Home | Jon | The FishCAM and Fish-Keeping
Spewed on: January 2, 2012
Several years ago, one of Thomas’s friends, Mia, gave him a goldfish in a bowl. Mia’s mom was tired of taking care of it, and rather than take care of it herself, Mia decided to it was easier to pawn it off. Thus began our long and not entirely successful experiment in fish-keeping. We kept Mia’s fish in its bowl for a while, but goldfish are prodigious producers of waste. Every two or three days, we would change the water in the bowl, and then watch it steadily degrade until it became opaque, brown sludge. The maintenance required was more or less constant. We learned very quickly why Mia’s mother was sick of the routine. In an effort to reduce the level of effort required to maintain water quality, we bought a small aquarium with an integrated filter. This did indeed keep the water cleaner. So much so, that we tended to forget about water maintenance altogether. We learned another lesson: while goldfish produce a lot of waste, they are at the same time rather sensitive to water quality issues. Some of the most harmful indicators of poor water quality, like high ammonia levels, are invisible to the eye.

Before long — even in its shiny new tank — Mia’s fish was dead.

I’ve lost track since then how many fish have since died in the service of our fish-keeping education. Apparently, despite their low cost and ubiquitous availability, goldfish are not the easiest fish to care for. For one thing, many goldfish varieties have been selectively bred until they sport an array of grotesque features, and their innards have suffered as a consequence. Many goldfish varieties are the Peke-faced Persians of the aquarium fish world in terms of cultivating appearance at the expense of physiology. We made an effort to find goldfish that looked as “normal” as possible, but they’re all a little messed up.

So that’s a little history. Now, to describe the current aquarium: the one viewable on the FishCAM. The tank itself is a five gallon DeepBlue glass aquarium. To my eye, it looks a little classier than a standard generic five gallon glass tank because DeepBlue has used black silicone to seal the edges as opposed to clear and they made a effort to be reasonably neat about it. Goldfish experts scoff at keeping goldfish in a five gallon tank. They’ll tell you that ten gallons should be the minimum for even one goldfish. Perhaps it was the size of the previous three-gallon tank that helped contribute to the demise of our previous fish, but I’ve attempted to make up for the lack of volume with really intense filtering. For that task we have a Marineland Penguin 100 Bio-Wheel filter hanging off the side. The Penguin 100 is rated for use in up to 20 gallon tanks, so it has no trouble dealing with five gallons. In fact it circulates the water so furiously that it generates quite a strong current (which the fish may or may not appreciate). It plows through the aquarium’s contents 20 times an hour.

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The FishCAM and Fish-Keeping
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