some praise for my new algae eater…

A couple of weeks ago, I finally broke down and gave my fish tank the long overdue cleaning that it deserved. It really only had one fish in it anyways after my plecostamus bit the bucket I don’t even know how long ago now … less than 6 months, maybe? … but the point is, my tank was pretty disgusting and it really desperately needed help.

I didn’t take any pictures before I even started because I didn’t think of it at the time, plus I don’t need that evidence floating around of just what a terrible fish parent I am anyways, but I thought I’d share a few that I took along the way anyways because I’m still a bit blown away by the transformation.

Before we get to pics, though – here are the steps that I took…

  1. Transplanted my lone fish to a temporary tank.
  2. Turned off the filter and immediately removed about half the water (it’s a 35 gallon tank).
  3. Thoroughly cleaned out the filter itself (a pretty beefy Fluval 205 canister filter)
  4. Did some more vacuuming, replacing another couple of buckets of very hot water and then trying to suck up as much of the larger stuff that I could find.
  5. Also did my best to scrape down the walls of the tank itself – it had some really gross, black algae growing on the inside and I didn’t really know how bad it was, but it looked bad…
  6. The next day, plugged the filter back in and stirred up the gravel every couple of hours to try and get the filter to pull the rest of the debris out of the water (the filter cycles about 180 gallons/hour, so it did a pretty awesome job at this!).

So anyways, here’s picture #1 – probably around steps 5-6…

Unfortunately, I don’t have another pic post-filtration, but the water was actually crystal clear when it came time for me to add my fish back in! What I did find was weird, though, was that about a week later (and a few new fish), I started seeing algae building up again on the tank walls, the rocks, and even the brush that I’d forgotten to take out of the tank … pretty much any smooth surface that the stuff could find!

I tried to sterilize the tank as best I could by dumping as much hot water into the system as I could, but at the same time part of the reason why my filter is awesome is because it has a biological component to it, so although I was a little afraid that I plain out wouldn’t be able to kill off whatever had been plaguing my tank, I also knew that there were some good things that needed to thrive in there as well, so what do you do?!

Well, on a whim I picked up a Chinese algae eater – I wanted something much smaller than the 14+ inches that my beast of a pleco had gotten before his untimely demise, so even though the store said that these will get bigger, too … I was ready to try something different, and I think it ended up working out pretty good…

I’d say it probably took him about a week or so to fully clean all of that up that you see from the previous picture, so we’ll have to keep an eye on him to make sure he’s got enough to eat going forward or if I need to toss in some algae pellets every now and then. That’s what I used to do with my pleco, though he’d gotten so big that after a while I’m not sure if I ever saw him even leave the bottom, so for all I know he may have just decided to say, “Screw the algae if they’re going to keep giving me these pellets instead!”

Anyways, I’d like to add some more eventually – maybe build up a nice, little school of neons and some other brightly colored fish, but I want to take it real slow this time so that I don’t get more than the tank can realistically handle in there.

Also, one other thing at random that I learned when I was picking up the algae eater at PetCo that I found particularly interesting … did you know that they have a program where they’ll actually take back fish from people who don’t want them anymore?! Specifically we were talking about my pleco because I had mentioned that he’d just gotten way too big for his own good, and the girl mentioned that I should’ve brought him in because they actually have a waiting list of people with ponds and extra large tanks who specifically want plecos that are over a foot long!

I wasn’t exactly super attached to that beast anyways, so the least I could’ve done was give him a better home where he could continue to grow to even larger gargantuan sizes!!!

I’ll try to post some new pics this summer as I add more and keep the tank properly maintained for a change!

Also, you can see that I clearly need a backdrop for this thing so you don’t have to look at the wall trim in the background, so maybe I can work on that before then, too… 😉

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