The stuff that doesn't belong anywhere else...
Consisting of Companions for Your Betta, Other Good iMacquarium Pets, Bad iMacquarium Pets, Cleaning Your iMacquarium, Troubleshooting and MORE Errata: How Do I Get This Thing Open and The Stuff That Didn't Work.
*Companions for your Betta:
Don't add more pets to your iMacquarium until the tank's biological filter has reached equilibrium. Remember that each time you add another animal to your tank, it will take time for your biological filter to grow to compensate. [TIP-02]
What kind of creature can thrive in an iMacquarium with a Betta?
Ghost Shrimp: I keep two tiny transparent ghost shrimp in my tank with my Betta, Moof! They eat almost anything and scavenge the bottom clean, so they promote a healthy tank that's free of rotting food. They are very active swimmers and climbers and they aren't very shy unless they are molting. Occasionally they will shed a carapace which can be removed with the next water-change.
Ramshorn or Pond Snail: Snails are interesting additions to any aquarium. Like ghost shrimp, they will help keep your tank clean. Unlike the ghost shrimp, snails should be fed their own diet of flake food and the occasional leafy green vegetable or chunk of cucumber. Be careful when selecting a snail. Don't put two snails in the tank together because then you are likely to have baby snails to deal with. Don't buy an Apple or Mystery snail because those snails can grow to the size of a baseball.
African Dwarf Frog: These are aquatic frogs, but they are still air-breathers. They will swim up to the top of the tank for a gulp of air once in awhile. Dwarf frogs are a moderately-challenging pet to keep. Although they prefer to live in a community, a single African Dwarf frog can be a good companion for a Betta. Aquatic frogs prefer live food, but they'll eat frozen bloodworms and blackworms. Sometimes they will eat freeze dried bloodworms, which your Betta may also enjoy.
*Other Good iMacquarium Pets:
There are precious few animals that can be happy in a tank that small, but here are a few that can get along.
Zebra Fish: a.k.a. Zebra Danios. They thrive in schools, which would ordinarily make them less than ideal for a small tank, but they are tiny creatures and they are hardy enough to survive a wide gamut of environments so they are actually near perfect pets. You can find a wide variety of fancy zebras with large tails or long-fins and there is even a bio-engineered fluorescent kind. Three of them with a snail and a few plastic plants would make an interesting group for your iMacquarium. They favor water with a little current, so airstones or bubblewands will make them more comfortable.
Minnows: There are many of breeds of minnow. [TIP-03] Some of the more common kinds are Barbs and White Clouds. Minnows generally prefer a cool tank. White Clouds can be very shy. Barbs can sometimes be aggressive amongst themselves and are likely to nip other fish, but if kept in odd numbered schools their aggression is moderated. Some barbs are dime-sized and some may be six-inches or larger. Some minnows remain small their whole lives, but others do not so be careful to check the adult size of a particular breed of minnow before you buy it. The tinier the adult fish, the more you can put in the tank and the prettier a school they will make. Like the zebra fish, a little current will make them more comfortable. Three minnows with a snail will populate an iMacquarium nicely.
Freshwater Crabs: Sometimes known as Red Claw crabs -- but NOT Fiddler crabs -- these fellows are for the slightly more advanced aquarist. Fiddler crabs are often confused with Red Claws, but they are very challenging pets and require advanced care. Red Claws prefer a saltier environment than most freshwater aquariums provide. Red Claws enjoy getting out of the water periodically, so provide a decoration that protrudes above the water line (but not too high or they'll climb out). You should use a filter if you keep a crab, but take care how you secure air tubing because they will use it to climb out if they can. They are territorial, so having more than one crab in your tank may become a problem. They may also attack a fish with attractive fins. Red Claws are scavengers who will eat almost anything, but there are specialty foods available for them.
*Bad iMacquarium Pets:
Some fish are just too high-maintenance...
Goldfish: Goldfish are among the worst pets you can have in a small aquarium. They are designed for cold water ponds and can grow very large very fast. At room temperatures, their metabolism increases and they quickly poison their environment with excrement. It takes a very good filtration system and a large tank to keep a goldfish properly indoors.
