As an aquarium enthusiast (which is a nice way of saying “crazy fish lady”), I’m probably more interested in the lives of microscopic organisms than most people, and more favorable towards bacteria than most. After all, without the right bacterial colony blends, keeping miniature aquatic ecosystems would be impossible!
In fact, teeny organisms – including algae – are quite useful, because when they form colonies or grow large enough to be visible to the eye, it tells you something about the water quality. For instance, all the green spot algae I get in my planted tank tells me that my plants would probably like some extra potassium!
Well, earlier this week I was doing a routine water change, and it was a fairly large one, so I’d shut off the filter by unplugging it. Due to a confluence of factors, I pulled one of the classic “you fail fishkeeping forever” moves and forgot to plug it back in when I was done. This is on a seventy-five gallon aquarium overstocked with African cichlids, which produce a whole lotta waste material, too. I didn’t notice, until the next evening when I peered into the tank and thought, “Hey, the water’s pretty cloudy… what could be causing that… white, so probably bacterial bloom… that shouldn’t happen, I just changed the water yester… SHITSHITSHITOMGWTFHOWCOULDIBESOSTUPID!”
So yeah. That day started out bad and just kept on getting worse, you know? Been happening a lot lately, but anyway. The fish weren’t acting oddly at all, so I’m hopeful that my panic-mode recovery measures worked. I just haven’t had time to break out the test tubes and test the water – would’ve been nice if I could, just to see – but given the lack of odd behavior I think I caught it right before it went toxic. Kind of eye-opening to see that a completely unfiltered tank full of fish went for just over 24 hours and didn’t have any oxygenation trouble – maybe their swimming about helped turn the water over!