Friday, August 15, 2008

You Know Nothink. Nothink!

Yesterday, Steve, our new aquarium guru, came by the help me figure out why our chiller is on the fritz, our refugium (will explain that later) is full of red algae, and the protein skimmer isn't making that nice, cruddy shaving cream-like bubbles like it's supposed to.

This is my world, people. I have been transformed into a tank head. An aquarium geek. Someone who, when eyeing the dark storm clouds on the horizon does not think: Must close the windows. No, I think: Lord God, don't let the lights go out for more than two hours, because then I will have to drag the 500 lb. generator out of the shed and crank up that bad boy, spewing gas fumes and neighbor-infuriating-high decibels. When the power goes out and the water pump can't circulate oxygen-rich water, it's that or stand on a chair next the the aquarium and stir the water with my arm to keep the fish alive. (This I have actually done. For hours.)

For years, I balked at the tank care stuff. Wasn't this my husband's hobby???? (Even wrote an article about it.) But I've changed my tune and have taken on the marine nuts and bolts full bore. This transpired for two reasons. Reason One: My husband was leaving town soon for the Democratic Convention (what I like to call the National Satanic Suit & Hat Convention.) Reason Two: The aquarium equipment only breaks down when he is out of town -- far, far out of town. Until now I would just ignore the aquarium equipment until whatever inevitable disaster landed. But this year, rather than wait until the main water pump seized up or the aquarium started making this sound like a strangled toilet running ALL DAY AND NIGHT and then having to make my hysterical call our former "tank guy" who would string me along for days and overcharge me to boot, I did something kinda of evolved, and smart even.

I found my own tank guy. And that guy is Steve from the Tropical Lagoon in Silver Spring. He came over. He explained about 8 different things I didn't know (and needed to) about my aquarium just on the way downstairs to the pump room. He figured out why the water chiller was never going off and was super heating our basement, stoking my nightmares that it would burst into flames. And he adjusted a light timer so the refugium -- an aquarium filled with crud-eating plants that naturally clean water -- actually worked. "Just reverse the timing of the lights, and that should fix your plants up just fine." He showed me how moving one little tube about a half inch higher would make the protein skimmer -- a neato contraption that cleans the water by making bubbles that literally lift the nasty gunk out of the saltwater -- actually skim.

And what's really sick is that now I am actually into this stuff. I'm all gotta get over to the store to get that new salt gauge and filter thingie. Heck, if I can do this, installing those solar panels on the roof -- to pay for all the power the aquarium uses -- should be a cinch.

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