leaky tank, tank painting and dropsy
Well as the title says I suppose to mention that a lot has been going on lately seems rather redundant at the moment. Not more than a week ago I woke up and came downstairs to get an ear full from my mother who quite frankly pointed out to me that there is a leak in our ceiling right from where the tank was above in my room. Of course like any person would do, I completely panicked.
Inspecting both the ceiling and the wall behind my tank I was horrified to see what damage it honestly did to the house. And the tear down of the tank happened immediately. I think what had happened in my room honestly was due to a wonky floor that wasn’t completely level. My room is firstly carpeted which caused the stand to sink down into it and render the actual cabinets unusable due to the sheer weight of the tank itself. It turns out later on after the tank was there for so long and the floors were so obviously leaning towards one side, the tank finally ended up against the wall (which was never really my intention as when it was first placed in my room the tank was far from it. The filter finally had it as it was baffled and had a high water level in there and it leaked down the wall and to the floor which caused the damage to the ceiling the floor below.
Here’s the damage it did cause.
Tear down of the tank didn’t take too long. I had drained most of the water out of it and saved some undisturbed water for my temporary 10 gallon quarantine tank and finally caught Mango. I used a net but only because he is so small and fast that I think it would be more traumatic and drawn out for both him and myself if I had tried to catch him with my hand.
Here was his temporary set up for the next few days. As you can see I had completely removed and disassembled the AC20. The AC70 has enough bacterial culture not only to keep my 10 gallon cycled and clean (although it had created too much current) it still had enough power and culture to keep my 20 running when it was set up again.
Now in hind sight keeping this tank right by my bed side with no lid was probably not the greatest idea. The set up made my room smell strongly like a fish store. It was pretty awful and the set up was there for three days.
I had done a leak test on my tank the moment I had noticed that the water level had gone down before I had disassembled it. What you do is you take a long piece of tape and you place it across your tank corners and wait. If the tape gets wet, you might need to re-seal your tank. Since mine is so new this was not the case thankfully.
With the tank empty, the fish safe and the damage now drying up to the house it was time to take the opportunity to do some maintenance. I sanded down the lid where the cut outs for the filter had been. I removed hard water stains with vinegar and a lot of rinsing to remove all traces of the acid. And soon after I wanted to paint the tank. I find painted tanks the most attractive looking. Backgrounds are great, but the problem with it is the viewing quality and the constant taping. It wasn’t practical, nor was the tank as dark as it should have been. This and the backgrounds of course did not include the bottom which I would have also liked to have black.
Now tank painting sounds permanent, but it really is not. The trick is to use acrylic paint. Acrylic is easy to apply and easy to remove. This paint is also cheap, non-toxic and less messy as opposed to spray paints.
To start off I placed a garbage bag on my garage floor to keep the mess to a minimum. I placed the tank upside down against this bag and wiped down the surfaces I wanted to paint. Now the reason I turned the tank upside down is to make double sure that no paint would have a chance to get inside. I also did it to have access to the bottom. I always recommend that if you are painting the background you should also paint the bottom of your tank to match if you’re not using substrate like myself.
Getting some painters tape I firstly masked off the sides of my tank carefully in two layers. The first later was to get accurate coverage of the sides. The second layer was to attach garbage bags across the sides to keep them clean.
For application I used a paint tray and traditional sponge rollers. All in all it took about three layers before I thought it was opaque enough to look good. This will vary from tank to tank and the brand of paint you use also will play a factor in this. For the first layer of paint I recommend you leave it dry over night so that it adhere’s to the glass surface properly but for layers after that a total of 90 minutes between layers should do just fine.
So now with the tank set up and painted the next step was to fill it. The tank was moved downstairs onto a hard wood floor. The surface here was level. With everything set up the next challenge was to fill the tank up with water. Since water changers were expensive it had always stopped me from purchasing a 50 footer to get up the stairs and to my room from the hard water tap but from here in the kitchen where I could get away with a 25 foot version I finally took the plunge. I used to carry multiple 25lb buckets up and down the stairs to the aquarium and it used to take me an hour and a half to do tank maintenance. Now with this new system it has cut down the time to 15 minutes and the water goes directly from the tap to my tank and reverse from the tank back into the sink for cleaning. It is fantastic!
And now the tank was filled and the heater was left on to climb to a safe temperature for Mango to return to his main tank. The finished product before the filter was moved in looks like this.
So the challenge was catching Mango yet again. The first thing I moved for him was the filter. I left the air stone in for him in his 10 gallon tank for as long as I could. Making sure the filter was level I plugged it back in and got it started. Shortly after that I re-baffled the filter. Then came the airstone, pump and some of the large river rocks I own. Then came the hard part: transporting Mango. It was when I had placed him in a large tupperware container for the trip down the stairs did I notice something was off: His scales were lifting.
To any fish owner dropsy is a scary thing for your pet to go through. First comes lifting scales, then bloating and most often the fish dies from it or never fully recovers. Most survivors always have a chance into relapsing back into dropsy after they have had it the first time. Dropsy is not a disease, but a symptom caused by other problems. Mango was surely stressed out and put in an environment that wasn’t familiar to him. He was also kept in a 10 gallon tank with a very strong filter. My AC70 cycles through 300 gallons per hour meaning he was tossed around a little in that tank for a few days.
Here was Mango right when I placed him in the tank. I was lucky I had caught this early with some observation. Notice the light lifting of scales.
Now with this being noticed and a diagnosis being made it was important to act fast. The temperature in my tank needed to be raised to 78-80F. Higher temperatures help your fish’s immune system fight harder. Keep in mind that warmer water is harder to keep oxygenated. To combat this if you do not already use an air pump and stone I suggest setting one up for the duration your water will remain warm. The next step was to treat with Magnesium Sulfate. One thing to note is to NEVER treat a fish that has dropsy with salt. Although Magnesium Sulfate is Epsom Salt (MgSO4·7H2O), it is not true salt (NaCl). Salt will increase water retention in your fish causing it to bloat more and worsen the pine-coning effect in your fish. Epsom will help calm this.
Epsom is dosed at 1/8 tsp (teaspoon not tablespoon) per 10 gallons. When introducing this to your tank, dissolve it in heated water until there are no visible grains left. Make sure you also use a dechlorinator in it before you place it in your system. Please note that when administering this as a treatment it should remain in the tank for no longer than 7 days. Past this point it will become lethal to your fish. Like salt, you will need to do a 100% waterchange to remove it from your aquarium system.
Another thing I would like to add is to fast your fish. Don’t give it anything to eat for the next couple days. What I did after a few days was started him out on foods that have absolutely no salt at all. Cucumber was on the menu, along with peas. Be warned: always read the labels for sodium. Peas that are canned should be avoided because of the salt content in them.
After three days of treatment there is some visible improvement in Mango! I have decided to cut the treatment short to just 4 days as he is doing very well! Here’s a progress picture of him now. There still is some slight lifting of scales but this should go away within the next two days.