Fish Friday #2 The Dechlorinator Apocalypse

I have a small desk top aquarium that is tall and quite attractive. I’ve been running it for about two months and got it to the point where I wouldn’t mind trying to keep some animals in it that weren’t snails (all the previous inhabitants already died off). There was still an algae problem, but that was starting to resolve itself.

And then the apocalypse. My granddaughter dumped in my entire bottle of dechlorinator into the aquarium when I wasn’t in the room. When I finally got back to my room, I could smell something was wrong. The room smelled of garlic, celery, ginger and feet all rolled into one and the bubble-filter was spitting out foam. The color of the tank looked fine, so I thought this might be a result of the tank recycling after crashing two weeks earlier.


The next day, I went to do a water change and when I went to add some dechlorinator to the jug of tap water, I found the bottle was completely empty. I immediately knew what happened. I asked my granddaughter what was going on and she said she was helping me. She’s four, so there was no way I could get angry with her. I knew I kept the dechlorinator up high, but she’s added a new skill: using chairs to get out of reach items.

I talked to her and explained dechlorinator is pretty dangerous and that maybe the snail would die (didn’t happen, unfortunately). She promised not to do it again. Yeah.

I did a big water change, but the following day, the room smelled worse and the bubble-filter was spitting out even more foam than before. I knew the dechlorinator had triggered a die off someplace and that a big ammonia spike was under way. That means I have to do a few things:

  1. Put the Hang on Back (HOB) filter back on the tiny desk top aquarium;
  2. Put a chunk of ammonia reducing filter sponge (Acurel Ammonia Reducing Pad) in the HOB (quick acting, only good in emergencies);
  3. Do another big water change;
  4. Buy more dechlorinator (I like Prime).

I ran the HOB for two days and eventually everything cleared out, including the algae which is a problem since the snails eggs have hatched and there are a hundred or so of them in the tiny aquarium with nothing to eat. So, the tank looks great, but the snails are about to starve.

Maybe, I’ll throw in a leaf of spinach.


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