this regard.

As I have said, I opt for the simple, try to avoid creating problems in the waiting. I guess my question always is, what are the basics that make this function and what complications should I avoid (fish, plants, filters, uv, bottom drains, etc).

My wife came home with two fish in a bucket (almost like chicken in a basket?) and look what resulted; quandaries, headaches, expenses, but present company surely excepted from the neg list. Ripple effect.

I like your set-up altho I have trouble visualizing such sizable tanks with what I assume are smaller fish--just out of my experience. And tons of horse heat--how many?

You seem to have a very practical outlook on your situation. I, being close to your age, no longer have a lot of interest in forever altering my pond. After several years of work it is time for me to simply enjoy, sit back and enjoy myself. I notice that almost of the people on the pond forum who are constantly enlarging or altering are much younger.

If I could have done it, but site access prohibited, it would have been a real pleasure to watch the pond being installed with a backhoe - the architect doesn't build the building, the engineer doesn't build the bridge--but they do watch their creation materialize with great satisfaction. Shoot, mortgage free, obligations and chores reduced--something akin to the golden years. Better today than tomorrow, I'm trying to convince myself!

Horses - I only rode once or twice, found it pretty scary, but now need a riding lesson as part of research for my historical novel. Need to sense the feeling, the sounds, the smells etc of a horse and rider. You think I can find a lesson? Everything now is an equestrienne center devoted to young girls. All I want is 30-60 minutes putting the gear (tack?) on, trot a little, take off the tack and take care of the horse. Go home and use it.

So, good luck with your interesting plan. I'll have to look up the fish. BTW, how will you put the tanks in the ground--beaucoup dirt?

I can't leave my hands off, stir the pot--going out on this nice day and draw down my pond for cleaning of leaves etc. And why should I care at all about bacteria, friends or foe, given my situation?


    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 12:26PM
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We had only my old retainer in the barn, until a neighbor persuaded me to board two very polite, middle aged geldings for the cost of their feed and barn work and so far, it's worked out well. The old guy has company and the stalls get mucked out daily by someone with far more youth and vigor than ours, so there now only 3 empty, but any could easily hold a very large stock tank.

I have no memory of NOT being on a horse. I was told that my father, a former WWI pilot, put me up in in front of him on his stallion when I was only 6 months old, frightening my mother out of her wits. He also sneaked me out to an airport when I was 16 for flying lessons including jumping, because in his mind it was: If you can't get out of it alive- don't get in. Mother only learned the truth after he died and it was too late for her to kill him.

I only did one jump though, from a DC-3 at about 10M. I didn't actually jump either, I was kicked, and although it was glorious floating down, once was enough for me.

But after 100's of TO's, while I've yet to suffer a really bad landing and am alive to prove it, by the time I reached adulthood, I'd been kicked, bitten, squeezed and rolled on by large, not very bright, usually panicking animals weighing up to and often more than half a ton and over the course of those lessons in my own survival, developed a sort of inner sense about how a horse is about to act or react, exclusive to those who have learned as I did.

What I'm trying to tell you about your taking up riding at your age is- don't. It's too late. The only ones safe for you to fork now, are stuffed and mounted themselves.

When I was in my teens, I fell into the hands of a truly mad Hungarian dressage instructor who taught a balanced seat by forcing his students to ride bareback, with silver dollars set under their thighs.

He stood in the middle of the arena, armed only with his voice and a long bullwhip.

If a dollar dropped off at even an extended gallop, out came the whip, that never once touched a horse, or missed a student.

That beloved madman put a seat on me that remains to this day and especially with a saddle, it would take a real screw to get me off, let alone my own, sweet, dead broke elderly Arab, but I still no longer ride.

As much as I miss it, and love the horses, my bones don't knit as they did even 10 years ago.

So Mike; there really is a time for everything, including your finding someone who is an expert, to help you fill in the technical details on riding, without your ending up in traction or worse, on a slab.

Post an eaddress for me to contact you directly. If I can help, I'll be glad to do so.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 2:52PM
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birdwidow - how delightful and a bit off the center line in a wonderful way. Your experiences truly shaped your life into something rich and special. Wonderful to have parents with good minds of their own--I know too.

I have no intention of taking up riding at my age-a rocking horse would throw me on my head!

A local place advertised a 1 hour lesson for $30 that consists of saddling the horse, going in a ring (I think probably horse on a tether), walk around and bounce me pretty good, remind me of how far off the ground I really am, then cool the horse down, brush or whatever, go home.

That's the experience I am looking for--controlled as much as possible, just enjoy the sensory experience for my work. Even wear a helmet under my 10-gallon. Pard.

I have always been aware of the role of the horse in our culture and in others. I was raised in an older part of a smallish city and noted the common stables, carriage houses and the like, even the occasional remnant hitching post. But being who and where I was, the only horses I was interested in were under the hood.

Still, as an archeologist and historian the views of the past were important to me. One day the horse as a mosr common element in the landscape just popped out at me. Of course, the western horse, the urban horse, carriage horse, I don't know. Somebody had to tend them and clean up--muck indeed--and I know there were always cleanups in the center of town, etc. From what I have read about NYC pre-auto, the odor from horse manure was a constant in the air.

Part of my intrigue comes from the realization that nearly everyone rode in areas where distance was important. I watch western movies and see how the horse and rider seem to meld when galloping, the body language of the rider (equine Harleys), the fact I can't do this!

I am writing of a reverse-migration in the 1870s, from dusty Kansas to the rich St Lawrence Valley. Angst ridden, the passage through the American landscape and ethos--blah blah. From open space to Chicago to developed agricultural landscape---how do I change the horse as the setting changes, can he ride like a cowboy throughout, horse on a train? I should live long enough!

Unstructured rambling. Research to do obviously, and I thought actually seeing and touching a horse, mounting up would give me insight that I otherwise can't have.

DC3 at 10M--is that miles?-that's HALO country. But then, nothing would surprise me here. The definition of a good flight career is as many safe landings as take-offs.

More about some of your experiences later.

Direct ;


    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 5:12PM
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10M> 10,000 ft. High. Thinking back now, and that was so many years ago, it was probably less, more like 6,000 ft. DC-3's fly fairly low and slow.

What I do quite distinctly recall was my hands gripping the edges of the door, my gut getting queasy looking down- and deciding I was NOT going to step out.

But there were other students, a former WWII Army Air Corp paratroop instructor and a static line, and as I stood there, trying to screw up the courage to admit that I wasn't about to step out into the void, the instructor grabbed my arms, wrapped them around the reserve chute strapped to the front of my body, yelled in my ear to be ready to pull the D on the reserve if I needed it and then- shoved me out.

Once the chute opened it was a fantastic trip down to a plowed field and I landed unhurt, but the notion of leaping from an airplane just for fun never appealed to me and as I never had the NEED to do it again- I didn't.

I'll write to you.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 9:45AM
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