Tetras: These are a borderline-good fish for an iMacquarium. I like tetras, but they seldom thrive in schools of fewer than 6. That's too many fish for a tiny tank like this. You may be able to get away with a healthy school if you have a good filter and change the water frequently. Tetras usually require a slightly acidic water (which is inhospitable to snails, shrimp and crabs), but that differs by breed.
Guppies: These little guys are schooling fish, but put them together in a mixed school and very soon you'll have a lot of baby guppies. They are also a borderline-good fish for an iMacquarium because they can be kept in a small tank if there is very good filtration (they urinate a lot) and when care is taken to keep a single-gender tank.
Plecos and other catfish: When the clerk at the pet store saw me buying ghost shrimp to scavenge the bottom of my iMacquarium, she unhesitatingly recommended that I pick up small Plecostomus catfish instead. The clerk was ignorantly repeating a pet store mantra designed to sell catfish. Plecos can easily grow to be 14-inches long in an aquarium and some can reach 30-inches. Even tiny breeds such as Cory Cats and Otos require water conditions that are not sustainable in an iMacquarium (and Otos will die quickly if the water isn't just right). There is no catfish that can live comfortably in an aquarium this small.
Loaches: Some of the most entertaining fish for a large aquarium, Clown loaches and Weather loaches are active and intelligent scavengers. The problem is that they easily grow to be 10-inches long in captivity and survive best in groups. There are small loaches called Coolie or Kuhli loaches that are sometimes sold for smaller aquariums, but they shouldn't be kept in less than a 10-gallon aquarium.
Glassfish: Ordinarily, I would recommend these tiny fish for a small aquarium. They enjoy a room-temperature tank with slightly brackish water and they are fascinating to look at because their bodies are almost completely transparent. A small school of 3-5 glassfish would make a very entertaining iMacquarium. The problem is that it can be very hard to find glassfish that aren't "painted" to add color to them. Most pet stores sell the painted kind, which have been injected with dye or had their natural slime-coating chemically burnt away in order to force the dye through their skin. It's inhumane and such glassfish seldom live very long.
*Cleaning Your iMacquarium:
One of the most important accessories for your iMacquarium is a siphon. I prefer a siphon with a hard gravel-cleaning attachment from the pet store, but you can use a length of wide tubing instead. You should perform a major cleaning, replacing about 50% of the water in the tank at least once each month in addition to weekly small water changes. Prepare a pitcher with good water in advance and place an empty bucket below the iMacquarium for the wastewater. Put your iMacquarium into "service mode" with the front bezel removed and the front frame angled forward to expose the top of the tank. To get the siphon working, you drop one end into the tank, apply suction to the free end and drop the free end in the bucket.
Some people start the siphon by sucking at the end with their mouths while others find that a little gross. I insert a disposable straw in the end of my siphon-tube and suck on that instead of putting my mouth on the end. Some pet stores sell a "siphon starter" which is just a little bulb that you can squeeze and release to suck up some water. You can also use a children's ear bulb syringe which they sell at drug stores.
Once you get the siphon going, poke it into the gravel and try to expose and suck up any debris that you find. Don't fling it around or you will end up stirring sediment into the water instead of removing it. When you're done, lift the siphon out of the tank to stop the flow.
If the tank has spots of algae clinging to the sides, you can clean them off with a non-abrasive scrubbing pad designed specifically for acrylic. Don't rub too hard and don't use a scrubber designed for glass or you will scratch the tank.
|Sometimes a crusty deposit will form in gaps in the case. This is usually a mineral deposit from evaporating water. It's not likely to be a problem, but if it annoys you it can be scraped off with a fingernail or with a soft acrylic scrubber.|
Do you see spots or fuzzy growths on the sides of your critters? There are four common kinds of fish diseases and treatments that I will describe briefly, but the list is far from complete. I strongly advise you to do some research on the 'net and with an advisor at your pet store before diagnosing or treating your fish.
