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For this week's double hidden video, I needed
to confide in my most nature-loving AC Family. Though this week's episode ended on a high
note, I'm afraid, guys, what's coming up is not good. I'll explain everything next week! I actually don't know if things will be ok,
but I'll do my best to find solutions to our problems. Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel, and hit the
bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Enjoy! Something terrible has happened. Some major events have taken place since last
week, within the Selva de Fuego, our newly constructed South American biotope paludarium,
home to our Fire Ants, named the Fire Nation, as well as to a variety of aquatic creatures
living in this river. AC Family, I hate to announce, that life within
our river is dying. Let me explain how it got to this point! Let's rewind to last week's episode, where
we left off, pleasantly surprised to discover Romeo and Juliet, our beloved pair of golden
Ram cichlids, were spawning. This event, filled me with immense hope for
life in our river, because this species generally will not breed unless water conditions are
optimal.

And to think, the fish had only been living
in the Selva de Fuego's river for a few days. We were about to witness the miracle of life
take place before our very eyes, and what I was particularly looking forward to was
watching Romeo and Juliet raise their fry, i.e. the technical term for fish babies, together
as first time mom and dad. AC Family, I was excited to show you guys,
a super cool behaviour called "mouth-brooding", unique to cichlids, where the parents suck
the fry into their mouths to transport and/or protect the babies. But just when we thought Mother Nature was
about to show us something beautiful, she took us down a very different and grim road,
and things didn't turn out as expected.

In fact, things took a turn for the worst. The morning after, I came to this. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 guppies. Where were the other two guppies? Looking around I was shocked and horrified
to discover one guppy in the process of dying, and another struggling to take its final swim. When they officially died, I pulled them out
of the water to place their lifeless bodies on to Fire Nation territory for the ants to
consume and process into nourishment for Selva de Fuego soils. The Guppy Gang was now down to just 8, but
that's not it. Joining our death count was one of our four
Corydoras catfish, also now returning to the Earth by way of the Fire Nation. But AC Family, here was the saddest part. I looked to the site of Romeo and Juliet's
spawning from the night before. A tonne of little tiny cichlid eggs lay embedded
on the spawning rock, and hovering over it was Juliet, but no Romeo. AC Family, Romeo had also perished over night,
seen floating on the water's surface.

I handed his body over to be transitioned
to the soil by the Fire Nation. Juliet seemed distressed swimming around looking
for Romeo, who was nowhere to be found. I could only imagine what she could be thinking
right now, wondering in desperation where the father of their upcoming fry could have
possibly disappeared to. The sight was immensely heart-breaking and
difficult to watch. AC Family, I'm so sorry. I have no idea what happened. What could have possibly caused these fish
to die, when just the night before it seemed the water was perfect? How did this lead to the river eventually
looking like this? Well, let me explain what happened next. First thing's first, I needed to transport
Juliet and her eggs to a separate aquarium so they could be safe from the guppy gang,
who might attempt to eat the eggs and the chichlid fry if they do successfully hatch,
and also safe from whatever might be killing the fish in the river.

I carefully picked up the spawning rock placed
it into a container, and moved it towards Juliet. Her instinctive parental drive to protect
her eggs superceded her natural fear and she moved into the container, which I then proceeded
to cover for safe transport to a separate cycled tank of mine. In the new tank, she unwaveringly stood by
her eggs, never leaving them, not even once.

Looking at Juliet now, I could see she was
totally saddened, confused, and visibly nervous without Romeo around to be with her through
this stage of her very first parenthood. And now to get to the bottom of what was killing
the fish in our river. There were a few possibilities I could think
of. The first, ammonia spike. You may recall from a previous video that
in order for a captive aquatic system to work, there needed to be teams of beneficial bacteria
in the system to covert toxic ammonia from waste produced by the fish into nitrites,
which is also toxic, and then further into nitrates which is not so toxic and can be
removed by partial water changes. The river was a couple days due for a water
change before this all happened, so perhaps it was possible that the Selva de Fuego's
filter still didn't have enough beneficial bacteria to neutralize the amount of toxic
ammonia produced by the fish, and so this ammonia spike went on to kill the four river
inhabitants over night.

