Day 38 (warning, this one's a little bit longer than usual...)
As I stated yesterday, today I'll be discussing the consequences of not having a functioning air conditioner during a heatwave that I suffered personally, as well as why I refuse to risk buying any products sold by the pet company, Penn-Plax.
In July of 2016 (just two months before I joined Minds, in fact), we experienced a tremendous heatwave in the area that lasted for days. This was my first summer since I had moved in and the windows in the room are too small for a window unit (later had to buy a portable unit to keep them cool). The horrible temperature conditions would have been dangerous enough on their own but I had also made the mistake of replacing my Zoo Med Nano 511, which was a decent enough budget filter for the time, that was meant for 60 gallon tanks - which translates to 30 gallons for African Clawed Frog tanks.
The filter that replaced it was a model manufactured by Penn-Plax. Everything went well for the roughly two months previously, however, at some point during the heatwave, the filter stopped working. Now I've had filters stop working before but never in this manner. Usually, when a filter stops working, the water flow stops, since there's only one moving part on a filter to stop functioning - the impeller, which is responsible for bringing water into the unit. Due to the design of this filter, however, there was actually a gap at the top. Once the impeller had burnt-out but not completely ceased functioning, the water flow didn't stop, instead the water just flowed through the gap at the top before reentering the tank - unfiltered. Of course, the only thing worse than Penn-Plax's products are their customer service, which is the part that truly infuriated me...
Thomas (top) and Black Eyes (bottom)
An unfiltered tank plus the massive heatwave lead to a full tank crash, the ammonia spiked, the nitrite spiked, the PH and hardness crashed - everything was a mess. If you should ever find yourself at this point, the best course of action is an immediate water change while slowly trying to bring the PH and hardness back up (the key is to do it slowly enough to not shock the frogs while doing it quickly enough to allow them to start to recover). After the water change, an emergency 5 times dosage of Seachem Prime will help bind the ammonia and nitrite for the next day's water change. Remember, you can't realistically overdose on Prime, it'll just give the water an unpleasant odor if you put a large amount in.
The combination of this resulted in all of my frogs being affected with my two oldest, Thomas and his brother Jesus - both 13 years old at the time (yes there's a story behind those names but that's for another time), suffering the worst of it. Jesus was found one morning after rigor mortis had already set in and Thomas was severely burned by ammonia along his abdomen, above his eye, and on his leg. Due to the severity I honestly considered euthanasia, though he thankfully healed but the effects on his long term health were disastrous and he required special attention for his last two years, particularly during the last year of his life. Among the others, Tiny would end up developing soft bloat and Black Eyes would pass away roughly two months later, he never fully recovered either.
To date, this remains the worst incident I've had to deal with in 16 years of keeping African Clawed Frogs. The only other death I've had was the first frog I received who was used to teach a 5th grade course on life cycles, poor frog died within two days of the leaving the school and was likely already suffering from a bacterial infection by the time it came home with me. It was after that that I acquired Thomas and Jesus from the same wholesaler I'll be sending these tadpoles to.
After initial incident, I attempted to contact Penn Plax through both email and via their customer service line and had no success. As I stated at the time:
"Utterly abysmal customer service, gave up on trying to contact them after two weeks, went to the Petco it was originally from and replaced it with a Fluval. Penn-Plax's "customer service" consists of an email they don't respond to and a phone line that doesn't answer calls -it goes straight to a voicemail that says to call between 2 and 4 pm...even if you're calling between 2 and 4 pm." That's right, Petco are the good guys in this story (without ordering through them, I would have never received a replacement filter)! I even pinged Penn-Plax's social media as a last resort and received no response.
I ended up having to reuse the old, uncycled filter for a week or so until I received the Fluval 206 that preceded my current Fluval 406 (only issue with the 406 is that the impeller cover wears down and should be replaced yearly or else you get a terrible grinding/clicking sound, a design flaw to be sure but one I, and more importantly my frogs, can live with.)