Alright! Progress!

After a paralyzed few weeks of back and forth (deciding whether to buy a tank to cure the new rocks, try to craigslist a tank, or just go for sturdy trash cans…. and then a second round of paralysis where to put them, in the house or in the garage…), Kevin and I finally just went and bought two extra-sturdy 35-gallon Rubbermaid trash cans last week and set them up in the garage. I don’t know why that was such a hard decision, it’s what EVERYONE does, we just hadn’t gone that route before because our first two tanks were live rock (no longer a thing, too tough environmentally on reefs). So we’re learning this new process from scratch.

Kevin cleared out the battery bank (yay! I’ve always been worried about the rusting rack of car batteries as a back up power option, we weren’t planning to bring it forward to the new tank, so this is a big deal!!), and that made room for our rock-curing set up.

I’ve been working to cement our rocks into configurations for the last few days. The E Marco 400 cement was challenging to work with (nearly impossible to reach or keep the right consistency, and hard to get it to adhere to the rock) but I finally managed over two separate cementing sessions. And then we did a family trip down to the fish store to pick up some nitrifying bacteria, and now we wait, and let the rocks cycle for a month or so. The tubs each have a heater and some blowers for circulation.

The whole point of cycling is just to build up the beneficial bacteria that will ultimately break down fish excrement. Basically, the excrement releases ammonia, which breaks down into nitrites, and the nitrites break down into nitrates (pretty rapidly, over a day or so). Too many nitrates poison the fish and corals — they’ll die, within hours to days. But a mature tank has de-nitrifying bacteria–they “eat” the nitrates. The goal here is to build up bacterial colonies in our rock so that they can keep up with the nitrates from the fish’s food/poop.

A status photo of the “fish wall” — we’ll be re-doing so much of this for the new tank.

A sneak-peak of the new tank! Can’t wait until it’s set up.

RIP, Clack

We’ve had many fish over the years and many have died, but Click and Clack were our very first fish, and I’ve loved them for a long time – days shy of 11 years.

When we got them, Sharon was still in college and hunting for her first job, Bush still hadn’t been sworn in for his second term, the Red Sox were only two months recovered after winning their first world series of the 2000’s, and I was still spending my days in our Kirkland apartment, waiting for a software job to appear from the ether. (It would, in just three short weeks.) The blog was barely born. We named the tiny clown duo for the Car Talk guys because they were brothers (then. Clownfish are hermaphrodites.) and seemed to just yap and yap at each other.

Clack died this afternoon, somewhere in the commotion between the end of naptime and Kevin’s next salinity check. Clack fell (drifted?) down to the sand, and we notice the snail and crab commotion before we notice a clownfish missing. A horrible joke, but we said that Clack’s last gift was to die in easy range of a net instead of wedged under or inside a rock like a certain gramma we still remember… He looked hopelessly wrong scooped out of the tank in a plastic cup – a fish who should be swimming. Clack was fast (especially the few times I had to scoop him out of the tank, to move), bright, food-motivated, and a treat to know. She laid many, many sets of eggs. Click and Clack were captive bred and seemed mostly unaware of appropriate hosting spots (we weren’t the anemone type), choosing at different times the plexiglass, the PVC pipe, and the cleaning magnet, but also xenia, the leather, and bare rock. Clack laid the eggs, and Click fertilized them. They spent a long time back and forth competing for the right to be female before Clack ultimately won — first one slightly bigger, then the other, before settling into their roles. They survived our fish-keeping learning curve as well as the 2006 windstorm, a move to a new house, a move to a fancier tank, and countless vacations that we took to visit family and friends, leaving them with friends and neighbors roped into the role of “fish person”.

We will miss Clack, the tank is missing a major character. I checked, Click was swimming in their sleeping spot, solo. 🙁

A sad night in the Weston house and fish tank. For more Clack posts from time gone by, see the ones tagged fishtank. I particularly love this one from 2008, with video.


We’re watching Clack closely today. He (or rather She, after twelve years you would think I would have finally come around to hermaphroditic clown fish, but habits die hard)… he has gotten very pale and skinny, and has a white film covering the back of his head.

We’re lowering the salinity in case it’s just an infection that he can still fight off. He’s still swimming like his normal self, but isn’t eating, which doesn’t bode well.

We brought them home January, 10, 2005 (when Sharon was here to visit!) and eleven years seems like a long life for a small fish, but I’m still hopeful Clack will pull through.

(Ollie was on the other side of the tank, hanging out under the big branching coral, but this is most of the gang.)

PS. As I type this at the brown table, I’m keeping an eye on the tank on my left, and watching it snow softly on my right. Beautiful. It’s been flurrying for the last hour, and then switched to real flakes a few minutes ago. I’ve been wishing and wishing for snow – we had one snowstorm in November 2014 and not a flake since, and I’ve missed it. Even if it doesn’t end up sticking, let alone turning the world all white, to get a snowy afternoon while I can sit with my coffee and watch it so quietly is a treat.

New corals and the tank

Kevin got a slew of new corals (mostly zoos! yay!) that are settling into their new home, and it’s a great excuse for a tank photo shoot. The unfortunate rejoinder to all these posts are “…and xenia!” which are doing their level best to take over the tank, wretched things, in spite of me tweezing them out as fast as I can.

First, something that isn’t a purchase at all — some Christmas tree fans that appeared out of nowhere. They’re teeny, maybe 1/3 of an inch tall, and spiraling into a tree shape. I love them.

And many corals, mostly acropora and montipora (both branching and plates).

Hello, Ollie, party crashing and hoping for Nori.

Hello, Ollie, again, staring me down from inside the rock.

This kind of coral is called a “bird’s nest” — delicate but lovely.

Captured alive, one crab of horrors

Kevin called me into the fish room with an urgent voice – he had the Crab terrible trapped and needed me to assist in the capture. So I did, with Henry and Claire watching avidly (amazing the things you carry off as a parent that you would never do without an audience).

Here’s a quick shot (he takes up WAY too much of a solo cup) before we relocated him to the bottom tank.