This would be the first thought of any fish
keeper, though this also didn't make sense to me, because Romeo and Juliet wouldn't have
spawned the night before if the water quality wasn't good. Regardless, it was time to get some answers. We had to analyze the chemistry of our river
water to find out if our fish were being poisoned by their own waste. Using my aquarium water quality test kit,
I checked the ammonia levels. According to the chart, ammonia was somewhere
between 0 and 0.25 ppm, which was low. It seems ammonia levels were not our fish
killer.

I then proceeded to check nitrite levels. 0 ppm. Then nitrate levels. Also 0. Then pH levels… neutral. So oddly, our water quality test didn't show
anything alarming on a chemical level. But then, later that day, another guppy gang
member died. What was going on here?! If it wasn't poor water quality that was killing
the fish, what could it be? What were other possibilities for our fish
fatalities? The previous nights saw spiders in the Selva
de Fuego. Could the fish have been sustaining injuries
from spider bites? No, that is highly unlikely since orb weaver
spiders generally stay clear of water. But then, I looked to the Fire Nation, who
seemed to be throwing one of their massive water raves. I have noticed the Fire Nation would sporadically
throw huge parties, mass gatherings on the surface of the water, for no apparent reason
at all, using the aquatic frog bit to support them.

Could the Fire Nation have stung five fish
to death? Even our Corydoras catfish come up to the
surface for air periodically. I suppose this was a possibility, but also
a bit unlikely that it happened all on one night. It did also hurt to know that our beloved
Fire Nation might have been our fish killers in this River murder mystery, but I didn't
want to point our finger until we had more facts. What do you guys think? How do you believe the fish died? Let me know in this ipoll here and in the
comments section. Advice from you aquarium fish experts, would
be greatly appreciated, as well. And now, for how the river became blood red. Over the next couple of days, I mulled over
this fish murder mystery in my mind.

I also closely monitored the progress of Juliet
and her eggs in their incubation tank. In just two days each egg was showing the
appearance of a black stripe, which would soon become the tiny spines and nervous system
of the fry. What a miracle to know that these eggs were
indeed successfully fertilzed and destined to hatch. Juliet stood over them the whole time, ensuring
their proper hygiene and safety. It was assuring to see Juliet looking stronger
now and a bit more composed, as if she had accepted that Romeo was no longer going to
return, and that she was going to have to take care of the fry on her own, as a single
parent. But I didn't want to just let the deaths of
our fish go in vain.

I couldn't just do nothing and leave room
for another mass death event to happen again. The health of the river also affected the
health of our ants, because as you know water ecosystems and land ecosystems are closely
tied, and the Selva de Fuego is no exception. The Fire Nation drinks from this river. We couldn't afford to have it become a death
pool. I did notice new algae was beginning to appear
in the River, which was completely normal, and in fact a good thing for the water system
as the algae helps consume toxic nitrates produced from the fish's waste.

This gave me an idea. I needed to get more serious about the health
of our river by amping up its cleaning team! So, AC Family, my idea: First, I needed to
upgrade the river's mechanical filter. Right now, the filter was a small submersible
filter which was enough to keep a good volume of water moving through our teams of cleaning,
beneficial bacteria living within its filter media, but I felt, you know what? We're the AC Family, we could go bigger and
higher tech. And so, behold. Our bigger and higher tech machine to deal
with our river's filtering needs. This huge bad boy was a Shiruba canister filter,
which I have found great success with for my other 75 gallon established fish tank.

The river within the Selva de Fuego was only
20 gallons, so this filter would be more than enough to keep our river free of toxic ammonia
and nitrites. To prepare this new huge filter, it needed
its jumpstart colony of beneficial bacteria. I took some filter medium from the filter
of my established fish tank, which was packed with colonies of beneficial bacteria, and
transplanted it into the new filter. It was now ready to start its great work for
our Selva de Fuego river waters.

