i got a ride from my father and went to the newly-opened petsmart at the fresh pond mall. it was a fact-finding mission, i wasn't down there to actually buy anything since i could always get a better deal online. they were very well-stocked with fish, although i did see some dead ones floating in the tanks. i would've bought some plants but they only had a few variety. they had more live plants in those fancy suspended-animation tubes that don't require water (i may get some in the near future).

my father gave me the guts of an old illuminated sign when i returned home. inside was a T5 fluorescent housing. i rewired it haphazardly with some duct tape so i could plug it in. there are actually two bulbs, one longer than the other, with the shorter tube burnt out and with an orange flicker at best.

my original plan was to retrofit everything into a custom-built aquarium hood, but the most usable tube was 20" long, slightly extending the width of my 10 gallon fish tank. looks like i'm going to have to wire my own lights using standard screw-type compact fluorescent bulbs and fashion my own hood out of wood. all this to increase the light production in my fish tanks so i can better grow my aquatic plants.

another partial water change today in the male guppies tank. i threw in a handful of empty seashells hoping to increase the hardiness of the water and thereby raising the pH level as well. i also did a water change in the minibow, skimming the oil off of the surface (it happens whenever i do any sort of cooking in the kitchen).

i ordered about $50 worth of aquarium supplies from doctor foster & smith tonight, one of them being some new lights. the fluorescent light on my minibow went bad a few days ago with intermittent flickering. deducing that the problem had nothing to do with the starter, i figured it was the bulb, which displayed characteristic dark bruising on one end of the tube. i ordered an flora-glo (blue shift) for the male tank and an aqua-glo (red shift) for the female tank. the female tank currently uses an aqua-glo and the plants seem to be doing okay. i wouldn't say they're thriving, but they seem to be stable and far better than the male tank.

as for the minibow, it's currently temporarily using the all-glass fluorescent light, which i now realize is virtually useless for growing plants (with light spectrum in the yellow range). i ordered a GE aqua rays fresh/saltwater light for this tank, which is what it had before. i would've liked to have tried something different, but the light seems to work, at least for the java ferns, which are doing surprisingly well, even managed to sprout a few new leaves. every once in a while i tank the ferns out of the tank (attached to their driftwood substrate) and wash the leaves, rubbing the dark algae off between my fingers. ever since i gave it a piece of driftwood to grow on, it's done so much better (it used to just grow loose in the gravel). the few buds that've sprouted i've removed and transplanted on the larger driftwood piece. i need to get more plants like the java fern, low maintenance and doesn't require too much light.