I tried to kill myself yesterday.
For the last several days, the aquarium has been looking a bit cloudy. When I first noticed it, I peered into the sump, that 30-gallon tank housed in the aquarium stand that serves as a filtration unit for the entire system. The water in it was bubbling along, and looked clear. How odd, I thought, and promptly forgot about it.
Two days later, yesterday, I noticed that the cloudiness had not gone away. If anything, it appeared to be getting worse. So I looked into the sump again. In the water, nestled against the pipe that brings water back in from the tank, was one of the under-cabinet stick on fluorescent foot-long lights. Ack!
After my momentary panic, I remembered that those two lights were battery-operated and not electric. No power cord was attached. The lights are those slim fluorescent tube ones, with double-stick tape Velcro attachments. The idea is to stick the Velcro under the cabinet, and then you can easily take the light down to replace the batteries. All eight of them. Each.
I opened the other side of the stand to check on the other light. It was also in the sump, next to the outflow pipe, the one that shuttles water back into the aquarium.
Certainly those lights weren't good for the tank and were probably the cause of the cloudy water. I hesitated to pull them out, unsure if the whole water-electric-cord thing applied to battery fixtures.
I called Harry. He told me it would be okay to pull them out, since they weren't plugged in. I told him if I suddenly stopped talking, he should call an ambulance, and thought how we'd make a lovely "dropped call" cell phone commercial.
When I picked the first light out of the sump, it retaliated by dumping out a bunch of really black water. I tried to stop some of it from going back into the sump water by cupping my hand under the flow and rushing to the kitchen sink. All that black water didn't look healthy in my hand, either, so I hurried to clean it off. Then I went back to get the other light, which did the same thing.
I don't remember saying goodbye or when I hung up the phone with Harry.
I checked the tank and the water was really cloudy. All that black water wasn't a good addition. My hand ached, likely a psychological result of having all that icky water in it. I went into the bedroom and did something. (I can't remember what.)
When I came out again, the living room reeked of rotten eggs. Where did that come from? The only change was the lights were out of the sump and in the kitchen sink. Contrary to popular belief, the dog does not smell that bad. The lights, it had to be the lights. I scurried to remove them from the sink and put them outside. Then I opened all the house windows and the back door into the garage (and the door from the garage to the backyard, which let in a decent breeze).
The air in the house cleared and the aquarium water began to clear, too. I called my aquarium guy who told me to put carbon bags into the sump so I called Harry back and had him stop by the pet shop to get some.
Today, the water is much clearer, though we might lose some coral. All the fish are looking fine. Even I survived, though I'm not sure I deserved to. Who knew salt water and batteries made hydrogen sulfide gas? Good thing it smells badly.
Perhaps I should have paid better attention in chemistry class.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Hakala