I also modified the input and output tubes
of the filter for proper installation within the Selva de Fuego. But now for the big problem: installing it. This was an external filter which meant the
only way the input and output tubes could be situated into the setup was through this
hole here. But I knew that the moment I removed all that
white blockage, fire ants would come pouring out and it did look like a lot of fire ants
were presently congregating in that area. So I needed a diversion of some sort. My solution? A couple cockroaches on sticks strategically
placed away from the area but at a distance close enough to the hole so that those hanging
out at the hole would be called to the site. If less of a Fire Nation crowd were at the
hole, it would then give me the perfect opportunity to remove the old filter and install the input
and output tubes of the new filtration system. I also prepared a modified balloon to act
as a barrier to block the entire hole so I could buy more time to properly stuff the
space with the white blockage.

In a few short minutes the time had come. The roaches had worked at drawing fire ants
away from the hole. I took a deep breath. I knew it was inevitable: I was going to be
stung in this process, but this task absolutely had to be done! So AC Family, here goes nothing… 1 – 2 – 3! I went in and removed the white blockage. With the help of a friend, I removed the old
filter's plug, then installed the new filter's input and output tubes, then proceeded to
fasten the balloon. Success! And with minimal escapees. What a relief! As expected, I got stung many times, but thankfully,
we didn't have a tonne of escaped ants which was my greatest fear. I turned the new filter on and instantly,
the new currents spewed out some of its biofilm, colonies of beneficial bacteria into our river.

The fish loved this new stream of water. This new filter offered a greater current
which spun floating raver ants around and around, but more importantly would pass a
greater volume of water through a greater team of beneficial bacteria ensuring all toxic
ammonia and nitrite levels were low. This extra powerful ammonia-nitrite neutralizer
would also come in handy if and when the Fire Nation decides to turn this river into a sewage
system and start dumping their garbage into the water, speaking of which… Wait! Now I know you may be thinking: AntsCanada
get to the point! How did the river become blood red? Don't worry, guys I'm getting to that here! Adding a more powerful filter was not enough.

There had to be more cleaning agents to help
support our filter. I needed to go the extra mile, by adding an
additional team of aquatic plants. You see, aquatic plants also absorb poisonous
ammonia and nitrites, as well as nitrates. This means that with more plants in the system,
it would take longer for the fish to be poisoned from their own feces or from the decay of
ant garbage in the water. Currently, the only plants in the Selva de
Fuego's river were the frog bit and some moss. I knew we could do better than that! So again I went to my established tank to
harvest some of the most hardy plants I've ever grown underwater, a marvelous and vivacious
plant called Sagittaria.

Here you see it completely carpeting the bottom
of my community planted fish tank. I started off with a few Saggitaria plants
in this tank, and in just 7 months it completely spread across the entire floor. This was perfect to introduce into the Selva
de Fuego because it was easy-growing and also native to South America, meaning it still
fit species-wise into our South American biotope theme of the Selva de Fuego. And so, I went in to collect them. Three days later, this is what the Selva de
Fuego river looked like. It was just gorgeous with the newly planted
Sagittaria, but you may notice a few changes to the setup. In order to properly grow these plants, we
needed some extra growing medium to sustain them, so above the gravel layer, I had to
add some soil which contains all the necessary nutrients needed for the plants to root. Also, I added some extra CO2 support, carbon
dioxide diffused into the water to help give these new plants a vitalizing boost, and the
final touch…

Upon further research, true South American
biotopes are supposed to have sandy floors, not so much pebbly floors. Also, many of you fish enthusiast AC Family
expressed concern that the pebbly floor could negatively impact our Corydoras barbells,
the little fleshy mustaches on the side so their mouths, so in light of this, I decided
to add on top of the soil layer, this layer of sand… red sand. Sand that took a couple days to settle when
I added it, and that AC Family, is the reason the river became blood red for a two whole
days. It looked scary to see the river like this,
but I saw it as a sort of passing through fire of sorts. I knew that once all of this red dust had
settled, our river would be a completely transformed biospace, and I was right. Viewing our river's metamorphosis was awe-inspiring. It was much more natural now, healthier, more
stable, and best of all, much more prepared now to deal with lethal agents like ammonia,
nitrite, or nitrate spikes. To add to the toxin-eating team of plant life,
I also added some floating duckweed to join the frogbit at the surface of the water.

