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The Office Aquarium
"The Office Aquarium", by Stephen L. Huff, RMCA and CAS, reprinted from Cichlidophile, issue 91-1, (no volume listed)
This article is for those contemplating an office aquarium.
The Office Aquarium
By: Stephen L. Huff, RMCA and CAS
While talking to other aquarists it became apparent that by not having
an office tank I was missing a lot of fun. The next step was convincing
my wife that an 11th tank was a necessary addition to the family.
(Since then 11 tanks has grown to over 30.) After discussing the
possibilities it was decided that it would make an ideal Christmas
present from my wife; and that the accountant would have fun trying to
justify it as office equipment for the use, benefit and enjoyment of my
insurance clients. (Isn' t it amazing what can be justified, at least
in your own mind, if you really want something and try hard enough?)
After measuring the available credenza for the proper size and looking
all over town for the best deal, a 75 gallon plex tank was located at a
Pets Mart at a remarkably low price. The store had just opened and the
price appeared to be less than the whole-sale. After an hour of
haggling the manager of the fish department, he agreed to throw in an
undergravel filter and 70 lbs. of black gravel. It's amazing what a
little negotiating can do and I was surprised at how motivated they were
to sell the tank.
Finding an adaptor to fit the office faucet proved to be quite a
challenge. In my excitement the tank was filled, (a time consuming and
difficult procedure without the proper equipment), power heads and an
outside filter were installed and bacteria was added to start the
nitrification process. Several days later the first fish were
introduced and the following week a good number of my favorite fish were
As it was very difficult to fill and drain the tank, the normal
sterilizing, filling, siphoning, and refilling of a new tank had been
neglected. Much to my chagrin, some of the prized fish started to die.
The water appeared to be crystal clear and ammonia and nitrate levels
were well within acceptable levels.
Normally a new tank would have been cleansed with at least a gallon of
vinegar, along with being drained and filled several times; but in my
excitement to get the tank functional, haste had overridden common
sense. A search of plumbing supply houses and hardware stores yielded
an adaptor that worked on the faucet. Major water changes restored the
environment and water quality by eliminating the chemicals used in the
manufacturing process of the aquarium gravel. The fish once more
started to thrive.
The balanced environment rewarded me with happy fish, and several weeks
later I came in and noticed a major excavation in progress. A pair of
Haplochromis similis "Jade Green" were digging a pit in front of a large
lava rock. It was a surprise to me that they had never shown any
interest in the large flowerpots or caves in the tank. Based on the
initial spawning and subsequent spawnings of this fish and other
Haplochromis species, it can be surmised that they may be an open water
Once the pit was completed, the male put on quite a show and the female
was enticed into the pit. The fish circled each other and one or two
eggs were released into the pit. The female then gathered the eggs in
her mouth. Even though these fish had spawned previously, I had never
had the opportunity to watch and it was a real treat to view them.
Since that time several other fish have spawned in the tank.
For those who spend long hours at their offices and are fortunate enough
to have the space to put in a tank, it is a very enjoyable experience. A
nice aquarium adds a lot to the ambience of the office. I wonder, if we
just moved that book case could we fit in another tank over there ....
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