Thanks to Kevin from Connecticut for recommending http://www.aquariumadvice.com/ as a good resource for aquarists starting out. It’s where he began to learn about about fishless cycling.
Cliff wanted more info on starting a nano-reef, and found http://www.nano-reef.com/ as one resource.
Here are Brian’s recommendations for two books to Cliff, who is about to embark on a nano-reef adventure:
“I recommend “The Conscientious Marine Aquarist” by Bob Fenner, http://amzn.to/olXMHA. This is regarded as the “Bible” of marine fishing and should be read by anyone thinking of keeping a marine tank. I also recommend “A PocketExpert Guide to Marine Fishes”, http://amzn.to/qpyLam. I know of quite a few marine fish keepers that won’t walk into a store without a copy in their hands. It’s a great guide for knowing which fish can be kept in a nano tank, and which shouldn’t be kept together at all.”
Here is Brian’s excellent explanation on Acids, Bases, pH burns, and how to understand how fish feel when ammonia is in their water:
“Acids have a high concentration of available hydrogen atoms to be “donated” and bases have a strong ability to “accept” hydrogen atoms. In most chemical reactions one solution is the “acceptor”, or the base and the other is the “donator”, or the acid. This is where the pH scale becomes a very handy reference tool. (pOH is the anti pH scale. Same information but displayed from the opposite reference). Acidity and alkalinity in a solution are then relative to which solution is the stronger donator, etc.
When an acid contacts our skin, which is fairly neutral and therefore more basic then the acid, an acid donates a hydrogen atom to the molecules that make up skin cells. Hydrogen bonds are strong, stable bonds and are readily accepted by most other molecules and atoms. Unfortunately, to accept the new hydrogen bond a bond with another skin molecule will be broken. Do this enough times and skin, gills, whatever begins to fall apart.
Bases work in the opposite manner. Rather than donating hydrogen atoms a base takes them away, and skin is more acidic than most bases. The result is the same: bonds are broken and things fall apart.
Thankfully! We are well buffered and our skin is very resistant to most acids and bases, within reason… (there is one acid, Glacial Acitic acid, I think, that passes straight through skin and directly attacks the underlying tissue).
You can easily and fairly safely experience what a fish experiences when ammonia concentrations get too high. Open a bottle of ammonia and gently wave your hand over the top to waft some of the fumes towards your nose (Don’t inhale directly! nasal passages have very thin tissue). When fish are in ammonia rich conditions we say they are stressed. When I am around ammonia my nose says it’s very stressed as well. This is because the ammonia is breaking down sensitive tissues.”
Thanks to Kevin, Brian and Cliff!