So, short story long.
I got laid off about a year ago. It's a blessing and wasn't even in disguise. Happy and gleeful I was. Severance meant paid vacation. Just got my masters: the world is my oyster. Who needed that damn job. Took a good 6 months just cycling around the county and spending too much time on the internet. The wife got angry. Not sure if it is because she's envious or just didn't like it that I am not working. So, I got a job.
I got this job that's perfect for me. It's in the consumer high tech industry, so if you like apps and gadgets like I do, it's tres bien. Also, it's only 4 miles from my house. Literally take 3 turns and 4 lights to get to the office. People I work with are great. Work load is pretty light. My pay increase over the last job is over 20%. There's just one glaring problem. The cubicle I am to spend 8-10 hours of my week days in is drab and stuffy.
So, I thought of ways to spiffy up the cubicle while trying to get some fresh air circulating. I got a mini vortech fan, but it just circulates dead air. I should bring plants! But, I don't want to bring bamboo or ficus or fern, you know, house plants. Bland. Started to look on Amazon for something cool. I found BlueIQ. For those who don't know, it's an open ecosystem that you set up and forget. They supply you with a vase with a choice of substrate and plants as well as some neos shrimps and snails. Just add water, and you're supposed to have this ecosystem that supports itself. You never have to feed it or anything.
I got interested. It's a pretty vase. That's a plus. Shrimps look interesting. Snails will clean up the crap in the vase, so I never have to clean. And, you got some oxygen producing plants. This could help with lessening my suffocation. But, I thought, just shrimp is boring. I want fish. So, I emailed BlueIQ asking whether I can add a Neon Tetra into the vase. They said they don't recommend it because the vase is too small to support it and it might eat the Neos. I figure I can make my own version of BlueIQ with a larger vase that can support more fauna.
Enter the Vision vase. It's 8x8x4 inches which is 256 inches cube. That's about a gallon. It might support some shrimps and maybe a small fish? This is what it looks like:
I got the vase and ordered 10 Snowball shrimps and a clump of Java Moss off ebay and received it last Friday (5-11-2012). I actually received on 9 Snowball shrimps. Read some stuff about acclimating the water to suit the newly acquired shrimps. Put the new shrimpies in a tuppleware. The original bag contained what looked like Duckweed (yuck). I then proceeded to add a little water into the tupperware. I have an RO filter attached to my sink, so that's the water I use. RO water is supposed to be great right?
Well, overnight, I found one dead shrimp. The shrimp turned from translucent to opaque white. What went wrong? I don't know! I took matters into my own hands and decided to quickly take all the shrimps out of the old dirty Duckweed water and place them into the new Vision vase with all RO water. I had the Java moss in the vase for about 20 hours by now. So, the water has SOME biofilm in it sort of kind of. Made extra sure that I scopped up the shrimp without carrying any of the Duckweed over and into the vase they drop.
At first they just dived to the bottom of the vase but then sprang into life and started exploring up and down and up and down. I wasn't sure I did the right thing, but their activity made me a bit relieved. They were munching on the moss. So, food wise, I thought they were set. Water wise, it's the cleanest water available. The only thing I worried about is acclimation as all these internet forums and instructions warned that shrimps need to acclimate to their new environment, and I just dropped them into newly untreated filter water.
The next morning, another dead white shrimp. The morning after that, another. Morning after that, one more. 4 mornings in a row, 4 dead white shrimps. What's going on? Here's a pic of dead shrimp #4 the night before it left the world of the living:
I think this shrimp knew it was going to die and was fighting it with all its might. I stayed up until 12am just watching it struggle to ingest as much food as it can. And, it spent a great deal of time at the top of the water level trying to breath in as much air as possible. It was the little train that didn't stop chuggin but, alas, it couldn't cheat death.
After work on 5/15/2012, I went straight to PetSmart and bought a Tetra Water Test Master Kit. Tested the water and found the water to be too soft. According to the colors on the chart, both GH and KH was near zero. What can I do?
What I did was I did a 80% water change and added two pretty rocks I found on the road a few weeks back when walking to my local farmers market. After I was done, the shrimps were all over the rocks like wolves at a Hometown Buffet. I didn't even know the rocks were safe for the shrimps. I did wash them and then put them in water for about a 20 days before I put them into the vase with the shrimps. But, they obviously like the rocks.
