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Category Archives: DIY

CO2 use in Aquariums and Bed Bugs

Usually we just post an excerpt from our main blog: aquagillie.blogspot.com because this blog gets much more traffic than our main Google/Blogspot based blog.  Yeah, we do not get it either.

Anyway, because an infestation of bed bugs is a pretty serious deal in terms of expense to get rid of them, preparation to have them exterminated and potential health problems including serious allergic reaction to the bites; we reprinted the whole blog post.

We consider this our public service announcement to those who are considering or are already using CO2 to enhance plant growth.

We promised We would document our tank experiences honestly; the good, the bad and now the very ugly.

Standard disclaimer:  we are not scientists, we do not pretend to be.  We are keen observers of cause and effect, enabling us to draw conclusions.  Our conclusions herewith were confirmed by the professional bug-guys.

By now most everyone who listens to a radio or watches TV is aware that there is a rise in bed bug infestations in the States.  Hotels in New York city were the first to be reported upon a few years ago and now apartment buildings and single family homes in both urban and suburban areas have been infested.  The major reason cited for the rise in bed bug infestations is the discontinuation of the use of DDT, for sound reasons.  However, bed bug infestations are one of the unplanned for consequences.

So, you might be wondering what that has to do with the aquarium hobby.
Plenty if you are injecting CO2; both the DIY and the cylinder versions.

We had found a long-lasting combination recipe using a two 2L bottle rig.  We had found a way to eliminate leaks in the form of our brine-shrimp hatchery caps.  We were getting great CO2 distribution for a solid three weeks before having to replace a  bottle solution.  Life was good, plants were pearling even under reduced lighting, fish were not distressed.  The couch was moved right next to the fish-rack to allow an up close and personal view of all the hard work, weeks of research and buckets of ducats spent.

Then the bite marks started showing up.

It seems our apartment building has had an infestation for some while.  Somehow our apartment was never an attractive place for the voracious little beasties to investigate, until we began juicing our aquariums with DIY CO2.

The first thing the bug-guys said was; “Move the couch away from your tanks.”  The second thing they could have said, was not necessary.  Now we go completely low-tech.
All broad-leaf and moderate to low light plants.
NO CO2 of any kind.

Next we get to have a clear-out in preparation for the bug-guys.
Every exposed shelving unit must be cleared, except for the one where the tanks actually sit.  The closet shelf must be cleared, the clothes must be washed in 180F water and sealed in plastic bins.  All the furniture must be moved away from the walls.  Everything that can be put in storage, must be put in storage, sealed.  You can be sure I will be throwing a lot of stuff out just to avoid having to deal with it.  All the fabric I have collected for rag rugs will go, the yarn is in plastic bags.  It will be sealed in more bins with diatomaceous earth on the bottom of the bins.  All the bedding has already been thrown out and the bed removed despite the fact that neither showed any signs of being infested.  Sleeping on the couch is a habit that I am glad I did not break.  I have super easy to clean modular furniture which sits 18″ off the floor and has no skirting for the beasties to climb up.

The bug-guys have to come out and treat the apartment three times before it will be reasonable to presume the beasties are d.e.a.d.  So pretty much the whole summer the apartment will be empty, my loom will not be warped for use and I will be living in my work out clothes, sleeping with my pants tucked into socks and hands wrapped to prevent them from getting to my arms.  I am taking antihistamines one to three times per day to keep the itching tolerable enough not to scratch and cause secondary bacterial infection.  And yes, they itch like crazy.

Bed bug infestation is not due to poor housekeeping.
It is due to one thing; bed bugs are attracted to CO2 – carbon dioxide, and they eat one thing – blood.
They hide in the walls, carpets, cloth furniture, wall sockets, heating and cooling duct work, cracks, crevices and crannies.  You almost never see them because they are nocturnal.

Some people have used diatomaceous earth as a dusting everywhere on the floors to kill the bugs; however inhaling diatomaceous earth is as bad for your lungs as it is for the bugs.  So you have been warned.

Reference Links:
BrickUnderground.com NYC Landlords may have to disclose bed bug infestations to potential renters going back five years.

Harvard School of Public Health “Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks or more causes people to become sensitized to the saliva of these bugs; additional bites may then result in mild to intense allergic responses.”  However, bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases like mosquitoes do.

Treating the bites: http://www.bedbugsguide.com/bed-bug-bites.htm

And yes, there are forums and message boards:



Please consider the expense of new mattresses, bedding, bed-bug proof mattress bags, exterminators, clothing, shoes, antihistamines . . .

and sanity.  Proceed with caution.

Aqua Gillie: Mods & Updates

This post is not a full how-to on DIYCO2 rigs. There are plenty of forums guides and web pages to tell you how to and why. We have finally found a long-lasting co2 mixture. Read more by clicking on the aquagillie link above.

