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Aquarium.Net Nov 96 Increasing Survivability

Bruce explains how to increase the survivability of your next fish purchase, November 1996 Index for Aquarium Net, Aquarium Net has numerous articles written by the leading authors for the advanced aquarist

Increasing the Survivability of Your New Fish Purchase

By Bruce Davidson

In this months article I will try to increase the odds that the next fish you purchase will survive. The first thing you need to do before you select that fish is find a good pet shop with a knowledgeable staff. Hopefully one of your local pet shops is a member of the American Marine life Dealers Association (AMDA). The AMDA is a group of dealers that have pledged to only stock ethically collected aquarium suitable animals. Further they will offer captive bread marine animals whenever possible. They derisive your business because they are making the extra effort to learn about the animals they offer for sale. Once inside take a good look around. The tanks should be clean and algae free. Check out what type of filtration they use, chances are if the filtration is state of the art the fish will be in much better health. Look at all of the fish as a whole, freshwater included, how do they look? Are they swimming or hiding? Do they have to many fish in the same tank? Is the water crystal clear in all of the tanks? Do they have sick, dying or even dead fish on display? Take a look at the dry goods they stock, pay close attention to the books. Do they specialize on marine fish or are they just a full line pet shop that happens to have a few marine tanks. Ask a few questions about filtration, foam skimmers and lighting, you know kind of feel them out. Visit all of the pet shops in your town. If you find a pet shop that had great looking animals and sound advise, STICK WITH THEM

Now you found a good shop with a perfect fish the next step is to get that sucker in a bag, well not the next step. Never take a fish home the day it comes into the store. It would be best if the fish has been in the store for a week but 3 days is okay if you just can't wait. If the fish just came in ask the store to hold it for a couple of days, most will. Do all of your other shopping before you ask for the fish to be bagged. Before you ask just anyone to bag your perfect fish watch the employees in action. Catching the fish in a non traumatic way takes plenty of practice and skill. Get the best most gentle person to do your bagging. Let the new guy practice on someone else's fish. If it takes you more than an hour to get home ask them to put oxygen in the bag. Most marine fish have pretty sharp spines so a double bag is a good idea. When the fish is handed to you do not put you hand on the bottom. You hand is 96 degrees or so and the fish water is 77-82 degrees. Carry the bag from the top. Do not let your children carry the fish. Take the fish directly to the checkout and get it in the paper bag as quickly as possible. Fish are not used to being carried around a store and seeing all of those things flashing by. Being enclosed in a paper bag will reduce stress and the fish will likely go to sleep. Do not open the paper bag and check out your new fish at every stop light. Leave the fish in the closed paper bag until you are ready to put him in your tank.

Now you are ready to acclimate the fish into your quarantine tank but that is another article.

Now on to a few questions I received via e-mail

Bruce, In your article on Moving an Aquarium in response to a question you recommended the purchase of an RO unit. I'm having trouble understanding why RO units are recommended over the Tap Water Purifier. Tap Water Purifiers are supposed to make DI water which is supposed to be better than RO water and it is recommended that RO units be connected to Tap Water Purifiers to further filter the water. Could you talk about what the difference is and which is better. I'm suspicious of the information I've just stated because the Tap Water Purifier is only about $22 whereas an RO unit is more than $100.

Could something that is so much better be so much cheaper? Doesn't seem to follow the "rules of life"!

Thanks, Yvonne >>>>>>>>

Yvonne, Thanks for the question. You are right that does not jive with the rules of life. The initial cost of the Tap Water Purifier (TWP) is much less than a Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit but product water from the TWP comes at a much higher price.

An RO unit can remove up to 85% of all contaminants, even more under ideal conditions. The water is first passed through an activated carbon filter were the water is dechlorinated and the large particulate are removed. The second phase is a pass through a particulate filter, normally 1 micron . After prefiltration the water is passed through a semi-permeable membrane. Under pressure the pure water is forced through the membrane leaving the bad stuff (scientific term) behind. The undesirables are flushed out through the waste water line. Normally you will throw away 5-7 gallons of water for every one you make. At best the product water from a RO unit is 90% pure, that is why it is a good idea to run the output through a Deionization Unit (DI) like the TWP. The activated carbon and micron filter need to be replaced about every 1,000 gallons of product water or every 6 months. They will cost from 20-30 dollars for the set.

The TWP is a mixed bed deionization unit. What this means is that the bad stuff in the water is removed via ionization. DI units use two resins one to remove negatively charged ions (anions) and another to remove positively charged ions (cations).

If the cations and the anions are kept separate they can be recharged, the better ionization units use this method. In the TWP the two resins are mixed in one cartridge so you must replace the cartridge as it fills up. It has been my experience that the TWP cartridge is only good for about 50 gallons of water, after that the output water quickly deteriorates. At 20-30 bucks a cartridge the cost quickly exceeds the RO unit. One thing I must mention is that many aquarists are getting great results using 2 TWP filter in series. To do this you simply put the output of one unit (number 1) into the input on another one (number 2). At the first sign of color change in unit number 2 you throw out number 1 and put number 2 in it's place with the new filter now second in line. this will ensure that you get the maximum usage out of each cartridge and have little chance of any bad stuff getting through.

With the TWP filter used after a RO unit I have found that I can get 100-150 gallons until the cartridge is full. I only let the color change get two thirds up the unit before I change my filters. Any tap water filter is better than nothing but RO/DI water is about as good as the hobbyist can make.

A complete listing of the "bad stuff" that most RO units and TWP filters remove can be found in the package or at you local pet shop. ttys Bruce Philoicthyoecetes

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Last modified 2006-11-20 04:02
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