The next morning, I didn't find a dead shrimp. What I found was molted skin. 2 full suit molted skins and I only had 5 shrimps left. The next morning, I found 3 more. Could they molt that fast? My hypothesis is that the shrimps that died tried to molt though unsuccessfully since their old skin ended up suffocating them cuz they couldn't come off which is caused by the water being too soft. Just an hypothesis that I hope not to test in the future.
Here's a pic of a happy shrimp. See, his body is full of excrements. He's been munching on Java moss:
In my state of frenzy during the past week of internet research trying to save my shrimpies, I've discovered it's a big world for aquascaping and shrimp hobbying. I am bit. I gotta get me a real tank. Well, a tank real enough but not too real as I don't want the real maintenance part.
For the past few days, I've been reading up on plants and shrimp keeping like crazy. I wanted to build a fancy shrimp friendly tank but didn't have a concept in mind. I learned who Takashi Amano and what Amano shrimps are. I learned what types of shrimps can live but not breed together. It's time to find a larger "Vision vase". And, I found it on Amazon, the Mr. Aqua 12 gallon 36" long aquarium. I bought it at an LFS though as it was cheaper since shipping is $23.
So, here it is:
I am sure you guys all seen it before. I found the 12 gallon tank thread on this forum, and I am sure you have too. So, a word on my opinion of the tank thus far. The workmanship sucks. I already asked the LFS owner guy to give me the pick of the litter. He promised this is it. But, the silicone application is woeful. The glass cutting leaves more to be desired. At least the paneling is lined up straight. I've read about Mr. Aqua's quality control AFTER I ordered it. If I can do it again, I would have ordered it from GLA.
Here's some more detailed pics:
Notice the jaggy edge and poor silicone application in the red circle.
Maybe I am being too picky. I haven't had an aquarium since I was 10. I don't know what the threshold is for what passes as good QC for aquariums. I am sure I would get a better made aquarium if I bought an ADA rimless? I'd be willing to pay more but I want the long dimension and ADA doesn't make it in the long dimension.
Here I am, empty aquarium. Got the accessories you see in the picture:
Marineland Single LED
Fluval C2 HOB w/ optional sponge filter
Hydor Koralia 240 Nano powerhead
Eheim Jager 25w heater (I live in So Cal so the smallest will do)
What to do now? I've drawn many concepts on paper and in mind regarding what I want to do with the aquarium. I've seen tons of really pretty aquascaping online but, you know what? I don't garden and don't want to start gardening. Not going to prune or spray my plants with CO2 or fertilizer. Most plants to me are ugly. I don't even like touching plants. I don't even like dirt. So, no, I won't be using potting soil in my aquarium.
This aquarium is for my shrimps' happiness and making them happy makes me happy. And, what will make me happier is if I can see them being happy. So, the first and foremost objective for the aquarium concept is openess (sic). I want to be able to see what all the shrimps are doing at a single glance. They can have things to hide and feel safe, but I should be able to see them at the same time. How do I achieve this conundrum?
And, since I don't like want to take care of the aquarium very much, I need to design the tank so it can be self sufficient sort of like the BlueIQ, just add water! I need to find a balance between flora and fauna, so they can keep each other happy in harmony. And, all I need to do is to look at my happy shrimps.
Currently, I have Java moss in my shrimp vase. I think Java moss is pretty. It can stay. I want to get some hairgrass and some mossballs. I want plants that don't really look like plants you can say. Those twiney leafy things kind of gross me out. I need plats with definite shape and structure. And, they have to be easy to take care of, generate enough oxygen and nutrients to support a small shrimp colony and they must be slow growth because I don't wanna have to prune and cut and rake or any gardening.
So, that's where I am at.
I need one of those water changing hoses, Eleocharis Parvula and Blyxa Japonica.
I think I know what I am doing. My shrimps will rue the day. My cubicle, however, is still suffocating me.
Anyways, my other hobbies include audiophilia, photography and road cycling. The photography part might come in handy with this shrimp keeping stuff.
If you read this far, you'd realize that the title says "ADA 60-F" not "Mr. Aqua 12 Gallon". Well, I returned every equipment I bought and started over. I trekked to Nature Aquarium in Santa Monica, an hour drive from Irvine, today. This is the best retail experience I had in a very long time. Every aquarium and accessory was interesting to look at. Dunno about the rest of you guys, but I've never been interested in pet stores or aquariums.
Anyways, I brought an ADA 60-F home.