Mike's Fish Manual


50 Gallon Tank (Kitchen)

     The fish need to be fed daily or at least every other day. I recommend feeding them 1-2 times a day. Three times is too much and throws off the water chemistry in the small tank. I also don't think having them growing too big in the tank is necessarily a good idea. At some point they will reach a maximum size and then feeding them too much will wreak havoc on the water quality. I think feeding them 2x a day in the winter will be good because they will need the energy to keep themselves warm if the tank slips in temperature. A feeding session should be done at small intervals to avoid overfeeding. Put in some flakes, wait until they eat most of them, and then put in some more. Do this process until they lose interest in the food.

      The lights to the fish tank can be turned on right when people wake up and before people go to sleep. This is pretty important as they need to have a "natural" light and dark cycle.

      Water chemistry should be done on Mondays, Wednesday s, and Friday s, and either one or both days of the weekends. Test the water chemistry both days of the weekend if on Friday the water chemistry looks like it's getting out of whack. Ammonia is the most toxic to the fish, NitrIte is equally as toxic, and NitrAte is the best as plants will take this up. The best case is that ammonia and nitrite is at 0 ‒ 0.25 ppm. If it's sustained at 0.25 ppm for a couple days or jumps up to 0.5 ppm then a water exchange needs to be done. Nitrate can get up pretty high and the fish will be alright, if it is getting really high a water exchange can be done or adding more plants to the system (although the fish tend to eat the plants). Start by washing the vials off 3 times in the tank water. Fill the vial to the white line with water and follow the directions on the card. When you're done you can pour the samples down the sink. Finish by washing them off 3 times with tap water (don't forget the caps too). I have set up a spreadsheet on the kitchen computer that is pretty self explanatory, but needs to be continued. It is located on the desktop. It has a sheet for the 50 gallon and the 300 gallon tank.

      Water exchanges should be done when the water quality conditions get to high levels stated above. Do a 25% water exchange, which ends up filling 2 of the 3 gallon buckets and a 5 gallon bucket. These buckets are located right next to the fish tank. The siphon is located in the right cabinet door on the bottom shelf. To start a siphon suck on the end of the tube then place it in the bucket before it gets to your mouth.


      The air might cause it to crack and break. When doing the water exchange you can disturb the substrate to clean up all the fish waste. Suck up some of the gravel into the tube then let it fall out, and it will because it is heavier than the fish waste.


      There are beneficial bacteria in the substrate. Cleaning the tank too well will throw off the water chemistry because the bacteria are the ones driving the whole process from ammonia to nitrate. If the water chemistry is within the safe limits for the fish than only do a water exchange once a month and never do more than 25%. Refill the tank by filling the buckets with tap water at about the same temperature as the tank; you can use your hand to match the temperature in the tank to the bucket. Remember to plug in the water heater when you're done. Also note this in the spreadsheet with the time you do it.

      The filters should be cleaned once a month alternating between sides. One month clean out one side, then the next month clean the other side. This lets the bacteria recover from the washing and will keep the tank stable. In cleaning the filters take them off the black holder and just rub them between your hands. They might start to rip soon as they are getting sort of old. If this happens then move the carbon into a new filter bag, located on the top shelf in the right cabinet door. Clamp them back in their holder and put them back in the tank. Also note this in the spreadsheet with the time you do it.

300 Gallon Tank (Cabin)

      These fish can be fed 3x a day as these one you want to grow to harvest. Feed as listed above in the 50 gallon tank to avoid overfeeding.

      Water chemistries should be done on the same days as the 50 gallon tank. This tank should be much more stable because there is much more water. The same parameters apply to this tank as the 50 gallon tank with safe levels of ammonia and nitrite.

      Water exchanges should be done in the same fashion as the 50 gallon tank. In this tank you won't need to turn off the water heaters because you should never get the water level to expose them to the air. Again, only do 25% water exchanges when necessary. This tank shouldn't need to have it done once a month regardless of the water chemistry like the 50 gallon tank.

      The filters are below the tank in the sump tanks. There are filter mats where the tubes drain the water from the tank to the sump. These should be rinsed about every month. It doesn't matter if you clean them both at once as the bacteria are collected within the bioballs and the substrate.

General things to look for

      Indicators that the fish aren't doing well are a sustained blanching or darkening of colors. The water clarity can also be an indicator that they are being overfed or the tank needs to be cleaned. The water chemistry tests will verify suspicions. If a fish dies, which shouldn't happen, take it out immediately. When you have some free time right after I leave, watch the fish and become familiar with their behaviors. If they change behaviors then something is most likely wrong. Becoming familiar with their range of colors will also give you a baseline to go off of. On the spreadsheet there is a notes section. This can be anything you observe. Definitely write down when you change anything in feeding or doing something different with the tank. You will be able to see the change in the numbers and know what might be causing the changes. Also note if you move fish between tanks. This will become more important as you have more fish and more tanks. It's good getting into good habits now. Basically just write down everything; who knows what will correlate or cause changes.

      To harvest the fish you can catch them with the net and put them on ice until they die. To fillet them, take the filet knife that Walt has and cut behind the pectoral fins angled slightly towards the head until you hit the spine. When you hit the spine turn the knife and follow the spine all the way down to the tail.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71