RO water sounds a good plan under the circumstances. Although the aquatic centres may say the fish can 'tolerate' harder, there is a difference between 'surviving' (but consequently leading a shortened lifespan) and 'thriving' (living in the conditions at which the mid-point hardness is generally the optimum level but the range cited is that which bona-fide research identifies as being able to be tolerated) - and I think you've probably gathered that and that it's better to keep the fish in the correct conditions than repeatedly having to medicate to address the effects of sub-suitable conditions.
Since posting the other day, somehow I realised I'd overlooked and omitted to include this https://www.fishkeeping.co.uk/modules/ ... esheet.php?caresheetID=72 - and it looks as though keeping WCMMs together with weather loaches is fine despite the potential size difference, and so possibly one exception to the usual rule-of-thumb of "if it fits in the fish's mouth, the fish will eat it".
All sounds great in terms of the RO unit installation (which I'm afraid I can't help with as I have no experience of these but someone else may be able to) and house renovations - I hope the fish appreciate the admirable effort you're making for them. :)
The tank model and size is the very same! I shall now try and condense the last few days into one post.
We are going with RO to enable us to keep the loaches, and also a larger aquarium.
Interestingly, after contacting a couple of local aquatic centres we have been advised the WL's can 'tolerate' up to 20dh BUT I'd like to at least lower it from the current 16 to fit better with the advice you supplied.
To fit the larger tank in an ideal position away from excessive sunlight and radiators, we need to remove an old chimney breast. Happily OH is a plumber/builder so this isn't a biggy but it will take time.
He can also install an RO unit under the kitchen sink branching from the domestic cold water inlet, to make things a little easier.
Sooooooo, the purchase of the RO unit is imminent - just need to do a little more research on the best units. Time and effort to maintain this method are not issues.
Finally - considering the current size of the WL's, how much time do we realistically have before the size of the tank becomes detrimental to their health and well being? Do we have weeks or months, or even years?
The water hardness will be fine for the WCMMs - according to the species profile https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/tanichthys-albonubes/, they require 90-357 ppm, so your 284 ppm (CaCO3) is fine, and you might well decide to add more; they come in golden and long-finned versions as well as the more standard colour (plus some other variations). Other potential tankmates are mentioned at the end of this species profile, so you could always check those species' requirements (e.g. water hardness and tank size) against your own, but I'll have a think about some potential possiblities that would suit the temperature range of the WCMMs...
So here goes with the water hardness for our postcode:
Calcium carbonate 284 mg/l Calcium 113.6 mg/l Degrees Clark 19.766c Degrees French 28.4f Degrees German 16.131 dH millimoles 2.84 mol/l
Could you advise on a good test kit to buy? I have had a look online and the choice is baffling.
Also, we would perhaps like to add stock in the future but I have read Weather Loaches grow quite large and I have some concern over whether this tank is big enough for three adults plus other fish?
We are have started with the 10% water changes daily and will continue until we feel comfortable with the test results and in line with what you mentioned about stress hormones etc.
I have also fed them a little extra today and every scrap has gone! Aside from the daphnia etc that I already have, can you recommend a quality feed for the whole crew? No offence to Wilko but I'm not confident the flakes are the best quality.
Absolutely loved your story too, and sorry I've not been able to reply before now.
Well done on doing as much research as you can (well-timed leave!) - deciphering the good .v. poor info sources on the internet can be difficult, though, but forums such as these plus the site's Articles and Caresheets sections, and Seriously Fish's species profiles are good sources - it gives up-to-date info on temperature ranges and the other requirements for each.
One factor to bear in mind, with existing and any potential additional fish you might consider, is that fish generally eat any fish that might fit in its mouth.
Make sure that you have tests for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, at the very least - it seems that you do but the ammonia test strips are difficult to read and liquid-based tests are more accurate, so something to bear in mind either once your current batch runs out (or you might prefer to get the ammonia test in liquid format now during this crucial phase when a potential cycle or partial cycle may be underway, then use the test strips afterwards for weekly monitoring once the crucial stage has passed). For water hardness, in terms of choosing potential additional/future fish once this crucial phase has passed, your water/utility company's website will give a more accurate indicator for that than the test strips - usually in CaCO3 or German degrees hardness for your postcode - and we can then advise further on suitable potential stock.
It is very easy to get into a fluster in fishkeeping, even among the most conscientious of us (and regardless of years of experience in fishkeeping) - so I can totally empathise. The key is to keep water quality in optimum condition - ammonia and nitrite at 0, and nitrates at no more than 20 ppm above whatever the nitrate reading is for your tap water. Change ~10% daily for the next few weeks - even if water is optimum quality each day, this helps dilute other things such as stress hormones that standard test kits can't measure for - but more if any of ammonia/nitrite/nitrates is above the aforementioned levels. If water has remained at optimum levels throughout this time, it's likely that the fishtank is/was fine/cycled rather than going through a full-blown cycle, but it may take ~6 weeks of continued monitoring and water changes if water quality is continuing to fluctuate and it is going through a full-blown cycle.
As for the damaged dorsal fin, a fish can adapt to this - my goldfish (RIP) lived for a further 12 years following getting stuck in an ornament and damaging his dorsal fin which healed with a distortion. You could increase feeding to two pinches per day as the fish are likely hungry juveniles, but keep monitoring water quality as described. A good way to think of the filter is as the fishes' life-support machine so, yes - always have it on 24/7 (switch off during cleaning but don't forget to switch it back on immediately after this and tank re-filled with water).
All the best, and I think you'll make great fish "parents", having this right approach. :)
I am a newbie too so I can’t really offer any advice but just wanted to say I love your story! Goodness knows what would happened to the poor things if you hadn’t stepped in. I would just say don’t feel embarrassed about making mistakes - I think I have made plenty, you are trying to do the right thing which is a lot more than most and it’s a steep but enjoyable learning curve.
I hope you enjoy your new fishies as much as I am 👍