Ich, White Spot: Characterized by white spots or cysts resembling grains of salt popping up on your fish's skin. The fish may try to scrape off the growths on rocks, plants and decorations. The parasites are protected while living in the cysts, but are vulnerable when they reproduce. Treatment with Methylene Blue or Malachite Green takes at least three days as it must continue throughout the life cycle of the parasite in order to kill them all.
Velvet, Oodinium: Another parasite. This one looks like gold dust rather than salt crystals. It works much the same way as ich, but since it derives some energy from photosynthesis, darkening your tank for a few days may weaken it to make drug-treatment more effective. Use a drug containing Copper Sulfate.
Cotton, Fungus: Shows up as a puffy white or slimy gray coating on the fish. Fungus is always present in the tank, but may take advantage of a weakened or injured fish. Fungus is retarded by copper-based antibiotics which will often kill snails, shrimp and crabs. If your fish has roommates that are unaffected by the fungus, it may be better to isolate the sick fish in a "hospital tank" for treatment rather than treating your whole tank.
Cotton Mouth, Ragged Fins and Tail, Dropsy: These are all bacterial infections. Cotton mouth resembles a fungus infection, except that it only appears at the mouth. It can be fatal very quickly, so prompt treatment is essential. Ragged fins could simply be a sign of fin-nipping by an aggressive animal, but that seldom affects all of the fins on a single fish. Bacterial infections often strike the ends of all of a fish's fins simultaneously. Dropsy is an internal bacterial infection that causes severe swelling -- sometimes to the point where the fish's eyes will bulge. Use a broad spectrum antibiotic at the recommended dosage and duration. Some people advise following an antibiotic treatment with a second course using a different antibiotic in case the bacteria were resistant to the first antibiotic. [TIP-04]
As a general rule, darken your tank and remove any carbon filter while treating for disease. You may also choose to add an extra half-teaspoon of aquarium salt to the water during treatment as it eases a fish's stress.
The Top of the iMac's case fits snugly into the front bezel, sliding into place on hooks that can make it very difficult to crack open the case for water-changes and other maintenance. This is how to quickly open the case.
|With one hand, ease your fingers into the crack between the base and the top. With the other hand, gently pull at the edge of the front bezel to dislodge the lowest pins that hold it in place. From there, you should be able to run your fingers around the edges of the front bezel to remove it. With the front bezel removed, the top simply slides up off of the base and back away from the front-frame.|
...and the heavens rumble with our Lord's keen displeasure.
I really don't like aquarium airpumps. They are loud and everything in contact with them squeaks and hums with sympathetic vibrations. My favorite alternative is the Eclipse biowheel system, which I find to be whisper quiet and much more effective than an ordinary charcoal filter. I wanted to find a way to mount a biowheel filter on an iMacquarium, so I took the filter from an Eclipse Explorer tank and experimented with different ways of mounting it.
|Mounting the biowheel inside would look silly and displace nearly 6-inches of water. Instead, I tried mounting it on the back.||This would involve making a support framework and custom spout, cementing it to the back, drilling two holes and running flexible tubing.|
Ultimately, I ditched the biowheel because I wasn't sure that I could mount it securely and because I was concerned about water splashing too far back in the case where it could mess with the electronics for the Monster mod. I still like the idea and I may bring it back if I can work out the kinks for future iMacquariums.
|I modeled a removable stand to sit beneath the tank. A template for it is in the cutting guide. The rear foot of the stand should be attached about 3/4-inch from the back where it jams against two tiny bulges in the bottom of the case. The top-part jams up against the front frame. I don't recommend using the stand because it will impair access to the tank in what I call "service mode" and it tends to slip backwards.||The green arrows denote the structures that I spanned to make the support that I actually used. There are two sloping platforms in the case which flatten out as they approach the front. I cut scrap acrylic to make a bar across the platforms and then cemented 3 smaller pieces of acrylic in the center of the bar to elevate the front of the tank and level it.|
|Here, you can see the way that the tank is elevated in the final version. I didn't take pains to make it look good because it's not visible when the iMacquarium is set up. |