Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fish and Misfortunes

300 FISH ARRIVE WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, at 9 am. We wondered how it would happen - this is how it happened. The post lady called and said she had a box of tropical fish and would we like to pick them up? If not, she would deliver them later in the day. So we immediately drove to the Post Office and brought our babies home. They were in a 14 x 12 x 10 ish box with colorful fishes painted all over it. Inside was a styrofoam ice chest. Inside that, was a thick plastic bag. Inside that, another thick plastic bag with about an inch of water in it, and 300 tiny fish, about 3/4 inch long.

And this is the story of the first days of the lives of our baby fish. 

The farmer sets the bag of fish in a big tank of water and checks pH and temperature of the fish water for compatability with the tank water. Thirty minutes later, the babies are swimming in their new home - a nylon mesh laundry hamper set in the big tank - happy as, well, baby fish! :)

The next day family from out of town arrive and niece Tessa gives the fish their first feeding. Such lucky little fishes there never were. UNTIL...

A thunderstorm settles over them for most of the night. The power goes out. Then it comes on again. But the timers are now out of sync, and too much water dumps into the tank where our fishies are hanging from the top bar in their laundry-basket home, safe from the big world of the tank. The water rises higher than the laundry basket and some very brave and foolish fish venture forth into the big tank, some of them never to be seen again, lost in the maze of pipes with holes big enough for tiny fish to enter. Others are recaptured by the  farmer when he comes to see them in the morning. .

So an unknown number of baby fishes are now swimming in the laundry basket. AND THEN, the farmer and his wife and guests go to Creationfest till very late into the night. When they return, the farmer goes to tuck in his new baby fishes and discovers their laundry basket home hanging in the air, their little bodies flapping in a shallow skim of water on the bottom. Acting quickly, the farmer cuts them loose, lowering their home down into the few inches of water at the bottom of the tank. He cuts the power to all the pumps. He puts two air stones in with the fish, then searches for the answer to his question, "WHERE HAS ALL THE WATER GONE?" He has only a flashlight on his forehead to search the greenhouse for the problem. There appears to be nothing wrong. 

So he goes home to wait until daylight, but he tells his sleeping wife, "our water is all gone," and she sleeps no longer! All that precious, nitrate filled water! Next morning, the farmer finds a mysterious creature in his sump pump, which is the pump that returns water to the fish tanks after being pumped through the grow beds. The creature prevented the pump from working effectively, and eventually the sumps received more water than they could return, and overflowed.  Here is a photo of the creature:

And what did the farmer and his wife learn from all of this? There will now be an alarm system to shut all systems off when water reaches predetermined levels. The sump tanks need covers to keep creatures out. The timers need to be adjusted to prevent further problems. The pump for the heat exchanger was damaged, so the water is only 65 degrees - still a problem. The farmer can't go on vacation this summer. But the farmer is also very fortunate. The fish were found in time to save their lives, and the fish are so tiny, they don't need much water. Also, it rained again, just in time to refill our tanks with rainwater!
The farmer has to climb into the tank to secure the drain from small fishes.
 Our guests, however, were not so lucky. They were robbed twice while they were visiting us - once the thief reached into their car with my nephew sitting in it, and took my sister's purse!! Freakily bold! We are going to catch that thief through ATM cameras!!

The plants are all fine, by the way!