White sand substrate.

Perhaps we can erase the “forever” part, but the water indeed is crystal clear. That is, in my 50-gallon freshwater tank. It’s so clear that sometimes the fishes inside look as if they’re floating in the air. But that was only after I was able to come up with the “perfect” filtration scheme – DIY style.

Live plants for more contrast.

Without any prior study or basic knowledge on the subject of aquarium maintenance, I blindly jumped into the hobby, after I considered that an aquarium might be a nice fixture sitting on my old TV rack. I had the tank custom built so that it could fit with the dimensions of the rack. After it’s completed, it was just a matter of putting it in place and filling it with water, and going to the pet shop to buy the colorful species that shall be the dwellers therein, their food, and a decent pump and filter system.

The shock came one morning. The water in the tank got murky, and smelled of rotten eggs, with a dead fish floating belly up on the surface. l would learn some DSC_0642time later that it was because of ammonia. But for the meantime, it got me into a cycle of changing the water and cleaning the filters on a daily basis. For a 50-gallon tank, it was no easy feat. Only to realize later that I was doing it all wrong.

These tetras were the replacements of the tiger barbs that were all eaten by the dragonfins. After a while, they were all wiped out as well.

On the brink of giving up, I did a search on youtube about filters, which led me into a crash course on filtration, bacteria management, and ammonia reduction. At the end of it, I managed to build a contraption that’s similar to a trickle down filter, with three layers, consisting of pebbles, clay, and charcoal (bottom layer). It was aleady very late in the night when I finished installing the new filter design, then I went straight to bed.

First thing the following, I checked the tank and thought that the water must have leaked out during the night, because the tank looked empty. But I didn’t see any trace of water on the floor. I looked back at the tank, and at that moment, a silver angel fish gracefully glides across my field of view.

From that day on, I didn’t change the water anymore. It’s enough that I replenish it and clean the sides of the tank from time to time. It’s been a year and half since.



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