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The Fiasco.

Greetings, all.

Brief delurk- 6 months ago I returned to fishkeeping, which I stopped 
around age 14 or so. 7 months ago, with a sharper mind and (slightly) 
larger allowance, I found myself in a situation where a friend needed to 
sell his 55 gallon tank. He sold it to me for 100 dollars, complete with 
stand and a hood. I scrubbed it clean and set it aside in my living room.

A month later, I turned it right side up, grabbed my wife, and hit the pet 
store. One thing lead to another... Lo and behold, I now have 2 ten gallon 
aquariums, a 20 gallon aquarium, a 29 gallon aquarium, and the 55. You 
could say I've been bitten. I cruise around the pictures of Eriks Fishroom 
and start to babble incoherently... just wait until I own a house :)

Right, on to the fiasco.

The original gravel I bought for my 55 gallon tank was large, painted 
pebbles. Black and green. I have no idea what I was thinking, so don't ask. 
I found myself drawn to the plant aspect of the hobby, and sorely regretted 
it. I started my other tanks, loved how well they have turned out, and 
planned to swap out the gravel in my 55.

Tonight I drained the 55 into a 30 gallon rubbermaid container, hooked up 
the filter and heater to it, netted and transferred all the fish[1] and 
began the chore. My first thought was to scrub the algae off before I threw 
in new gravel, and then just siphon away all that green 
smells-like-fresh-cut-grass water. This was a great plan until I 
'remembered' that I had forgotten to remove the thermometer from the tank. 
Tink, crash, mercury in the tank. Crap. My wife and I lugged the tank into 
the shower (remember, apartment... Screw a house I need a hose) and I 
proceeded to give it a good rinse, a scrub, then a good rinse, a toweling, 
and then lugged it back into the dining room. From there I added, 
prewashed, 25% gravel, 40% profile, 30% fluorite, and 5% laterite (kilned 
chips I think... Mine does not get mushy in water?). Then I stacked all the 
driftwood in a huge woodpile on one side of the tank and planted my ailing 
Amazon Sword, unidentified-stem-plant, crinum bulbs, and e. tenellus. I 
lashed a bunch of my java moss to bits of driftwood, and lashed my jave 
fern into cracks. DIY note: I cut a hole in a plastic cup big enough for 
the intake pipe on my powerhead, put the intake in the cup, put the screen 
back on, then filled the cup with filter floss I had lying sround... It 
seemed to help a lot with the inevitable dustiness. I put one of my two 
heaters in the tank to get the water to the right temp.Then, I spent two 
hours taking a pitcher of water from the rubbermaid, throwing it in the 
tank, then throwing a pitcher of tank water in the rubbermaid every ten 
minutes or so. Finally, I put the filter and the second heater back on the 
55, netted and bagged and floated all the fish (try netting a pissed of 
polypterus sometime- 9 inches of spiny african predator that has not 
changed since the Jurassic... and they know it.) I reacclimated them, which 
was quick due to the water changes, and then released them.

2 hours later they are peacefully and happily swimming around in the dark, 
hunting for food and exploring their new terrain. The whole ordeal took me 
about 4 hours, but it was well worth it. The tank looks incredible, the 
reedfish LOVE purrowing in the new sand, and I watched the goby find a home 
where he is perfectly framed by a driftwood arch.

Now that I am done (had to tell someone- the wife is sick of it) I have a 
few questions for the gurus-

1) What plants grow well immersed? I am turning a ribbon snake terrarium 
into a half-land-quarter-marsh-quarter-water tank, and I want plants that 
will grow well in a few inches of water. Will hairgrass work? I plan to use 
Anubius for the background, but I need a foreground
2) What plants will survive my fish? I  grabbed the crinums because they 
are solid and non-leave, and the fishs fins do not seem to catch ahold of 
them as they swim through. The java fern and moss are doing really well, 
and I have anubius emersed in a 5 gallon 100% humidity spa to get rid of 
some BBA. Any other ideas?
3) Anyone here in Seattle know a better place to get plants? I shop at 
Petsmart(gotta feed the zoo- the tanks, 5 snakes, 2 geckos, 2 cats, and a 
dog... in a 1000 squre foot apartment.)

Thanks for reading my long-winded tale, gentle reader.

[1] Fish in the tank include a fw butterfly fish, 3 reed fish, 1 polypterus 
delhezi, 1 african knife, 1 jade sleeper goby, 1 tire track eel, 1 fw 
moray, 2 upside-down cats,  2 bala sharks, 2 SAEs and a few otos(these get 
replenished every month or two when the polypterus and the jade goby get 
the munchies in the middle of the night and they are all out of tuffies)[2]
[2] Yes, I know. Weekly water changes and a 300 GPH filter for new, with a 
plan for a brackish tank to house the goby and FW moray and a sump for the 
55 are in the works.
"Confession only helps if you actually feel bad for your actions.
For you, it would just be a really long boast."