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cool fish toys -- a simple flume
A while back, we conducted a thread on putting a paludarium or terrarium inside
a planted tank. A sub-thread concerned the flume that this would create, making
a nice racetrack of current for the resident fishies.
I seem to have accidentally discovered a simpler implementation of flumes.
I was aquascaping and furnishing the new 65 gal tank in preparation for relocating
the electric catfish (Malapterurus sp.).
(Yes, they do too exist. Catfish of the Month at planetcatfish.com, May 2000. Or check out fishbase.org, which you might like even if you don't care about e-cats.)
She's a big sausage of a fish, about 11 inches long (28cm) and an inch and a half in
diameter (4cm). She really likes lurking in the (relatively) small PVC pipe that is
barely bigger around than she is.
(This serendipitous behavior let me move her without terribly terrifying her.
I put on rubber dishwashing gloves, chased her into the tube and held the ends shut,
picked it up to let it drain, and walked across the living room to slide her into her
new palace. I wonder what she thought when the formerly-so-effective electric
shocks did NOT make me go away this time.)
So, before moving the fish in, I put this big piece of clear blue PVC pipe in the new
tank. It's about 18 inches long and 3 inches in diameter (45 x 7.5 cm). It didn't fit in
the little 29 gal tank, but this big new pond needs big fish furniture.
I aimed the outflow of the new little submersible pump across the tube towards the
opposite wall. My idea was to pester the plants a little so they would root them-
selves sturdily before they got nosed around and possibly dug up.
My thoughtful sweetie suggested aiming the current instead *down* the tube, to
prevent any icky stagnant water deep in the tube. OK, fine. I left enough space
between the end of the pump outlet and the start of the tunnel for the fish to get past.
Friends, the fish LOVES this tunnel. This is the *greatest* fish toy.
She sometimes swims upcurrent, and she has to work pretty hard to make it all the
way through--even with just a little Rio400 pump and a big-diameter pipe. (The tunnel *is* wide enough that she can make good solid tail-strokes.) But she often
slides downcurrent, both headfirst and !tail-first! She does this maybe once an
hour--more or less, depending on activity level. The current downstream of the
tunnel, while less constricted, is still pretty good, so water flow all over the tank is
pleasant for the plants and amusing to the fish.
Since she is big smart predator, I do worry about her mental state. I know: pretty
ridiculous. There are a zillion far better things to worry about in the world.
But she is inquisitive and she is capable of figuring out solutions to problems
(such as, "Oh no! the shrimp pellet got stuck between the smaller PVC tube and the
tank wall!"). So she has the brainpower to be bored.
A bored fish is probably more likely to shock the fishkeeper, just for something to do.
A bored fish may also be a stressed fish, and so more likely to get sick.
So I want to keep her out of trouble.
Two vast benefits to this "fish slide": first, Sparky gets far more exercise and mental
stimulation than she otherwise could in a tank that I can afford. And second, we
continually burst out laughing, watching her slide tailfirst down the tunnel.
If you try this, making the tunnel see-through is in my opinion a MUST.
Still cracking up days later,
still landlocked in New Hampshire
Postscript: A note on materials. Just in case.
PVC is polyvinyl chloride, a plastic used for pipes in plumbing in the U.S. of A.,
and consequently readily available in various sizes and with wide assortments
of elbows, T-junctions, and other joints. The clear stuff is harder to find.
And more expensive.)