Aq Advisor – Great Stocking Tool

Now we come to our very first product review and it is FREE!

What could be better?

A fellow aqua-gillie and geek of programming has created a tool to help novices and advanced aquari-ests alike, make intelligent choices about stocking new and established aquariums.  Based on over forty behavioral attributes, tank size, projected growth and filtration this version 1 of AqAdvisor is just the geeky tool I was looking for.

With this tool, you will be able to make projections regarding the prospective compatibility of your livestock without costly mistakes.  Select your show-fish or dream fish, add quantity and you will see statistics about your tank’s viability at the bottom of the page.  Go back to the top and add another fish or invertebrate, the bottom informational advisor automatically recalculates your tank with the new addition.

Here is a text example of a 5g with an AquaClear mini(20) filter and one female betta splendens:

Recommended temperature range: 24 – 28 C. [Display in Farenheit]
Recommended pH range: 6 – 7.
Recommended hardness range: 5 – 19 dH.

No errors.

You have plenty of aquarium filtration capacity.

Your aquarium filtration capacity for above selected species is 814%.
Recommended water change schedule: 8% per week.
Your aquarium stocking level is 79%. [Generate Image] [What’s this?]

You get everything you need to make further choices regarding fish/invertebrate type, filtration, ph & water hardness as well as warnings when your choices are incompatible or you exceed your tank’s capabilities before you throw down hard-earned cash.

Here is a screenshot of the 10g: with-a-view after the current re-scaping, with new livestock projections:

Projected 10g:view final stock.  As you can see, I have chosen to overstock this tank just a bit; I plan to cycle the water from this tank into an aquaponic setup at some point in early 2010.  Not really wanting goldfish, I needed to see where the sweet-spot is before purchasing further hardware and livestock.  During my futzing around, I actually had this tank up to 111% without getting a filtration upgrade warning.  Cool beans.
We hope you will give this tank simulator a try and leave some feedback.  Improvements and error corrections are dependent upon fish-keepers like you letting the author know what you experienced.
A word of caution from both the author of AqAdvisor and us:
Do Not rely solely upon this tool. Do your research while utilizing this great tool, before, during and after you make purchases.
In the case of my 10g:view tank, I have overkill when it comes to filtration for a 10 gallon tank; therefore I can get away with some, judicious overstocking as long as my livestock show no signs of stress.  That is why you need to do your homework.  What are the signs of stress in every species you want in your tank?  I know them, I have watched the behavior of my current selections.  My female betta splendens is a hunter, my male is not.
Thanks for stopping by!

Parts are Parts

The fish-rack is awaiting parts.  A shiny diamond plate shop-light arrived via ebay seller in record time, with real-rate shipping.  One of two florescent bulbs awaits it’s working partner, not record time.  Substrate is sitting in the bag, new food, and some DIY CO2 parts are awaiting assembly as well.  Due to academic demands and several different vendors, the parts will have to cool their heels for one or two more days.  A tap water filter is wending it’s way here to correct ph levels I am uncomfortable with.  Finally, a cute little external/hang-on-back filter must be sent back because it simply does not work.  Very disappointing.  I thought it would be the perfect solution to clearing the h. o. b. obstruction to 10g:view’s vista, as it had the ability to sit on a shelf instead of hanging.

As I was awaiting parts to arrive, attending to the academic demands and generally practicing patience, I was able to count the shrimp.  Of 10, one died for sure.  I have identified 7, an official count will have to wait until I am able to work on their tank in a day or two.

In the 10g:redux, something riled the male b.splenden a couple of days ago.  He flared at everything that moved.  As a result, I removed the three White Clouds, of which two are females and gravid.  The male was chasing one in particular and we can guess what that means.  Not sure if that is what riled the b. splenden; however everyone has calmed down.

I am debating the mix and the functions of the tanks.  Aqua-scaping and aquaponics are the priorities.  For aquaponic gardening, I will need some good polluters of water, i.e. goldfish.  I do not want goldfish, but I do want fresh spinach, herbs and a tomato plant, so a choice must be made.

Then there are the existing fish and shrimp.  I intended to dedicate one tank as a shrimparium; the current fish are all omnivores, shrimp fry in an omnivore tank will not work.  The 5g tank was taken down and really is only good for a hospitality/quarantine/grow-out tank, as such a small tank is hard to stabilize over the long haul.

I have two visual goals for two tanks I do not want to give up either.  One 4ft divided, would solve most current problems; however accounting says a 4ft is out of current budget range.  It seems a third 10g or larger is needed.   Another option might be to turn three 10g sideways and have deep views as opposed to standard shallow, wide views.  That solution would solve the aquaponic water/nutrient problem but hamper aquascape design.

The solutions will present themselves, if patience and creative thinking are permitted to run wild.  They have until the remaining parts arrive, to manifest themselves.

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