Now AC Family, are you ready for this? If you thought this transformation was incredible… Check out what our river looked like, almost
two weeks later! Behold, the new river of the Selva de Fuego. The waters were crystal clear now, our fish
loving their new lush aquatic territories, and boy have our team of aquatic plants flourished
beyond belief! The Sagittaria were now properly rooted into
the soils and have begun to send out runners to start new baby Sagittaria plants. And look at that huge water floor of duckweed! They truly flourished! All those duckweed roots are absorbing harmful
ammonia and waste in the water, which was awesome! Our frogbit was also proliferating now more
than ever! This new team of plants also helped keep algae
levels low because it limited the amount of light entering the water's depths, and also
would outcompete algae for nitrates and nutrients in the water. As for Juliet and the eggs, the fish eggs
were now wiggling with eager fry about to emerge, but I was sad to discover that as
if destined to live up to her name, the day before the eggs were about to hatch, Juliet
had mysteriously passed on to join Romeo at the end of the rainbow bridge.

I have absolutely no idea, how she died, but
this sudden death told me that the Fire Nation was not our fish killer. I continued to do more research on dying Ram
cichlids and I discovered that newly acquired ram cichlids dying suddenly with no immediate
external signs of illness is actually quite common in the fish pet trade, particularly
for the exotic colour phases. I was shocked to learn that it is a common
practice for fish breeders to inject the fish with hormones to stimulate them to display
their colours much more quickly.

It was reported that this is very common with
bulk fish breeders in Asia. The injected hormones often leads to a whole
slew of health side-effects eventually leading to death. To this day, I don't know what killed my six
fish, but I tried to do my best to adjust my South American habitat world to ensure
the deaths don't happen again.

The Selva de Fuego is a bitter sweet story
of life and death. Romeo and Juliet's eggs eventually went on
to hatch into wiggling little tadpole-like babies. A few days later, they became free swimming,
feeding on microscopic, newly hatched brine shrimp. I knew they were looking for their parents,
but for now I had to play that role and give them the head start they needed, before handing
them over to a more experienced fish keeper to raise to adulthood. It was just adorable to see the fish sleeping
together in clumps, which I assumed they would have done in their parents' mouths. Let's hope these fish go on to live long and
fruitful lives in the aquariums of their future owners. They are first generation aquatic Selva de
Fuegans.

Overall, this water system will continue to
evolve and grow more and more stable. With the new plants and filter to handle the
bioload, I went ahead and added one more Corydoras catfish. In the coming days, I look forward to adding
a couple more Corydoras catfish to complete their cleaner team to six, as these fish are
naturally found in shoals of hundreds in the wild. What I absolutely love is how the Corydoras
kick up a cloud of debris as they sift through the sands for food, and it seems the Guppy
Gang have learned to follow the catfish so they could eat some of the edible bits from
the debris cloud. This debris cloud also, carries little tiny
nutrient particles to the roots of the floating plants. What an amazing species interdependence! Our Selva deFuegans truly rely on each other. I may also add some Ottocynclus catfish to
feed on the algae growing on the Sagittaria, but all in time, when I know the system is
much more stable. I also need to mention that I swapped the
assassin snail with an apple snail, because I learned later that assassin snails were
native to Southeast Asia not South America.

Minor change. I was also delighted to learn that the Guppy
Gang were not pandas like I was told they were. They were actually called fire dragon mosaiics. How cool is that? An even better and more fitting name for the
Selva de Fuego! I loved watching the Guppy Gang for hours,
as they wandered the thick Sagittarian forest, in search of food. I suddenly caught sight of the Fire Nation
forming trails on the floor of duckweed. How cool! It seems the Fire Nation were appreciating
the new walking area, even if it was kind of a wet one. You would think this new wet floor would lead
to more ant water raves, but surprisingly quite the opposite. There were no more huge gatherings of ants
on the water. Perhaps the ants just needed a safer bridge
for traveling on top of the water and prior to this duckweed floor, they needed to use
their bodies? Who knows? As for my old tank, it seems after removing
a large portion of the Sagittaria carpet and swapping out some filter media, literally
out of nowhere, my Amazon sword plants must have loved the new abundance of plant resources,
and decided to flower! Wow! Even my Anubias found the opportunity to send
out a flower bud! This entire experience taught me an important
life lesson, as an ant keeper, as a fish keeper, as a caregiver of life.

