Sometimes when we become used to a chore, we stop thinking about what exactly we are doing, and just focus on getting through with it. I was doing this a few years ago with my large office fish tank, when I was mid chore, dumping gallons of slimy fish water over a sidewalk, and suddenly wondered “what in the world am I doing?”
I keep a very large goldfish tank in my office at work, somewhere in the ballpark of 70-80 gallons. Once upon a time, the tank was the overwintering and emergency tank for the pond goldfish on my corporate property. It’s been a resort, and temporary home for Comet goldfish for years, used when the fishes ponds were either drained, or undergoing repairs. Being a practical sort of person, in recent years, I’ve been keeping a few fish in there year round as my living screen saver, to keep the tank ready at all times for any Biblical-scale water feature disasters. While I have devised clever ways to cheat the system, and prolong the time between tank cleanings, I inevitably spend an hour twice a month sucking filthy brown water into a tall office trashcan for dumping out on the lawn, or down a drain.
A few years ago I was going through my bi-monthly fish tank cleaning process, wheeling the waste-water trashcan out to the exterior door, when I really looked into the filthy water, and realized that what I was staring at was free liquid fertilizer – and a fertilizer I was about to dump indiscriminately on the nearest patch of land near the door! Feeling like a total bonehead for never having thought about the uses for this “grey water” source before, I began that day using fish water as both a water source, and a fertilizer for my office plants, and exterior potted plants. A fish’s excrement, and the general waste that they sluff off, are excellent fertilizers for plant life, because they contain so many undigested and beneficial nutrients.
Whether you use a gravel vacuum and a bucket, or a long extension vacuum, to transfer recyclable water directly to plants, recycling “gray water,” is a great way to cut down on your total water consumption, using water that has been lightly used for one purpose again for a second purpose before disposal. Fish water, while unsafe to recycle for any human benefit, will greatly assist your yard, or office plants, feeding and watering them at the same time, and reducing your need for more commercial forms of plant food. If you own a freshwater aquarium in either your home, or your office, try saving the water you drain from your tank for your own plants, as a way to “go green” this month! Plus as an added bonus, vacuuming your freshwater fish tank in one area and using the exact same water for your plants is a more efficient way of conquering two chores at once!
TIP: For small tabletop fish tanks in the home or office, keep a large watering can available, and drain aquarium water directly into the can for easy dispensing in your flower pots and garden beds!