The process of cycling. (Breedingpair.com)
Okay, so as I said yesterday, I would give you all the fish update today. It started out with a comment from my roommate, Kelly, about saltwater tanks. Her comment reminded me of an old interest I've had in saltwater. The problem has always been the minimum 30 gallon requirement. But guess what? Over the last few years, nano (under 20 gallons) and pico (under 10 gallons) have become the new frontier for saltwater. Now in pico tanks, you don't really keep fish. Some people do, but it's usually only a temporary housing until their big tank is finished or it's a really small, solitary fish that doesn't swim around much. But for nano tanks, people have been able to successfully keep a variety of smaller fish. Gobies are the most popular and just so happen to be my favorite type of saltwater fish. Fear not though clownfish fans, people do keep clowns in nanos, but it's usually recommended to keep a pair of clowns in a 20 gallon and no more fish.

Now for my 10 gallon tank, I'm able to keep three gobies and some invertebrates, but I must go very slow or risk serious damage to my tank. This is why nanos are still not recommended for the beginner hobbyist. Current data shows that it will take me at least 6 months to finish this tank. Why so long? I shall explain in the next paragraph about the "bio-load." That is all technicalities with fish in both fresh and saltwater, but if you have no interest or already understand it, then feel free to skip it.

The bio-load is another term for capacity of the tank. This is calculated by a variety of factors included, filtration, oxygenation, plants, organisms, etc. The most important factor in the bio-load is bacteria. Specifically Nitrifying Bacteria. Fish produce ammonia (NH3) as their waste. This is highly toxic to fish. It's not a problem in the wild due to currents and the amount of gas exchange happening daily around the world. There is simply enough water to balance out the ammonia and the fish. Now in an aquarium, we have a closed system. We control everything that happens with that tank. So the amount of Nitrifying Bacteria must be greater. What is this bacteria? It is the organism that breaks down ammonia into nitrite and then oxidizes it into nitrate which can be removed through gas exchange and water changes. This is why open top aquariums are less maintenance, there is more gas exchange. Nitrates will build up over time and in large quantities can kill your fish, but there is almost always small amounts in every tank. Oxygen levels also play a role on the amount of fish you can keep since fish need to breathe too. Plants have the effect of using up oxygen and producing carbon dioxide at night when the lights are off. In saltwater tanks this can be managed by having the lights in the sump alternate with the tank lights.

This is the rough outline of  why it's taking so much time to get it set up.

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    I am a Sophomore at Lander who has friends all over the world. I am also a Chemistry major, Secretary of the American Chemical Society, a Presidential Ambassador and an honors student. There is always something to do and it just doesn't leave me enough time to talk to everyone that I want to.


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