As much as I put a lot of time, thought, and
work into recreating nature, as was the goal with this Selva de Fuego, I realized you can't
recreate the wild and only take the beautiful. You must also be willing to take the ugly,
because both are inseparable in nature. When recreating the natural world, we must
be prepared to accept all its rules, and this includes its rules of death.

I don't view the death of pets as a good thing
per se, but whether it be ant keeping, fish keeping, or any animal keeping for that matter,
the death of a pet can help teach us how to better care for future pets. The death of our fish, pushed me to improve
the health of the Selva de Fuego and the quality of life for all its inhabitants. Had I not made those changes perhaps we would
have one day suddenly lost all fish, and God forbid the Fire Nation through water poisoning. The death of Romeo and Juliet, though tragic,
helped me learn about the common practice of hormone-injection, so now I as well as
all of you AC Family watching now know to only buy from reputable fish breeders. There are positive sides to death, even though
we humans may not be able to appreciate the whole picture enough to see it, but nature
can show us through death that her rules are non-negotiable, what we may be doing wrong,
and why we must work within her parameters, lest we see our plans for the future falter.

People often are surprised at how much I know
about ants, and to be truthful, a lot of my knowledge came from simple trial and error,
experimentation, which even involved losing ants along the way at times. The lives of these ants who passed on were
not in vain, though. It helped me learn to be a better ant keeper. Now, all this biological engineering of vivariums
over the past few months has been quite the undertaking, wouldn't you say, AC Family? From water beasts to sky beasts, and having
to manage all these different variables, though ambitious, it has all been an exhausting venture. So AC Family, I felt it was time to revert
back for a bit to some classic ant keeping, just ants and a setup. And it just so happens, that one of my most
cherished ant colonies has been due for a very long time now for a new ant farm upgrade. It's been awhile since we heard about the
Dark Knights, my black crazy ants currently living in their two story ant setup, but that
ends now.

I had the perfect home waiting for them to
move in. It was time for some innovative ant housing
technology, I can't wait to show you. Alright AC Family, are you excited to see
the Dark Knight's new setup? I am super stoked to show you, and finally
bring back the Dark Knights to the channel, so hit that SUBSCRIBE button and BELL ICON
now so you don't miss out on next week's super cool ant video! Also don't forget to hit the LIKE button every
single time, including now. Also, if you're new to the channel and want
to catch up on your AntsCanada Lore. I've put together a complete story line playlist
so you can watch how all of the ant colonies you love on this channel, came to be, all
their challenges and hardships, all their successes and life events, their entire story
lines can now be watched from the very start so you can better appreciate the journey these
ants, as well as us watching them, have been embarking on.

It's incredible how epic the lives of ants
are! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here, if you would just like to watch scenes of Romeo and Juliet's babies growing
up. Grab some tissues if you do watch. It's heart-warming and tugs at the heart strings. Before we get to the AC Question of the Week,
I'd like to plug my daily vlogging channel, daily vlogs of my travels around the world. The vlogs are currently covering my exploration
of Sri Lanka, and the ants and wildlife are just insane! Do check it out and subscribe! And now it's time for the AC Question of the
Week! Last week we asked: Name three things spiders
use their silk webbing for. Congratulations to Samuel Irvine who correctly
answered: Three things spiders
can do with their webs: Prey Immobilization,
Guide Lining, and Ballooning?. Congratulations Samuel, you just won a free
e-book handbook from our shop! In this week's AC Question of the Week, we
ask: Name one change we had to make
to our river to make it healthier and better equipped at dealing
with toxic agents in the water.

Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could also win a free e-book handbook from our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE
if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It's ant love forever!.

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