Think Bomb

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tank Keeping

Brackish water has proven to be quite a challenge for this fish lover. Some of the hardier fish-—like the scat-—will soar through fluctuations in water chemistry with little difficulty, but my personal favorite fish, the green spotted puffer, is far more sensitive. These little cuties don't have scales, but delicate skin, and they also don't have gill guards. This makes them susceptible to a myriad of diseases, and at the same time sensitive to medication. They are also very particular about water chemistry, and making that perfect combination of salt water and fresh water conditions known as brackish requires some clever tricks when all the products sold at the pet store are for fresh or salt water aquariums only. One interesting trick I've leaned is to increase pH with the use of baking soda. You probably remember all the grade school experiments where you mixed vinegar (acetic acid) with baking soda (bicarbonate) inside a paper mache volcano to see it erupt in a glorious acid/base neutralization reaction. The base from that reaction, baking soda, works wonderfully to increase the pH of the tank. Puffers like fairly alkaline conditions near a pH of 8, and the filtered water I use is closer to 7. Although marine salt can be used instead of aquarium salt to pick up the pH, it also contains some minerals that are unnecessary and possibly harmful to the puffers. A touch of baking soda added with the aquarium salt seems to do the trick just as well.


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