Maintaining a freshwater tropical fish aquarium is fun, it's like playing FarmVille (I'm told there's a similar virtual aquarium game as well) on Facebook, time is spent arranging plants/decorations and adding fish, improving as time passes, except that the tank is based in reality and has less suck factor. Having kept aquariums since childhood, this author has a definite affinity for maintaining a small ecosystem and attains satisfaction in knowing that a created environment is healthy for life to flourish.
Unfortunately, the household aquarium's environment was "healthy" enough to kill three zebra danios and contained enough dead plant matter to resemble an aquatic landfill. Be assured, however, that personal responsibility has been taken and the aquarium will be restored to its healthy state, better than previous setups.
Without going into great personal detail, the aquarium residents, two rosy barbs and Norman the clown pleco, found themselves alone. Having been left in a small group for a long period of time, the barbs had assuredly become territorial, any new additions would have resulted in a murderous rampage, which means conditions were less than ideal. The only solution was to wait for the barbs to live out their lives. That time has come, one having died a few months ago, the other within the last two weeks.
Of course, when you're waiting, even anticipating, something to kick the bucket, they live for another five years, well past their lifespan.
Breaking the tank down was hesitantly considered but after learning Norman would likely live for about another decade, restoring the tank became necessary. Besides in that two weeks he was in solitude, the aquarium degraded into the aforementioned depressed condition. The lack of fishy fecal matter was the cause of the plant decay, they live off the nutrients, which keep the tank clean, so the first step was to add new fish and a couple non-dying plants. Secondly, all that crap needed to be vacuumed out, which had to be done in two sessions, a few days apart, so as not to change out too much water.
Below is after the second cleaning, five days after the addition of fish:
The plants had nearly given up but luckily they had not and are starting to grow back. The ones in the left corner are new.
Updates will continue, there are a couple DIY projects in the works, and those will be reported on in the coming weeks.