07-15-2010, 11:06 PM
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I think the solution to the first question lies in altering when you do the partial water change, and I suggest this because I think it would be better for the fish. Any sort of work in the tank is going to "bother" the fish to some degree, and within an hour before the lights go out is getting them hyped up at a time of day when they are settling down; I expect this must be stressful. I have always carried out tank maintenance in the morning, about an hour after lights on (or later). I use the same strategy with feeding; many writes will tell you not to feed fish just after the lights come on or just before they go out. Much the same thinking. Even people are told not to eat heavy before retiring.
Fish expect day and night about equally; if you have the light on a timer and it is consistent from day to day, the fish will become accustomed to the time. Shortly before lights go out, they begin to calm down, some more than others; I can always sense the last hour or so because certain fish species behave certain ways at that time, almost like getting ready for bed. To suddenly throw them into disarray does not seem prudent.
They sense routines too. I always feed them somewhere around 30 to 90 minutes after the light comes on in the morning. They know; when I enter the fish room in the morning, they come to the front expecting a feeding. When I go in at other times of the day, they do not, ever. On the days they have a treat in the evening (frozen bloodworms 2-3 times a week) it is around 5-6 pm. I have three spotted woodcats in my 115g; they are nocturnal, spending the daylight in tunnels in the wood (hence their common name), only coming out well after total darkness. But they love bloodworms and quickly learned when these are more likely to appear. If I go in to the fish room around 5 or 6, there they will be, at the entrance to their respective tunnel, peering out. They wait. If I slide open the glass top, they are out racing around the wood in anticipation. They never come out at any other time during daylight, only in the evening.
To the fertilizer, I agree with you that adding it in the morning makes more sense, and I do that; plants photosynthesize during the daylight and those nutrients are essential.