This morning I went downstairs for a post-travel stretching/workout session and found that a) the x-box is making a bad-sounding noise when something plays on it, and b) the oscars (these are large fish, for those of you who don't know) are once again gasping for air as their tank gets cloudy and gets no circulation - the pipe leading to it is full of water but the water isn't flowing over and into the tank. The water level in that tank is now too low for water to be flowing out of it, either. This looks to match the description of what Laura faced while Bill and I were both away last month. There is a trickle of water running from the filter tank, below, to the *other* 180-gallon tank - the two tanks are on the same water system, and it *looks* to me like the return pipe splits, so I don't see why one tank would be getting water flow while the other isn't.
The oscar's tank isn't that clean anyway, so I pulled a few (5 gallon) buckets of gunky water *out* of that tank and poured a few buckets of fresh water in. This is the slow way to clean the tank but by myself I can't use the hose system Bill and I use together. They clearly need more fresh water but they also need the flow of water from the filter restored. Also, if I fill their tank to where it drains, *without* restoring flow *into* it, I could flood the filter tank down below. If anyone has thoughts or understands water flow and pumps and is willing to come over and take a look, please let me know.
In the meantime, I'm not going to feed the oscars for a couple days (they show no appetite anyway) and I'm going to keep cleaning their tank. I'll also put a call in to the fish doctors, once they open at 11.
UPDATE: Eric came over to look things over, and by then Laura had already reminded me how to clean the intake filter on the water pump. With the intake filter cleaned, water flow to the oscars was restored and they started to look better almost immediately. I also changed another 10 gallons of water and cleaned all the prefilters on the outflow of both tanks. Eric thinks it's still worth openning up the pump and cleaning out the inside, but I'm going to give the fish a couple days to recover from the stress before I shut down the pump for a bit again.